Wednesday, May 9, 2012



                                    SUBMITTED TO


                       AT NAGERCOIL, KANYAKUMARI

                                       ON FRIDAY
                      MARCH 23, 2012; TIME: 10 a.m.-1 P.M


                                 THE CORE GROUP OF

                    DIOCESAN  CONFERENCE HALL    

I.  Opening Hymn
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding
Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him;
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.
  1. Bible Readings
         2 Kings 23: 24-25  Prof. Dr. Joanna Somervell
         Acts 1: 15-26          Mrs. D. Charlet Jothi Moni
III.  Brief Reflection and Prayer:   The Moderator: The Most Revd. G. Devakadashm
IV. Welcome and Introduction: Revd. Dr. Gnana Robinson
V Reading of the Memorandum: Prof. Dr. Jayakaran Isaac
    1. Presentation of the Memorandum: The Rt. Revd. Dr. I. Jesudhasan, Former                                                                                                                                                             Moderator
    2. Greetings in Brief:
            i.          Rt.Revd. William Moses, Former Moderator
    1. Rt.Revd.Dr. C.L.Furtado, Former Bishop, S.Karnataka
    2. Rt.Revd. J.A.D. Jebachandran, Bishop, Tutucorin Diocese
    3. Prof.  George Koshy, Former General Secretary of the Synod
    4. Prof. Chritian Babu, General Secretary of Kanyakumari Diocese (On behalf of the Host Diocese)
    5. Revd. Dr. Badem Sunder Raju, Vice President, (On behalf of Telugu Speaking Dioceses)
    6. Adv. R. Sathiamoorthy (Representing all Lay Leaders)
    1. Vote of Thanks:  Dr. C. Joslin Thamby
    2. Closing Prayer and Benediction:  The Rt. Rev .Dr. I. Jesudhasan


                                            CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA


The Most Revd G. Devakadasham
CSI Synod                                                                                  Friday, March 23, 2012

Most revered and dear Moderator,

    Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

    At the outset we want to record our appreciation to  you for the initiative that you are taking as the new Moderator to listen to the voices of concern that have been raised regarding the existing state of affairs in the CSI and the need to bring about  a reformation of the Church of South India. This concern and call have been expressed from many quarters and it is encouraging that as soon as you have taken up the important position of the Moderator you are positively responding to this call. We hope and pray ssthat the initiative that you are taking will be blessed by the Holy Spirit and bear fruits. Our prayerful support goes with you.

    In this Memorandum we prayerfully put before you our thoughts on the above issue. We want to assure you that the views expressed and suggestions made here reflect the opinions of many thoughtful and committed members of the CSI from different walks of life who have a great burden for our great Church.

  1. Preamble
     At the recently concluded XXXIII Session of the CSI Synod, the then Moderator, in his Address has made elaborate reference to the challenges and problems faced by the CSI. It is an acknowledgement that the CSI is in a state of crisis. It is to be welcomed. Of course, as the Moderator has pointed out, this perception should not prevent us from ignoring the vibrant life that can be seen at the local congregations of the CSI. However, as we are considering the life of the Church as a larger body, we cannot fail to acknowledge with sadness that the credibility of the CSI is perhaps at its lowest point in its history of 64 years in the eyes of the public, the international partners and its own members. This is not the place and time to attempt a detailed analysis of why is it so and to apportion blame. We believe that the time has come for us to humbly accept our collective failure and turn to God to lead us in the path of reformation.

          The former Moderator has in his address given a list of the key issues which he considers as part of the challenges faced by the CSI. We reproduce them below:
a.   Allegations of corruption in the hierarchy
b.   Complaints of misappropriation of finances
      1. Accusations of arbitrary decisions in administrations
      2. Charges relating to mishandling of property transactions

He has also mentioned that structural reforms are needed to tackle these issues and has identified three areas where such structural reforms are needed, namely, Episcopacy, Electoral System as part of the Democratic System of Governance and the Federal Structure of the CSI.
Taking this as a starting point, we give below our analysis of the issues and some constructive suggestions.

  1. A Multidimensional Approach
    We firmly believe that we have to approach this problem in a parallel multidimensional manner. Mere administrative reforms, though needed urgently, will not produce the desired results. There must be efforts to encourage both the
leaders and the congregations to reflect on the theological, ethical and ecclesiological issues that are involved, taking into consideration the purpose for which the CSI was formed and the hopes and aspirations of those who took leadership in bringing about the Union. We make as  the first suggestion, a thorough study of the Chapter on Governing Principles in the CSI Constitution ( Chapter II) and the documentary Basis of the Union given as an Appendix ( Appendix I).

     The CSI should have a theological focus for its mission and ministry

       Theological Commission should bring out in regional languages  commentaries on the issues mentioned in these documents. For example, paragraph 8 of Chapter II, states:

“The Church of South India recognizes that episcopal, presbyteral, and congregational elements must all have their place in its  order of life, and that the episcopate, the presbyterate, and the congregation of the faithful should all in their several spheres have responsibility and exercise authority in the life and work of the Church, in its governance and administration , in its evangelistic and pastoral work, in its discipline, and in its worship.” (p.11)

It is further affirmed that “No individual and no one order in the Church can claim exclusive possession of this heavenly priesthood” (p. 120).

Urgently needed also are information on corruption and its impact on individual Christians and common life of congregations.  We need to know the origin and the root causes of corruption.  Corruption should be seen as “Sin” in the Biblical sense and fighting corruptions is to be viewed as a theological task. Unless the rank and file in our congregations is given this kind of input, our efforts to reform the churches will not take root and bear fruit.
      Simultaneously, action must be taken to address the issues of Governance at all levels because, after all is said and done, the issue here, as it is elsewhere, is that the crisis is that of leadership. For the Church, leadership is to be based on servant hood and responsible stewardship. These concepts, though talked about in conferences and seminars, are not evident in practice. The gap between what we preach and practice has to be bridged through practical measures.
  1. Long term Goals and Immediate Proactive Measures

         We have organized ourselves as a Church with a written Constitution. The Constitution of the Church should reflect the reason for its existence and the way God calls the Church to fulfill His will at a given time. Therefore, it may be necessary, from time to time to prayerfully and carefully bring about changes in the Constitution as demanded by the emerging new contexts. In Chapter XIII (pages 111,112), the CSI Constitution prescribes the procedures to be adopted  while making alterations in the Constitution. Rule 2, prescribes the procedure to be adopted while making changes in the Constitution, other than in the Governing Principles. The procedure requires a minimum of 4 to 5 years as they need the approval of the two thirds of the diocesan council.  On the other hand, Rule 3 confers on the Executive Committee of the Synod, as the ad-interim body of the Synod, “the right to frame rules, regulations and byelaws for the operation of the provisions of this Constitution, subject to the approval of the Synod”.

     We therefore suggest that changes which we agree as our long term goals be brought about through the process that is prescribed under Rule 2, while immediate proactive measures which are  needed urgently be brought about using Rule 3.

  1. Long term Goals requiring Constitutional Changes
           Since long term goals such as Constitutional Changes are priority wise the most important reform we want and since it has a long process to go through, we take them first, requesting the authorities concerned to  initiate the process without losing time and to expedite the same.

(i) Rethinking Episcopacy in terms of functions and powers

There is definitely a need for rethinking the role and functions of episcopacy in the light of the experience of the past six decades. Unlike, the Church of England, which is episcopally led and synodically governed, the CSI has adopted historic episcopacy in a constitutional form. Moreover, the framers of the Constitution, at the time of Union have deliberately not committed the CSI to any particular interpretation of the CSI. They have also included a clause, as already mentioned , which speaks about the balance among the Episcopal, Presbyteral and Congregational elements in the life of the Church.. The Constitution also speaks about the prohibition for bishops in directly involving in financial management. In spite of these provisions, it is unfortunate that many Diocesan Constitutions have been amended seeking to give enormous powers to the Bishops and this is the root cause for many difficulties.  The  biblical concept of the Bishop being an Overseer is being sought to be replaced by that of Bishop being a Chief Executive Officer. That this is what people expect or the public believe   should not be an argument to support this view of episcopacy.

      Therefore we suggest that an immediate step of reviewing  the Constitutions of all CSI dioceses be undertaken to identify where provisions not in consonance with the provisions of the CSI Constitution have been made and to take steps to declare them as of no effect ( See the provision Rule 9 of Chapter VIII, p.72 of the Constitution).

(ii) Limiting the Term of Episcopacy

At present, the Constitution provides that a Bishop once elected holds the Office till he/she retires after attaining the age of 65. During the term of Office, there is no occasion where his performance is reviewed either by the Synod or by the people of the Diocese. This results in the lack of accountability throughout his/her tenure, which theoretically can be as long as 15 years.

      A suggestion that has been made many times earlier, but not heeded to by those who were in power, may be taken up seriously at least this time, namely, limiting the bishopric to a limited term of five or six years depending on the approved alternative mode of election to be taken up below. Such a step will require Constitutional Changes which have to be carefully worked out.

(iii) Mode of Election of Bishops

       The  Governing Principles clearly say that the bishopric is an elected office ( See Rule 11 (b) of Chapter II, page 13, CSI Constitution ) and in that election both the  diocese concerned and the authorities of the Synod as whole should have an effective voice. The present Rules for election, appointment and consecration of Bishops , as given in Chapter VI is supposed to incorporate this provision. However, in practice, the election to the panel at the Diocesan level and the final selection of the one out of three or four in the panel at the Synod level gives enough and more room for all kinds of evils entering into the Church.

          In recent years the present election process has been seen by most people as the root cause of all the problems in the Church of South India—divisions, hostilities, court-cases and corruption. In this process of election all Christian values are eroded and a pseudo spirituality that foster corruption has entered in to churches from the top to the bottom. A paper presented at the Coimbatore Synod by a group of “Concerned Members of the Church of South India”, which included important leaders like late Mr. Fred Karat of Bangalore, says the following regarding “Elections in the C.S.I.”:

“There is an overwhelming opinion against the present system of elections in the C.S.I. which have tarnished the image of the Church.  It is often mentioned that unless the elections are scrapped, spiritual renewal of the Church would be impossible

      Defenders of the status-quo in the Church often talk of the Democratic Process we have to follow.  The true democratic process is there where every citizen, the rich and the poor, the weak and the strong, the Dalit and the non-Dalit, is able to exercise his/her franchise with absolute freedom under no threat of victimization and luring with inducement of reward and gain. But, what we see practiced in churches today is not such a democracy. What we have is a “mutilated democracy”.  We may call it “Majoritarianism”, where the contesters of different groups turn heaven and earth to get the majority votes by hook or by crook by getting votes by inducements and threats, and by making unethical and unchristian compromises. It was such a Majoritarianism devoid of truth and justice that sent Jesus to the cross.

    So, we plead for scrapping the present system of election and look for alternative ways of choosing God-fearing shepherds who will lead the sheep and not rule over them.
(iv) Alternate method of electing Bishop.

       Considering the importance of the Office of the Bishop, alternate methods of electing a Bishop in a diocese may be considered. The procedure of short listing of candidates by well defined criteria and the diocesan council making a decision on the panel as proposed ( by Dr. Gnana Robinson—see Appendix I, p.19) may be given serious thought to avoid unwelcome canvassing and use of money power. The aim of such changes should eventually enable really Christ-centered capable and dedicated persons to be elected without having to spend time and money on canvassing.

(v) Relationship of the Synod with the Dioceses

       According to the CSI Constitution, the Synod is the highest representative body of the CSI, its supreme governing and legislative body and the visible symbol of its unity. It is also the final authority on all matters pertaining to the Church. The Diocesan Councils have the power to frame their Constitution within the framework of the Synod Constitution. The supervisory power of the Synod over the dioceses is not explicitly given. It is implied in Rules 15 and 16 of Chapter IX where a distinction is sought to be made between matters of common interest to the whole Church and the internal affairs of the dioceses. Rules 15 and 16 only provide for calling for information relating to administration and financial management, that too from the Bishop, or from the Officers. Further, the Synod’s intervention in the diocese is limited by providing “assistance” and that too in consultation with the Executive Committee concerned. These Rules are not applied uniformly and fairly; there is also the question of deciding what issues come under internal affairs. These Rules require a thorough revision taking into consideration the recent experience in dealing with Diocese where massive maladministration with regard to finance and properties has been reported. One of the actions frequently taken by the Synod is the appointment of administrative committees. Since there is no specific provision for appointing administrative committee, such an action has been questioned in the Court of law. At the same time, Bishops should not be allowed to run the diocese for a long time with administrative committees bypassing democratically elected Committees.

       A perusal of the sub Rules 15(a), 15(b) and 15(c) shows that 15(c) was made by the Synod of 1950 and after 30 years later, the other two sub Rules have been added. However, it is not clear why the following Rule which was passed by the Synod Working Committee as early as 31-12-1983 (WC 83-142), under the power given in Rule 14 of Chapter IX, has not been made a part of the Constitution:

 “If at any time it is found that the finance of a Diocese is not properly managed, the Synod Executive Committee/Working Committee, on the recommendation of the CSI TA, shall have the right to appoint an administrator who will take charge of the Diocesan Accounts, Finances and properties and hold office until the financial affairs of the Diocese are considered by the Synod Executive Committee /Working Committee, in consultation with the CSI TA to be in order.”

We recommend that this provision be taken up seriously.

(vi)Officers of the Synod

General Secretary:

      The General Secretary is the Chief Executive of such a big Church, the CSI with 23 dioceses and around four million believers.  He/she is one officer who has to deal meaningfully with all the bishops, who are all basically theologians and spiritual heads. He/she has to represent this big Church in ecumenical forums in the World Wide Church and interact meaningfully in all faith and order discussions. How can persons from secular backgrounds without adequate theological orientation justifiably hold such positions and represent this great Church meaningfully in ecumenical forums? In the absence of any qualification prescribed for the General Secretary, candidates from every walk of life in the secular field attracted by the pomp and power vested on this post, today dare to contest elections and one who wins by majority votes gets appointed.  His/her theological competence, spiritual commitment and moral integrity have been never tested. This is not the way to elect a person for such an important position.

      We therefore recommend that the post of the General Secretary be made a full time paid post for a term of five years, renewable if satisfactory for another term.  His /her qualifications have to be prescribed, the post should be widely advertised, proper interview should be held and the best person should be selected.  We acknowledge that we have had and we have still lay persons with adequate theological orientation and such persons can also be candidates for such a post.

Treasurer of the Synod:

      The treasurer who is to hold and administer “all moneys belonging to the Synod” should be a person with professional expertise in financial management.  This is not a job which anyone coming from any walk of life for a period of two years can handle.  There should be continuity in careful planning and execution.  The situation where one man spends all the money he has in two years, and another man succeeding finding no money even to pay the essentials like “pensions” of retired bishops should not happen.  The person should be able to concentrate on his work without worrying about the Synod elections after the two year period. He should be a neutral person treating all equally without fearing the prospect of election.

     We therefore recommend that the treasurer’s post is also made a full time paid post for five years with very clear job-description, renewable for another term if found satisfactory.  The Synod treasurer should be in a position to train and guide diocesan treasurers on true Christian Stewardship in finance and property managements. The qualification for the treasurer should be spelt out, the post should be widely advertised, the applicants should be interviewed and the best among them should be appointed with clear job-description.

      Both the above officers should be residential at the Synod Centre

(vii).Church of South India Trust Association- management of movable and immovable properties of the Church - Rethinking the role and functioning of the CSI TA
      Apart from the Constitution of the CSI, there are also the provisions of the Church of South India Trust Association (CSI TA) which govern the management of movable and immovable properties of the CSI. CSI TA was incorporated as Limited Company in the year 1947 under Section 13 of the Indian Companies Act, 1913 (now Section 25 of Indian Companies Act 1956) with certain objects expressed in the Memorandum  of the Association.. The relationship between the CSI and CSI TA is now a matter of great importance and legal experts must review this aspect in the light of the experience that we have gained over the past 60 years.

        It is in the area of management of movable and immovable properties of the Church, there seems to be the greatest need for creating provisions in the Constitution to ensure transparency and accountability. No one can deny that we have been coming across cases of large-scale mismanagement of properties.. As stated above, the CSI TA is the body that had been created and given a legal status by Registration under the Indian Companies Act to be responsible for the management of the properties. The properties that are spread over the four Southern States are used by the various dioceses. The CSITA manages these properties through the Power of Attorney Holders nominated by the Executive Committees of the Dioceses. Now, a Power of Attorney Holder is an Agent empowered to act on behalf of the Principal and whatever that has been done by him is binding upon the Principal. In fact, the Instrument granting the Power of Attorney invariably contains an assurance that the Principal will ratify what has been done by the agent. This being so, if there is any large-scale mismanagement, the ultimate responsibility would devolve upon the CSITA and affect its tax-exempt status. Is the CSITA whose affairs are managed by a small Committee of Management equipped to monitor and supervise all that is done by  its Power Agents, numbering more than 80?  These issues assume great importance due to the fact that CSI TA  has been granted exemption from Income Tax on its income under Section 10-23 C (v) of the Income Tax Act. The sub-section reads as follows:

“any trust (including any other legal obligation) or Institution wholly for public religious purposes or wholly for public religious and charitable purposes (which may be approved by the prescribed authority) having regard to the manner in which the affairs of the trust or the Institution are administered and supervised for ensuring that the income accruing thereof is properly applied for the objects thereof “

The emphasis  here is that the CSI TA, being a Public Trust,  is assumed to have  an effective mechanism  of  administration  and supervision to ensure  that the income accruing is properly applied to the objects of the Trust. How effective the present mechanism is, needs to assessed.

In this connection, the relationship between the CSI and the CSI TA should be made clear. The formal inauguration of the CSI was on 27th of September, 1947, but the CSI TA was registered on 26th September, 1947 itself, that is, one day prior to the birth of the CSI. Yet, the original Constitution of the CSI did  not speak about the CSI TA at all, even though it was in existence on that day, except claiming powers to make rules and pass resolutions relating to the property of the Church ( Rule 14 of Chapter XI ).  Article 3 of the Articles of the CSI TA clearly defines what the expression “Church of South India” means in  the Memorandum and Articles, before and after the Inauguration. The state of affairs appear to indicate very clearly that the CSI TA was meant to have certain independence and autonomy subject to the rules and regulations that may be made from time to time by the Synod. In fact, the Treasurer of the CSI was the Treasurer of the CSI TA  and its  Administrator. However, an amendment made in 2002 has made the Moderator, Deputy Moderator, General Secretary and the Treasurer of the CSI ex officio members of the CSI TA, and the Moderator as the ex officio  Chairman and the General Secretary as the ex officio Secretary of  the CSI TA.

It is felt by many that this move has made the CSI TA, which was supposed to be the guardian of the properties of the CSI, a handmaiden of the CSI. . This needs to be reviewed and changed.  The CSITA should remain as an autonomous body under the overall control of the Synod, without giving a chance for the office-bearers of the Synod to influence its decisions.

 5. Immediate Proactive Measures

e suggest several practical and concrete measures for immediate actions, which we believe will go a long way in improving our pattern of Governance.

a. Measures to improve transparency and accountability in Governance

Transparency and Accountability have come to occupy centre stage in all reforms in Governance worldwide. It has also been recognized that working towards greater Transparency and Accountability is also a major step towards combating corruption, because corruption thrives only in an opaque and non transparent administration. Further, it has also been recognized that the hall mark of a transparent and accountable administration is the extent to which the administrative bodies confer the right to information to the stakeholders about the way decisions are made on issues which affect them.

 We therefore suggest the following, with reference to administration at the Synod Level:

(i). Specific Rules may be framed regarding preparation, dissemination and accessibility regarding the proceedings of the bodies involved in Synod administration.

         The Synod is described in Chapter IX (page 75) as the “highest representative body of the Church of South India, its supreme and Governing and legislative body and the visible symbol of its unity”. Therefore, what happens at each Session of the Session and at the subsequent meetings of the Executive/ Working Committee are of immense significance to every member of the CSI and the decisions taken must be disseminated to all members through a reasonable process. The current situation is that, the Proceedings of a Session of the Synod is given in printed form, two years later  at the time of the next session, to members, many of whom have not attended the earlier Session, for consideration!   While there are rules regarding the time limit for preparation and circulation of Minutes of even a pastorate committee, there are no such rules in the Constitution for any meeting of the Synod or the Executive Committee or the Working Committee.

      We therefore recommend:

i. Immediate steps be taken to form Rules which prescribe a  reasonable time limit within which such Minutes may be prepared and circulated to the members who attended a meeting .

ii.    Secondly, immediate steps be taken to create a link in the CSI Website in which the proceedings and Minutes of the Synod, Executive Committee and the Working Committee may be uploaded. This is done in many Churches. For example, complete list of Minutes and Audited Statements of the General Council of the Synod of the Reformed Church in America is available at . The General Synod Council is also a tax exempted organization like the CSITA ; it is an organization exempted from federal taxes under Section 501 (c0 (3) of Internal Revenue Code. Another example would be the Church of England. Its official website . provides access to all Reports and Proceedings besides the usual information about the life and work of the Church. If such a step is taken it would be a great advancement in promoting transparency and accountability.

(ii) Right to information

It has been widely recognized that the right to information is a fundamental right of all stakeholders and an informed membership is the key to fight corruption in any organization. Government of India has recognized this right by enacting the Right to information Act of 2005 which has brought in tremendous change in the way governance takes place. The Synod administration may voluntarily come forward to declare that information on key issues will be made available for those who seek it. At the same time the Executive Committee can also begin, in consultation with legal experts, to formulate our own form of Right to Education Act. Of course, there will be resistance to such a bold step and all sorts of objections may be raised.

     However, only through such a step we can raise the level of credibility of the administration in the eyes of the members and the general public.

b. Measures to combat corruption

(i) Independent and credible mechanism to deal with allegations of corruption

The former Moderator, Bp. Vasanthakumar, in his address mentioned about the allegations that are being made against the administration at different levels and bemoaned the fact that persons are preferring complaints to outside statutory bodies and investigations arising out of such complaints have given sleepless nights to the Officers of the Synod. There are two reasons for this state of affairs:

    1. One is the lack of responsiveness on the part of the administration when complaints are made before church authorities. Mostly they are ignored because many of the allegations are made against the authorities themselves. This forces the complainants to approach Courts and other statutory bodies.

    1. The second reason is that  we have voluntarily put ourselves under statutory bodies like the Income Tax Department  by registering  CSITA under the Companies Act of 1956 as a Section 25 Company  and claiming Tax Exemption as Public Religious Charitable Trust under Section 10 ( 23) (  c ) (v) of the Income Tax Act of 1961.

    1. That apart we also come under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act since we do receive funds from our ecumenical partners. This being so, if we want to avoid intervention by statutory bodies we must strengthen the existing   mechanisms for dealing with charges of corruption and also create new mechanisms.

        We therefore recommend the Creation of an Ombudsman type of organization with independent powers to investigate genuine complaints of corruption and maladministration immediately. Naturally safeguards have to be built in to protect persons in responsibility from vexatious and mala fide complaints.

(ii) Sanctions and punitive actions against persons who are found to have indulged in corrupt action

        One of the things which embolden individuals who indulge in corrupt action and gain financially in the Church administration is the reluctance on the part of the Church authorities to take punitive actions against such persons. Corrupt actions are not only violations of Church Rules, but also against the law of the land. Therefore, the Church should not hesitate to seek the help of the mechanisms available under the law enforcement agencies of the Government to bring to book such offenders and to recover the ill-gotten wealth.

The Executive Committee may pass a resolution that the Church will not hesitate to take such a decisive action against those who are proved to have indulged in  serious acts of corruption.

c. Measures relating to elections to pave the way for free and fair election.

     No can deny that the election processes in the Church has become highly compromised from top to bottom. Since elections are related to acquisition of power in the Church administration, people are willing to go to any extent to get elected to positions of authority and power. Everyone agrees that these days money plays a significant role in elections. Therefore, God fearing persons who are not willing to indulge in such corrupt practices have no opportunity of getting elected. Therefore, alternative forms of choosing persons for responsibilities in the Church at diocesan and congregational levels should be explored on the basis of the alternative mode of electing bishops is decided upon as appealed above. However, pending such changes, the following measures can be taken with immediate effect:

(i)A Code of Conduct for all elections

        A Code of Conduct to be followed by candidates and their supporters may be worked out. In this, list of malpractices like giving and receiving bribes, inducements, appealing to caste and regional affiliations, producing and distributing pamphlets denigrating opposing candidates, etc to influence voting must be declared as electoral offences just as it has been done in the Representation of People’s Act.

(ii) Appointment of Election Commissions

      The Constitution provides for appointing a Panel of Election observers for bishopric elections (Rule 39, Chapter VI, pp.64,65). Announcement regarding the appointment of this panel may be made in the diocese where elections are to be held and allow complaints regarding malpractices to be received and investigated by the Panel. Since a large number of bishopric elections are going to be held during this biennium and the process has already started in some dioceses quick action is needed.

(iii) Code of responsible leadership and minimum standard for holding public offices

      Recognizing that the present crisis is primarily one of leadership, a Code of responsible leadership may be framed to be followed by all holding public offices and given wide circulation. The “Seven Nolan Principles of Public Life”Selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership by example may be promoted as standards for holding public offices. The Code of Leadership approved by the 25th Quadrennial Assembly of the NCCI held in Tirunelveli   during February, 2004 may be adopted and disseminated. Minimum Standards for persons who seek Offices should be worked out ( proposal by Dr. Gnana Robinson, through PFLWC-see Appendix II, p.21) may be taken as a guideline.

Bishops’ Council

                   There is a general feeling among many members that the fellowship of bishops, which was originally meant for theological refreshment, has turned out to be a extra-constitutional power centre which tries to protect the interests of the bishops and to maintain the status-quo preventing changes towards renewal and reformation.  This explains why some of the very important recommendations for changes made by committees constituted by the Synod, such as the Abel Commission, have never been even opened for discussion.  Propositions for changes are first referred to the bishops and only if they approve it, they are presented to the Synod (IX: 22)

      It is recommended that the supremacy of the Synod is upheld and the status of the Bishops Council as an extra-constitutional power centre be abolished. It can continue as a fellowship for spiritual unity and theological enrichment.     
      6.  Some Common Concerns

i      The Missing Theological Focus:

        Whether all the 23 Dioceses of the CSI function with a common theological focus is a question that bothers many of us. There was a time when CSI dioceses recruited only ordinands who came out of the Senate of Serampore College related colleges and seminaries, because this theological university had an ecumenically recognized theological focus and standard. But this is no more the case.  Now candidates from all quarters are recruited.  Theological education these days is commercialized and there is a mushroom growth of theological colleges all over the country, because a theological degree of some sort is a “license” for people to go abroad.  Most of these colleges promote sectarian theologies and maintain questionable standards.  Sound theology is a “must” for a healthy, corruption-free Church.  The Theological Commission of the CSI   should be constituted with sound theologians, and the Commission should play a vital role in the life of the CSI.  Theological colleges of questionable credibility should be identified and dropped out of the list of the theological colleges for recruitment.     The Senate of Serampore College also should be requested to apply strict measures in giving affiliation to new colleges.

    1. The Need for Healthy Spirituality in the CSI:

           Congregations in the CSI these days are flooded with revival meetings and conventions, where freelance preachers in good number with questionable credibility are the preachers.  Self made bishops and archbishops are arising from among them. These preachers propagate a prosperity cult-spirituality centered on money (Mammon), which is devoid of any reference to justice and truth.  Here, we have to be reminded that in the Bible we come across two strands of spirituality, namely, the Priestly Spirituality and the Prophetic Spiritually.  The priestly spirituality was popular with the ruling class and many followed it (it was the “broad gate” mentioned by Jesus). But it was devoid of justice and truth and God rejected it totally (See Is.11:11-15; Jer.7:4, 8-15; Amos: 21-23; Micah 6:6:6-7).  The Prophetic Spirituality demanded Justice and Truth in all spheres of life and very few followed it (the “narrow” gate mentioned by Jesus - See Is.I:16-17; Jer. 7: 5-7; Amos 5:24; Micah 6:8).  Jesus affirmed this Prophetic Spirituality when he said “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”, thereby subjecting all the so called holy institutions such as “the Sabbath” and the religious rituals to justice and truth in human relationship, to the wellbeing of the human, especially the differently-abled, the poor and the marginalized (See Mark 2:27 along with Mark 3:1-6).

Behind the priestly spirituality or the pseudo-spirituality, we discern a distorted understanding of God.  “If you stretch out your hand to give to God liberally, God will stretch out his hand to heal you and bless you abundantly” seems to be the gist of all preaching we hear these days from pulpits, platforms and in T.V. programmes.   The conception of God that lies behind such spirituality is that of “a hard-core extortioner who would not relent unless and until he is appeased with obeisance and flatteries (praises) and bribed with generous gifts (offerings)”. Such an understanding of God can be the starting point of corruption in churches.  “If God should be bribed for blessings, what is wrong in our bribing the leaders?” -  the devotees may ask. How much of such an understanding of God is true to the image of God revealed in and through Jesus’ life and teaching?  If the “Father” character in Jesus’ Parable of the Second Son (known among us as the “Prodigal Son”) gives us any clue to our understanding of God, how much of that does really agree with this “Extortioner” concept of God?  It is high time, the CSI organizes a serious consultation on our understanding of God, because a sound understanding of God is basic and fundamental to a Corruption-Free Church.

    1. Migrant Christians Care in City Churches:

              It has been brought to our attention that migrant Christians in cities face lot of problems in relating themselves to local CSI congregations.  It is recommended that the Dioceses with migrant Christians have a special department to attend to the needs of such Christians.

    1. Uniform Criteria for Ordinations:

             We are told, the dioceses have their own guidelines for ordination, and there are no uniform criteria for the whole CSI.  This seems to result in delay in ordination of some candidates giving room for complaints of favoritism and victimization. Clear criteria valid for the whole CSI and faithful adherence to the same are recommended.

      7     Joint Action Committee or Steering Committee to Follow up

From the experiences of the past, where decisions and recommendations made at several Synod-sponsored commissions and committees had never been taken up seriously and acted upon, we are a bit concerned that this our effort also should not end up as a futile exercise. We therefore appeal to the Moderator to constitute a Joint Action Committee or Steering Committee for this purpose with representation from both the Executive Committee and from the Core Group that is behind the Movement for the Renewal and Reformation of the C.S.I. which includes all people in the CSI who look for changes. This Committee may work under your direction and it may be given a time frame within which recommendations may be made for consideration by the Executive Committee and the Synod.

8. Closing Remarks

      We have endeavored to put forth our views on some of the issues which we believe are of importance and we trust that these constructive suggestions will be considered in the spirit with which we have made them. We, once again, thank you, the Moderator, for taking this initiative and assure you of our cooperation and support to your continued efforts for the Renewal and Reformation of the Church of South India..

                                    Yours faithfully,

Members of the Core Group of the Movement for the Renewal and the  Reformation of the Church of South India who have affixed their signatures to this Memorandum on March 23, 2012

Names                                         Designation                                        Diocese         
Rt. Revd. Dr. I Jessudhasan,    Former Moderator/Bishop          -S.Kerala  Diocese
Rt. Revd. Willaim Moses,          Former Moderator/Bishop        -Coimbatore Diocese
Rt. Revd. Dr. Samuel Amirtham,  Former Bishop,                      -S.Kerala Diocese
Rt. Revd.Dr.C.L.Furtado,        Former Bishop,                          -S.Karnataka Diocese
Rt. Revd. Dr.J.A.D. Jebachandran, Bishop,               -Thoothukudi Nazareth Diocese
Prof. George Koshy,     Former General Secretary of the Synod,    -S. Kerala Diocese D. Charlet Jothimony,            Synod Member,          -Thoothukudy-Nazareth Diocese
Revd.Margochis David Wesley,  Synod Member,                                ,,      
Mr.J.K.M. Johnson David,       Synod Member                                    ,,
Mr. S. Ponraj Johnson,             Synod Member                                    ,,
Mr. C. Gandhi Rajan,              Synod Member                                     ,,     
Revd. S. Manickam                   Pastor                                                     ,,
Revd. S.G. Lourdhuraj               Pastor                                                      ,,
Revd.  D.G.A. Thomas                   Pastor                                                      ,,
Revd. J. Koin Pitchai                 Pastor                                                      ,,
Revd.R.L.A. Sundarraj             Pastor                                                      ,,
Revd. D.K.N. Johnson                Pastor                                                     ,,
Mr. D. Mohan                             Lay Leader                                             ,,                         
Revd.Dr. Dhyanchand Carr,    Former Princiapl, TTS,               - Madurai Diocese
Adv. R.Sathiamoorthy,            Former President,National YMCA,             ,,
Prof. D.Samuel Lawrence,      Former Professor, American College,         ,,
Revd.Dr. S. John Sahayam,     Former Professor, American College,        ,,
Revd.Dr. M. Gnanavaram,      Principal, TTS,                                               ,,
Prof.Dr. Jayakaran Isaac         Member of the Synod,                       -Vellore Diocese
Revd.Dr. Y. James Prakasam, Member of the Synod,                                    ,,
Mr. D. Devaraj,                         Member of the Diocesan Council ,                ,,
Mr. David Selvaraj                   Synod Member,                -Central Karnataka Diocese
Revd.Dr. Siga Arles                  Professor(Theologican)                                   ,,                                    Revd. B.J. Premiah                   Senior Pastor,                                     -Madras Diocese                                         
Dr.Joslin Thamby,                    Lay Leader                                                     ,,
Revd. S.D. Sounderarajan,      Pastor,                                                             ,,
Revd. Daniel Meshak,               Pastor,                                                            ,,
Dr. Paul Panneerselvan,            Lay Leader                                                    ,,
Mr. Azariah,                               Lay Leader,                                                  ,,
Mr. Edward Thyagarajan,        Lay Leader,                                                   ,,
Revd.Dr. A.J.George Kodumuti Nadar, Medical Chaplain,                           ,,
Revd.Dr. Arthur Jeyakumar,   Professor (Rtd.),TTS,           -Trichy -Tanjore Diocese
Revd. P.Praveen  Prabhu Sudheer,  Professor, ACTC,           - Karim Nagar Diocese 
Mr. V. Jayakar Johnson              Lay Leader                                          ,,
Mr. J. Devadanam                       Lay Leader                                           ,,
Revd.Dr. Badem Sunder Raju,  Vice President/Synod Member, -Rayalaseema
Revd. Jayakumar,                       Synod Member,                                           ,,
Mr. S. Raja                                   Dio. Council Member,                                ,,
Prof. D Christian Babu        G.Secretary of the Dio./Synod Member, Kanyakumari
Mr. N. Vethamuth,                      Dio. Treasurer,                                              ,,
Adv. A.J. Livingston,                   Convener-Prophetic Forum,                       ,,
Revd. K.G. Mohan                       Pastor,                                                            ,,
Revd. Y. Gnanadhas.                     Pastor,                                                          ,,
Revd. T. Justin Raj,                            Pastor,                                                      ,,
Revd.Dr. Vijithambi Solomon,     Director, CMS,                                            ,,
Mr. Emil Jebasingh,                       Lay Leader,                                                  ,,
Mr. Irwin Dhas,                              Lay Leader                                                    ,,
Mr. Srivas Sunder,                         Lay Leader,                                                   ,,  
R. Robinson                                     Lay Leader                                                    ,,
Prof. Dr. Winston Somervell         Professor (Rtd.)                                             ,,
Prof.Dr. Mrs. Johanna Somervell    Professor                                                       ,,  
Dr. P. Samraj                                   Christian Scientist                                        ,, 
Mr. S. Renjit Singh                          Lay Leader                                                   ,,
R. Kumaresan                                   Lay Leader                                                   ,,
T. Paulose                                          Lay Leader                                                   ,,
Revd. C. Devadhas                           Director, DMPB                                           ,,
Mr. A. Sam Jayapaul                        Lay Leader                                                   ,,
Revd.Dr. Gnana Robinson, Pastor/Former Principal of TTS &UTC,              ,,       

Appendix I:
                     A Guideline for Bishop’s Election in Churches in India    
 The Basic Principle:  
Basically, all ordained ministers in the Diocese/Church are eligible candidates to become a Bishop, the Chief Pastor or the Chief Shepherd.       
All Pastors, who fulfill the following conditions, should be accepted as candidates eligible to become a Bishop.  
(i). He/She should have passed the basic ministerial studies of B.D./M.Div.  level or any other level agreed by the Council.
(ii). He/She should be between the age of 55 and 60 – not below 55, not  above  60 or any other age limit agreed by all in the Council.  
(iii). He/She should be a person who is not convicted in any criminal or civil     legal proceedings or in a Church Court.  
(iv). He/She should have had personal administrative and pastoral          experience, i.e., he/she should have successfully served as District Minister              or Area Chairperson for at least 5 years.     
(v). All ordained ministers thus short-listed should be announced to the             Diocese as candidates eligible to become Bishop.         
(vi).  The Council responsible for the election of the bishop should be              watchful to see, if any canvassing or underhand dealing is done on behalf of any candidate, and should see that such things are  prevented.  If it is known that a particular candidate has a part in such campaigns, that candidate should be disqualified.
(vii). Consensus Candidate: If the whole Council with no campaign and intimidation whatsoever is able to come up with a consensus candidate, that candidate may be declared as the chosen leader without a contest.
  1. In the absence of a consensus candidate,  after the notice period, all those who are responsible for electing the Bishop should come together within closed doors, spend a time of prayer  invoking the Sprit of God, and then cast lot, a method practicedss in the New Testament times (see Acts 1:23-26).     

     The Advantage of this Method:-                
It gives sufficient space for the working of reason and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  It preempts the room for rivalry, enmity and division.  No one would feel let down or defeated in this way of choosing a bishop.  All can be content with the assurance that God has chosen a member of their fellowship to be their “Chief Shepherd” and be thankful to God.      
Let us not give up hope:                  
The prophets in the Bible, who opted to listen to God’s will and to carry it out in this world, were all alone in their struggle against the principalities and powers of this world. Jesus, whose body the Church is, was also all alone in his struggle against the evils of this world.  It is on his death and resurrection that his Church is built. Martin Luther, the Reformer, was all alone when he protested against the excesses in the medieval churches. He had the courage to stand up and to say to his opponents “Here I stand”. The movement he initiated as a single person could spread out far and wide and bring about radical changes in the churches.                 
So, let us not be discouraged saying “we are a few, we are alone, what can we do?” God is with us in our struggle for justice, truth and life. He will sustain us.  His spirit will guide us and strengthen us. Let us keep on struggling against the evils in the churches and working for the restoration of the true Church of Christ, which can bear effective witness in this world fraught with many problems and bring the “good news” of liberation to the poor and the marginalized in our society.
                                                                      Gnana Robinson

 Appendix II
        A Model Election Manifesto for Diocesan Elections
The Prophetic Forum for the Life and Witness of Churches

  1. Preamble

      Let’s follow the foot-steps of Jesus Christ, the Head of the

        The Church, the Body of Christ, invites those who are assured of God’s calling to take up ministerial responsibilities.
Let no one without a genuine calling, but just by being attracted by the power, pomp and monetary benefits that go with the position, come forward saying that he/she had a divine calling and thus deceive the Holy Spirit.  Because, Christ’s calling for his ministry is of a different nature from that of the calling for worldly offices, as seen below:

“You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 43-45)

      Today many who seek positions of profit and power resort to unchristian immoral ways and grab such positions in churches and such persons give a deaf year to prophetic voices coming from committed Christians within churches calling for changes in the life of the church in accordance with “the Mind of Jesus” (Philippians 2:50).  Therefore members of the Prophetic forum realize the need for participating in the process of election in the present structure.  In such a situation, members who come forward to participate are asked to move cautiously and wisely remembering the  following words of Jesus:

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”   (Matthew 10:16)

Under the changed circumstances when rampant corruption prevalent in the society has entered into the life of the churches, as admitted by the National Council of Churches in 2004, the Prophetic Forum realizes the need for uncorrupt Christians entering in Church administration and therefore encourage really committed members to contest elections following the guidelines prescribed below.

  1. Candidates who wish to contest elections should Commit themselves whole heartedly to accept and live according to the following Ten
Characteristics of Christian Commitment:

      1. Total commitment to Christ, which is a commitment to truth, 
      justice and life.
      1. This commitment is a self-less commitment. It does not
           expect fame, reward and gain for the person concerned.
      1. This is a fear-less commitment.  It is not afraid of the
consequences of its struggle for truth, justice and life. The person knows, his/her promotion, prospect for higher studies, the welfare of family members, monetary benefits, etc. all may be affected.
      1. This is not a commitment which can be swayed away by
temptations of promotions,  monetary gains,  power, fame,
      1. This is a Commitment which will never give Christs place
           to worldly riches and wealth (Mammon—Matthew 6:24)
      1. This is the commitment which transforms the life of the
           person concerned into a life-giving spring, a fruit-bearing
           tree and an ever shining light that brightens the life of all
           people who live in darkness.
      1. This commitment is not discouraged by unjust sufferings,
           persecutions, scandals and even death for Christ’s sake, for
           the person knows that these are all part of bearing the cross
           of Christ and following him.
      1. This is the commitment which seeks shelter in Christ even
           at conditions being totally lost and forgotten by all.
      1. This is the commitment which never entertains any evil for
           others—even for opponents and enemies.  It aims and
           works for the welfare of all.
      1. This commitment leads the person concerned to a
          Spirituality of abiding in Christ at all times, in all conditions.

  1. Programme of Action for the Welfare of the Church

Those who win the elections are called to dedicate themselves to work night and day for the realization of the daily prayer of millions of Christians all over the world,
           “Thy Kingdom come,
             Thy will be done,
             On earth as it is in heaven.”

by working for justice, truth and life and thus transforming the Church, the Community of believers in Christ, a Foretaste of the Kingdom of God in this world. In order to achieve the above ultimate goal, all elected Servant Leaders will jointly work on the following areas of concern:

  1. Healthy Spirituality:
Work for a healthy spiritual revival in churches centered around the Jesus of Nazareth who “emptied himself taking the form of a servant”  that many may have fullness of life and thus expose the vanity of the Prosperity Cult Spirituality which is being promoted around Mammon, the idol of riches, by commercialized gospel preachers misleading away from the crucified Christ. Make congregational worships Christ centered and not Mammon (money) centered.
  1. Clean Administration:
    1. Concentrate on the clean administration of all medical, educational and service institutions run by the Church. See that these institutions serve all people equally and justly giving special consideration for the poor, the differently- abled and the marginalized. Give no room for favoritism, nepotism and bribe.
    2. While recruiting service staff for the institutions strictly follow the guidelines laid down by the Diocese and select the best candidate available having before you only the welfare of the concerned institution in mind. Neither money nor pressure from superiors be allowed to interfere in your right decision.
    3. See that all Diocesan institutions, the educational institutions in particular, disseminate Christian values such as neighborly love, integrity and sharing in the world.

  1. Christian Stewardship:

    1. See that there is Transparency and Accountability in the
Administration of the finance and properties belonging to churches.

    1. In selling and buying properties, in giving contract works,
in renting out buildings belonging to churches, in collecting rents  and in managing the income generating institutions and fields and estates belonging to the Diocese see that absolute integrity is maintained and the accounts are properly audited.

  1. Employment Bureau in the Diocese

An Employment Bureau in the Diocese is to be started.  On   the basis of carefully laid down criteria all registered candidates should be interviewed and deserving candidates should be selected for appointment.  Special consideration should be given to the poor, the differently-abled and the marginalized.  Favoritism, nepotism and bribe should be totally avoided.

  1. Welfare of Church Workers and Pastors

    1. Candidates for Ministry should be carefully selected depending on the need of the Diocese concerned.  Candidates with genuine call for ministry alone should be selected.

    1. Those who are selected should be sent for theological education after a definite period of probation.  They should not be made to wait for a long period.

    1. Those who complete their theological education successfully and return to the Diocese should be ordained after one or two years, depending on the traditions followed in the Diocese. Delay in ordination without proper reasons can demoralize the ordinands leading to the loss of initial vision for ministry.

    1. Ordained ministers with high academic competence should be encouraged to go for higher studies, if they are motivated.

    1. A centralized salary system should be evolved, where pastors salary is not tied with the assessment to be raised from the congregation, so that the pastor may pay his/her attention to the spiritual nurture of the congregation rather than to maximizing the income of the congregation in order to pay the assessment to the Diocese.

    1. The pension and gratuity schemes for pastors should be laid down satisfactorily and the retired pastors should be treated with dignity.

  1. Transparent Administration

    1. Every member of the Congregation should be equipped and encouraged to point out mistakes wherever they find and to bring them to the attention of those in authority for the purpose of those mistakes to be corrected.

    1. Pastors should abstain from posing themselves before their congregation the super-human image by virtue of their ordination, thus instilling among the members the fear complex that they should not question or criticize any thing that the pastor, the man of God, does or speak and that God would punish them if they question the pastor.  Remember what St. Paul told to the men of Lystra when they were about to worship him as one of the gods who came from above.  Stopping the crowd from worshipping him and Barnabas, Paul said, “We also are men, of like nature with you (Acts 14:15)Such should be the humility of every man of God. A critical congregation is the sign of transparent administration.

    1. Victimization of those who raise questions and point out mistakes and thus silencing dissenting voices in churches is the root cause for corruption in churches.  To have transparency and accountability in administrations victimization should be totally avoided.  Leaders should realize that by listening to the views of constructive dissenters, we will win more co-workers.

              Prepared by the Revd.Dr. Gnana Robinson
On behalf of the Prophetic Forum for the Life and Witness of Churches in May 2009 for the Diocesan Election in Kanyakumari Diocese.  Some minor additions are made in this Englsih version dated March 28, 2012)

1 comment:

ebby,kochi said...

Very nice.well prepared.