The concern for unity of the Church grew out of a zeal for the mission of the Church, because a divided Church could not bear witness to the one Gospel and the one Lord in a country like India with diverse religions, languages, races and cultures. Through the process of negotiations and prayerful seeking of the guidance of Holy Spirit unity was achieved in the understanding and practice of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, the three-fold ministry of Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons and in the organizational structures of Pastorates, Dioceses and the Synod, Episcopacy was received and accepted as both constitutional and historic. Provision has been made for diverse liturgical practices and understandings of the divine revelation, provided that these do not violate the basic Faith and Order of the Church or disrupt the unity and fellowship within the Church.
The series of consultations, with a view to Church Union in North India, began in 1929. Eventually on the "basis of negotiations" prepared by a series of Round Table Conferences, a plan of Church union was drawn up. A negotiating committee was constituted in 1951 by the Church bodies concerned - which were the United Church of Northern India, the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, the Methodist Church in Southern Asia and the Council of the Baptist Churches in Northern India. In 1957, the Church of the Brethren and the Disciples of Christ also joined in the negotiations. The plan reached its fourth and final edition in 1965 and, on that basis, the Church Union in North India was inaugurated on 29 November, 1970 in Nagpur. At the last moment, the Methodist Church in Southern Asia decided not to join the union. However, the Methodist Church, the British and the Australasian have joined the Union.
Following six Churches united to form the Church of North India on November 29, 1970 in Nagpur:
• The Council of Baptist Churches in Northern India.
• The Church of the Brethren in India.
• The Disciples of Christ.
• The Church of India (formerly known as the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon).
• The Methodist Church (British and Australasian Conferences).
• The United Church of Northern India.
The organ of the whole Church, comprising of 27 Dioceses, is the Synod, which is the supreme, supervisory, legislative and executive body of the Church and final authority in all matters pertaining to the Church. OBJECTS AND PURPOSES OF THE SYNOD The Synod shall fulfill the objects and purposes of the Church of North India i.e., to proclaim by word and deed the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Lord and Master of the Church for the Salvation and good of all mankind through unity, witness, and service which may include educational, medical, social, agricultural and other services, and also through worship and other activities of the Church which promote spiritual growth, self-reliance, social justice and moral regeneration irrespective of caste, creed or color.
The Church of North India, over the past 42 years, is marching ahead in its united journey of witnessing and serving its people through its following mission statement: “The Church of North India as a United and Uniting together is committed to announce the Good News of the reign of God inaugurated through death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in proclamation and to demonstrate in actions to restore the integrity of God’s creation through continuous struggle against the demonic powers by breaking down the barriers of caste, class, gender, economic inequality and exploitation of the nature.”
CNI is engaged in orienting and reorienting the people of God to protect and promote “Life in its fullness” through its Programme office in Nagpur through the following streams of mission.
Envisions a world which will ensure dignity of life and quality living of all children, a world that provides an enabling environment for a child to be born, to develop and to live a full life - a world where a child can dream of a future life and get opportunities to fulfill them. We pursue to protect and promote child rights, to ensure that their basic needs are met, to protect, prevent and rescue them from all forms of exploitation and abuse, to expand their opportunities for holistic development and to give a new meaning to their life.
WOMEN & GENDER CONCERN
Envisions to deepen awareness and respond in concrete action to women’s concerns as well as encourage more women participation in the life of the Church and society in India. It challenges and transforms attitudes, structures and systems in Church and society that limits women’s participation and leadership.
YOUTH CONCERN Envisions the organizing of the youth through spiritual, social, economical, ecological, political awakening, instilling Biblical standard of living, giving and serving the Church and the society they live in. While doing so they exhibit their potential to the paramount and ascertain a new order of peace and justice based on love and mutual respect.
PEACE & INTERFAITH CONCERN Envisions to create a society where all religions and spiritual communities will gather together towards co-operative action, dialogue and healing of broken relationships. It creates an opportunity for people from all faith to meet together to re-establish peace, harmony and dignity.
Envisions to sensitize the congregations in socio-economic and political concerns, particularly about the struggles of the oppressed and marginalized such as dalits and indigenous communities in their self-development, dignity and wholesome life.
LOCAL CONGREGATION CONCERN
Envisions a new society and a new world order through the participation of congregations and contributes to the development and promotion of missiology and culture from the experiences and perspective of the people at the periphery.
HUMAN POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT CONCERN Envisions towards “systematic equipping of the saints” on developing the potential of a person and community to respond creatively to the challenges they face in the ever changing world today.
Envisions to bring the role of Pastors to the forefront of missional praxis of the church; by rejuvenating pastoral ministry towards a holistic approach whereby pastors can involve the entire congregation for effective engagement in mission.
RESOURCE & LEARNING CENTRE AT NAGPUR:
The Centre for Human Potential Development at Nagpur offers facilities at nominal rates for short and long term training programmes, seminars, workshops and consultations. The resource center can accommodate 120 people at a time with attached bath and air-cooled rooms. The Conference room can accommodate 150 people, which is equipped with modern conference facilities. Small library, photocopy, telephone, Cyber Café facilities are also available.
The Church has grown in its faith and ministry over the years. Presently it has a membership of approx. 15,00,000 spread across North India, including Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It believes in holistic development of its membership. There is equal scope for the children, women and the youth. The children are brought from the periphery to the center as a visual participation in its Synods. The Women and Youth have their own structural identity.
WOMEN’S FELLOWSHIP FOR CHRISTIAN SERVICE OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA: The Women’s Fellowship for Christian Service is organized under its own constitution accepted and approved by the Executive Committee of the Synod and it operates at the Pastorate, diocesan and Synodical levels of the Church. It plans work among women of fellowship, Christian witness, cultivation of interest in the financial support of the Church and its projects and also encourages women to take full part in the life and witness of the Church.
SYNODICAL YOUTH FELLOWSHIP: The Synodical Youth Fellowship is organized under its own constitution accepted and approved by the Executive Committee of the Synod and operates at the pastorate, Diocesan and Synodical levels. It plans work among youth of the Church for Fellowship, Christian witness, cultivation of interest in and financial support for the Church and its projects and encourages youth to take full part in the life and witness of the Church.
CNI also has two strong boards the Synodical Board of Social Services and the Synodical Board of Health Services. The Synodical Board of Social Services (SBSS) is the development and justice wing of the Church of North India (CNI) which was formed in 1970. The CNI SBSS works to empower socially excluded and marginalized communities like Dalits, Adivasis, women and children. It has adopted a right based approach as we believe that welfare or charity does not address the larger forces that make it impossible for people to break cycles of poverty and oppression. A key strategy of CNI SBSS therefore is to build movements that address the most basic issues of human dignity: Land Rights, Livelihood and Food Security and Social Exclusion. Through a democratic process of protest and engagement with the government, SBSS works to change the policies of government to favor those who have been ignored by it. This begins from the most basic issues like the right to water and food to the ultimate aim of creating an alternative political force that will challenge and fight against the unjust policies and practices of the government. Alongside these, issues of Climate Change and Gender equality are also given emphasis. Another important focus of its work is to include and engage congregation members in development processes through the Church Mission Engagement program. The Synodical Board of Health Services (SBHS) was established in 1974 to promote and carry out appropriate Medical Services, Training, HIV and AIDS work, Community Health work, Nursing Programme, Student’s Scholarship Nurturing Programme and the diffusion of useful medical knowledge in the spirit of service and sacrifice for the benefit of all persons irrespective of caste, creed, community and nationality. It has a total of 60 hospitals which work through eight Regional Boards. It:
constitutes the largest network of health care institutes in India
it has pioneered AIDS awareness through education.
it works under the banner of “Devout feelings - Bring healing”
Embarking upon a new pedestal the Church of North India to strengthen its stewardship ministry and realizing the need of its responsibility, has created the Stewardship Ambassadors Ministry. The primary objective of Church of North India has been proclaiming by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ for good of all humankind. Christian Stewardship can be summed up in Paul’s words “your gifts are like sweet smelling offering to God, a sacrifice which is acceptable and pleasing to Him” (Phil 4: 18).
The Stewardship Ambassadors have taken up the challenge to actively participate in the Holistic life of the Church by sharing their talents and generating resources for building Community of faith and hope. The Stewardship Ambassadors reinstated their commitment as Partners in God’s Mission by focusing on:
Key Features of this ministry are:
The mission and work of the Church of North India is embodied around its belief of Unity, Witness and Service.
Visit us at: www.cnisynod.org
(As updated in NCC Review December 2012)
Contact as on 30th July 2013
Mr. Alwan Masih
General Secretary, CNI Synod
CNI Bhavan, 16,Pandit Pant Marg
New Delhi 110 001
Tel : 011-43214002, M. 9999473113
Fax : 011-43214006