The Derbyshire Churches in Partnership with The Church of North India

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The first group visit to Derbyshire was made by Bishop Vairagar, the Revd. Arvind Nirmal, Dr Liddle and Mrs Gardner in April 1982.They spent a month in Derbyshire and produced a very appreciative but rather critical report (All to the Test) of their experiences.
Typical of their comments were-
the Church is a minority community
you are too attached to your church buildings
you are too inward looking
we did not find many from the 18 - 35 age group in the Church
there is little evidence of Christian worship outside the church building, very few people say grace or have family prayers.
and much more. How much has changed today?

Among many other visits, Mr Pritam Santram, the General Secretary of CNI came to Derby for a weekend, Bishop Gorai of Calcutta, the Moderator of CNI came to Derby and Bakewell. The Bishop of Derby visited North India as did the Revd J.C. Grote, of Littleover Baptist Church. In 1985 there was a farewell service for the Revd. Gurbakhsh and Sadiqa Singh after their time with the Derby Asian Christian Mission Project. The Rt Revd Bishop Annan Lal and his wife visited Bakewell and in May 1986 the Revd Michael Mookerji was ordained in Heanor by the Bishop of Derby according to the rites of the Church of North India. Bishop Mohanty of Cuttack spoke at Littleover Baptist Church.

The next major visit was "Pilgrims in Mission" in 1987, a follow up to "All to the Test". They emphasised the reciprocal nature of the Partnership and so consideration began for a visit from Derbyshire to the CNI.

Called to Share.
Fifty five people from Derbyshire visited North India in October/November 1989. On arrival they split into groups and visited 16 different dioceses.
Some of their comments were -
We have been challenged afresh about our Christian Unity
Unity does not mean uniformity
They make the most of so little, we have so much
There are no waste paper baskets - nothing gets wasted!
We take back a respect of our brothers and sisters in India and a challenge to our own faith and commitment.

On to 1993 when 12 young people on a visit arranged by the Church Missionary Society visited Mickleover, Doveridge and Chesterfield. Then in November 1994 a party of 11 young people from the CNI came on a 3 week visit. This was followed in July 95 by a visit of 11 young people from Derbyshire to the CNI.

In 1997 the Secretary of the CNI, Dr Sagar Lall paid a flying visit to Derbyshire and Methodist minister Revd Ted Ager visited the Calcutta area as part of his sabbatical. In Jan. 1998 he Revd Martin Wilson of Mickleover visited Mumbai (Bombay), Nagpur, Cuttack, Patna, Delhi and Chandigar.Later, in July,all 23 CNI Bishops attending the Lambeth Conference were invited to Derbyshire.(15 actually arrived). A World Church picnic was held in Bakewell.

Partners in Mission
October 1999 saw 26 people visit the CNI. Groups went to Delhi and Sambalpur, Nagpur and Jabalpur, Lucknow and Calcutta, Eastern Himalayas and North East India, Amritsar and finally Gujarat and Nasik.

Individual Links
During this time links between churches or groups of churches in Derbyshire and the CNI had been established. They included
Allestree with Nagpur
Ashbourne with Patna
Derby with Delhi
Crich with Shillong
Mickleover with Calcutta
URC Central with Delhi Brotherhood

2001 saw 12 people from CNI visit initially Derby as a group and then various parts of Derbyshire in smaller groups

and 2003 saw the visit of Sahgaman, a folk dance group from the United Christian Institute in Suranussi, Punjab. They spent a week at the Gateway Centre in Ashbourne and then moved to Derby, giving presentations at schools and churches across the county and beyond, including Leicester Cathedral. Canon David Truby of Wirksworth also spent part of his sabbatical time in India.

In 2004 Bishop Philip Marandih of Patna visited Ashbourne and preached at the Tissington Well Dressing service on Asension Day. Another group of young people, led by Alistair Langton , Petronella and John Warman, visited India and in June/July a group of 8 young people from CNI came to Derbyshire. The Wirksworth link with Durgapur was established.

2005 saw the visit of "The Messengers of Peace, a group of 10 musicians who were in Derbyshire in May. They gave presentations on peace and reconciliation with Indian folk music and personal testimonies.