23 April, 2024

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Finally, JDCSI Has A New Bishop

By Rev. W. Jebasingh Samuvel

Vellupillai Pathmathayalan is a Sri Lankan Tamil bishop of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India. He was consecrated on 10th December 2022 in the CSI Synod Centre, Chennai, India. The Consecration service was led by the Moderator’s Commissary to JDCSI Bishop Chandrasekaran, Bishop of Trichy Tanjore Diocese. Bishop Pathmathayalan was consecrated by the Moderator. Dharmaraj Rasalam. Adv. C. Fernandaz Rathinaraja, General Secretary of the CSI, Prof. Vimal Sukumar, Hon. Treasurer of the CSI and several other bishops of the CSI were present during the Consecration. 

Bishop Vellupillai Pathmathayalan

Bishop Pathmathayalan is a Doctor of Divinity holder from the University of Jerusalem, India. He pursued two Postgraduate Degrees: one in Theology (M.Th.) and in the other a Master of Arts in Religion and Philosophy from Madurai Kamaraj University. He completed his Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) at the Senate of Serampore University, India. He is an alumnus of Jaffna College, Vaddukoddai and the American Mission Tamil Mixed School in Karainagar. The wife of Bishop Thayalan, Mary Vijayananthini Pathmathayalan, is a teacher and their only daughter is Berith Soumiya Pathmathayalan.

An Experienced Pastor as Bishop 

Bishop Pathmathayalan has 27 years of ministerial experience as a presbyter. He served several parishes in the war zone during the height of the civil war in Sri Lanka and worked among the most marginalized segments of society. His first ordination as deacon was on 20th June 1997 by Bishop D. J. Ambalavanar.  He received his  presbyter ordination on 14th May 2000 from Bishop Dr. S. Jebanesan.  

Pastoral Ministry in Jaffna Diocese of Church of South India

  • Kalmadukulam (1995-1999)
  • Jeyapuram (1999-2001)
  • Anaivelunthan (1999-2001)
  • Vannerikulam (1999-2001)
  • Nuwara Eliya (2002-2003)
  • Pandateruppu (2003-2006)
  • Jaffna University Chapel (2006-2008)
  • Colombo (2008-2019) Area Minister (West Council Chairman)
  • Kilinochchi (2020-2021) Area Minister (Kilinochi Council Chairman)
  • Anaikoddai & Sandilipay (from 2022 to date) 

“Come, let us rebuild the wall of the Jaffna Diocese” 

In his address after the consecration, the Rt. Rev. Dr. V. Pathmathayalan said: 

“As a pastor who has been serving the JDCSI for the past 27 years, I affirm that the life and work of a bishop is to fulfill God’s divine purpose in this world and serve the people as revealed through the life and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. When the JDCSI was established as a church on 27th September 1947, it began its journey to become a parable of unity, a beacon of hope and an aroma of the Gospel. However, when we look back at the history of JDCSI, it travelled in the midst of dark clouds gathering on the horizon, both for the Church and the community. Thus, keeping these realities in mind, I would like to present my vision and mission to uplift the church, as servant leader of the Church. 

“In developing my mission statement, I took inspiration from Nehemiah 2: 18, “Come, let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.” As the Sri Lankan Tamil community, we have been facing many issues one after the other, namely the violence which flared up in the name of ethnicity, the civil war, the COVID Pandemic and now the economic crisis.  I and the people of the JDCSI identified with the traumatized people of Israel in Babylonian captivity and exile. However, God revealed a plan to the repatriated Jewish exiles in this book of Nehemiah, who was God’s primary instrument at this time. Nehemiah was not a king or a priest or a prophet, but an ordinary Israelite. However, he held a cabinet-level position under Artaxerxes, the Persian monarch, and later he became the governor of Judah. Generally, the kings of Israel had failed the people, ignored the prophets, and the priests were corrupt. In such a context, God chose a man who built a wall around Jerusalem in a little over seven weeks so that the people could give concentrated attention to the reading, exposition, and application of God’s Word. 

“The workers built the walls in only 52 days. Nehemiah settled the people in the city and its suburbs. He expounded and enforced the Law of God. He also provided a place where the people could wait for God’s salvation. Combining Nehemiah’s times with his character, we get the message of this book: Nehemiah proves that seemingly impossible things are possible through prayer and hard work, when people determine to trust and obey God, and when they put His interests first.

“Like Nehemiah, we, as Christ’s community live in dark times. We too have to deal with different multitudes. But this is a time to reunite and rededicate to rebuild the walls of the JDCSI to establish the Reign of God in the land of Sri Lanka.”  

In the Mission statement, he further said: “We as a Jesus community are called to carry forward the work of Christ Himself, to give witness to the truth, to rescue and not to sit in judgment, to serve and not to be served.”

Our priorities 

“As the vision and mission statements are fleshed out in ministry, I would like to set seven priorities for future direction:

  1. Nurturing the Prayer and worship life of believers;
  2. Utilizing the importance of modern-day communication;
  3. Rejuvenating JDCSI’s institutions;
  4. Encouraging  Priesthood and religious life through theological education;
  5. Eradicating caste, racial and gender-based discrimination and affirming the life and dignity of all;
  6. Maintaining transparent administration in the Diocese;
  7. Renewing fraternity with others.

Other focus areas 

“To bring peace and unity among the Church members and clergy who are now divided because of groupism. The present situation in the Jaffna Diocese is not at all satisfactory. The majority of our people are not happy with the situation of unrest in the Church. Many of the pastors and congregation members are feeling hurt and wounded by the inappropriate administration. Many do not attend the worship in churches because they are not feeling the presence of God in the church. Thus, special efforts need to be taken to bring back unity, peace and reconciliation in the Diocese. 

Important Priorities 

  • Property securing and digitalization
  • Decision-making must be democratic
  • Devolution of power
  • Healing Ministry – Hospitals/hospice
  • Educational institutions
  • Care for the elderly
  • Hostels and boarding homes
  • Nurture and Witness
  • Women’s Fellowship
  • Youth Ministry
  • Sunday School & Teen Clubs
  • Ashram Ministry
  • Prison Ministry
  • Care for the widows
  • Clergy-medical-housing-sabbatical-upgrading 
  • Care for retired Pastors
  • Overseas exchange/visits
  • Ecumenical programs
  • Upgrading the Diocesan magazine
  • Diocesan Webpage – digital magazine
  • Networking Churches and the Diocesan Office
  • Solar panels in the Diocesan Office/Churches
  • Ecological and environmental concerns
  • Dalit & subaltern ministry
  • Diocesan archives
  • Cutting down legal expenses
  • Harmony in society
  • Peace in Sri Lanka
  • Overseas Church policies
  • Spiritual revival meeting 

Conclusion 

“Finally, we as Jaffna Diocese are on the move, and our new mission and vision statements are meaningful signposts in our journey to living out God’s dream. At this juncture, I sincerely thank our Parent God and the Jaffna Diocese for giving me this phenomenal opportunity to rebuild the Diocese along with the presbyters and people of God.” 

Bishop Dr. V. Pathmathayalan designed the new mission and vision statements after revisiting the mission and vision statements of the JDCSI and examining how we as a Diocese want to grow in ministry. His vision statement was crafted to reflect who we have been as a diocese so far  and what we want our diocese to be as we move forward together.

“Come, let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.”

“Our vision is that we want to be a welcoming community that actively includes all members, sharing the Gospel of grace with those who have fallen away or who do not belong to any church. It is to be a local church that prizes a diversity of cultures and gifts and uses those gifts to the fullest extent allowed in our tradition. It rejoices that through baptism ‘there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all are one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians, 3:38). It is a church of families and individuals, of priests and lay leaders. Trusting in such a vision is no idle dream but the very promise of the Gospel. As Bishop, I urge the JDCSI, in the spirit of oneness, to work with me in making plans to move us toward this ideal.”

There are nine bishops from 5 Indian states who were present at the historic Consecration service. They are: Rt. Rev. Dr. Oommen George, Bishop, Kollam-Kottarakkara Diocese, Rt. Rev. T. George Cornelious, Krishna Godavari Diocese, Rt Rev. Padma Rao Kodirekka Bishop, Dornakal, Rt. Rev. Dr. D. Jeyasingh Prince Prabhakaran, Bishop, Diocese of Madurai Ramnad, Rt. Rev. Martin C. Borgai, Bishop of Karnataka Northern Diocese, Rt Rev Hemachandran, Bishop of Karnataka Southern Diocese. On behalf of the JDCSI, Rev. Dr. D.S. Solomon, Secretary of the Diocese, Presbyters Rev. Sathees Daniel, Rev. T. Dixshan, Rev. W. Jebasingh Samuvel and Mr. Pathmanathan, elder brother of Rt. Rev. Dr. Pathmathayalan, and other lay people of the Diocese were present. 

Let the blessings of our Lord and our God be with you, to guide and strengthen you in the discharge of our onerous responsibilities.  

An Induction Service for the new Bishop will be held at the JDCSI Cathedral at Vaddukoddai, Jaffna tomorrow (03 January 2023) at 3 p.m. All are invited. 

Rev. W. Jebasingh Samuvel, JDCSI. 

Rev. W. Jebasingh Samuvel is a Presbyter of the JDCSI, Chairperson of the Board for Liturgy, Literature and Cultural Activities of the Diocese and a Visiting Lecturer attached to the Theological College of Lanka at Pilimatalawa.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    Many years ago, when still a confused boy searching for the meaning of life, and hoping to find the answer, I recall going for a rare lecture in Bambalipitiya by the world-famous philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, at St. Peter’s College hall. The small, bird-like man in just a flimsy white robe sat down cross-legged on the stage floor before a mike and began: “There is no god. There is no life after death…” My search ended there.

    • 4
      2

      S
      Had not the Buddha said it even better 2500 years earlier with anicca and anatta? He also said God is irrelevant to what I have to say.

  • 3
    4

    Matthew 10:16 – “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

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