Church of the Brethren leaders general secretary Stan Noffsinger and mission executive Jay Wittmeyer joined the Church of North India (CNI) at its 15th Ordinary Meeting of the Synod. The triennial event was held Oct. 1- 4 at Sherwood College in the hill station community of Nainital, Uttrakhand, and was build around the theme “Come; Let Us Rebuild...” (Nehemiah 2:17).
The meeting was opened with Holy Communion conducted by the moderator of CNI, the Most Rev. Dr. P.P. Marandih, and the inaugural address was given by Rev. Prof. Jerry Pillay, president of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. The meeting gathered all officer bearers of CNI, bishops from its 27 dioceses, superannuated bishops, diocesan representatives, presbyters, fraternal delegates, and mission partners.
The assembly worshiped together, and heard reports from all ministries of CNI including a very positive report from the treasurer, Prem Masihi, on the financial conditions of the synod. Many spoke to the need to stand with the oppressed and marginalized of society, to advocate on their behalf for justice in a culture of persecution. CNI also hosted an Overseas Partners Meeting on Sept. 30 at the All Saints’ College, to focus on partnership in mission. In total 27 persons representing 17 partners were in attendance.
The Rt. Rev. P.K. Samantaroy was installed as the 13th moderator of CNI following his election, and will serve the synod for the next three years in this capacity.
Noffsinger and Wittmeyer also traveled to the State of Gujarat to meet Church of the Brethren/Church of North India congregations who now find themselves without any church property to gather for worship following a Supreme Court decision last September that awarded the First District Church of the Brethren contested churches. Brethren met with leaders in Vyara, Ankleshwar, Nausari, and Valsad.
In each area, Noffsinger and Wittmeyer were warmly greeted and highly felicitated, which means in the Indian context to give garlands and some small presents. CNI/COB Brethren also submitted a list of concerns and requests to the Church of the Brethren in hopes that their predicament of worshiping under trees might be addressed in some manner. Brethren also visited several hostel ministries of CNI that bring children from remote areas into larger communities for education and training.
On Oct 5, Noffsinger and Wittmeyer spent the day with the First District Church of the Brethren to celebrate what the FDCOB terms “Victory Day,” the day it won its court case. After a morning service and lunch, the FDCOB held a business meeting for questions and answers and then finished the day with fireworks and dancing.
-- This report was submitted by Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.