Diocese of Kanyakumari of the Church of South India
|Diocese of Kanyakumari|
|Ecclesiastical province||Church of South India|
The Diocese of Kanyakumari is one of the 22 dioceses under the Church of South India. The diocese was constituted on 2 June 1959.
Maharasan, a devout Hindu, longing to find peace took a pilgrimgae on foot to the Temple at Chidambaram. On his return, this disappointed seeker from Mylaudy – a village 4.5 miles North – West of Kanyakumari – had a vision that changed his course. On an eventful Sunday in the year 1799, Maharasan heard Rev. J.C Kohlhoff, proclaim the words of life. In a short time he received baptism at Tanjore and returned to Mylaudy and took the name Vedhamanickam . Vedhamanickam's steadfast faith and ceaseless toil won many to Christ. In need of an experienced person to guide his flock. Vedhamanickam requested Kohhoff to send them a missionary. In response to his request, Rev. William Tobias Ringeltaube came to Mylaudy, which was part of the area then called Travancore Over a period of ten years (1806-1816), through opposition, sickness and loneliness, Ringeltaube succeeded in building the mission on a firm foundation. The first Church was built at Mylaudy in September 1809 and converts were baptized. Schools and Churches were established in six more villages. Thus the Mylaudy Mission began to take shape
A large Church was built in Nagercoil, which later became the Home Church of the Diocese. The mission was shifted from Mylaudy to Nagercoil, which is 19 kilometers from Kanyakumari. A seminary established in Nagercoil, trained young men to become Church workers. Wives of the Missionaries trained girls in skills like lace making and embroidery. Boarding schools were started for girls and education for women gained momentum. Even non – Christian boys and girls received education. A printing press was started in 1821 and by 1838 a medical wing of the mission was established.
Travancore was caste – ridden and those who belonged to lower castes were ruthlessly denied education, choice of vacation and even dignity. Further, they were oppressed with heavy taxes. The Gospel and education offered to the lower castes helped them to break some of the fetters that had bound the men and women for centuries. Through the tireless efforts of the missionaries with the help of the British rulers, slavery was abolished.
Under the guidance of the London mission Society [LMS], 32 Churches in South Travancore became Pastorates and native Pastors were ordained in 1866. In 1874, the South Travancore Church Council was formed and when the Congregational and Presbyterian Missions united in 1908, it became part of South India United Church (SIUC). With the formation of the SIUC negotiations were made with Anglicans and the Methodists for a wider Union.
The Trvancore Church Council in 1946 endorsed the wider union. South Travancore became a Diocese of this United Church. The South Travancore Diocese bifurcated into South Kerala Diocese and Kanyakumari Diocese in June 1959. The Diocese of Kanyakumari consisted of 40 Presbyters and 277 congregations including the two congregations of the Thirunelveli Revenue District, Kannangulam and Levinchipuram at the time of formation.
The diocese boasts of having the largest membership under its belt with a headcount of 3,91,762 people and is tagged as the richest diocese in India with funds and savings running up to 2500 crores. The Diocese is also the proprietor of immovable assets worth 4000 crores.
Notable Churches under the Diocese
- C.S.I Marthandam District Church
- C.S.I Kodiyoor District Church
- C.S.I Kulasekharam District Church
Bishops of the Diocese
- Rt Rev I.R.H. Gnanadason (1959 -1973)
- Rt Rev C. Selvamony (1973-1979)
- Rt Rev G. Christdhas (1980-1997)
- Rt Rev M.I. Kesari (1997-2000)
- Rt Rev G. Devakadasham(2000- till date)
- Church of South India
- Madurai-Ramnad Diocese
- Diocese of Madras
- Trichy-Tanjore Diocese
- Diocese of Coimbatore
- Christianity in Tamil Nadu
- Church of North India
- Christianity in India