Inaugurated on September 27, 1947, at St. George’s Cathedral, Madras
The Church of South India formed via the merger of the following:
- South India United Church (1908)–a Congregationalist-Presbyterian-Reformed union
- Anglican dioceses in southern India
- Methodist Church of South India–of British origin
The negotiations which created the 1940 Scheme of Union began in 1920. The goal was simple: to witness more effectively by uniting across denominational lines in a nation where Christians were a small minority. This became reality in 1947, but subsequent proposals toward further unity have failed. In the 1960s a plan to merge with Lutherans fell through. And, in 1978, the formation of a council with the Church of North India (created in 1970) and the ancient Mar Thoma Syrian Church (founded by the Apostle Thomas) led to cooperation yet not organic union.
Yet the Church of South India (CSI) remains committed to ecumenism. It has full communion with the Church of North India and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church. Also, CSI belongs to the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the National Council of Churches in India, and the Anglican Communion.
The Church of South India has created its own liturgy, contained in a Book of Common Worship, drawing upon Western European patterns and Indian cultural references. The Eucharistic service has prompted rave reviews for its beauty and flexibility, for its suitability for people from diverse backgrounds.
One major controversy within the Church of South India concerns whether the office of bishop is too powerful, in the Anglican mode. In other words, should a bishop be more of a chief pastor (Anglican model) or more of a shepherd? The current model is that of chief pastor.
The Church of South India has a global presence among the Indian diaspora. As I write in Athens, Georgia, I know that there is a CSI congregation in Atlanta, to my southwest.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
FEBRUARY 11, 2010 (THE FEAST OF ST. ONESIMUS, BISHOP OF BYZANTIUM)
O God, who to an expectant and united Church granted at Pentecost the gift of the Holy Spirit, and has wonderfully brought into one fold the Church of South India: Grant the help of the same Spirit to the members of the Church of South India in all their lives and worship that they may expect great things from you, and attempt great things for you, and being one in you may show to the world that you sent Jesus Christ, the Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.
(I altered the collect in the 1962 CSI Book of Common Worship, where I found the lections.–KRT)