The Derbyshire Churches in Partnership with The Church of North India

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The Partnership celebrated its 30th Anniversary on over the weekend of 19 / 20 May.
We were honoured by the presence of the Revd. Dr. Enos Das Pradhan, the General Secretary of the Church of North India.
Reports of the service and of Dr Pradhan's visit can be found below

Partnership in Christian Mission & Ministry
30th Anniversary Celebration Service – 20th May 2007

As you entered through the glass doors to a church filled with people of all ages – there was an anticipation of how God would bless us during this service – the 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Derbyshire Churches and Church of North India ecumenical partnership.

Receiving words of welcome from the Rev’d Jackie Seale (host church Littleover, St Peter’s Church), the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Rev’d Dr Alastair Redfern was then invited to commence the first part of the service.
The Rev’d Christopher Harrison, Chairman of Derbyshire Churches/CNI Partnership introduced the ‘Expressions of Partnership’ with a brief history of the formation of this ecumenical partnership and referred also to the recent exchange visits – including Mrs Jennie Baines – a member of the host church.
The Rev Steve Mantle, Baptist Area Superintendent for East Midlands in his greetings spoke of his introduction to this partnership starting when he was the minister called to serve Pear Tree Baptist Church 17 years ago. The Rev Terry Oakley shared of his contact with both the Church of North India in Derbyshire and of South India in Leicestershire and Lincolnshire, as the United Reformed Church Moderator for the East Midlands. Mr John Hurfurt from Ashbourne Churches Together brought greetings on behalf of the Rev Canon Wesley Blakey, Chairman of Nottingham/Derby Methodist District.

In a recognition that we are part of ‘one holy catholic and apostolic church’ – these expressions of Christian partnership spoke of moving together in unity ‘the bonds of peace in unity of the Spirit’ – providing a ‘window’ into the world wide church – challenging us to work together ecumenically to the building of God’s kingdom in the communities that we have all been called to serve.
The Rev’d Dr Enos das Pradhan, General Secretary of the Church of North India brought reciprocal greetings and heartfelt gratitude to the Derbyshire churches – who extended a hand to walk side by side in this new model of Christian partnership – a people to people partnership – from the 26 dioceses he was representing.

The Rev’d Canon Stephen Lyon – Partnership Secretary of the Church of England’s Partnership of World Mission spoke of Derbyshire Churches/CNI Partnership being one of five ecumenical partnerships in the country, that also included Cambridgeshire, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire – and of how these ecumenical links had opened us to the way into how other Christian congregations might see us!

In this service the Rev’d Bob Hollings (St John’s Church, Newhall) was also invited to share of his links with the Derbyshire Churches/CNI Partnership, with the first visit and encounter of life in India beginning in 1985 being organised by the Rev’d Canon George Kovoor – guest preacher at today’s celebration service. Referring also to his recent visit to Indian in Spring 2007 Bob spoke about how God meets and engages with people the world over regardless of their circumstances. Of how by choice he had run away from home, and when destitute had experienced the ‘spikes’ accommodation in London; and the contrast of the Spartan conditions of the hostels provided for use by orphaned or boys from poor families in India who did not have a choice, to enable them to receive an academic education today! Bob also shared about the life and witness of the Rt Rev’d Bijay Nayak, Bishop of Phulbani (Orissa State). How this man from a poor Hindi village had come to a faith in Christ had journeyed to become the spiritual leader – what is impossible with man is possible with God – that the same God meets us – where we are the world – East or West.

The Rev’d Canon George Kovoor, now Principal of Trinity College, Bristol had earlier been introduced as coming from an Indian culture; and who had the courage to articulate interesting, but uncomfortable insights into Western attitudes with regard to global Christian mission and partnerships. Within his address, he again challenged everyone about ethnicity, faith and being in partnership with God and with one another. Referring to such a great company of people he encouraged everyone to see that we ‘are gathered to the God seated on the throne and to the Lamb’, and that ‘Salvation belongs to our God’. Quoting from the Old Testament passage to remind us that we are the foreigners – and that the house of prayer – a place of encounter with the Living God – was for all peoples! The Gospel passage reflected the Jewish perception of the geographical divide of belief and unbelief – that their commercial activities – their kiosks were set up in the Court of Gentiles. Jesus was overturning the tables – the symbols of what had been blocking peoples’ access to a relationship with God as their Father in heaven. We are to remember God’s love for the world, to be the new ‘oikoumene’ and for us to seek always to work in partnership and not be the cause of a block on the hospitality and generosity of God through Christ. For each of us to work towards the fulfilment of Jesus’ high-priestly prayer ‘that they might be one as we are one’.

Report on Visit by CNI General Secretary,
Revd. Dr. Enos Das Pradhan, 16th – 22nd May 2007

Thursday 17th

Tissington Well Dressing service and blessing of the wells:

· A long and powerful sermon relating current issues of justice with regard to water scarcity to the Derbyshire traditions of well dressing
· Part of the DVD on the CNI’s response to the tsunami in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands was shown to the congregation: water brings life but can also bring death. The DVD gave a very strong message of hope in the face of disaster.
· Revd Pradhan was impressed by the way in which the Well Dressing ceremony brought contemporary issues together with ancient traditions. He felt that the CNI could make more use of its traditions, alongside its engagement with the modern world.

Click here for photographs.

Talk to children of Parwich primary school, which has made a link with a CNI school in Jowai, Meghalaya.

Friday 18th
Visit to the chaplaincy at Sudbury Prison:
· Revd Pradhan had had an official role in a Delhi prison, which involved ensuring that correct procedures were carried out. He had never seen a prison ministry of the kind which takes place at Sudbury however, which has such a strong spiritual and pastoral element. This was something he would take back to Delhi – although it was not clear how he could introduce something similar there.
Dinner with Bishop Alastair:
· Discussion about the visit by Bishop Alastair Redfern and his wife Caroline to Delhi in October: Revd Pradhan to prepare a programme.
· Linda Rose’s work in Sri Lanka on post-tsunami counselling etc: possible follow up in Delhi, in connection with CNI’s work in similar fields.

Saturday 19th
Seminar in Wirksworth on Mission and Ministry in Derbyshire and India:

· Academic presentation by Revd Pradhan on models of mission and evangelism: the importance of mission as good news for the poor. Reference to the role of the CNI in this field, especially through its Synodical Board of Social Services. This, however, tends to be a channel for money provided by foreign Mission and Development agencies, and could be better linked to the ministry of church congregations. There is a new CNI initiative to help congregations to become more involved in mission (Congregational Renewal for Effective Engagement in Mission – CREEM). The aggressive evangelistic methods of some foreign missionary organisations in India was contrasted with the CNI’s more gentle approach, which tended to be less confrontational towards members of other faiths.
· Richard Jordan of Derby Diocese gave a presentation of “Faith in Derbyshire”, a recent survey of different ways in which churches and their members engaged in the community. This was encouraging in that it gave examples of more forms of Christian involvement in the community than many tend to be aware of.

Licensing of Revd. Geraldine Pond as Priest in charge of Ashbourne:
· Revd Pradhan brought greetings from the CNI and gave the blessing.

Dinner with three of the Ashbourne Patna Partnership and two members of Ashbourne Methodist Church. Discussion about youth work and the different age range implied by "youth". The CNI definition goes up to age 35.

Sunday 20th May

Service of celebration for the 30th Anniversary of the Derbyshire-CNI partnership, at St Peter’s church, Littleover, Derby:

· A blend of liturgical influences, including a eucharistic prayer from the CNI, led by Revd Pradhan, and Indian worship songs
· A lively sermon by Canon George Kovoor, reminding us that white people will be in a minority in heaven
· Excellent use of images from India on screen, and display of the colourful scarves presented to the group which visited India in March

Lunch and AGM of the Derbyshire-CNI partnership:

Revd Pradhan suggested:

· That the CNI and the Derbyshire churches should designate the third Sunday in May as “Derbyshire-CNI partnership Sunday’
· That the Derbyshire churches make a contribution to each edition of the CNI’s monthly North India Church Review
· That one or more clergy from the CNI visit Derbyshire for several months, to promote the partnership among the Derbyshire churches
· That the valuable work of individual church partnerships should be notified more frequently to CNI in Delhi – not so that it be subject to central control, but so that Revd Pradhan and colleagues might be more aware of these initiatives. He would give a presentation on the Derbyshire-CNI partnership to the Executive Council of the CNI Synod.
· He said that our link was especially valuable in that it was a ‘people to people’ partnership, not an ‘organisation to organisation’ link.

Stephen Lyon of Partnership in World Mission, London, urged the Derbyshire Churches to use the opportunity of a pre-Lambeth visit by CNI bishops and their wives, including:

· helping the CNI visitors to recover from their journey
· giving them a brief experience of Derbyshire life and culture
· enabling them to engage with members of Derbyshire churches, and to take part in one or more church events

Evensong at Derby Cathedral:

· Revd Pradhan preached on the story of the Good Samaritan as a parable of the stewardship of attitude, contrasting the following attitudes:
- “what is yours is mine” (the robbers)
- “what is yours is yours, and what is mine is mine” (the priest and levite)
- “what is mine is yours” (the Good Samaritan)

Monday 21st May

School eucharist in St. Werburgh’s, Spondon:

· 300 primary children in a service lasting almost 90 minutes, including blessing or giving communion to each child, as well as parents and staff – as impressive as the behaviour of Indian school children during long services!
· Revd Pradhan gave a talk including reference to the Nepali Girls’ High School at Darjeeling, which is making a link with St. Werburgh’s.

Bishop’s staff meeting and lunch, Bishop’s House, Duffield:

· Revd Pradhan proposed the ways of developing the partnership mentioned above.
· Discussion of the pre-Lambeth visit: need to co-ordinate with ecumenical partners on hosting up to 26 bishops and wives around the county. Suggested Sunday morning services in local churches, and a gathering of all the bishops, wives and hosts on the Sunday evening. Coach tour of Derbyshire.

Revd Pradhan commented on Bishop Alastair’s collaborative style, both liturgically and in meetings.

Tuesday 22nd May

Visit to the Normanton area of Derby, with Andrayas Khan; visit to Sikh Gurdwara, Hindu temple, a mosque (closed), and St. Augustine’s church. Discussion of current issues in inter-faith dialogue in Derby. Meeting with members of the West Midlands URC Synod to discuss their links with the CNI.