A Church is Born: Church of South India Inauguration

Steps toward Church Union > Assembly

When an Indian Christian moved into a district served by some other denomination, he must change his fellowship or be without a church home. For the relatively few South Indian Christians in the midst of a vast non-Christian community, such isolation was intolerable. Hence the agitation for church union became increasingly insistent.

Significantly enough, it was at Tranquebar where the first Protestant missionaries had landed that the steps were taken which finally brought about church union. Here, in 1919, at a retreat, 33 church leaders, — 2 Europeans and 31 Indians, — issued the now famous "Appeal".

Bishop Azariah, first Indian ever to be conseciated a bishop by the Anglican Church, acted as spokesman for the group and became a leading figure in the movement.

Many of the original members of the Tranquebar Conference have passed to their reward, but gathered here at Madras to witness the birth of the Church of South India are two of the survivors, — Rev. Meshack Peter and Dr. Popley.

For 28 years following the Tranquebar appeal there were conferences, debates, delays for instructions from England or America, and, above all, patience and prayer.

The General Assembly of the United Church gathered at Tambaram in 1947. By that date the Anglicans and the Wesleyans had accepted a final basis for union. This assembly took final action. In a spirit of humility and prayer its vote was cast and union was accepted.

After observing the Lord's Supper the Assembly adjourned without a date to reconvene, for the last of all acts preliminary to union had now been completed.

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