Church of South India

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Church of South India
Church of South India.png
Logo of the Church of South India
Classification Anglican and Protestant
Orientation Ecumenical
Polity Episcopal[1]
Moderator Thomas K. Oommen
Associations Anglican Communion,
World Council of Churches,
World Communion of Reformed Churches,
Christian Conference of Asia,
Communion of Churches in India,
National Council of Churches in India
Region Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Sri Lanka (CSI churches in North India are under the respective CNI bishops. CSI churches in Europe are under the respective Anglican Bishops)
Origin 27 September 1947 (Day of Union, not date of establishment)
Tranquebar, Tamil Nadu
Separated from Church of India, Burma and Ceylon
Merger of Anglican and Protestant including some Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist
Separations Anglican Church of India
Congregations 14,000[2]
Members 3,800,000[2]
Ministers 11,214[3][citation needed]
Hospitals 104[2]
Secondary schools 2000 schools, 130 colleges[2]

The Church of South India (CSI) is the second largest Christian church in India based on the number of members and is the largest Protestant denomination in the country. The Church of South India is the successor of a number of Anglican and Protestant denominations in India, including the Church of England, the Methodist Church and the Church of Scotland after Indian Independence. It came into being by a union of Anglican and Protestant churches in South India.[4] It combined the South India United Church (union of the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians); the then 14 Anglican Dioceses of South India and one in Sri Lanka; and the South Indian District of the Methodist church.[1] With a membership of nearly four million,[2] CSI is one of four united churches in the Anglican Communion, the others being the Church of North India, the Church of Pakistan and the Church of Bangladesh.[5]

The inspiration for the Church of South India was born from ecumenism and inspired by the words of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospel of John (17.21). Just like the United Church of Christ (Congregationalist), one of their forbearer denominations, their motto is:

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.'

"That they all may be one" is also the motto of the Church of South India.[2]



Four different church traditions were brought together in the CSI; Anglican (Episcopal), Congregational, Presbyterian and Methodist. All these churches had been established in India through the missionary work of churches in Europe, America and Australia, which had started their work in India at different periods from the beginning of the 18th century. The Church of South India as it exists today came into being with the perseverance and committed efforts of Rev. Vedam Santiago, who for a long period of time took leadership of the SIUC, the South Indian United Churches, which later, with the joint efforts of Rev. V Santiago and Bishop Azariah became the Church of South India.


The Church of South India union ceremony happened at St George's Cathedral in Madras on 27 September 1947, a month after India achieved its independence from the United Kingdom. It was formed from the union of the SIUC, (South India United Church itself a union of churches from the Congregational Presbyterian and Reformed traditions); the southern provinces of the Anglican Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon; and the Methodist Church of South India.[6]

St George's Cathedral
RT.Rev.Dr.C. K. Jacob presiding the Church of South India Inaugural Service


The logo of the Church of South India was designed by J. Vasanthan, a professor at the American College in Madurai. The logo is a cross superimposed on a stylized lotus and surrounded by the motto and the name of the church. The symbols of the lotus and the Christian cross used in the logo possess a rich cultural heritage in India and are used to symbolize the call and mission of the CSI.

Beliefs and practices[edit]

The Church of South India is a trinitarian church that draws from the traditions and heritage of its constituent denominations.

Social issues[edit]

Regarding ordination and social issues, the CSI has a tendency to be more liberal than other churches in the Global South. In 2013, the CSI consecrated its first female bishop, Eggoni Pushpalalitha.[7] Likewise, relating to human sexuality, the CSI is more accepting of diversity of opinion. "The Church of South India (CSI) [is] a relatively liberal Protestant church which has, since 1984, allowed women to become pastors. 'CSI has been liberal on these issues. It has taken up issues of gender, dalits and landlessness. It has to address the issue of sexual minorities too'".[8] In 2009, the Rev. Christopher Rajkumar spoke out in favour of gay rights.[9] Also in 2009, Bishop V. Devashayam "gave a favorable impression" of gay rights arguing that sexual orientation is genetic.[10][11]

Moreover, in 2015, St. Mark's Cathedral in Bangalore hosted an event, co-led by the Rev. Vincent Rajkumar, aimed at denouncing homophobia.[12] CSI clergy, working with the National Council of Churches in India, also co-led a consultation speaking out against homophobia.[13] Currently, the Church of South India is also listed as among the Anglican provinces open to blessing same-sex couples.[14][15] In August 2016, the CSI's publication expressed concern that the "Christian church and Christian mission to a large extent are homophobic. It has excluded the gender minorities from the church and its worship".[16]

In 2016, a seminary affiliated with the CSI offered a seminar on LGBT issues. "The Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary in Madurai held a two-hour seminar on gender and sexuality..."[17] The National Council of Churches in India, of which the CSI is a member, supports the legalisation of same-sex relationships in India.[18][19]

On transgender issues, the Diocese of Madras has a ministry specifically for transgender people.[20] Moreover, the CSI has opened up ordained ministry to transgender clergy.[21] In 2012, the denomination invited a transgender pastor to preach.[22] The CSI also published resources for special Sunday celebrations for transgender people including an invitation for transgender members to preach in churches.[23]

The church, via its monthly publication, has also taken a stance of solidarity with the Dalit community, women, and the LGBT community. One ministry, led by a priest, "took a session on 'working towards an inclusive Church' with special reference to the transgenders", and the church celebrates the "self-liberation" of the Dalit community.[24] Additionally, the church's publication stated that "the Church leaders expressed their concerns about the neglected people such as LGBT and those affected and infected with HIV/AIDS...[and] urged the listeners(Church Leaders)...[to] not only show solidarity but also moving beyond in accommodating them".[25]

The CSI also opposes the death penalty.[26]


The CSI Synod Liturgical Committee has developed several new orders for worship for different occasions. The order for the Communion Service, known as the CSI Liturgy, has been internationally acclaimed as an important model for new liturgies. The Committee has also produced three different cycles of lectionaries for daily Bible readings and "propers", and collects for Communion services. In addition, the Committee has also brought out a Supplement to the Book of Common Worship.CSI Liturgy


The important festivals are Passion Week, Good Friday, Easter and Christmas.


The most important part of the CSI Constitution is “The Governing Principles of the Church” which sets out 21 governing principles on which the other chapters of the Constitution and the rules contained therein rest. While amending any part of the Constitution can be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Synod, amending the Governing Principles requires a three-fourths majority.


The Church of South India is a member of the Anglican Communion and its bishops participate in the Lambeth Conferences; it has representation on the Anglican Consultative Council. It is also a member of the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the National Council of Churches in India. The CSI is in full communion with the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church of India and the Church of North India (CNI).

The Church of South India maintains a partnership with the Church of North India, Church of Scotland, Episcopal Church, Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, Methodist Church of Great Britain, Presbyterian Church in Korea, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, Presbyterian Church of India, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ, and the Uniting Church in Australia.[27]


The church accepts the Lambeth Quadrilateral as its basis and recognises the historical episcopate in its constitutional form.[3]


The church is governed by a synod based in Chennai and headed by a presiding bishop bearing the title of Moderator who is elected every three years. The ordinary session of the synod is held once every three years Since 2017 synod at Kottayam. Before that it was two years.[citation needed]

The current Moderator of the Church of South India is the Most Reverend Thomas K. Oommen, Bishop of Madhya Kerala Diocese. The Deputy Moderator is the Right Reverend V. Prasada Rao, Bishop of the Dornakal Diocese.[citation needed]

The church runs 2,300 schools, 150 colleges and 104 hospitals in South India. In the 1960s the church became conscious of its social responsibility and started organising rural development projects. There are 50 such projects all over India, 50 training centres for young people and 600 residential hostels for a total of 50,000 children.[2]


Name Headquarters Location Bishop Website
Krishna-Godavari Diocese Machilipatnam Andhra Pradesh T. George Cornelius
Nandyal Diocese Nandyal E. P. Lalitha [1]
Rayalaseema Diocese Kadapa B. D. Prasada Rao [2]
Dornakal Diocese Dornakal Telangana V. Prasada Rao [3]
Medak Diocese Medak A. C. Solomon Raj [4]
Karimnagar Diocese Karimnagar K. Reuben Mark [5]
Karnataka Central Diocese Bangalore Karnataka Prasana Kumar Samuel [6]
Karnataka Northern Diocese Dharwad R. J. Niranjan [7]
Karnataka Southern Diocese Mangalore Mohan Manoraj [8]
East Kerala Diocese Melukavu Kerala K. G. Daniel [9]
Kochi Diocese Kochi Baker Ninan Fenn
Kollam-Kottarakara Diocese Kollam A Dharmaraj Rasalam *(Acting Bishop)
Madhya Kerala Diocese Kottayam Thomas K Oommen [10]
Malabar Diocese Kozhikode Manoj Roys Victor [11]
South Kerala Diocese Trivandrum A Dharmaraj Rasalam [12]
Coimbatore Diocese Coimbatore Tamil Nadu Timothy Ravinder [13]
Kanyakumari Diocese Nagercoil G. Devakadasham [14]
Madras Diocese Chennai Jayaraj George Stephen [15]
Madurai-Ramnad Diocese Madurai M.Joseph [16]
Thoothukudi-Nazareth Diocese Thoothukudi S.E.C. Devasahayam [17]
Tirunelveli Diocese Tirunelveli J. J. Christudoss [18]
Trichy-Tanjore Diocese Tiruchirappalli G. Paul Vasanthakumar [28]
Vellore Diocese Vellore A.Rajavelu [19]
Jaffna Diocese Jaffna Sri Lanka Daniel Thiagarajah [20]
Church of South India Dioceses and headquarters.


Theological education[edit]

The church recognizes theological degrees granted by institutions affiliated with the Board of Theological Education of the Senate of Serampore College. These include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "". Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Church of South India International Resource Center". 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "World Council of Churches – The Church of South India". Archived from the original on 11 June 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2008. 
  4. ^ Author:Sushil Mittal, Gene Thursby -Religions of South Asia: An Introduction
  5. ^ "The Church of North India (United)". Anglican Communion Office. Retrieved 17 September 2018. Along with the Church of South India, the Church of Pakistan, and the Church of Bangladesh, it [the Church of a North India] is one of the four United Churches. 
  6. ^ "Anglican Communion official website – The Church of South India (United)". Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  7. ^ ACNS staff. "Church of South India appoints first female bishop". Episcopal Digital Network. Retrieved January 12, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Rising cases of sexual abuse within the church in Kerala force clergy to rethink on homosexuality". Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  9. ^ Paul, Cithara. "Protestants support gay rights". Telegraph. Retrieved January 12, 2016. 
  10. ^ deepak. "Church pressed to rethink and embrace the LGBT community". Retrieved 2016-08-26. 
  11. ^ Today, Christian. "Church pressed to rethink and embrace the LGBT community". Christian Today. Retrieved 2018-01-29. 
  12. ^ Silthou, Makepeace. "A Theological Challenge to Christian Homophobia". The Wire. Archived from the original on 11 December 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  13. ^ "International Consultation on Church and Homophobia". Joseph N. Goh. 2014-12-08. Retrieved 2016-05-23. 
  14. ^ "Church split over homosexuality would be a failure - Welby". BBC. Retrieved January 12, 2016. 
  15. ^ "സ്വവര്‍ഗ രതിയും വിവാഹവും: ആംഗ്ലിക്കന്‍ കമ്യൂണിയനില്‍ ഭിന്നത രൂക്ഷം". Retrieved 2017-05-04. 
  16. ^ "Horizons of Freedom" (PDF). CSI Life: Magazine of the Church of South India. 14. 
  17. ^ "Awesome! This Tamil Nadu seminary is teaching pastors to accept the LGBT community". The News Minute. 2016-07-15. Retrieved 2017-12-11. 
  18. ^ "Towards Just and Inclusive Communities: A Statement on Sec.377 of IPC". NCCI. 2018-01-11. Retrieved 2018-07-22. 
  19. ^ "India's faith leaders want to scrap gay sex ban ahead of Supreme Court ruling". Gay Star News. 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2018-07-22. 
  20. ^ "Church of South India | CSI Chennai Diocese | CSI Diocese of Madras". Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  21. ^ "CSI to ordain transgender a priest". The Hindu. 2012-02-06. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  22. ^ "Transgender in a fix over spiritual path - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2016-05-01. 
  23. ^ "CSI SYNOD". Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  24. ^ Samuel, Joseph; Victor, James Cecil (February 2016). "CSI Life" (PDF). Magazine of the Church of South India. XIV (2). Retrieved 24 August 2018. 
  25. ^ "Church Leaders and Key Affected People: A Dialogue" (PDF). CSI Life: Magazine of the Church of South India. XIII (5). May 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2018. 
  26. ^ "CSI SYNOD". Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  27. ^ "CSI SYNOD". Retrieved 2016-07-25. 
  28. ^ "South India-Trichy-Tanjore". Anglican Communion. Retrieved 2014-08-15. 

External links[edit]