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Dr Freier welcomes Indian church leaders to Melbourne

Two leaders of the Church of South India celebrate the fifth anniversary of their congregation here

Archbishop Philip Freier welcomes (from left) CSI General Secretary Dr Rathnakar Sadananda and Moderator Dr Govada Dyvasirvadam, with Ashburton priest the Revd Vinod Victor and his wife Molly, to Bishopscourt in East Melbourne.

By Mark Brolly

November 9 2016 

Archbishop Philip Freier has welcomed the two most senior leaders of the Church of South India (CSI) to Melbourne – the Moderator, the Most Revd Dr Govada Dyvasirvadam, and the General Secretary, the Revd Dr Rathnakar Sadananda.

The two men were in Melbourne to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the CSI and Harvest Festival at St Matthew’s Ashburton on 6 November.

Dr Dyvasirvadam and Dr Sadananda celebrated Eucharist for the combined English- and Malayalam-speaking congregations at Ashburton. Malayalam is spoken in southern India, predominantly in the state of Kerala.

On 4 November, Dr Freier – who is both Archbishop of Melbourne and Anglican Primate of Australia – hosted the two churchmen to his East Melbourne residence, Bishopscourt, where they spoke for almost two hours, including about Christianity in India and the CSI in Australia. They were accompanied by the Priest-in-Charge of St Matthew’s and CSI clergyman, the Revd Vinod Victor, and his wife Molly.

The CSI, a member of the Anglican Communion, is as old as independent India, both having been established in 1947. The CSI was formed on 27 September 1947 – a few weeks after India won its independence from Britain – when churches from the Anglican, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian and Reformed traditions joined together to form the CSI at St George’s Cathedral in Chennai (formerly Madras).

Organised into 24 dioceses, each under the spiritual supervision of a bishop, the church as a whole is governed by a synod, which elects a moderator (presiding bishop) every two years.

As the Melbourne CSI website notes: “The union, especially in its reconciliation of the Anglican doctrine of apostolic succession with the views of other denominations, is often cited as a landmark in the ecumenical movement.”

Malayalam-speaking Christians affiliated with the CSI moved from Mitcham to Ashburton in 2014.

Dr Dyvasirvadam and Dr Sadananda also visited Sydney.