Bishop provides vital image of church in South India

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Mon May 21 00:24:36 EDT 2001

Bishop provides vital image of church in South India

The Bishop of Southeastern India, the Rt Revd. Kunnumpurathu Samuel,
brought his church to attention in Texas Episcopalians during his visit
and said the pressing mission of the church in India was taking steps
towards the eradication of poverty, women empowerment and youth

Bishop Suffragan Leo Alard said, "Bishop Samuel gave use a gift by his
presence. He brought his church to life for us and let us see that we
are really one church in mission, whether it is in Texas or South

A vivid image of mission and ministry in the Diocese of East Kerala,
which has grown 350 in the last 17 years and an area largely populated
with the poorest of the poor, the uneducated and the marginalized was
given by the bishop.

"Poverty is the number one enemy of the Church", the bishop said,
explaining that the church's mission was to eradicate poverty, empower
women and raise up youth.

"As long as 60 percent of the people are denied the basics of life, a
roof over their heads and food to sustain them, our preaching is not
complete", he said.

Speaking on the growth of the church, he said, "Tea farmers who live
isolated lives above lush, almost impenetrable forests and who earn
pennies a day, established churches in their mist. The diocese has
tripled in size from 20,000 to 75,000 since 1987, growing from 80
churches to 175 and adding 20 new congregations each year.

He attributes the growth to grass-roots-support. "To implement vision,
you need clergy to cooperate or the bishop can only preach", he said.
The church trained rubber farmers and helped them purchase equipment to
process their rubber, maximizing their earnings.

Earlier in his visit, he told the World Mission committee, "We are
called to be the leaven of society. We are called to be a church in
mission. There is a great temptation there; it is easier to tear down
than to build".

This article is based on a report by Carol E Barnwell of the Texas

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