Message from the Diocesan Episcopa January 2015Date : 22-03-2016

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

2014 has been an eventful year. The new Diocesan Assembly met, and the new Diocesan Council has started functioning with the help of subcommittees to bring fresh attempts and new beginnings in the various diocesan activities. We are the body of Christ in the given space and time. To be with Christ means to be in the presence of the Triune God, where redemptive activities are going on. Christ always spent time with His Heavenly Father even as He confronted all harsh realities in the world. In His public ministry, Jesus was found in the neighborhood/vicinity of human confusion and suffering, giving preference to those in need and those who were mercilessly marginalized (John 5: 1-15). As followers of Christ, we are a worshiping community, regularly meeting in the respective places of worship with a liturgy that is meant for corporate and inclusive worship. Also, we are a serving community in the chaos of the world, continuing Christ’s redemptive and healing ministry. We are in the world to bring glory to God and to live for the establishment of God’s kingdom.

 

Community living is very vital for the Christian Church. We have four seasons in our land, and these seasons tell us about the growth of life in the midst of odds, extremes, and multiplicities. Church-life brings us closer to other Christians who have multiple talents and it saves us from being lonely disciples of Christ (John 20: 24-29). We receive our life from God, and it is nurtured with prayer, love, and fellowship with our fellow human beings. When our lives are so interwoven, it is important to celebrate diversity, and at the same time, live in unity. Christian nurturing takes place when we live as the Christian community.

 

We had more than 10 diocesan conferences in 2014, with ample opportunities to cater to the different age groups. To pick an example, the Sevika Sanghom Conference was on the theme, “Empowering Women and Enriching the Families.” It brought together 284 delegates from different parishes and gave room for discussing the challenges faced by women in “enriching the families in the American context.” The thematic presentations and Bible Studies in the conferences helped the delegates grow spiritually and come together for strengthening corporate living in the Christian community. You can find out more details about these conferences on the 2014 Diocesan Conferences slideshow on our website at: www.marthomanae.org à diocese à announcements à downloads.

 

One of the initiatives we started in the diocese was the “Going Green Project” to mark the Episcopal Silver Jubilee and develop eco-awareness. I could see the parish community in each place coming together to plant trees on the parish campus, at our homes engaging in kitchen gardens, and the youth distributing eco-friendly bags, and preparing posters to communicate the message. This is to be an ongoing project that will keep our planet a habitable space for us and for the generations to come. There are more things that can be done in this regard such as preventing the wastage of food, water, and electricity in order to provide clean air, water, and a pollution-free atmosphere. Explore www.marthomanae.org à diocese à announcements à downloads to view a slideshow recalling the various events that took place under the Going Green Initiative.

 

Another initiative that began in our diocese is a conference for the senior members of our church. The Detroit Mar Thoma Church took action within a short time to bring together 135 delegates from different corners. I congratulate the parish for the wholehearted cooperation and support of all its members in conducting this conference. Though the senior fellowship of the Detroit Mar Thoma parish took the leadership, the youth and women members were there preparing food in the campus and serving it to everyone. The parish became the family of families, providing a home atmosphere, homemade food, and personal care to all the delegates. The conference studied the theme, “Faith Development and Stewardship.” There were panel discussions, medical classes, recreational activities, along with thematic talks and Bible Studies. Our former vicars Rev. Dr. Ipe Joseph and Rev. John Mathew (Kuriannoor) gave leadership.

 

The Mar Thoma Messenger has brought out four quarterly issues on different valid topics in 2014. The last one was, “Women: Enriching the Church.” The present issue is on senior members as the builders of the Church in the western world. Several of our senior members who started building the parishes in North America and Europe are with the Lord now; some are ill; and some are active. We cannot forget the leadership of the Late Rev. Dr. V. V. Alexander in Europe; Late Abraham Mar Thoma Metropolitan, Late Rev. Dr. T. C. Thomas, Late Rev. Abraham Lincoln and others like them in Canada; Late Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan, and Late Dr. Thomas Mar Athanasius Suffragan Metropolitan in North America whose work laid the foundation for the growth of the parishes in our diocese. The book, In the Beginning and Journeying with Christ, as well as, other publications speaks about our historical growth. The present issue of the Mar Thoma Messenger will speak about the challenges and concerns of the senior members and areas of their interest.  I encourage you to read the message written by our Valiya Metropolitan Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom in the book, Journeying with Christ. I am glad the first resident bishop who built the Sinai Center, Dr. Zacharias Mar Theophilus Suffragan Metropolitan has also contributed a very relevant and valid article on the topic in this issue.

 

It is very encouraging to see that the regions of our diocese have started functioning and some of them have registered for effective and fruitful activities on the local level. Our diocese has to grow more now through decentralized and diversified activities at the regional level. The parishes in Europe have regional conferences, a quarterly publication known as ECHO, and efforts for neighborhood-outreach mission under the banner of COMPE. The parishes in the Northeast Region have the Christian Education Forum (CEF) with the “Word for the Day” ministry (to read the devotion for each day, you can access it on the home page of www.marthomanae.org), regional conferences for children, neighborhood mission initiated by the youth, and such other initiatives. The Northeast Region is also organizing the 31st Diocesan Family Conference in Connecticut in July 2015. These are models for other regions to follow.

 

Christmas reminded us of God’s incarnational ministry. God of Life emptied Himself to redeem and enrich our lives. He embraced the poorest of the poor human condition to identify with us and also to show us the way to pattern our human life. “Love as I have loved you” is the new commandment which He has given us. It speaks volumes and volumes as we meditate on it and try to translate it in our lives. Matthew 25 speaks of His second coming and final judgment exhorting us to be vigilant and careful about being faithful and obedient even in the little things that challenge us. The series of things that are said there, such as: “I was hungry…I was thirsty…etc.” are asking us to discipline our lives to live according to His teachings and be accountable for our life, time, talents, and opportunities. Anything that contributes to the construction of a more humane world is a sacramental act. This requires commitment as a mark of our love for the living God. The New Year 2015 is a fresh opportunity God has given us to be the followers of Christ. Let us express our love for Him through our spiritual life and commit ourselves afresh to continue to serve Him.

 

I wish you all a very Blessed and Happy New Year.

 

Yours in Christ’s Ministry,

Mar Theodosius+