Piety and The Intellect

Mrs Iris Devadason, Ph.d

To sum up all that has been said in these pages, I wish to add that there is much heart-felt sentiment here and much more factual information of our glorious past. If one photograph is equal to a 1000 words, see how many we have provided for you.

Yes, we are a family. Yes, a longhistory of families exists here, even four generations of one family , as The Parmamands, for example, have worshipped and continue to worship here. I myself came here as a young bride, in 1967, and have been here long enough to see my 2nd grandson baptised at Wesley. Births, Baptisms, Confirmations and even Deaths have endorsed that we are one family. (We also quarrel like members of a family!!)

I came from a High church, Anglican background , from the Cathedral Church of the Redemption in New Delhi (aka as the Viceroy’s Church, behind Rashtrapathi Bhavan), with its silver cross presented by King George and silver candlesticks from the Edwardian era and Raphael’s Madonna and Child behind the high altar. Above this was The Crucifixion depicted, with The Cross in Brass and Jesus’ on it and on either side of the Crucified Lord, Mary in blue and John the beloved disciple, in red , a weekly reminder of the glorious Redemption in Christ. Like St. Pauls in London, the architecture, the pillars, the monuments to the great dead, the velvet tapestries, ornate baptism fonts and oak pews with needlepoint embroidery etc was my idea of glorifying God. But Wesley was Methodist in the past and a part of The United Church of South India now. (The CNI was formed much later, in the -80s). It was a hard pill for me to swallow: these bare white-washed walls and altar and bare floors and simple pews. Rev. Donald Frith did renew the wall behind the altar with the Alpha and Omega signs interpreted by some innocents as letters in Kannada, but simplicity is the hall mark of Methodism, I know!

My husband, the late Sonny Devadason, had become a faithful Wesleyan though he too was from a high Anglican background and insisted that I worship here rather than in St. Mark’s Cathedral as he was happier here with Rev. David Harris as presbyter then. And I stayed!

Perhaps this was because what was appealing in Wesley was its close link with The United Theological College, where, strangely, I ended up as teacher for 26 years!

Yes, Worship needed an intellectual input and the long line of UTC-trained men and women have provided this for us:

Why do we believe what we do believe? What is our relationship to those of other Faiths? What is the role of women in Christian ministry? Does Evangelism have to compromise with the politics of the land?

Now see this long list of theologians who have strengthened our own faith and made us worship meaningfully, either as Pastors or Associate Pastors or as visiting preachers and celebrants.

Revds, Rt.Revds, and Drs: Arangaden, S. J. Samartha, Thomas David, J. R. Henry, F.S Downs, Eric lott, Some Das, K. C. Abraham, Sumati Iswardevan, George Oomen, Daniel Ravi Kumar, O. V. Jathanna, David Joy, Jones Muthunayagom, Earnest Deenadayalan, Nirmala and Vasanth Kumar, K. J. Carl, D. D. Pitamber, Eileen Murray, Hiwale, Jules Gomes, Hunter Mabry, Ted Swanson, Evangeline Rajkumar- Anderson, Rini Ralte, Paul Stephen, Kiran Sebastian, Dwight Baker, Corinne and David Scott, Sellwyn, Prem Mitra, Victor Joshua, P. J. Lawrence, Frank S. Macwana and our own Florence Deenadayalan. Reads like a Roll-call of Sustainers of our faith!

There could have been many more as I was away for 5 years. All the four Indian Principals, with whom I have worked, have shared God’s Word with us. Many were my students too. We have always had a UTC Sunday and given our mite to this noble cause of training men and women for God. Even the Mizo congregation is an off-shoot of UTC. Sentiment, facts and opinions matter but so does the intellect, and these theologians provided this vital input. We cannot forget them!