Indian Lutherans reaffirming their identity

Hundreds of people from sixty congregations gathered in Cuddalore, India on 13-14 January for the Reformation commemoration of the Arcot Lutheran Church (ALC). Photo Dora Hemalatha

The Arcot Lutheran Church commemorates the Reformation

(LWI) Cuddalore, India/Geneva (LWI) – The relevance of Lutheran identity today was the main theme during the Reformation commemoration of the Arcot Lutheran Church (ALC) held in Cuddalore, in the State of Tamil Nadu (India) on 13 and 14 January. About 1,000 members from sixty congregations had gathered at the Resurrection Lutheran Church.

One of the main speakers was Executive Secretary of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI) and of the LWF National Committee (I), Rev. Dr Augustine Jeyakumar. He emphasized the need for reconciliation in the church at various levels as the church commemorates the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Giving a strong witness and proclaiming the Word of God was one of the urgent tasks for the churches. According to Jeyakumar they “need to go the extra mile in reconciling with each other as sisters and brothers in Christ” and share the joy of their faith as a witness of God’s mercy to reconcile others in the local community to Jesus Christ.

Committed to serve others

ALC Bishop Rev. Dr Raja Socrates underlined that “young people should learn from Luther the firm faith in God, even at times of failure.” He encouraged all members right down to grassroots level to become aware of their identity as Lutherans. Young people were called to remember the reformation and to take the lead in the ongoing spiritual reformation. By strengthening their faith in Jesus Christ they could make an impact in their specific context.   

“Missionaries brought the good news to us from Denmark and Germany. Because of that we were liberated – but who are we liberating today?” asked Franklyn Joseph, Secretary of ALC. He challenged the participants to commit themselves to serve others. Today the mission work of the ALC reaches out to the poor and disadvantaged communities in Tamil Nadu. The affirmation of the church’s Lutheran identity helps to a new way of seeing oneself and others, Joseph said he was convinced of.

The ALC, formerly known as the Danish Missionary Church, was founded in the year 1863 at Melpattambakkam Village, Tamil Nadu, India, by the missionaries of the Danish Missionary Society. Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg and Heinrich Plütschau had been the first Protestant missionaries who arrived in Tranquebar on the south-east coast of India in September 1706. Ziegenbalg saw the gospel of Christ as the good news that meets both the spiritual and physical welfare of a person.  

The celebrations in Cuddalore were part of the Reformation project of the Arcot Lutheran Church, organized by the Board for Mission and Evangelism of ALC, supported by UELCI and LWF. The ALC is a member of the LWF and UELCI. It has about 40,000 members and is led by Bishop Raja Socrates.

A contribution by LWF Asia Desk, edited by the LWF Office for Communication Services.