New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) Kerala-based Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, one of India”s oldest Christian groups, today announced plans to launch a social and community development project in north India.
Aimed at women”s empowerment through the creation of self-help groups, the project “Shantigram Mahila Swayam Sahatya Sammoh” at Sohna in Haryana will be inaugurated on March 13 by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
“The project is part of the church”s efforts to serve all members of the society irrespective of caste and creed,” Assistant Metropolitan of Delhi diocese Youhanon Mar Demetrios said addressing a press conference to announce a public meeting here on “The Orthodox Church in the third millennium”.
The meeting is being held to coincide with a welcome reception to Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, who is visiting Delhi for the first time after he was installed the supreme head of the church and the Catholicos of the East in November 2010.
The women”s self-help project would be a next stage programme undertaken by “Shantigram” a community development initiative of the Delhi diocese situated in the village of Mandavar in Sohna tehsil, that includes a school for about 450 children, an integrated health facility to treat patients from nearby villages and a centre to look after the needs of underprivileged children.
When asked, Church spokespersons refuted reports that the church was seeking seat representations from political parties for the Assembly elections in Kerala in April.
“The Church does not advice or recommend its congregation to vote for particular leaders or parties. We also do not side with any political parties. It might be possible that certain local communities have put forward their representations to parties but as a Church we have not asked for any recommendations,” said Youhanon Mar Demetrios.
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church maintains the tradition that it has been founded by St Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, who came to Kerala in AD 52 to preach the Gospel.
The two-million strong community had been in close relationship with Persian or East Syrian church for centuries and came to have the appendage “Syrian” since it followed East Syrian liturgy.
This is a PTI Report
Photos by Jojy Ninan