Archbishop leads Irish church delegation in India

​Church of Ireland archbishop of Dublin the Rev Dr Michael Jackson is currently in India on a 10-day pastoral visit.
Ballinamallard Methodist church, Co Fermanagh          Picture: Billy MaxwellBallinamallard Methodist church, Co Fermanagh          Picture: Billy Maxwell
Ballinamallard Methodist church, Co Fermanagh Picture: Billy Maxwell

The Enniskillen-born prelate is in the Anglican diocese of Chota Nagpur with Canon Dr Maurice Elliott, director of the Church of Ireland theological institute, and the Rev Steve Brunn, dean of residence and Church of Ireland chaplain at Trinity College, Dublin.

The Church of Ireland visit is organised and funded under the auspices of the Dublin University (Trinity) mission to Chota Nagpur. Archbishop Jackson is co-chair of the Anglican-Oriental-Orthodox international commission and a senior figure in the Anglican Communion worldwide.

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On the first day of the visit (last Sunday morning), the archbishop preached at an English language service in Chota Nagpur cathedral in Ranch. Elsewhere, Canon Maurice Elliott preached at a Hindi language service. Both services took the theme of Jesus stilling the storm [St Matthew 14.27].

Later, the clerics visited the Indian tribal areas in the north-west of Ranchi. This is where Anglican missionary work is carried out and where the diocesan catechists are working. The missionary advantage in the region is that workers come from the local areas and speak the local languages.

St Columba’s Christian hospital, Hazaribagh is situated in this area. It was founded to bring much-needed health care to people in the region and has flourished for many decades. Dr Jackson and his colleagues visited the hospital.

While in the Indian tribal areas, the Church of Ireland delegation visited 'The Ten Waterfalls', a unique cascade of water which comes down from the mountains and creates a spectacular sight and sound.

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They also visited a community where the members had gone on a parish outing to mark Indian iIndependence day. There is a Christian residential hostel for girls in this community which provides education for children and young women over the surrounding region.

Irish cleric Rev Dr Kenneth Kennedy, was the first bishop of the Anglican diocese of Chota Nagpur. From modest numerical beginnings the diocese has now 80 clergy, 132 catechists, one cathedral and one bishop.

* Chota Nagpur is in eastern India and Archbishop Jackson and his colleagues were guests of the Church of North India, a united Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist denomination, established as a result of Western evangelism.

The mission began in the 19th century. The Church of North India was founded in 1970 and embraces Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian denominations. It is affiliated to the Anglican Communion and has around two million members.

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Archbishop Jackson is involved in the Anglican Communion's Network for Inter Faith Concerns.

* The total population of India (as per the 2021 census} is 140 million. Christians number an approximate three per cent of the population, centred in the Protestant Church of North India and the Church of South India. The predominantly Hindu population in India is 80 per cent.

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