Greetings to the members and well wishers of CSI Divya Shanthi Church!
It is my pleasure and privilege to serve as the presbyter of this vibrant church. I am blessed with the opportunity to minister to and with a bunch of extremely talented, hard-working and dedicated people, who do not let their pluralistic conceptions and cultures come in the way of their common spiritual striving. Completing 40 years of ministry as a church family in this building is a testimony to God’s creative presence and desire to mould this congregation for meaningful ministry and mission.
In 1978, when the Church building of CSI Divya Shanthi Church was dedicated in Lingarajapuram, Bangalore, a book, titled ‘Prophetic Imagination’ was published. This book, written by Walter Brueggemann, one of the most profound and prolific biblical scholars of our times, turned out to be a theological classic. In this book, Brueggemann portrays the biblical prophets and Jesus Christ as persons, who insisted on seeing the possibilities of their world in different and more faithful ways. He challenges us to learn from and be inspired by this scriptural heritage, to imagine and charter new ways of discerning and doing, resulting in the creation of a space for life fuelled by the hope, promises and power of the Bible. He proposes a ‘prophetic ministry’ which is motivated by a ‘prophetic imagination’ that creates and nurtures a truly spiritual consciousness and community.
If I could use a phrase to define the initiative of the youth fellowship of St. John’s Church, which resulted in the creation of this church, ‘prophetic imagination’ will be very relevant and appropriate. This initiative was imaginative because they did not conform to the norms, but dared to see, feel, and respond differently to the world around them. It was also prophetic because they attempted to venture beyond the elite confines of their church to express solidarity with the weak and vulnerable in an economically backward area. As leaders with a prophetic imagination, they strove to build a community of believers, in which this imagination is shared, nurtured and expressed through a ministry that transforms individuals, society and culture.
As we mark the achievements and experiences of the past 40 years, I thank God for enabling our church to sustain the vision of our pioneers by continuing practice will test our faith affirmation and commitment.
Jesus equips his apostles for his mission by instructing them about the kingdom of God (1:3) They were not to make use of this instruction for any speculative purposes (1:6-7), but instead for courageous witnessing.
Divya Shanthi Church has always focused on equipping the people of God through sound biblical instruction. This is pertinent in today’s context, where the proponents of prosperity gospel tweak the message of the gospel and present it as an implicit defense of dominant social, economic and political structures. The introduction of a theological training programme for the laity (Christian Education for Promoting Holistic and Active Spirituality – CEPHAS) is an attempt to equip them towards a comprehensive biblical faith. The Ecumenical Bible Study Fellowship, organized for believers, who live in and around Horamavu, Babusa Palya, Rama Murthy Nagar and T C Palya is another endeavor towards equipping the laity.
The apostles, who were spellbound by witnessing the ascension of Jesus, are discouraged from being mere spectators. They are inspired to embark on a mission of active engagement in the world.
Congregations, very often, succumb to the temptation of retreating from the world around them and tend to look upwards and inwards, thereby, taking refuge in a false piety, which motivates them to focus on the things of God and not the things of the world, as if such a binary really existed. These congregations have ceased to be Missionoriented Congregations; they have strayed away from mission and, thereby, from the purposes of God. Our Church has, always, been engaged in the world around it, through supporting mission and evangelism ventures, working among transgenders, caring for the differently abled, rehabilitating people affected by persecution and opening its doors for empowerment programmes. This is not a church which has withdrawn from the world; it has engaged it and cared for it in the name of Christ. I acknowledge the efforts of the previous presbyters and lay leaders, who have contributed towards the growth and witnessing of our church. I am confident that the pastorate committee members, along with the leaders of the different wings of our church, will engage in effective ministerial endeavors. I appreciate the members of the fortieth anniversary celebrations committee for channelizing their creativity towards meaningful explorations.
REV. J. CHRISTOPHER SAMUEL