Telugu Church leaders call for “visible signs” of Christian unity

The federation supports Rohit Vemula cause

Hyderabad: The need for great unity among Christians of various denominations was stressed at the recent annual general body meeting of the Federation of Telugu Churches.

Church of South India (CSI) Moderator Bishop G Dyvasirvadam, one of the two presidents of the federation, called for “more visible expressions of unity” as India is undergoing drastic changes and Churches face attacks from within and outside. The Protestant prelate also wanted the Churches to make greater efforts to convince the governments about the contribution of Christians to the nation building and how they could play peacemakers in the country’s present volatile situation.

The February 17 meeting at St. John’s Regional Seminary, Hyderabad, was attended by nine Catholic and three CSI Bishops, besides heads of Baptist Denominations and Assemblies of God.

The federation was earlier known as the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches. It is an apex body of archbishops, bishops and heads Catholic, CSI, Lutheran, Baptist, Salvation Army, Assemblies of God and other major Christian Denominations of Telugu States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states.

The meeting also heard CSI Pastor J. Nitin, who on January 17 was attacked along with others for praying in a Christian family in Fakirabad village of Nizamabad district.

The pastor noted that those arrested in connection with the incident were now roaming free.

The meeting asked the federation officials to take up the matter with the home minister and top police official of Telangana.

The meeting also decided to send a delegation to the National Silent Rally to demand reservation for Dalit Christians to be held in New Delhi on March 10.

Jesuit Father AXJ Bosco noted that the federation had visited the family of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit student of Hyderabad Central University who committed suicide on January 17 to protest discrimination. His death sparked protests and outrage across India.

Bishop Dyvasirvadam visited Rohith’s family along with some priests and nuns and offered financial assistance to his mother. The federation also extended support to the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice that has taken up Vemula’s cause, which has emerged as a national movement of students for equality in the universities.

The meeting began with an Ecumenical Prayer Service adapted from the Worship Service of the Week of Prayers for Christian Unity 2016. Archbishop Thumma Bala, another president of the federation, welcomed the gathering and introduced a new member, Catholic Bishop T. Joseph Raja Rao of Vijayawada.

A moment of silence was observed to pay homage to late Methodist Bishop Taranath Sagar, who was the President of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and National United Christian Forum (NUCF). As the bishop in Hyderabad and president of A.P. Christian Council, Bishop Sagar had strongly supported the formation of Federation of Churches.

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