Columns Opinions

Malankara Church Should Take A New Political Stand By Using “ Right to Reject”

This is the high time for the Malankara Church to change the political policy, because the Church is getting no Justice. Even though it is having the clear favourable verdict from the Supreme Court of India, and also a number of favourable verdicts from the local courts of Kerala. Both the fronts UDF and LDF, playing vote politics. They are not bothered about our sentiments. They only need our votes.

It is clearly evident that both UDF and LDF did injustice to our Church, the second largest Christian body of voters in Kerala, continuously rejecting justice, by not ready to implement court verdicts, by denying assembly and parliament seats to Orthodox Church members. Still now our people are not aware of this. For an Orthodox Faithful, our Church should be the first priority, then only political sentiments. We have to know this and to acknowledge this reality.

When we examine, the approaches of both fronts in the past, it is clear that, they are not bothered about implementing justice. We know, during the time of LDF government, Jacobite fraction got permission to visit the Tombs of our Church fathers in Thrikunnathu Seminary during Perunal, and they are allowed to offer prayers. Since then, they are continuously getting permission every year, and this year, H.B. Thomas I, played the drama of offering Holy Qurbana there.

We have to go back to the past years, During the time of H.H Mathews II Bava, Bava wished to enter the Manarcadu Church, on the ground of Supreme Court Judgment, but Antony Government, denied Police protection.

Six months back, we got a completely favourable verdict, in case of Kolenchery Church, and our Bava Thirumeni went on Hunger strike, in the end Oommen Chandy, promised, within 15 days, they will implement court verdict. But still now, it is not implemented. But after a few weeks of Kolenchery verdict, Patriarchal fraction got a favourable verdict in Puthenkuriz and Oommen Chandy government helped them to implement the verdict.
As Bava Thirumeni said recently, Political leaders are thinking Malankara Church leaders and faithful are fools. No, we are not fools. It is the high time for us to prove that we are not fools. In Piravom, the byelection is coming. UDF is having a Jacobite member as their candidate. And LDF is having Mr M.J.Jacob, a so called Orthodox Member, we do not know, whether he is a believer of Jesus, because he is a member of CPM, an atheist political party. And CPM also, not ready to give justice to us.

So, in this situation, what is our option? To whom should we give votes? Definitely Church should demonstrate our grievance, protest and feelings through this election. Then how? Can we support Anoop? Or give support to LDF candidate? In my opinion, we should not give support to both. Church should take an impartial stand. We should not give support to both fronts. At the same time we have to show our protests. It should not be by boycotting the election. But through participating the election.

Recently, in an unique case, some voters sought to exercise their “right to reject” during polling in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections second phase in Gorakhpur. However, with no such provision in electoral laws, they were allowed to put on record their decision to abstain as they did not consider any candidate deserving enough. Polling officials were taken by surprise when some half a dozen voters came down to their polling booths and demanded endorsement of their right to reject all candidates in the fray in Gorakhpur. The Malankara Orthodox Church members can use this opportunity, if we don’t like both UDF and LDF candidates…I think we should use “right to reject” in Piravom bypoll, because both fronts cheated us in one way or the other…

Dear brothers and sisters, stand firm against the injustice…we don’t want the untrustworthy politicians. Our Church is claiming that we have 22000 votes in Piravom. If so Our Church should instruct our people in Piravom to use “ right to reject” opportunity. This is a unique chance to show our protest through election to both fronts who are behind us only for our votes. They need only our votes. During the election time, all major leaders of political parties will visit our Metropolitans and seek their support. After getting our votes they simply avoid us.

Our Church leaders should not go behind this cheap politicians and political parties. We have our own identity; don’t put our identity and uniqueness of our Church under the Political parties. Not only in Piravom election, but in all the future elections, both assembly and Parliament elections, church can take this stand. We can give our votes to all candidates who are eligible and giving moral support to us, irrespective of caste, creed and politics. If we feel all are not eligible, we should reject them by visiting the polling booths, and record our attendance, but not giving our votes.

Fr.Thomas Philipose from Aurangabad

Diocese News Features News

Ahmedabad Diocese publishes Nicene Creed on the occasion of Catholicate Centenary

AHMEDABAD : The Malankara Orthodox Diocese of Ahmedabad under the leadership of Metropolitan HG Pulikkottil Dr Geevarghese Mar Yulios, has come out with a calendar on the occasion of the Catholicate Centenary (1912-2012).

The Diocese of Ahmedabad has published the Nicaea-Constantinople Creed and distributed to all families of the Diocese as a part of the Catholicate Centenary Celebrations later this year.

The single sheet calendar has reproduced the Creed under the banner “We Believe” with the picture of St Thomas of India in the background. The creed reads: In one true God…… and the new life in the world to come. Amen.

The Nicene Creed (Latin: Symbolum Nicaenum) is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy.

The calendar is being sponsored by St Mary’s Catholicate Cathedral, Ahmedabad.

On the base of the calendar are pictures of St Mary and Jesus, the Valiya Bhava, HH Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Didymus I, HH Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, Catholicose of the East and Ahmedabad Diocese Metropolitan Pulikkottil Dr Geevarghese Mar Yulios.

Members of the Muscat Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka also were distributed with the calendars last week.

The Creed

Church News Features News

C. K. Mathew is Rajasthan’s new chief secretary

RAJASTHAN : Senior IAS officer and additional chief secretary (finance) CK Mathew was named new chief secretary of Rajasthan on Tuesday. He will replace Salauddin Ahmed, who is retiring on February 29.

A 1977-batch IAS officer, Mathew has held several important positions in the past. He is said to be among chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s favourite officers due to his efficient but low-key style of working. Mathew was the secretary to Ashok Gehlot during his first stint as chief minister in state.

During the previous Gehlot government, Mathew was closely associated with the CM as a secretary in his office. He started his administrative career in 1979 as sub divisional officer (SDO) in Udaipur. Thereafter he became the Collector of Barmer and Bhilwara.

He held senior positions in irrigation, mines and energy departments and took over as principal secretary (finance) in the year 2008. Mathew, who has written two novels — The Mustard Flower and The Best is Yet to Come— is an avid writer and blogger.

C.K. Mathew Son of C.K. Kochukoshy IAS. C.K. Mathew is currently a Member of St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Jaipur.

Features News World News

CCA General Secretary condoles Dr Mar Osthathios demise as ‘icon of mission and charity’

CCA General Secretary condoles Dr Mar Osthathios demise as ‘icon of mission and charity’
‘A great soul whose heart throbbed with love, compassion’

CHIANG MAI, Thailand – Rev Dr Henriette Hutabarat Lebang, General Secretary Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) has condoled the recent sad demise of His Grace Dr Geevarghese Mar Osthathios, senior Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.

In a condolence letter dated February 24, 2012, addressed to HH Baselius Mar Thoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the East & Malankara Metropolitan, the General Secretary has said that in his demise “we have lost a great soul whose heart throbbed with love and compassion, and burned with a missionary zeal for spreading the word of God.”

Henriette Hutabarat Lebang notes that Dr Mar Osthathios was regarded as an icon of Mission and Charity, as an advocate of social justice, equality and love and as a beloved teacher of over 50 years to many students of theology.

While thanking God for the life and ministry of His Grace, the general secretary recalled the renowned theologian, orator and writer had contributed a immensely to the ecumenical movement as a member of the ‘Faith and Order Commission’ of the World Council of Churches, President of the Kerala Council of Churches, Bible Society Kerala Auxiliary and member of the Pro Oriente Foundation that dealt with relations between the Catholics and the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

His Grace concern for the poor and the marginalised was shown in his writings from his books titled ‘Theology of a Classless Society”, “The Sin of Being Rich in a Poor World”, “Sharing God and a Sharing World” and “One Religion of Love”.

“We glorify God for his life of 94 years which he spent in not only tending to his responsibilities as Diocesan Bishop and senior faculty of the seminary, but also in founding over 40 charitable organisations, movements and projects all over India,” the signed letter added.

Condolence letter

Church News Features News

Episcopal Synod appoints Dr Mar Yulios as Vice Chairman of MOSC media wing

Orthodox Church in Yemen reallocated to Ahmedabad Diocese

KOTTAYAM: The Malankara Orthodox Syrican Church’s Holy Episcopal Synod which met in the aftermath of the demise of Sabha Ratnam LL Dr Mar Osthathios has taken a number of important decisions when it met at the Devalokam Aramana last week.

MOSC has decided to vest total charge of the foreign media section towards disseminating the Church news and doctrines to Malankara Sabha children all over the world to a media-savvy young Metropolitan.

Accordingly it was decided to appoint Ahmedabad Diocese Metropolitan Pulikkottil Dr Geevarghese Mar Yulios as the Vice President of the Media cell. This includes both print and the visual media.

The media cell will work under the Presidentship of Chengannur Diocese Metropolitan HG Thomas Mar Athanasius and will meet soon to chalk out its plans.

The main purpose of the cell will be to strive towards unifying all media groups in the outside Kerala region and for its effective working with a common goal.

The Holy Episcopal Synod also discussed the role played by various Orthodox print and e-media channels like Indian Orthodox Herald, (IOH), Malankara Orthodox TV (M.TV), Orthodox TV, ICON and others.

Indian Orthodox Herald’s Malayalam edition broke the news on its online edition.

Responses praising the move by MOSC have been pouring in and readers have pointed out that this was a right move with Dr Mar Yulios being the perfect choice for the post.

The Synod also decided to reallocate the Orthodox Church in the Republic of Yemen under the Ahmedabad Diocese since its neighbouring country, the Sultanate of Oman, falls under the same diocese.

Earlier, the St Mary’s Orthodox Church was coming under the Diocese of UK, Europe and Africa.

Dr Mar Yulios henceforth will look after the needs of the St Mary’s Church in Sana’a and is likely to visit Yemen during his forthcoming visit to the Sultanate of Oman for Passion Week and Easter services.

The Sana’a Congregation was declared as a Church in the diocese of UK, Europe on July 9, 2010 by Diocese Metropolitan Dr Mathews Mar Thimotheos.

Columns Opinions

The Challenge For Christian Communicators

Communications: My role as I see it

WHEN we speak about communication, what comes to my mind is the ‘community well’ where women in the olden days gathered to draw water. That was their favourite meeting place, where they shared, laughed, sympathized and grieved together. There was no print or electronic media, but there was communication. They shared news that was most important to them… the local and the immediate neighbourhood… it was all that mattered to them…

Today, to use a worn out phrase, “Global is local”.

I mean that the economic situation in America, Greece or Italy is more likely to affect my daily life than anything in my neighbourhood; scenes of religious tension telecastin any part of the country triggers violence in all the other parts; fashions are adopted at the speed of lightning, books can be read online, and there are tourists that travel to the moon!That’s the challenge… the struggle to be relevant in a world that changes a zillion times for every degree that the earth rotates……

Where is the church in this melee?

What is the message that Christianity can bring into this world of poverty, injustice, of war, of diseases, of a humanity that is virtually sitting on the brink of a nuclear holocaust?

Where is Christ in all this as we run from one end of the spectrum of denominations to the other, in spiritual enquiry?

I don’t have the answers but there are experts in every field, scientists, economists, anthropologists, historians, social analysts, theologians and so on. The challenge is to assimilate all that the experts think and say and to relate it with Christian thought and action that is relevant in the present context.And that’s what Christian Communications is all about…. trying to integrate these thoughts through a medium to initiate social change.

Go tell it on the Mountains

Mountains are of great significance as seen in the days of the Old Testament and the New Testament, for example, Moses and the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Transfiguration, the Crucifixion. I guess a mountain top is a great vantage point for communications… “Go tell it on the mountains”. Is there something good? Something which deserves attention? Is it something on love, peace, faith and loyalty? Tell it on the mountains, share it and communicate. The medium of your choice can vary from Print, electronic, cinema, art, music, liturgy, the scope is unlimited, it isn’t confined to just news reporting, it is a whole new world.


It’s easy to say but more often than not, all who want to communicate are not successful as they lack visibility, adequate training, and sufficient organizations where they can utilize their skills or their passion. It is also difficult because the field is so flooded with gadgets and tools and technology that by the time one masters one tool, it is already obsolete.

CCA Communications and Ecumenism

The Christian Conference of Asia brings together 100 churches from 21 countries and 17 National Councils in the Asia Pacific.

It has the challenging task of bridging the cultural, linguistic, geographic, political, social, economic and denominational divides to bring together Churches in Asia, on a common ecumenical platform that would serve as a confluence of Asian Philosophy, Theology and Praxis.

Communication partially helps in this onerous task of keepingall of us together, by sharing the life and activities of the CCA and the member churches, through the publications of the CCA, a Magazine titled CCA NEWS, through monthly letters to all the Heads of Churches, Executive and General Committee members, Program Area Committee members, related organizations, e-letters, and the website.

Achievements and significant milestones in the life of people from the member churches are felicitated and shared on the website, significant events from the member churches are shared and so are pastoral letters in the event of natural disasters, war, human rights abuse, the passing away of personalities. Reports on programs conducted by the CCA on Regional and National levels, Statements brought out by the participants, advocacy letters, and solidarity letters are all part of the Communications portfolio. It maintains an online Library and also deals with copyrights and Royalty issues.

Communications also means documenting Executive and General Committee meetings, and all other special events, and is responsible for the Annual Reports and Program review reports.

Actually, I envisage a larger role for the communications desk in the CCA.

I think in terms of a kind of Asia watch, in which events are closely watched and analyzed, so that the role of the CCA and the Churches can be discussed and shared with the concerned people, and passed on for comment to a wider audience.

I imagine a more vibrant desk that will make CCA come alive, with something to say almost every week. One of the projects is to make each church a reality to every other member church, by bringing to them a profile of every church in Asia. For instance is the Church in Laos or Cambodia in any way a matter of concern to our people in Kerala? How many know the struggles of the church in Timor Leste or in nearby Bhutan and Nepal? Profiles of each church on the website of CCA and our magazine will be an eye opener.

In the pipeline is also a plan for calling together all Communicators from the different churches in Asia for a consultation cum conference on Christian Communication. I seriously think that we have to meet and train on how to be effective communicators and reflect on the content. Are we publishing too much of rhetoric when what we really need is the Voice of the People, are we churning out volumes of abstract thought while we are missing out on what Jesus did…. go and walk with the crowds. Communication means travel, to explore and to write…. maybe we need a Communications team, not just one person…

Communications and the Orthodox Church

I happen to be the first ever Orthodox woman to be employed in the CCA. So with my presence, there is an Indian, an Orthodox and a woman…. a rare combination I am told by my Marthoma friends who have been so kind and encouraging to me.

First of all it reflects the Orthodox presence in Asia and that, we as a Church have walked with the CCA in co-operation and friendship all these years, and have contributed meaningfully to ecumenism.

My being here is a constant reminder that here is somebody who belongs to the Church which has a over 2000 year-old tradition, and that there is an Orthodox dimension, another way of thinking or another way of doing things, which makes it a learning experience for them and for me as I get to learn more about others.

I see my presence here as a link between CCA and my mother Church. It would help me to be instrumental in strengthening the ecumenical ties and the relationship we have with the CCA and all the other member churches; to make sure that the Malankara Orthodox Church is within the loop of all communications and all other activities that are planned for the Men, Women, Youth, Clergy and Laity; that the Church in turn responds in time, pays the membership fee etc because any relationship is a two way system.

It also gives me the opportunity to give more visibility to the experts in our Church who can be invited as resource people for CCA programs, because our Church has a many scholars, academicians, theologians and so on. We are initiating a data base on experts from all member Churches, and we should not lose this opportunity.

The same can be said of participants. As consultant I can suggest people who are working in fields like Child protection, or HIV and Aids or climate justice for special programs. We have so many specialized people who can share their views and also get an opportunity to discuss with others from Asia.

In our Church I get the feeling that we are a Church divorced from reality….we never relate to what is happening in the world… our intercessory prayers are fixed ones…. don’t we have the flexibility of changing it to suit the needs of the day? World Aids Day, Water day, Asia Sunday, Spirit of Unity or the week of spiritual Unity called the Unity Octave, NCCI Sunday, a prayer for those who are killed in earthquakes, accidents, large scale ones…what do we really care for? We lose out on the personal touch, I don’t mean that we should change our traditions and faith, but we can be alive to human beings and their sufferings, be more understanding towards the youth, I am sure that wherever the young are active in Church it is because of a good and understanding Vicar. And when we win the hearts of the young they are more willing to learn, they love the church and will never leave it.

I am sure that when the youth attend such meetings it willwiden their world view! As an Executive Committee member of the NCCI, I used to encourage and invite our Seminary students and other young people to attend Ecumenical events and I am glad to say that they all liked it and benefitted from it. I will continue to do the same in the CCA.

It gives me the opportunity to share news, showcase talents and achievements, encourage Art and Music, encourage people to write for our publications and in short keep the Orthodox presence alive in the Asian Ecumenical forum.

We have had good representation in the World Council of Churches, as there are more Orthodox Churches from all over the world. In the WCC they are a real force to reckon with, whereas in the CCA we are still a museum piece!

This is my vision and my dream; I need the blessings and the prayers of each one of you, because the mantle I am wearing is a heavy one, heavy with responsibility and expectations. I’m just a woman, but with all of you I gain strength and courage to move on.

Susan Jacob from the Malankara Orthodox Church is the new Consultant for Communications of Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) since January 2012. She will be based at CCA’s headquarters at Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Features News World News

MOSC’s Susan Jacob joins CCA as Communication Consultant

Ecumenist at heart, her role will further deepen ecumenical ties
New appointee proposes vibrant communication desk and ‘Asia Watch’

CHIANG MAI, Thailand —It is a big honour for the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Christian community.

Its biggest follower, Mrs Susan Jacob, has joined the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) as Consultant for Communications from January 2012. Susan thus becomes the first-ever Indian Orthodox woman to be employed in the CCA. She will have tenure of two years and will be based at its HQ at Chiang Mai in Thailand.

The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), earlier called East Asia Christian Conference, is a regional ecumenical organisation representing 17 National Councils and 100 churches in 21 countries in the Asia Pacific region. CCA was constituted by a decision of churches, national councils of churches and national Christian councils.

Rev Dr Henriette Hutabarat Lebang from Indonesia is the present General Secretary.

Susan’s experience as Executive Committee member will help her immensely in her new role.

As member of the Executive Committee and the General Committee of the CCA from 2005-2010, Susan brings with her ample skills to the post that she has been appointed to. An ecumenist at heart, she represented the Church at the CCA Assembly and at the Assembly of the National Council of Churches in India.

Susan who served as a member of the drafting committee of WCC represented the MOSC community along with a five-member delegation at the International Ecumenical Peace Conference (IEPC) held in Kingston, Jamaica, in May 2011.

At CCA, Susan will strive to keep the Orthodox presence alive in Asian Ecumenical forum.

Says Susan: “I see my presence as a link between CCA and my mother Church. It would help me to be instrumental in strengthening ecumenical ties and the relationship we have with the CCA and all the other member churches; to make sure that the Malankara Orthodox Church is within the loop of all communications and all other activities that are planned for the men, women, youth, clergy and laity; that the Church in turn responds in time, pays the membership fee because any relationship is a two-way system.”

Envisaging a larger role for the communications desk, Susan, proposes a kind of Asia watch, in which events are closely watched and analysed, so that the role of the CCA and the Churches can be discussed, shared and passed on for comment to a wider audience.

“It also gives me the opportunity to give more visibility to the experts in our Church who can be resource people and suggest participants for CCA programmes. A data base of experts from all fields and a record of participants are also being contemplated,” adds Susan.

A major project she is going to take up is having a profile of member churches of CCA online and is presently working out on its framework. Susan is also a social activist trying to be a Christian in a secular world.

Academically, she has a M Phil in Women’s Studies and a Master in Literature and BEd. She also pursued a Diploma in Journalism from the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. She also edits Agape, the bulletin of the Madras Diocese.

Her theological interest pertains to theology of nature, peace and expressions of feminine character and nature that upholds and respects feminism; also interested in church history, icons and women saints.

Married to P V Jacob, Susan is a member of the St Peters and St Paul’s Church, Koyambedu, Chennai.

Features MGOCSM News

MGOCSM North America Released Video on the Great Lent

NEW YORK: The MGOCSM of North America has released a video on the importance of Great Lent to Orthodox Christians. The video explaines the purpose of Great Lent, the meaning of lent –about self-denial or self-transformation which may “Alter Your Perception”.

-Narrator: Rev. Dn. Vijay Thomas
-Script Writers: Rev. Dn. Vijay Thomas, Danny Thomas, Jesica Geevarghese, Libu Geevarghese, Manoj Varghese, Princy Thomas, Pushpa Zachariah, Sunita Geevarughese
-Video Editor: Manoj Varghese

To view the video click here

Diocese News Features News

Photo-session- Bengaluru Diocese clergymen

BENGALURU : Dr Abraham Mar Seraphim, Metropolitan, Bengaluru Diocese, recently held a photo session with the 18 vicars and 5 Cor Episcopos. Picture shows Dr Mar Seraphim flanked by 5 Cor Episcopos (seated) and 1 standing along with the 18 Vicars of the Diocese at a photo session.

Picture download

Diocese News Features News

Lays foundation stone for St Stephen’s Church in Rajasthan

PRATAPGARH, Rajasthan —- Ahmedabad Diocese Metropolitan, Pulikkottil Dr Geevarghese Mar Yulios has laid the foundation stone laid for St Stephan’s Orthodox Church in Pratapgarh, Rajasthan on February 1, 2012.

Dr Mar Yulios laid the foundation stone ceremony and led the solemn ceremony. The Metropolitan led the prayers and blessed the slab of stone.

Rajasthan comes under Ahmedabad Diocese and already has the St Thomas Congregation in Mt Abu, hill station. Pratapgarh is a newest constituted district in Rajasthan. It came into existence in Janurary, 2008 as the 33rd district of Rajasthan. It is part of Udaipur Division.

Also present on the blessed occasion were Ahmedabad Diocesan Secretary Fr Joji George, Vicar Fr George Abraham, parish members and dignitaries from the local society in Pratapgarh.