The Church of South India is the result of the union of churches of varying traditions Anglican, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian, and Reformed. It was inaugurated in September 1947, after protracted negotiation among the churches concerned. Organized into 24 dioceses, each under the spiritual supervision of a bishop, the church as a whole is governed by a synod, which elects a moderator (presiding bishop) every 2 years. Episcopacy is thus combined with Synodical government, and the church explicitly recognizes that Episcopal, Presbyterian, and congregational elements are all necessary for the church’s life. The Scriptures are the ultimate standard of faith and practice. The historic creeds are accepted as interpreting the biblical faith, and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are recognized as of binding obligation.
Discussions concerning union had begun at a conference at Tranquebar (now Tarangambadi) in 1919, and in 1947, after India attained independence, the union was completed. The Church of South India has its own service book and communion service, both of which draw from several denominational sources. The union, especially in its reconciliation of the Anglican doctrine of apostolic succession with the views of other denominations, is often cited as a landmark in the ecumenical movement.
On 27th September 1947, the General council of Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, General Assembly of South India United Church and South India Provincial Synod of Methodist Church joined together to from the CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA as the largest united national church in India. The continued growth has been further enriched with the joining of the churches of Basel Mission and the Anglican Diocese of Nandyal. A unique church was born out of the blending of the Episcopal and non – Episcopal traditions as a gift of God to the people of India and as a visible sign of the ecclesiastical unity for the universal church.
Being the largest Protestant church in India, the CSI celebrates her life with Indian culture and spirituality and she also raises her voice for the voiceless on matters of justice, peace and integrity of creation. Sharing the love of Jesus Christ with the people of India through proclamation of the good news of Jesus; responding to human need through institutional and emergency relief work; through community development projects and skill training programmes for the marginalized and disadvantaged sections of the people and programmes for the integrity of creation. Translating this vision and commitment, the Synod of the Church of South India as the apex body of the church endeavors to encourage, equip and empower her dioceses, congregations and institutions through varied ministries.
The Journey Continues
The CSI is a united and uniting church moving forward with a dynamic vision for The Communion of Churches in India. The Church of South India, the Church of North India and the Mar Thoma Church are already members of this commune of Churches and are venturing into wider ecumenical relations to witness to One Lord Jesus Christ.