Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Churches in India
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Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Churches in India is the largest Mennonite denomination of India. Its membership exceeds 100,000 persons. It has 103,000 members in 840 congregations. The Presiding officer for the conference is Dr P B Arnold. The headquarters at Jadcherla, Telangana. It is a member of larger Anabaptist worldwide community Mennonite World Conference.
The Conference also runs a Medical Center at Jadcherla by name M B Medical Center many patients are treated here. It was established in 19th century from its inception it has been doing a great service to the people. There is a proposal for a Medical College.
The Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Churches of India began like many other global church communities: with mission. Mennonite Brethren Church in Russia sent their first missionaries, Abraham J. and Maria Friesen, to India in 1889. Abraham and Maria started the first mission station in Nalgonda, India. This work was affiliated with American Baptist Telugu Mission and after the discontinuation of MB Mission from Russia after World War I broke out in 1914, the whole work was taken by Baptist Mission. Andhra Mennonite Brethren Convention went on to become The Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Churches in India and became independent from foreign missionaries in 1957, but did not have full independence until 1973.
|1889||First Mennonite Brethren Missionaries come to India. Their names were Abraham and Maria Friesen, and they were from Russia. Abraham and Maria were the first Mennonite Brethren Missionaries. They started the mission station in Nalgonda, India.|
|January 4, 1891||The First Mennonite Brethren Church is organized by Abraham and Maria Friesen.|
|October, 1899||First American Mennonite Brethren arrive. They were Rev. and Mrs. N. N. Hiebert and Elizabeth S. Newfield. Abraham and Maria Friesen assisted the American missionaries. Miss Anna Suderman, also an American, joined them later that year. The American Mennonite Brethren’s first mission station in India was started in Hughestown the same year. Russian and American Mennonite Brethren mutually ran mission work until 1914 when the American Missionaries gained complete control of foreign Mennonite Brethren Mission work in India.|
|March 27, 1904||Two more American MB missionaries arrive in India. The two new missionaries, Rev. and Mrs. John H. Pankratz, along with Elizabeth S. Newfield and Anna Suderman and First American founded Mennonite Brethren Congregation in India.|
|1914||American Mennonite Brethren Church takes complete control of Foreign Mennonite Brethren Missions. This was partly due to the fact that Russian Missionaries lost funding during World War I. Russian Mennonite Brethren saw this as a temporary takeover, but Russian revolution, extreme famine, and mass Mennonite emigration out of Russia.|
|1918||The first MB convention for churches in India is organized by AMBM. It was called the Telugu Conference, and it met annually.
1952-Jadcherla Medical Centre was started by Dr. And Mrs. Jake Friesen, AMBM missionaries.
|1954||Governing Council is created for Indian Mennonite Brethren to gain more leadership. It replaced the governing model that was originally placed by foreign missionaries.
1957-Yarrow Statement was presented this year. It was a document that laid the ground work for the Indian Mennonite Brethren Church to become a separate entity from American MB.
|1973||Although the Yarrow Statement was completed in 1957 it is not until 1973 that the Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Churches of India becomes an independent body from American Mennonite Brethren Missions.|
|January 17, 2010||AMB 150 anniversary. India has a special ceremony to commemorate being the first missions place.|
Brief summary of the church today
What does it mean to be Anabaptist?
Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Churches of India is connected to the original Anabaptists through the Mennonite Brethren missionaries. Although, "…they are not well rooted in Anabaptist teachings." I.P. Asheervadam, Mennonite Brethren Indian historian and professor, believes that Gandhi would have respected the Mennonite Brethren church in India for embodying the teachings of Jesus.
How does the church nurture a sense of continuity with the Anabaptist tradition?
The conference has historical archives located in Shamshabad, India. The India Conference is a member of the International Community of Mennonite Brethren. In 2006, they made a mission partnership between themselves and American Mennonite Brethren. They called the partnership the Delhi Project, and it focuses on ministry of the middle class in India.
The India church struggles with leadership. When the church was first independent from foreign missions the leadership had conflicts rooted in "regional, family, and other social considerations…," which led to lawsuits over church power. India has a lack of qualified pastors. Rev. Dr. R.S. Lemuel, Chairman of Mennonite Brethren Board of Theological Education, says that in 1999 there were "837 M.B. Congregations and only about 197 trained pastors." India has a caste system, which primarily oppresses the Harijans group (all known as the lower class). Historically, the Mennonite Brethren church in India has also had issues with relating to Muslims; one mission station had to be relocated because of several Muslims converting to Christianity.
The administration of the Governing Council had approved a mortgage amounting to Rs.38 Crores from various banks by using many of the properties associated to the Conference which were accumulated by the missionaries for various purposes of community development and welfare activities, such as schools, hospitals and boarding for underprivileged children. As of February 2016 the loan has not been repaid, thus the lenders are proceeding with an auction sale of the properties at Jadcherla on which the Mennonite Brethren Medical Center is present.
- P. B. Arnold- Dr. Arnold took over the Jadcharla Medical Center when the American Missionaries left. He is currently the president of the conference.
- Rev. Dr. R. S. Lemuel, President, Board of Evangelism & Church Ministries, Board of Theological Education and Vice President Mennonite Brethren Conference of India.
- Rev.V.K.Rufus, Former Principal, Mennonite Brethren Centenary Bible College in Shamshabad, India
- Rev. Solomon Sowlollu, M.A., M.A., B.D., M.Phil, CTP. Former vice-principal of the Mennonite Brethren Centenary Bible College in Shamshabad, India
- P. Abraham Prakash, Principal of MBC Junior college, Mahabubnagar
- Dr. E.D. Solomon, M.Th (New Testament), Ph.d. Senior Faculty and Vice Principal of Mennonite Brethren Centenary Bible College in Shamshabad, India and Director of Development.
- Rev. M.J. Krupaiah as Honorary Treasurer
- David Jakkula, M.A Public and personnel management [M.A., LLB], Executive Director at Mennonite Brethren Development Organization.
- Mennonite World Conference: Asia & Pacific
- "Membership | Mennonite World Conference". www.mwc-cmm.org. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
- Penner, Peter. The Mennonite Brethren Mission in India, 1885-1975: Russians, North Americans, and Telugus. Hillsboro: Kindred Productions, 1997.
- "Mennonite Brethren Church - GAMEO". gameo.org. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
- Enns-Rempel, Kevin. e-mail interview, April 14, 2011.
- Janzen, A.E., ed.. Foreign Missions: India: The American Mennonite Brethren Mission in India, 1898-1948. Hillsboro: Board of Foreign Missions of the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America, 1948.
- "MB anniversary celebrations begin in India - Mennonite Brethren Herald". Mennonite Brethren Herald. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Church properties face encroachment in TS, A.P.". The Hindu. 2015-07-14. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
- "Clipping of Namasthe Telangaana Telugu Daily - Mahaboobnagar". digital.namasthetelangaana.com. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
- "Tenders India, The Indian Government Tenders Information System". www.tenders.gov.in. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
- "Home". Mennonite Brethren Centenary Bible College. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Contact Us – Mennonite Brethren Development Organisation". mbdoindia.org. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- India at Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online