Believers Eastern Church

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Believers Eastern Church
A parish of the Believers Church
ClassificationEpiscopal
OrientationEpiscopal
PolityEpiscopal
Metropolitan bishopMoran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan)[1][2]
Dioceses33
Congregations14000+[citation needed]
Members3,500,000[citation needed]
Official websitewww.bec.org

Believers Eastern Church (previously Believers Church) is a formerly Christian denomination with congregations and parishes worldwide. It is also a branch of the ministry Gospel for Asia.[3] The church now follows an episcopal governance.[4] The church holds Christ as the head of the Church (Col 1:18) but also requires that bishops and ordained ministers swear to submit to its metropolitan and any successors of the metropolitan.[5] It is governed by a committee of bishops, the Synod, with one central bishop holding the honorary title of "first among equals" and follows Evangelical Christian doctrine.[6] Believers Eastern Church is administratively based in the state of Kerala in southwestern India.. In 2015, the church reported it was re-organized into 33 dioceses;[4] a decrease from the 36 dioceses reported by Smith in 2009.[7] According to Believers Eastern Church, it claims its membership consists of more than 3.5 million people in 10 countries speaking a hundred languages. The Church has 30 bishops, and the Metropolitan Bishop is Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan)[8][9]

History[edit]

Believers Eastern Church has its roots in Pentecostalism.[10][11] The denomination was founded in 1993 as part of the Gospel for Asia apostolate.[12] On 6 February 2003, K. J. Samuel, the Moderator Bishop of the Church of South India (a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion), along with the P.M. Dhotekar, Bishop of Nagpur of the Church of North India, and the Bancha Nidhi Nayak, Bishop of Phulbani of the Church of North India, consecrated Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan)[13][14] as a bishop in Anglican lines of apostolic succession; the K.P. Yohannan thereafter became the first Metropolitan of the Believers Eastern Church, which acquired an episcopal polity of ecclesiastical governance.[11][15] Believers Eastern Church describes itself as being "Apostolic in origin, universal in nature, Biblical and evangelical in faith, ecumenical in outlook".[16] It adheres to the Nicene Creed, biblical faith, and traditions of the historical church backed up with its own canonical constitution.[16]

The Episcopal Synod and the diocesan councils take the responsibility for planning and executing the mission, religious life and charitable programs of the Church. The Believers Eastern Church is divided as regions into dioceses, each with its own bishop. Each local church has members ranging from less than one hundred to a thousand with an average of hundred, and the number of parishes themselves are increasing.[7] The Believers Eastern Church is divided into various dioceses under the leadership of Diocesan Bishop or a Vicar-general.

In 2009, the church ordained seven bishops.[17] On 2 March 2017, Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan)[18][19] consecrated twelve bishops for the Believers Eastern Church.[20]

Faith and practice[edit]

The liturgy used in Believers Eastern Church "includes prayers, Scripture readings and a confession of the Nicene or Apostles' Creed of the Church."[21] The readings come from the Revised Common Lectionary, which has a three-year cycle; Believers Church observes the liturgical calendar of Western Christianity, thus keeping Lent, for example.[22][23] Believers Church administers the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.[21] Women in churches of this denomination wear Christian headcoverings, in accordance with Believers Church's interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.[24] Communicants of Believers Eastern Church use the sign of the cross in their prayers.[24] Believers Eastern Church is an "Ancient-Future Church"[25] and as such, is considered by some to be heretical.[26]

Beliefs[edit]

The church accepts the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible as the inspired Word of God which is inerrant and the fundamental standard of faith,[27] and complete and final written revelation of God. It also adheres to the Nicene Creed. The church believes in the following doctrines:[28]

  • One eternal God revealed in the trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • The divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ, his virgin birth, sinless life, crucifixion and resurrection, ascension and intercession of Holy Spirit.
  • The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon believers in Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension, enabling them to preach the Gospel to the whole world.
  • Separation of all mankind from God through man's sin.
  • Immediate forgiveness of sins through repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ.
  • The person and work of indwelling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit through baptism for all believers.
  • The practice of gifts of the Holy Spirit within scriptural guidelines for the common good (1Cor 12:4-7); Considers that agape love is more important than all the gifts, and without it, all exercise of spiritual gifts as worthless.
  • Jesus Christ as the head of the church.
  • The second coming of Jesus Christ and it will be personal and visible, which motivates active involvement of the laity in church activities.
  • The resurrection of the body unto eternal life for the saved and unto eternal separation for the lost; But salvation, redemption and forgiveness are freely offered to all by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Core values[edit]

For being distinguishable members of Believers Eastern church, and the message of the Word of God to be applied in an individual's life leading to a greater maturity in Christ, following are the official code of living.[29]

  • Knowing the Lord Jesus more fully and intimately.
  • Being a people of integrity and excellence.
  • Living in submission to God's Word.
  • Being a people of faith.
  • Being a people committed to prayer and worship.
  • Having a servant lifestyle.
  • Being a people of grace and love.
  • Serving sacrificially.
  • Being a people with passion for souls.
  • Being a people who work together with the Body of Christ.

Religious orders[edit]

The Sisters of Compassion is a religious order of nuns within Believers Church that is dedicated to serving the "neglected of society".[30][20]

Humanitarian services[edit]

Bridge of Hope students on their way to class.

Believers Eastern Church is involved in various social projects and has been lauded for "its humanitarian service towards the society at large."[31] The church's social service includes poverty alleviation,[32] and promoting adult literacy.[31] The church is also providing shelter to street children through a home called Asha Grih, which is licensed by the Indian Government.[33] Additionally, Believers Eastern Church has a child development project called Bridge of Hope (BOH). BOH provides holistic development to needy children throughout South Asia. As of 2012, the project is helping 60,000 underprivileged children by providing them free education, a nutritious diet and school supplies. Bridge of Hope's 525 project centers are staffed by 2,400 individuals.[33] Other major projects include the Believers Church Medical College Hospital,[34] Believers Eastern Church Caarmel Engineering College[35] and Believers Church Theological Seminary.[36] Most of the funds for these social projects are sent over from the United States by the ministry Gospel for Asia, of which Believers Church is a part. The metropolitan of Believers Church, Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan),[37][38] is also the president of Gospel for Asia.

Court rulings[edit]

The operations of Gospel for Asia and Believers Eastern Church were scrutinized after Believers Eastern Church, under the guidance of Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan),[39][40] purchased a 2,268-acre (9.18 km2) rubber estate in Kerala, India.[41][42] Opponents said the church had diverted foreign funds to amass land for itself and for uses other than declared purposes.[43] Further, it was alleged that the rubber estate, which Believers Eastern Church purchased from Harrison's Malayalam Ltd., was on leasehold from the government and not saleable.[44] Hence, Believers Eastern Church was accused of illegally holding government land.[45] At a later time, Harrison's Malayalam was accused of forging their land title, leading to continued debate about the legality of the sale.[46]

Legal proceedings are still ongoing. "Former Ernakulam District Collector Dr M G Rajamanickam, who was appointed as the Special Officer of the government to confiscate the illegal and excess estate lands under the custody of various companies, had issued an order in May, 2015, confiscating the 2,268 acre of land from Believers Eastern Church." However, this ruling was appealed and now there is further complication because the local government wants to build an airport on this estate.[47] News outlets are reporting that the local government wants to buy the property. However, it is also reported that "The government does not need permission from K P Yohannan to set up airport in the Cheruvally estate, BJP national executive member V Muraleedharan said."[48] The BJP is currently behind a large scale anti-corruption crackdown on Black Money inside India.[49] The final status of the estate for building the airport is still unsettled.[50]

There is also been an ongoing court case regarding the illegal filling in of wetlands in order to build the Believers Eastern Church Medical College Hospital.[51] GFA has been paying a special tax because a "substantial" amount of its income is not used for intended purposes of the fundraising. An Indian court said, "It is not in dispute that substantial income of the assessee trust was not used by both the assessees for the purposes for which they were formed."[52]

Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan)[53][54] says that the claims were politically motivated and that the workings of Gospel for Asia and Believers Eastern Church are transparent.[55][56] Further, the rubber estate is an investment to help fund social work among underdeveloped communities[42] and not a personal land grab as opponents have stated.

Ecumenical relations[edit]

Believers Eastern Church is a member of the Kerala Council of Churches. The Believers Eastern Church has also held ecumenical contacts with the Anglican Church in North America.[57]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.bec.org/athanasius-yohan/
  2. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2018/10/18/k-p-yohannan-gives-himself-a-new-name/
  3. ^ "Believers Church and Gospel for Asia - one man - Donor Be Wise". donorbewise.com.
  4. ^ a b "About". Believers Eastern Church. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  5. ^ http://www.gfadiaspora.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Pats-ordination-with-no-last-names.pdf
  6. ^ "History of Believers Eastern Church". Gospel for Asia. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b Smith, Warren Cole (7 May 2009). A Lover's Quarrel with the Evangelical Church. InterVarsity Press. p. 194. ISBN 9780830856985. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  8. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2018/10/18/k-p-yohannan-gives-himself-a-new-name/
  9. ^ https://www.bec.org/athanasius-yohan/
  10. ^ Daughrity, Dyron B.; Athyal, Jesudas M. (1 August 2016). Understanding World Christianity: India. Fortress Press. p. 52. ISBN 9781506416892. Some of the more prominent Pentecostal groups are the Sharon Fellowship Church (est. 1975), the New India Church of God (est. 1976), New India Bible Church (est. 1975), and the Believers' Church, run by the Gospel for Asia ministry (est. 1978) under the leadership of K. P. Yohannan, from a St. Thomas Syrian Christian background.
  11. ^ a b Jacob, George (10 February 2003). "Crisis brewing in CSI". Kottayam: The Hindu. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  12. ^ Bergunder, Michael (6 June 2008). The South Indian Pentecostal Movement in the Twentieth Century. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 54. ISBN 9780802827340. In 1993, Gospel for Asia created its own church administrative structure, the Believers'Church, where newly founded congregations supported by Gospel for Asia were grouped together.
  13. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2018/10/18/k-p-yohannan-gives-himself-a-new-name/
  14. ^ https://www.bec.org/athanasius-yohan/
  15. ^ Conger, George (18 October 2017). "Slander suit filed by Believers Church against the CSI". Anglican Ink. Retrieved 20 March 2018. On 6 Feb 2003 the Rt. Rev. K. J. Samuel, Bishop in East Kerala and former moderator of the Church of South India, assisted by the Rt. Rev. P.M. Dhotekar, Bishop in Nagpur of the Church of North India, and the Rt. Rev. Bancha Nidhi Nayak, Bishop in Phulbani of the Church of North India, consecrated Yohannan as metropolitan archbishop of the Believers Church.
  16. ^ a b Yohannan, K.P. (2018). "Believers Church". Retrieved 20 March 2018. Believers Church, a Christian denomination, is Apostolic in origin, universal in nature, Biblical and evangelical in faith, ecumenical in outlook, and has a constitutional episcopacy for governance. The Church adheres to the Nicene Creed, Biblical Faith, and traditions of the historical church backed up with its own Canonical Constitution.
  17. ^ "Seven more bishops for Believers Church". The Hindu. 11 December 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  18. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2018/10/18/k-p-yohannan-gives-himself-a-new-name/
  19. ^ https://www.bec.org/athanasius-yohan/
  20. ^ a b "12 bishops of Believers Church consecrated". The Hindu. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  21. ^ a b "History of Believers Church". Gospel for Asia. Retrieved 12 March 2015. Believers Church liturgy includes prayers, Scripture readings and a confession of the Nicene or Apostle’s Creed of the Church. These serve to bind us all together in common faith.
  22. ^ Yohannan, K.P. (14 February 2018). "God's Heart Aches and He Wants to Share That With Us". Retrieved 20 March 2018. Today marks the first day of Lent. It is one of the oldest holy days on the Christian calendar. As Christians, we have many holidays that we celebrate throughout the year such as Christmas, Palm Sunday and Easter. Lent is a special time like those when we can stop and remember what our lives here on earth are about.
  23. ^ "Lectionary 2012-2013". Believers Church. 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  24. ^ a b "History of Believers Church". Gospel for Asia. Retrieved 20 March 2018. In our church services, you will see that the women wear head coverings as is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. In the same way, we adhere to the practice of baptism as commanded in Matthew 28:19, and Holy Communion, which is given to us in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. These are all part of the traditions of faith of Believers Church. Along with many Eastern evangelical churches in Asia, the members of Believers Church use the Christian sign of the cross to help identify them as followers of Christ as opposed to followers of other faiths. It is also a powerful visible symbol which says, “The Lord Jesus came from heaven to earth; died on the cross for me, a sinner, to take me from the left, representing the kingdom of darkness, and place me on His right side, representing salvation” (see Matthew 25:31-46).
  25. ^ "Believers Eastern Church". www.bec.org.
  26. ^ "Ancient-Future Heresies". thebereancall.org.
  27. ^ K.P. Yohannan (2004). Guiding Principles of Believers Eastern Church. Believers Eastern Church Publications. pp. 197-199.
  28. ^ "Statement of Faith". Believers Church. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  29. ^ "Core Values". Believers Church. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  30. ^ "Prime Minister Narendra Modi describes meeting with church head as "wonderful"". The Gospel Truth Newspaper. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  31. ^ a b "Church devoted to literacy campaign." Times of India (May 25, 2011)
  32. ^ "Bihar, News in Brief: Project" The Telegraph (June 25, 2012)
  33. ^ a b "Believers Eastern Church turns new page in lives of lesser privileged" Archived 2014-11-02 at the Wayback Machine. Echo of Arunachal (July 22, 2012)
  34. ^ "BCMCH". www.bcmch.org.
  35. ^ "Believers Eastern Church Caarmel Engineering College". Believers Eastern Church Caarmel Engineering College. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  36. ^ "Believers Church Theological Seminary -". www.bcseminary.org.
  37. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2018/10/18/k-p-yohannan-gives-himself-a-new-name/
  38. ^ https://www.bec.org/athanasius-yohan/
  39. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2018/10/18/k-p-yohannan-gives-himself-a-new-name/
  40. ^ https://www.bec.org/athanasius-yohan/
  41. ^ "Cash scanner on evangelist". The Telegraph.
  42. ^ a b "Cheruvally Rubber Estate". Believers Eastern Church. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014.
  43. ^ "Probe on into functioning of Gospel for Asia, HC told". The New Indian Express.
  44. ^ "God's own country". The Telegraph.
  45. ^ "Madhyamam". Govt files petition against Harrisons, Yohanan.
  46. ^ "Forgery case filed against Harrisons Malayalam staff". The Hindu.
  47. ^ "Smooth take-off unlikely for proposed Erumeli airport".
  48. ^ "'Yohannan has no stake in Cheruvally estate' - Times of India". indiatimes.com.
  49. ^ "After PM Modi's announcement about Rs 500 and Rs 1000, reactions pour in - Latest News & Updates at DNAIndia.com". dnaindia.com. 8 November 2016.
  50. ^ "Question mark over airport project". 8 August 2017 – via www.thehindu.com.
  51. ^ "Govt overruled objections to aid illegal filling of land - Times of India". indiatimes.com.
  52. ^ http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/07/17/indian-tax-court-on-gospel-for-asia-and-believers-church-substantial-income-not-used-for-intended-purposes/
  53. ^ https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2018/10/18/k-p-yohannan-gives-himself-a-new-name/
  54. ^ https://www.bec.org/athanasius-yohan/
  55. ^ "GFA says allegations politically motivated". Christianity Today.
  56. ^ "An open letter to fellow Christians from K.P. Yohannan".
  57. ^ [http.//www.anglicanchurch.netmainpage1254 Provincial Council 2016 Live Blog, ACNA Official Website, 22 June 2016]

External links[edit]