Official Website of CSI Parish Kattakada, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Official Website of CSI Parish Kattakada, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
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Church of South India (CSI)

     Church of South India (CSI) is the second largest Christian congregation in India, after the Catholic Church. It is also the biggest local Church denomination in India. It has approximately 4 million (40 lakh) members, spread across the four states of southern India, i.e., Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Also, the Church has one diocese functioning in Jaffna (Sri Lanka).
     The CSI has a diverse heritage, which differs from region to region. The majority of its fold consists of those people who received the word of God from the western missionaries who came to this land, braving all types of calamities and hardships. Once they received Jesus Christ, their lives witnessed tremendous changes in terms of social status, education, health care and quality of life. Meanwhile, a large number of people in some dioceses of Kerala claim their Christian heritage to a period dating back to 52 AD, when St. Thomas, a disciple of Jesus Christ came to Kerala. This diversity is reflected in liturgies used during various sacraments, across the regions.
     The believers of southern India initially belonged to various denominations and organizations. Discussions about a unified Church in India for the Protestant denominations began by the turn of the 20th century.  It yielded the first result  on 25th July 1907 1908, when the South Indian United Church was formed. This was a union between Congregationalists and Presbyterians. The Basal Mission, which functioned in the district of Malabar also joined the S.I.U.C. in 1919. The Tamil Churches of Travancore were also included within the fold of SIUC in 1921.

Formation of CSI

     The discussions for a wider platform were carried over at various levels. The conference at Tranquebar (today known as Tharangambadi) in 1919 towards this end was led by Rt. Rev. Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah, the first Indian born bishop of the Anglican Church. The Church of South India is considered the result of twenty-eight years of prayers and discussions. By the independence of India in 1947, the union was achieved and the CSI officially established. The inauguration of the Church of South India opened a new chapter in the history of the churches. This was the first time in history such a union was realised between episcopal (a Church which recognises a bishop) and non-episcopal churches. Five churches claiming Anglican (Episcopal), Congregational, Presbyterian and Methodist traditions were united under the banner of CSI; SIUC was one among them. It was for the first time in Church history that non-episcopal Churches such as the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches had formed a union with Episcopal Churches such as the Anglican and Methodist Churches.

     The formation of CSI is considered to be a miracle in Church history, because many churches voluntarily discarded their identity to form a single entity. Also, it united four principal languages of southern India, as it happened on the Pentecost Day in the first century. So, this is often described as the “Second Pentecost”.

    It may be interesting to learn that the founder of CSI was a scholar in Hindu philosophy and spirituality. H.R Hoyzington, a Christian priest who came to India from the United States of America, learned five Indian languages, including Tamil and Sanskrit.  He conducted in-depth studies in to Saiva spirituality. Also, he translated Sivagnana Botham and Sivapragasam by Umapathi Sivachariyar into English. He also opined that the knowledge of Hindu spirituality would benefit the Christians as a whole and missionaries in particular. Thus, he widened the bridge of religious harmony in India, which prevailed throughout from the very beginning of missionary activities.