Thursday, 19 August 2010

Church of North India(CNI) -Kolkata (Calcutta) Diocese

Our visit to the Church of North India has been a unique and incredible experience for which John and I are extremely grateful. The generosity and welcome received from Rev Enos Das Pradhan in Delhi, Bishop Probal Dutta in Durgapur and Bishop Ashoke Biswas in Kolkata was overwhelming. We thank God for the outstanding work that is being done and our partnership with the CNI as the British Methodist Connexion.

The Church of North India articulated on several occasions how much they valued the contribution of the many men and women who faithfully served in India through the Methodist Missionary Society.

They are also grateful for the excellent partnership and support received from our World Church team Christine Elliot, Mike King and Steve Pearce. We promised to pray for them as they also faithfully pray for us here in Britain.

Mother Teresa's Tomb at her former home in Kolkata

Our first visit in Kolkata was to Mother Teresa's former home. Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India in 1950. For over 45 years she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity's expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries.

Now there are over 610 missions in 123 countries, including hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children's and family counselling programs, orphanages, and schools.

Arunima HIV/AIDS Hospice in Kolkata

This is the first Kolkata based centre that offers holistic care for people living with HIV/AIDS. Alongside caring for children who are orphans or have been rejected by their families and communities because they are HIV positive the centre also cares for those dying of AIDS. An out-patient centre and counselling service are also provided in addition to advocacy and lobbying against discrimination.

The plaque I was asked to unveil is dedicating a new building for the children of the centre infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

St Paul's Cathedral Relief Service in the slums of Kolkata

St Paul's Cathedral Relief Service work with over 200 young women in the slums of Calcutta teaching sewing and embroidery to enable them to have a means of income to support their families independently without working as a domestic help/maid in a private home which can be very dangerous in terms of physical and verbal abuse and even trafficking.

Women from the slums are employed to support the local children. Over 40 children were present here in a tiny room donated by the community for the children's education.

St Paul's Cathedral - Indian Independence Day
We joined the congregation of St Paul's Cathedral, Kolkata on Indian Independence Day, where I was kindly invited to preach which did feel a bit of a challenge! However CNI follow their own lectionary and the readings were wonderful, Deut 6,Luke 22 v22-26 Galatians 5 I took the theme 'What does it mean for a christian to be free in Christ?
Free to obey God
Free to Serve one another
Free to love

Free to remain free

Independence Day Celebrations with St John's School

After worship at St Paul's cathedral John and I joined Bishop Ashoke as guests of honour at St John's school to celebrate Independence day with the raising of the Indian flag and a presentation with words, songs and music through India's history.

Ordination Service at Bishop's College

Bishop Ashoke Biswas leading worship at the Ordination service of two Presbyters at Bishops College using a liturgy very similar to our Methodist Ordination liturgy.
All ministers since CNI formed are ordained into the Church of North India.

Our final day was spent meeting the staff at the residence of Bishop Ashoke Biswas. We began the morning inaugurating the new canteen and then I addressed some of the staff at the request of Bishop Ashoke sharing a PowerPoint of the work I'm involved with as a Deacon at Brunswick in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Inaugurating the new Aids hospice

Kolkata Slum Project

Kolkata Flag raising on Independence Day 2010 at Cathedral

Kolkata St John's Parade for Independence Day

1 comment:

David Walton said...

Thanks for a wonderful account - and pictures too! It's good to hear about the good relationship between our churches. Yours and John's visit can only have helped to strengthen it.