Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Visit to India Brethren finds a church maintaining its faith.

A group of Church of the Brethren leaders from the US visited Brethren in India on Nov. 27-30, finding a church that is maintaining its faith and identity. The US group joined in celebrations of the 300th Anniversary of the Church of the Brethren, but also heard church members speak about difficult issues such as the continuing persecution of Christians in India, the struggle to carve out a daily living, and the desire to educate children to keep them from child employment.

It was the first visit to the India churches by the general secretary of the Church of the Brethren General Board, Stanley Noffsinger. Also present was Mervin Keeney, executive director for Global Mission Partnerships, and Brethren videographer David Sollenberger, who filmed the visit. The group visited India on the way to Indonesia to attend an Asia conference of the Historic Peace Churches.

The group was met at Mumbai, and traveled north to Gujarat State, passing by the property of the former Church of the Brethren mission hospital at Dahanu. One day was spent in worship in the Valsad church building, which dates to 1908, and celebrating the 300th Anniversary at the Wilbur Stover bungalow nearby.

The following day, the group traveled to Ankleshwar where a new building had been constructed for the congregation, and made a visit to the Vocational Training School. The group also viewed new buildings of the church and brought greetings at Bhilwara, and at Centenary Church at Vali, and by the end of a long travel day had reached a new building under construction at Dariya village. A surprising introduction at this stop was meeting the Hindu man from the village who had donated the land for the church building, which is located on a prominent ridge.

The final day of the India visit was spent orienting and preparing the 17 Brethren representatives from India who also traveled to Indonesia to participate in the Asia conference of the Historic Peace Churches. The India representatives included Kantilal R. Rajwadi (K.R. Rajwadi), president of the Church of the Brethren in India.

Darryl Sankey, the India church leader who coordinated the visit, spoke to its importance. The visit “really boosts our church,” he said. “Their presence itself helps the church because it gives us a feeling of belonging, it gives us a feeling of brotherly love. We don't expect any financial aid, we don't expect any support from them. But just their being there with the church with whom we have had relationships for the past 100 years, does provide us with inspiration.”

Source: 01/02/2008 Newsline

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