FOST Newsletter January 2014


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Newsletter of the Fellowship of St Thomas

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The Fellowship of St Thomas: Membership Renewal Membership Subscription for 2014 is :- Single - £5 ; Couple - £7 ; Student - £1 Please pay by cheque made payable to ”The Fellowship of St Thomas” and Send to: Mark Wilson, 37 Kings Avenue, Longniddry, EH32 0QN by Feb 28. Name Address ....................................................................................... ....................................................................................... ....................................................................................... Post Code Telephone Amount ....................... ................................................ £.............. Email address ........................................................................................


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Kilmorich Balloch Rd Balloch Dear Friends, Greetings as we enter 2014 – a year of choices. We here in Scotland face the arguments and choice about Independence. Other countries also face elections – India, the world biggest democracy will also have elections. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has just announced he will not stand for re-election and will hand over the baton. Since he first came to power as Finance Minister in 1991 India has achieved a lot: 10 million people a year above the poverty line the Indian economy grew nearly 7% in 2011-12 literacy rates rose to 74% (from 65% in 2001); 51,000 schools were opened 680,000 teachers appointed in just the last two years 63% of Indians now have phones, up from just 9% a decade ago 100 million new phone connections were established last year, including 40 million in rural areas India now has 943.5 million telephone connections 60% of Indians have a bank account (BBC 03.03.14)


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Twenty years ago, as India's mild-mannered finance minister he delivered a startlingly bold budget to the nation with the memorable words: "No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come." I was cheered when I read all these statistics about progress in India and the last comment reminded me of Gamaliel’s speech in Acts 5:39 ‘…if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them’…’ The church in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries continues to grow numerically. It has internal problems similar to the nations in which it grows including corruption and party disputes but nothing will be able to stop the true knowledge of God spreading. In India the work Christian Aid is involved in includes Deccan Development Society (DDS) works with dalit women in southern India helping them to transform farming methods, and empowering them to influence government policies. The DDS women have helped 5,000 women turn 5,000 acres of wasteland into productive cropland that now feeds 50,000 of the poorest people in the region.


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The DDS community media initiative trains illiterate dalit and tribal women to produce their own films and radio programmes to raise awareness about important issues locally and nationally. Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) campaigns to eradicate the illegal and inhuman practice of manual scavenging, a job carried out mostly by dalit women where they clean out human excrement from ‘dry’ toilets. It has succeeded in increasing the national welfare budget to support manual scavengers to find alternative, more human jobs from £600,000 in 2010 to £13.3 million in 2011-12. Ekta Parishad is a network of grassroots organisations campaigning for land rights and control over forest resources for marginalised communities, especially dalits and tribals. Your committee is considering topics for the September Celebration and plans to focus on Nepal. And so we step forward in to 2014, may God be with us all. Yours sincerely, Margaret A E Nutter


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FOST FORTY - Celebrating Fellowship and Friendship Our Objects and Activities over Forty Years by Edward Burrows Over the past forty years the Fellowship of St Thomas has shared two things: fellowship and information. We have shared fellowship across the cultures and across the Churches. We have fulfilled two of our objects in this way: to welcome visitors from South Asia and to encourage links between Christians in Scotland and Christians in South Asia. In particular we have made efforts to contact students who have come to study in Scotland. The foundation of our fellowship as we meet at our Annual Celebration is Holy Communion. This is remarkable. Our fellowship is fostered by a sacrament of unity. Most of us are members of churches in Scotland that do not have a fully structured written liturgy. Some of us are members of churches that hold Communion only infrequently. There is a wide range of views among us of what we are doing and what actually happens as we celebrate communion. None of this has proved any barrier to our unity in Christ as we have followed his command. We have shared fellowship and secondly we have shared information. A bewildering amount of news from South Asia has been disseminated among us and through us. This has come particularly through a wide range of addresses at our meetings and careful reports of them. It has come through the Christian magazines published in South Asia, to which we are encouraged to subscribe. In recent years it has come through the Newsletter.


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And now it comes through emails and through our website. Information has gone out through the press service supplied to denominational journals. What have we done with all this information? Firstly it has greatly increased our own awareness of the variety of situations in South Asia: the different needs, the encouragements and the frustrations. Secondly we have been able to give the wider Christian community in Scotland a more intelligent understanding of the churches and needs of South Asia. Thirdly we have used it as a basis for prayer. The second object in our Constitution is: ‘To encourage corporate and private prayer for and with these churches.’ Special points for prayer have been included in annual reports and are now a feature of our Newsletter. In the nineties we compiled and distributed a book of Indian prayers, which is still available. Fourthly information has led to discussion. This is in our Constitution as one means of achieving our objects: ‘By providing a forum for the discussion of issues arising out of the life and witness of the Churches in South Asia.’ This we have done in our meetings and in particular through hosting in Scotland the St. Thomas of India Unity Lecture every three years. Fifthly information has led to practical action. The Fellowship is not a registered charity and raising money is not one of its objects, but we have supported many known needs through our offerings and have sometimes made special donations. We have


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sought to encourage those serving in South Asia by circular letters, especially at Christmas and Easter. Sixthly I have left our first object to last! It is: ‘To learn from the experience and insights of the churches of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka) and to share these with the Churches in Scotland.’ The phrase ‘the churches of South Asia’ refers, of course, to all the Churches, not only the united Churches. However, the prominence of this object in our Constitution is due to the original euphoria following the successful formations of the United Churches. People really did think this was just the beginning of a worldwide movement towards organic unity. There was to be disappointment. The firm hope of many in Scotland in the 1970s was that here too our separate denominations would find a way of coming together into one for the sake of the Gospel. It was not to be. No doubt there are various views among us about how our Churches should fulfil the Prayer of the Lord: ‘that they may all be one’, but none of us would doubt the importance of that quest. Edward Burrows This was part of Edward’s address at the Dunblane Celebration on Saturday 28th September 2013. An edited version of the whole address can be accessed on our website.


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Introducing an Auld Scot who loved, lived and resting, a Tamil Hindu daily newspaper reported on the 18 of February 2011 - 19th century house renovated at a cost of Rs.18.50 lakh by government Scottish Protestant missionary Bishop Robert Caldwell's house at Idaiyankudi, a small hamlet about 70 Km from here, is now a memorial. The 19th century house has been renovated at a cost of Rs.18.50 lakh by the State Government and was inaugurated by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi through videoconferencing on Thursday. Addressing the function from Chennai, Mr. Karunanidhi said that though several foreign missionaries such as G.U. Pope and Beschi were enticed by the beauty, ancient nature and strength of Tamil, Bishop Caldwell was the foremost among all of them, as he came out with an authoritative work – ‘Dravida Mozhigalin Oppilakkanam' (Comparative Grammar of Dravidian Languages) in 1856, which established the uniqueness of Tamil. (Please follow the link online to read the entire book online from Google books) ource=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false He had learnt Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tulu, during his stay at Idaiyankudi between 1841 and 1882. Former Chief Minister C N Annadurai had honoured Bishop Caldwell by installing his statue on the Marina on February 2, 1968, on the occasion of Second World Tamil Conference. The statue was unveiled by multi-lingual scholar Appadurai. Mr Karunanidhi recalled the release of a special stamp of Bishop Caldwell during the World Tamil Classical Conference held in Coimbatore on June 17, 2010. The Chief Minister also listed the contributions of Rev. Fr. Constantine Joseph Beschi, popularly known as ‘Veeramaamunivar', Henry Alfred Krishna Pillai, Vedhanayagam Pillai, Samuel Pillai and others in enriching Tamil with their contributions. th


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Apart from releasing Rs.1.26 lakh for installing a bronze bust of Bishop Caldwell at the entrance to the memorial, the State government also sanctioned Rs.30 lakh for constructing a new residence for the priest, who was living in the house of Bishop Caldwell. The cheque for this amount was handed over to CSI Bishop of Tirunelveli Diocese the Rt Revd J J Christdoss at the function. Bishop Caldwell first came to Madras on January 8, 1838 from Clady, Northern Ireland, at the age of 24 as a member of the London Mission Society. He studied palm leaf manuscripts and Sangam literature and made several excavations. Here is a summary of his biography. Bishop Caldwell was born in Ireland to Scottish parents and returned home to Glasgow when Robert was 8 years of age. Robert grew up in Glasgow and read Philology at Glasgow University. He later returned to the University to be awarded LLD in recognition of his unique contribution to language, literature and culture of the Tamil people of South India. Some remarkable features of his missionary work included his extensive grasp of Tamil Nadu (Tamil Land) and its people, language and literature. In order to have a real insight into this world, he walked from Chennai to Nilgiris through a circuitous route which took him over a month. Throughout this journey he insisted on spending overnight stays with natives, sharing in their life, fully. On arriving in Nilgiris he met with Bishop Spencer of Madras Presidency which covered the whole of South India and was Ordained a Deacon. His account of this experience highlights his love of the church which celebrates its decent from the Apostles.


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He recommenced his journey to the southernmost point in India, to Cape Comrin, this time on a horseback. This did not last very long as the horse fell and fractured its leg. So, Robert resumed his journey on foot, visiting places of historic significance and making notes on the culture. He arrived at Idiangudi, which means a Shepherd’s House and pitched his tent there. For the next fifty years Caldwell remained a missionary, priest, philologist, scholar, bishop and above all a man who loved God and loved God’s people. He married Eliza, daughter of another missionary and together, they preached the gospel, taught catechism, developed schools and colleges and established churches. Summarising this phenomenal life in few paragraphs is futile. The comprehensive biography of Caldwell by Prof Vincent Kumaradoss is something everyone who is serious about the Good News of Christ should read. His life, learning, discipline and devotion are more relevant today than ever before. If it is possible, it would be worth considering inviting Prof Vincent to visit Scotland this year on a lecture tour to address churches and communities interested in this wonderful life. If you are interested in taking this idea of a series of lectures, please write to the editor at The following record obtained from the University of Glasgow.


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The Treasurer reports - Regarding the offering taken at the Annual Celebration on 28 Sept 2013 – it was left to the Committee to decide on the disbursement of it. The offering was distributed as follows: £175 sent to Christian Aid for the Hurricane Phailin appeal and £175 to Scottish Asian Christian Fellowship for the Peshawar bomb blast appeal. New Book on Scottish Baptists and Other Denominations: Our Place among the Churches An important new book has just been published by the Scottish Baptist History Project. The Rev. T. Watson Moyes has written Our Place among the Churches: Scottish Baptist Ecumenical Relations in the Twentieth Century: From Principled Denominationalism to Evangelical Separateness. This is based on extensive research as well as personal involvement and is a most revealing account of relations between Baptists and other denominations throughout the twentieth century. It explains in depth the reasons why there was such divided opinion in the Baptist Union of Scotland in 1989 that it was unable to enter any relationship with the ‘new instrument’ of ACTS, though individual Baptist churches and individuals are free to take part locally. Watson Moyes and many others were deeply hurt by this separation, but he is fair to those who thought otherwise. The book has 162 pages and is illustrated by 41 portraits. It is available in the FM (Faith Mission) Bookshop (successor to Wesley Owen), 24-28 Bothwell Street, Glasgow for £10.00. It is also available from Rev Dr Edward Burrows. Please send a request to him at 91 Balmuildy Road, Bishopbriggs, Glasgow G64 3AP, enclosing a cheque for £12 to be paid to ‘Edward Burrows’. This includes postage and packing.


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Companionship Links Diocese of Calcutta + Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane In 2009 a group from the Diocese of St Andrews were asked to look for a companion diocese that would be more accessible than our previous link with Pelotas, Brazil and where English would be the medium of communication. The greatest benefit of companion linkages being the ability to share visits and therefore promote face to face exchanges of ideas and support for our joint tasks of mission and ministry. Since both Canon Dominic Ind and I had experience of visiting India we began our search there. At the same time Bishop David Chillingworth was in conversation with Canon Dan O'Connor who suggested we get in touch with the Revd Dr Sunil Caleb, principal of Bishops College, Kolkata. Dr Caleb, having contacts throughout India, was likely to know who would be interested in a linkage. He responded immediately to our approach and suggested that the new Bishop of Calcutta, the Rt Revd Ashoke Biswas would likely be very interested. He was. I checked with the Revd Margaret MacGregor and discovered that Bishop Ashoke had been to Edinburgh in the past and would be visiting Edinburgh again in February 2010 for a Fellowship of St Thomas meeting and in connection with the parish linkage between Livingston and St James', Kolkata. Arrangements were made and I collected Bishop Ashoke from the FOST meeting and brought him to the General Synod Office in Grosvenor Crescent to meet with Bishop David and Dom. We had clear interest in the link from both sides. In July Bishop Ashoke was back in the UK to visit Derby Diocese, which has a link with the whole of the North Eastern part of CNI. He came first to visit us in Scotland bringing with him the Revd Nigel Pope, one of his younger clergy and presbyter then of St James. They spent a few days in the Diocese before Bishop Ashoke left for Derby and Nigel was collected by his hosts from Livingston.


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In November Dom Ind and I made the reciprocal visit, paving the way for Bishop David's more formal visit in January 2011. Bishop David took with him Canon Bob Harley from Kirriemuir and Mr Andrew Pont from Stirling so that we were already beginning to spread participation in the link around the Diocese. In the summer Bishop Ashoke was with us again and would have brought with him another of his young presbyters, the Revd Shreeraj Mohanty but visa problems delayed his visit till the following year. In 2012 Bishop Ashoke attended General Synod and helped us with our plans to bring a larger group from across the Diocese to visit Kolkata in January 2013. We began advertising for people to join Bishop David, Dom and me for a visit of two weeks with the possibility of a further week in Darjeeling. We gathered a group of seventeen in total, clergy and lay folk, young and older. We visited the Arunima AIDS Hospice, Sister Florence School of Nursing, the Oxford Mission Boys School, and a Cathedral Relief Service education, health and employment project with people displaced by the building of the Kolkata Metro. We were taken to Serampore to meet the principal and his family, then meeting students over lunch in the refectory. On the way back to Kolkata we made our pilgrimage to the graves of William Carey and his family. We visited the Scots College and Bishops College, St. John's Church and St Andrews Kirk, catching up with the Revd Andrew Simmick who has also visited Edinburgh in the past. On the Sunday we divided the group so that some of us went to the Cathedral for a Leprosy Mission service and the rest went to Union Chapel where Bishop David preached. I had asked that we might go to Santiniketan so that the group might learn about that great Bengali poet and thinker, Rabindranath Tagore and was delighted that Bishop Ashoke's staff had been able to arrange this for us. We were joined on the visit by a number of the Calcutta clergy who were also delighted to have the opportunity. We escaped the noise, traffic and air pollution of the city for two days in the clear air of the West Bengal countryside. Some of the group returned directly to Scotland, others for visits to Delhi and Agra, and another to stay with family in Dubai. The remaining twelve departed by night train from Sealdah Station to New Jalpaiguri for the next part of the visit, kindly arranged by Bishop Ashoke and the Revd Joy Haldar, Rector of St Paul's School, Darjeeling.



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