United Church of Northern India - Presbyterian Synod
The United Church of Northern India (U.C.N.I.) - one of the mainline Presbyterian Church group belonging to the Protestant Christian denomination. It is a registered body (registered under Societies Registration Act of 1860 ( Regd No. 28 of 1977-78 & Regd.No. 621of 1995-96) with a functional and registered Trust Association to manage its properties Registered under Companies Act (Regd. No. 2912/1938-39) and Bombay Public Trust Act (Regd. No.D-97/1955).
The United Church of Northern India was formed on 30 December 1924 at Wilson College Hall, Bombay by the union of several like-minded denominations like the Congregational and the Presbyterian Churches. They joined together and started functioning under the name “United Church of Northern India” in the Northern part of India. The moderator of different denominations held their first meeting in the said college. Out of these moderators the leading were Rev. Dr. C. A. R. Janwheeler, Rev. Ram Krishan Shahu and Rev. Dr. Robert Allen Hume. In the first General Assembly of United Church of Northern India held in Mumbai Rev Dr. Robert Allen Hume was elected as the first moderator of U.C.N.I. The U.C.N.I. is spread in the West-North and North-East India.
It was also operating in Assam, Eastern Hills of Darjeeling, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh covering 1/3rd part of India. U.C.N.I. has its own constitution known as “BLUE BOOK”. The said constitution lays down and describes the conduct of the church Government in the United Church of Northern India. The rules for the conduct of work of the United Church also provide for the confession of faith and rules for the administration in the U.C.N.I. This organization was established with Evangelical, Medical and Education outlook.
The United Church of Northern India is a result of the union of different Presbyterian churches, it has existed in India since 1924. In the 18th and 19th century missionaries came to India from America, Canada, New Zealand, England, Wales, Australia. In Northern India there were the following missions:
- American Evangelical and Reformed Church
- American Marathi Mission of the American Board of Commission of Foreign Missions
- American Presbyterian Mission
- Canada Presbyterian Mission
- Church of Scotland Mission
- Irish Presbyterian Mission
- London Missionary Society
- English Presbyterian Mission
- New Zealand Presbyterian Mission
- United Church of Canada Mission
- Welsh Presbyterian Mission
Office Bearers of the General Assembly of UCNI (The Supreme Governing Body of UCNI)
- Moderator: Rev. Dr. C.P.Bhujbal,
- Vice Moderator: Rev. D.B.Samudre,
- Executive Secretary: Mr. Stephen Singh,
- Treasurer elect: Mr. Arun Kr. Rai (since 14.5.2016),
- Statistician: Rev. T.S.Molommu,
- Members: Rev. C.D.Salve, Rev. Sudan T. Lepcha, Mr. Dennis Gideon, Mr. Zareen Samuel, Mrs. Christina Singh, Mr, Yohan G. Immanuel, Mr. C. Joseph Charles, Rev. Eric Mhaske, Mr. J.W. Shakespeare, Rev. S.B.Pathane.
A Joint conference was held in 1918 in Allahabad. The churches present in the conference proposed the unity of these denominations, Presbyterian churches and the congregational churches. In 1970 some of the churches joined the newly constituted Church of Northern India. In most of the Churches the congregation were ignorant of the new union, no consent of the members were sought and some of the leaders with vested interest gave the decision to join the CNI while some pastors and congregation strongly opposed the union. Later to counter the apparent centralization of the CNI, some remained in UCNI while some of these churches revived the United Church in Northern India to which they had once belonged. Eventually more churches withdrew and dissociated from CNI and joined UCNI. The United Church of Northern India, today, has eighteen church councils under 5 Synods. They are North India Synod, Mid-India Synod, West Bengal Synod, Maharashtra Synod, Punjab Synod, under which lies Ahmednagar, Bombay, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Malwa, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Allahabad, Farrukhabad, Mainpuri, Bundelkhand, Garhwal, Kumanyu, Gurdaspur, Ambala, Ludhiana, Doaba, and Eastern Himalayan Church Council.
- Ahmednagar church council-17 churches
- Bombay church council-7 churches
- Nagpur church council-4 churches
- Kolhapur church council-60 churches plus 140 house fellowships
- Malwa church council-3 churches
- Rajasthan church council-2 churches
- Gujarat church council- -2 churches
- Allahabad church council-3 churches
- Farukhabad church council-3 churches
- Mainpuri church council-4 churches
- Bundelkhand church council-3 churches
- Gurdaspur church council-3 churches
- Ambala church council-2 churches
- Ludhiana church council-5 churches
- Doaba church council-4 churches
- Eastern Himalayan Church Council—this is among the oldest denominations in India and is a mature self-supporting with more than 105 churches and 23 house fellowships and in the last 10 years has doubled its communicant membership. As per the census report presented in the EHCC Annual General Assembly held on 27 & 28 April 2016 in Kalimpong, West Bengal, the total number of members was 11,837.
Present Legal position
Several court cases in different states are pending. Meanwhile Supreme Court of India has given a verdict against the CNI in a case in favour of First District Church of Brethren of Gujarat. The order dated 30.9.2013 passed by the Honourable Supreme Court of India in a Civil Appeal No: 8800-8801 of the 2013 [Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil: Nos: 16575-16576 of 2012) with regard to the properties and assets of United Church of Northern India (UCNI) / United Church of Northern India Trust Association (UCNITA)/ COEMAR, etc.]
The judgment is announced on 30 September 2013 in a case entitled Vinodkumar M. Malavia, etc. Appellants Vs. Maganlal Mangaldas Gameti & Ors. Respondents by honourable Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar. In the landmark judgment, the honourable Supreme Court of India dismissed the appeals of the CNI in which it had claimed that it had come into existence following the merger of six churches and uphold the order of the Honourable High Court of Gujarat. High court had observed that “…… The trust which has been created as Public Trust for a specific object and the charitable or the religious nature or for the bonafide of the society or any such institution managed by such trusts for charitable and religious purpose, shall continue to exist in perpetuity and it would not cease to exist by any such process of thinking or deliberation or the Resolution, which does not have any force of law.”