More than 7,000 people attended the golden jubilee celebration of the governing council for the MB church in India, November 7–8, making it the best-attended gathering in the history of the Indian MB conference. The anniversary marked 50 years since leadership of the conference was transferred to indigenous directors through the newly written Indian MB constitution.
The establishment of the governing council in 1958 was “a mark of maturity and identity,” said David Wiebe, executive director of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches, “taking the India field from being a ‘mission station’ to an independently organized national conference.”
At a six-hour service Friday night, greetings came from officials such as the principal secretary to the government of Andhra Pradesh; the executive secretary and treasurer of the Andhra Pradesh Council of Churches; John Shankar Rao, conference evangelist; several International Community Of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) representatives; and a senior council member of the supreme court of India. Director general of police for Andhra Pradesh, Swaranjit Sen gave a message identifying the importance of the work of God through various Christian denominations in India, and calling the MB conference to unity and good resolution of conflicts.
ICOMB delegates from 16 countries were on hand to witness the ordination and commissioning of 222 people at Saturday’s ceremony, which included three sermons and a mass celebration of communion. Ninety-four men and 25 women were commissioned for service; 76 men and 27 women were ordained. These are the first women ordained by the MB conference in India.
The conference unveiled five projects for the Indian church in the coming years: raising monies for the Pastors and Evangelists Fund, developing a corpus fund for Bible college training of pastors and evangelists, constructing a governing council office in Mahabubnagar, constructing a guest house facility in Shamshabad, and establishing a historical museum.
At the close of the event, an MB faith state-ment (India MB Creed) and a jubilee oath prepared by the golden jubilee committee was read.
Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in India comprise a diverse group, worshipping in more than half a dozen languages, and spread out over four large states. The Indian MB conference currently has more than 90,000 members.
—Karla Braun with files from I.P. Asheervadam