Synopsis

The Church of South India is a United and Uniting Church formed on 27th September 1947 as the result of the union of churches of varying traditions such as Anglican, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian, and Reformed. Discussions concerning union began at a conference at Tranquebar (now Tarangambadi) in 1919 and in 1947, after India attained independence, the union was completed. After protracted negotiation among the churches concerned, now it is organized into 24 dioceses all over the 5 South-Indian States and Jaffna (Srilanka), each under the spiritual supervision of a Bishop, the Church as a whole is governed by the Synod, which elects a Moderator (presiding Bishop) every 3 years. Episcopacy is thus combined with Synodical Government, and the Church explicitly recognizes that Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Congregational elements are all necessary for the Church’s life. The Scripture is the ultimate standard of faith and practice. The historic Creeds are accepted as interpreting the Biblical faith, and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are recognized as of binding obligation. A unique Church was born out of the blending of the Episcopal and non - Episcopal traditions as a gift of God to the people of India and as a visible sign of the Ecclesiastical unity for the universal church. The Church of South India is a Hope of more than four Million people.
(Source : csi1947.com)

Events leading to the Formation of the Church of South India
1901

Free Church of Scotland and the Reformed Presbyterian Church merge together.

1904

The Presbyterian Alliance of India was formed.

1906

Congregational Churches of London Missionary Society (LMS) and Madurai American Mission(MAM) join together.

1908

The above two Churches (LMS&MAM) joined with Presbyterian Churches and formed the South India United Church (S.I.U.C.)

1910

Two Churches of Scotland Mission (C.S.M.) joined the S.I.U.C.

1919

The Church of India, Burma and Ceylon consisting of Society for the Propagation of the gospel (S.P.G) and Church Missionary Society(C.M.S) Churches started their negotions at Tranquebar. The “Tranquebar 1919” is a landmark when a Joint Committee was formed. This Conference brought together Anglicans and Free churchmen in a way not known before. Bishop V.S. Azariah of Dornakal was the figure leading and inspiring the participants.

1925

The Wesleyan Methodist Churches of Methodist Mission Society (M.M.S) joined the talks for negotiations.

1930

The World Methodist Conference gave its approval for the union.

1943

The Wesleyan Methodist Conference in South India has joined the Union.

1944

The Anglican Churches in South India supported the proposal for Church Union.

1945

The General Council of the Anglican Churches agreed to permit its 4 Dioceses in South India to join the proposed Church Union.

1946

The S.I.U.C. agreed to enter into Organic Union of the Anglican and Methodist Churches in South India.

1947

The history of 28 years of negotiations (1919-1947) reached its climax in the dramatic moment of the Inauguration of the ''CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA” on 27th September 1947. The end was a beginning of a new chapter.

(Source : CSI Life October 2017)

A Church is Born : Church of South India Inauguration

The unification of the Church of South India is considered one of the most important in the Church Union movement, because for the first time after centuries of division, churches with various ministries were brought together in a collective Episcopal Church. The reconciliation it reached between Anglicans and other denominations on the doctrine of apostolic succession is often cited as a landmark in the ecumenical movement. (exhibitions.library.columbia.edu)

Source : This collection of historic photographs is housed at the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University Libraries and used with special permission : https://exhibitions.library.columbia.edu/exhibits/show/church/inauguratingchurch
Photos by Mark Kauffman (LIFE magazine) is taken from https://nalloorlibrary.com/category/csi-church

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