FOST Newsletter January 2013

 

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Fellowship of St. Thomas newsletter

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kilmorich balloch rd balloch january 2013 dear friends happy new year time passes so quickly it may not seem like new year when you read this but every day is new we are in that period between epiphany and easter and i thought part of a poem by nathaniel bridged the period ­ you can read the whole poem and others at his blog spot nathaniel s poem www.melodyofthemind.com the seed god planted was sown in the womb of mary the only son to break the tomb of twisted religion s dreary dark tower and leaven earth through with heaven s power flower of hope watered with blood of babies slain prophecy of pain by a king whose mark was cain he who is the hope of israel amidst the gloom of fearful violence was born to us to assume the scapegoat burden of our corrupted pain so this our dark earth could receive heaven s rain and by his sacrificial choice to love from heaven s bower sweet hope s fragrance drifts down scent of a resurrection flower for some time we have been concerned about persecution and difficulties facing the churches in the subcontinent wilson chowdry has a blog which gives info on what affects the pakistani christian community http britishpakistanichristian.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/wilsonchowdhry-of-british-pakistani.html

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however it is great to find good news stories i found one which surprisingly links pakistan with the caribbean that a young pakistani priest rev fr bhatti is working as a missionary at negril in jamaica and recently appointed as youth director there some of us gathered in tenandry kirk pitlochry recently to say farewell to edith barbour ­ an obituary will appear either later in this newsletter or on line shortly some of our members are at present in n e india and i hope to visit pakistan in march so we should have more firsthand news to share soon as pakistan faces turmoil before elections and again pakistan and india face each other across the line of control both the countries and their churches need our prayers some of you will have shared the week of prayer for christian unity service prepared by the church in india so let me close with part of the blessing from that service walking in celebration we come to see that the unity we share within our communities is a profound witness to the gospel of faith and hope as we celebrate that unity let us also rejoice in our rich diversities that reflect the life of the trinity may we celebrate the wonderful diversity in human life born from the struggles for dignity and survival amid oppression and see in it a sign of your abiding faithfulness to your people god is faithful yours sincerely margaret nutter

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caste discrimination still a menace in the indian church the following are extracts from a lengthy well referenced paper on the subject by j vincent manoharan at queens foundation birmingham the origin and manifest of caste system caste an age old social hierarchy enjoys the sanction of the hindu religion it stratifies and discriminates 200 million dalits in india the purity and pollution concept based on varna theory and geared up by four fold creation theory of hinduism ­ as defined in rig veda ­ bred casteism and untouchability that dehumanizes dalits to undergo social exclusion occupational segregation economic and political power deprivation the varnashradharma formulates where dalits should reside their occupation access to resources and powers whom to marry and where to be buried it denies dalits the right to touch and be touched and forces them to remain as untouchables to live mainly as manual scavengers sweepers gutter/drainage cleaners cobblers cremators drum beaters for the funerals of dominant castes thus dalits are deprived of human dignity and denied rights and privileges that are being enjoyed by non dalits socio economic condition of dalits the 2001 census quotes scs the constitutional name for dalits constitute 16.6 according to the government of india report in 2004 the literacy rate of dalits is only 55 77 still remain landless agricultural labourers 51 are sweepers and only 16 are in government employment that too in lower and middle positions only untouchability practices the untouchabililty practices are numerous on dalits they face humiliation and harassment by a range of social exclusion practices caste practices segregate them from mainstream life they were forced to dwell outside villages and denied access to common water resources natural resources village restaurants and burial grounds a study in 2006 by a human rights organization has brought out the existence of

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more than 124 forms of visible and invisible untouchability practices in the socio economic and political life of 200 million dalits in india atrocities inflicted the awareness generated by dalit organisations and the support of various constitutional safeguards special legislations affirmative action policies and programs of government have gradually empowered if not adequately the dalit youth who with resentment and anger raise their voice against inhuman untouchability practices and other socio economic deprivations the official crime statistics averaged over the period 2001-2005 shows 27 atrocities against dalits every day 13 dalits murdered every week 5 dalits homes or possessions burnt every week the recent annual report presented in march 2011 in the indian parliament quotes 38,943 cases have been registered against the perpetrators of violence against dalits but the conviction rate was only 31.4 while these figures prove the volume of physical violence on dalits they are simply a `tip of an iceberg as these are only notified cases an ocean of crimes is not taken to police and court by dalits fearing further persecution in the form of false counter cases against them or unfair trial plight of dalits in christianity the plight of dalits within christianity is nowhere better if not the same christianity propagates equality but it practices caste discrimination among christians dalits started embracing christianity in a large scale mainly after the arrival of protestant missionaries from 1706 onwards who involved in educational social and health services among them today in all main line churches ­ roman catholics protestants ­ csi and cni lutheran churches and pentecostals ­ irrespective of denominations dalits constitute around 70 of total christians though forming a majority among christians dalits mainly rooted in rural areas which is still the heart of india continue to suffer a shackle of untouchability practices and face discrimination and oppression at the hands of minority non dalit christians within the church.

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discrimination in church practices caste practice is more visible and vibrant in rural and less visible in urban congregations largely dalit christians live in exclusion and are treated unequally in worshiping sharing eucharist getting space in church activities and in burial grounds inter dining and inter caste marriages among dalit and non dalit christians are still largely an unrealized dream although stray incidents of inter-caste marriages take place out of love affairs among the educated youth vincent manoharan lists 24 visible caste practices that dalit christians face today here are a few of them ­ · christians are divided by caste · church leadership both clergy and lay is by and large in the hands of non dalits except in some dalit dioceses · bishops priests nuns pastors catechists and all committee members are mostly and largely non dalits sextons gardeners and cemetery watchmen are mainly dalits · dalit priests and pastors are posted in unimportant and poor village churches while non dalits are posted in urbanized and affluent churches · church institutions are invariably in the hands of the non dalits who are minority · the administrators and beneficiaries of church based educational and health institutions are mostly non dalits · church properties are by and large occupied administered and managed by non dalits · church as a democratic institution ­ its politics elections power positions administrations management ­ is fully and purely decided by caste · church is not able to address the issue of social exclusion by caste but on the contrary it perpetuates the same exclusion in power positions the other major exclusion within church hierarchy is that dalits suffer to get access to power positions non dalits largely do not want to share power with dalits from ecclesiological hierarchy to the administering of christian institutions mainly education and health.

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in csi although almost all 22 dioceses are predominantly dalit represented still the majority are under the power dominance of non dalits of course in some dioceses dalits have wielded powerpositions but largely they ­ both clergy and lay ­ are urban based educated and élites the grass root level dalit christians who form the majority both among catholics and protestants still remain as excluded and oppressed in addition to casteism the worst forms of corruption nepotism manipulation and victimization are the present day visible values of church church leadership is decided by caste affiliation and corrupt practices any challenging voice against caste or corrupt practices is silenced with victimization unfortunately and sadly christian dalit leadership is also not able to escape from these vindictive motives and practices in terms of suppressing the legitimate voices within the church exclusion by state adding salt to injury especially for the last 2 decades large scale violence was unleashed on christians by the hindu fundamentalist forces in the name of warning and stopping conversions the worst affected are the rural based dalit christians and christian tribals dalit theology ­ its impact dalit theology emerged as a recent and specific phenomenon in 1980s as a counter to indian christian theology known for its classical westernized traditions and brahmanical thought forms dalit theology has clear insights and themes to address the issue of caste both inside and outside church and also to energise the dalit christians to strengthen their faith and struggle dalit theology has yet to emerge as a practical theology to engage with the grass root based and marginalised dalit christians to challenge caste and also to transform their life situation way forward the church has to rethink and restrategise its vision and mission compatible to the ground reality of the majority of its members a radical mission outlook is the need of the hour for the indian church to

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be authentic and prophetic with commitment to christ the church with its pastoral care has to concentrate on treating all equal to provide educational and economic assistance equally the international church and community has a responsibility to address this `issue of caste as they have addressed the issue of apartheid in south africa `solidarity of the international community and institutions especially the church is vital to address this inhuman issue to liberate and empower dalit christians since god always takes sides with the oppressed and the mission of jesus was among the disadvantaged and victimized the immediate mission of the indian church is to wipe off caste the demon with the power of the holy spirit it is high time for the indian church leadership to drop its divisive and discriminative caste class patriarchal mindset to enable dalits to enjoy their human dignity and life in par with others `in christ ooo serampore college following the retirement of dr lalchungnunga a new principal of serampore college has been installed he is professor laltluangliana khiangte previously professor and dean of the mizoram university and an elder in one of the larger presbyterian churches in aizawl where the welsh missionaries had their headquarters he is well known for his literary gifts and was awarded a padma shri for folk literature by the government of india in 2006 his grandfather was a mizo theologian revivalist preacher and writer he is married to lalramhluni and they have four sons in their late teens or early twenties friends of serampore the secretary of the friends of serampore is now mrs jenny bunning whose parents the rev edward and mrs rosemary williams were the previous secretaries jenny s address is sunnybreck rendall orkney kw17 2ez her email shbunning@googlemail.com the treasurer is andrew hudson whose late father the rev donald hudson served at the college 1940-69 andrew s address is 33 appledore avenue wollaton nottingham ng8 2rl his email andrewhmail@virginmedia.com the website is www.friendsofserampore.org.uk.

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visit to bangladesh september/october 2012 over the years since i first went to bangladesh to work as an agriculturist in 1977 i have been to bangladesh many times some of the visits were during the time i was convener or vice convener of the asia committee of world mission and four times i have led groups from scotland on work camps of necessity most of these were official visits seeing projects and meeting leaders of the church although on all these visits i usually met a few people who i had known and who i hadn t seen for a while this last visit was rather different because i was travelling alone and it was 100 holiday i was allowed to plan where i wanted to go and the church of bangladesh went to extraordinary lengths to allow me to visit even more places than i had envisaged for example sudatta baidya a friend who had been a church of scotland bursar at st colm s college in 1978 and who was one of the first two women to be ordained as priests in the church of bangladesh took me to her home village where i had lunch with her brother and sister in law and there i met a few other people whom i knew but whom i was not expecting to meet on this trip sudatta and i had worked on sunday school and youth work in the early 1980s and although she is now semi-retired she still helps to look after the college girls hostel in barisal bishop sunil who had been a college student in one of the homes i used to visit in 1979 took me to three villages in his diocese i had not been expecting to go to and there i met other people i had not expected to meet including three former students of the hostel from my time in bangladesh 35 years ago and these were very special reunions i had expressed a wish to visit the place i first worked and where i had not been for about 10 years however i knew that it was going to be difficult to fit it in and had decided that the only way i was going to manage it was to hire a car and a driver as public transport would have taken too long however before i could arrange that the new director of the christian mission hospital peter bala told me that the hospital land

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rover was at my disposal ­ and he would give me the driver as well ­ who turned out to be a close friend and who had been bishop michael s driver a number of years ago and so i did get to where i started off in bangladesh and met two young men who had both been in primary 2 when i worked in the home they recognised me after 35 years ­ fortunately i remembered them when they told me their names i had many new experiences ­ i travelled in an air conditioned luxury coach from that town to dhaka a 7 hour journey ­ for the princely sum of £5 when we were travelling to the villages of bishop sunil s diocese i asked him if he had received the email with the draft partnership agreement from the presbytery of angus he produced the most up to date gizmo i had ever seen and showed me the email as we bumped along the road to bollobhpur hospital and i reflected that during my first christmas in bangladesh 35 years ago i had to book a call through the international operator to phone my parents and sit beside the phone for three days before i was connected although i only managed to stay a couple of nights in most places i managed to meet with people i call friends a number of them among my closest friends even although we do not see one another very often ­ and when we do we just seem to start where we left off although there were some wonderful reunions there was also sadness as four of my friends had died in the 19 months since i was last there it was strange going to jobarpar for the first time since mother susila had died at the age of 86 and to stand at her grave was very emotional she had been such a towering yet humble presence in the church of bangladesh for over 50 years and very much part of my own family and frances and i with our baby son used to visit her every month when i was involved in sunday school and youth work i also visited the three widows of friends who had died two of these friends were two years younger than me and died within 5 days of one another to spend time with their wives and families was again very emotional but a wonderful privilege to have the opportunity and

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because our friendship had been over 35 years we just hugged one another not something that would normally happen in that culture there were plenty of man hugs as well and much laughter as we reminisced about a young scot who came to bangladesh in 1977 when i visited naogaon where i first worked my past caught up with me once more when i was once again reminded by the young men from the home of an incident involving me which is still spoken about all these years later i had worked in the home for three months before going to study bengali for 10 weeks the evening i returned to the home i was asked at evening prayers to lead the boys in prayer using my new found language skills i prayed very fervently god bless the devil and protect us from children while i remember that and other mistakes i was humbled when some of those i met told me about things i had forgotten about the letter i had written in bengali to the youngster whose mother had died and who still had the letter the son of one of my friends who died suddenly in april and who i had known since 1977 telling me how much a few words in an airmail letter had meant to him and his mother ­ it had given them peace at a difficult time other boys who remembered the fun we had at youth group activities the interest that had been taken in them the times i had travelled with youngsters to their home villages stayed in their homes so that i could get a better understanding of where they came from how grateful they were that someone had taken the trouble to stay in their homes with no electricity and often not even basic facilities i had long forgotten any difficulties ­ but they still remembered that a young man from scotland had taken the trouble to come and stay with them the young man of 39 who i hadn t seen for over thirty years who told me he remembered that i had come to his 6th birthday party and brought some sweetmeats but had also read the bible in bengali and prayed for him and his family.

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all throughout my three weeks i had the opportunity to visit people in their homes and sit with them and share with them a cup of tea or a banana and biscuit and often a rice meal ­ and the genuine gratitude there was from them for me taking the trouble as they put it to come to their homes i didn t see it as any trouble at all ­ it is what building up relationships is all about on the morning of the day i was flying home i was invited to attend morning prayers in the diocesan office where all the staff gathered before the working day began amongst them were christian hindus and moslems who were working in the large social development programmes of the church after the prayers i was asked to say a few words about my visit as most of their english was better than my bengali i spoke in english the main theme of what i said came from what had struck me very powerfully in the three weeks the importance of the people in the local communities and congregations the church of bangladesh has a wonderful record of over 30 years of introducing large and small development projects in towns and villages for people of all religious backgrounds and the work is highly respected by those in government circles in bangladesh while these projects are vital and important it is also important that we never forget that at the root of all these are people people in villages miles from anywhere people who are some of the most generous people i have ever met we can have all the modern technology that there is to receive emails on the move but the people must never be forgotten it is the same in ministry ­ i had more opportunity to be with bishop sunil in kushtia than i had with bishop paul in dhaka this time but both of them know the value of a pastoral ministry ­ sunil took me to visit people who were ill or in hospital ­ and to pray with them the stories i have shared of the things some of the boys remembered were little things ­ the writing of a letter attending a birthday party these little things which build up relationships ­ and it is exactly the same in scotland in angus in carnoustie or wherever ministry is carried out just as it is in the villages and towns of bangladesh.

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our congregations our lives would be the poorer if we forget the little things which are important in building up relationships i have been greatly privileged to have had the opportunity to share in the life of the church of bangladesh over many years and to take people from my own congregation and others to discover for themselves life in bangladesh another workcamp is in the planning for 2013 ­ and another 5 people will meet for themselves some remarkable people matthew bicket o0o biography by edward williams edward williams has written a very readable biography with the title building bridges crossing cultures and two subtitles summing the book up a life shaped by india and by inner city birmingham memoirs of a physicist missionary and minister he tells of the experiences he and his family had in india when he served in the arts-science department of serampore college 1959-69 teaching physics on his return he became the minister of sparkbrook baptist church birmingham 1969-85 and alcester baptist church 1985-97 edward has a remarkable memory for significant details his account is witty and full of insights his experiences shed light on the closing years of the `missionary era in india when administration of the college was being transferred from missionary to indian staff back in england in multi-cultural sparkbrook he had further cause to reflect upon relations between the church and people of other faiths this is an entertaining and frank book that touches on important questions building bridges crossing cultures by edward h.b williams is published by aspect design malvern 2011 and is best obtained through a waterstones store or their website it costs £10.00 and has 139 pages and many illustrations in case of difficulty contact the author at 12 penny lane guarlford malvern wr13 6pg tel 01684 569291 email eandrwilliams@btinternet.com edward burrows.

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c.s.i hospital chickballapur karnataka s india 1913-2013 mr r a hickling arrived in chickballapur in 1891 and from the early days he was involved in caring for the sick with the help of a big book which he kept beside him many came to him for help and had great trust in him although he freely admitted that he was not a doctor and tried to persuade them to go to the government dispensary for help the plight of the many sick ­ especially during epidemics of cholera or plague ­ impressed upon mr hickling the need for a hospital after more than 2 years prolonged negotiations land was obtained and on november 1909 the foundation stone was laid for the hospital the building work was supervised by mr hickling himself to reduce the expenditure his two chief helpers were rev k bhadrappa and mr.shankarappa whose devoted and honest service gave great joy to mr hickling during mr hickling s furlough in 1911-1912 rev f a stowell carried on the building work rev stowell had trained as an architect before he decided to become a pastor and that previous training fitted him for much of the work that he had to do when he came to india the buildings cost £3,700 and the money came from 3 sources ­ part from the arthington trust in england part from money raised at an exhibition in london when the plans of the hospital were shown and people were invited to buy a brick for chickballapur and partly by gifts from the people of chickballapur and the surrounding villages the hospital buildings and the house for the doctor were completed by 1912 and the end of 1912 and beginning of 1913 was spent in getting the equipment for the wards and the operation theatre ready for the opening on 26th february 1913 this ceremony was performed by mr p f bowring then deputy commissioner of kolar district there were 10 inpatients within the first week and soon there were others in the grand new 60 bed hospital by leslie robinson who served as medical superintendent from 1968 to 1999.

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keeping the scottish links my wife and i have just returned from another fascinating three weeks in chennai madras south india as with past visits much was made of the continuing links with scotland those who have served in india ­ and there are fost members who have been missionaries there ­ will know how precious these links are on both sides our first week was spent as the guests of the principal of madras christian college mcc which was founded by the church of scotland in 1839 there is still huge respect for the founder john anderson and those scots who followed miller hogg martin mcphail and more recently duncan and margaret forrester we became much involved in the life of the college with various preaching and speaking engagements as well as enjoying the lovely hospitality of friends we took the chance to visit another of john anderson s foundations st columba s secondary school at chengalpattu where the headmaster received us warmly in our second week we were with a friend who runs a charity ­ help for the helpless ­ working with the poor in and around chennai we and some others in scotland have been supporting this charity for some years it rescues destitutes pays for hospital treatment sponsors orphans in local schools and works to improve basic housing in local slums and villages all most impressive for our third week we visited a region known as india s scotland ­ coorg near mysore sipping a dram on the terrace of our tourist authority hotel with a fine view across the hills i felt i could have been in perthshire ­ except there is no part of perthshire at 4,000 feet and at 75 degrees centigrade we noticed real improvements better roads widespread airconditioning and cleaner facilities india has a great future no doubt but it still values its scottish links andrew anderson december 2012

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