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
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.
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.