Gift of Baptism to the seekers of Christ is not Unorthodox: Mar Demetrios

Written By: on Dec 11th, 2010 and filed under Columns, Features, Opinions.

NAGPUR: St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary, Nagpur, convened a one day meet for Orthodox lay evangelists. The meeting was held on 8th December 2010 and was divided into two sessions- the first one being a sharing of personal life experiences, and the second as an interactive group discussion and question answer forum. Dr. Yuhanon Mar Dimitrios, the Assistant Metropolitan of Delhi Diocese presided over the meeting.

The guest speakers for the meeting were Saji Varghese, Gwalior, Sunil Varghese, Korba, John Freeman, Bilaspur, P. Venkat Narayan Sharma, GM, Union Bank Of India, Jabalpur and Sanjay Mohandi, GM, State Bank of India, Raipur.

Saji Varghese is an active member of the St. Paul’s Orthodox Church, Gwalior. Presently he is working among the non Christian people especially in Punjab, Haryana and other northern parts of the country. Sunil Varghese takes active part in the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Korba. He is very much active among the youth and is a regular participant of the MGOCSM meetings. Amidst the adverse conditions in North India he gained so many souls for Christ. P. Venkat Narayan Sharma and Sanjay Mohandi consider Sunil Varghese as their ‘Spiritual Guru’. John Freeman is an active member of the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Bilaspur. He too works among the non Christian people in different parts of India. Most of them were attracted towards Christ and His teachings only after facing some painful experiences in their lives.

It is a matter of great appreciation that these personalities are continuing their missionary activities by being the member of the Indian Orthodox Church. They are providing good examples for others to follow. However, it is also a fact that they are not getting proper guidance and support from the Leaders of the Church. They are facing great challenges from other protestant churches too.

Many among the clergy of Indian Orthodox Church are hesitant to administer baptism to the people, who are attracted to Jesus Christ and to our Church, it is reported. Consequently these evangelists approach our sister churches such as CNI, CSI, etc. and they were well appreciated by them. Therefore, it is high time for the Indian Orthodox Church to discuss this issue and to provide them with proper support and helping hands.

“Bestowing the gift of baptism upon the seekers of Christ and admitting them to the Church is not at all unorthodox. It was well practiced in the early days. Now dioceses should give proper leaderships to such acts. But it is still a prevalent question that what will we do after converting them or administering baptism to them. We should be ready to provide them with at least a separate congregation and other ‘after-baptism support programmes’”, Dr. Yuhanon Mar Demetrios commented

Principal of St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary, Nagpur, Fr. Dr. Bijesh Philip, Vice-Principal Fr. Ninan K. George and all other faculty members attended the one day meet of evangelists. All of them were happy with the program and they longed for that the same to be continued by the Church. The Seminary also feels the need of giving some training to such evangelists.

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