Union Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI) and Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute jointly organized the 503rd Reformation Day celebrations on October 30, 2020.In the morning a webinar was organized under the theme “Conversion on Faith in Pandemic’” and in the evening worship service was conducted remembering Martin Luther and Reformation today.
Webinar on “Conversation on ‘Faith in Pandemic’”
A Webinar on “Conversation on ‘Faith in Pandemic’” was in memory of Late Rev. Dr. A.G. Augustine Jayakumar and in commemoration of Reformation Day. Rev. A. Joshuva Peter, (Executive Secretary, UELCI) welcomed the participantsand the webinar began with a word of prayer by Most Rev. F. Paradesi Babu, (President, UELCI). Rt. Rev. Johan Dang, (Moderator, GELC), Miss. Karamratna Kumari (GSELC), Rev. Cand. Solita Narzary (ELCITHS) andRev. Asir Ebenezer (General Secretary, NCCI) shared from the ground reality how the present pandemic impacted the churches in the past 7 months. The sharing revealed the fact that the congregation members experienced unprecedented situation in the socio-religious and economic realms.
After the sharing session three eminent scholars presented papers on the theme. In his presentation under the title “Bible and Pandemic,”Rev. Dr. John Samuel, (Principal, GLTCRI) gave a brief overview of plagues in the Bible, made a highlight on how people experienced and faced the situation, and drew an insight that pandemic renew life by challenging the invisible injustice and it also helps conduct ourselves responsibly. While speaking on “Worship and Sacraments during Major Pandemics in History,”
Fr. Dr. Maria Arul Raja, (Director, IDCR, Loyola College) related the question of faith in pandemic very contextually by highlighting the multi-faceted impact of present COVID-19 pandemic. Being critical on how the situation is handled, he pointed out that the present pandemic is used for promoting injustice against vulnerable people and minority communities. In such context, the question for Christian is ‘where is the holiness?’ The pandemic calls the priestly vocation to move from metaphysical to ethical dimension.
Finally, in her presentation on “Theology, Spiritualty, Faith Practice during Pandemic in the past” Rev. Dr. Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon, (Professor of Biblical Hebrew, Pilgrim Theological College, Australia) highlighted the impacts of pandemic on Christian faith practices and by using epidemiological reading of the Bible made a succinct theological challenge that in difficult times such as present pandemic is not to ask ‘Where is God?’ but to find ‘Where God is.’There is a call for complete metanoia and a sensitization of life towards equalization and collective wellbeing of all.
The programme was well attended by eminent scholars, bishops and church leaders, head of the national and international organizations/institutions, representative from member churches of UELCI as well as Gurukul faculty members and students. We thank God for the success of the programme and extent gratitude to all the participants.
Reformation Day Worship Service and Remembering Rev. Augustine Jayakumar
The Reformation Day celebrations continued. Rev. Isaac and Mr. Murthi organized games from children and the service began at 5.30 pm with the prayer by Rev. Dr. Daniel Kirubaraj, (Chaplain, GLTCRI) and the warm welcome address by Rev. Dr. John Samuel, (Principal, GLTCRI). Rev.A. Joshuva Peter (Executive Secretary, UELCI)honored Rev. Dr.A.G. Augustine Jayakumar’s photograph, the former Executive Secretary of UELCI on the occasion of his first death anniversary. Rev.Samuel Logan Ratnaraj, (Doctoral Student) and Rev.Nagaiyasamy N.S. Samuel, (Registrar, GLTC) paid tributes to Dr. Augustine.
Rev.A. Joshuva Peter introduced the speaker, Rev. Dr. Chandran Paul Martin, (Regional Representative of ELCAfor South and South Asia). Chandran while sharing the importance of five Solas of Martin Luther, mentioned that Indian church is divided in the name of caste, class, gender and ethnicity. While stating Luther’s statement, “Here I Stand,” he raised a question, “where do we stand?” Chandran while touching on the theme of Gurukul, encouraged the gathering to remember the presence of God every time we breathe. Indeed, it was an inspiring speech.
Besides that, various groups presented special songs, children actively took part in dancing, reading the scriptures and leading in prayers. Rev. Lydia offered the closing prayer and pronounced the benediction.The event came to a close with the vote of thanks proposed by the Rev. Dr. Nelavala Gnana Prasuna, (Dean, Department of Luther Studies).The entire Gurukul community and UELCI family had good fellowship and dinner.
Thanksto Rev. Dr. John Samuel, (Principal, GLTCRI) for his constant support and Rev.A. Joshuva Peter, (Executive Secretary, UELCI) for his support. I appreciate and thank all those who participated in the program and all those who worked behind in making the program a grand success.