THE CONSTITUTION OF THE JAFFNA DIOCESE OF THE CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA

 

We, the members of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India, affirm that this Church is a part of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We believe that the Church of South India is a gift of God to the people of India and Sri Lanka, formed out of the union of four different Church traditions – Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational – towards the fulfillment of the Lord’s prayer, “That they all may be one.” As a united Church, the Church of South India is committed to the union of all who acknowledge the name of Christ.

We, the members of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India, affirm that this Church is a part of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We believe that the Church of South India is a gift of God to the people of India and Sri Lanka, formed out of the union of four different Church traditions – Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational – towards the fulfillment of the Lord’s prayer, “That they all may be one.” As a united Church, the Church of South India is committed to the union of all who acknowledge the name of Christ.

The Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India is an autonomous Church, free from any control, legal or otherwise, of any Church or Society external to itself. It is our conviction that the destiny and character of our Church, the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India, are to be shaped by our obedience to the call of Jesus Christ as well as our determination to root the Church in the cultural and social realities of the Sri Lankan context. We are proud of the rich cultural and religious heritage of Sri Lanka and commit ourselves to sharing with our fellow citizens, through our life and work, God’s transforming act in Christ in a spirit of humility and openness.

The Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India is an autonomous Church, free from any control, legal or otherwise, of any Church or Society external to itself. It is our conviction that the destiny and character of our Church, the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India, are to be shaped by our obedience to the call of Jesus Christ as well as our determination to root the Church in the cultural and social realities of the Sri Lankan context. We are proud of the rich cultural and religious heritage of Sri Lanka and commit ourselves to sharing with our fellow citizens, through our life and work, God’s transforming act in Christ in a spirit of humility and openness.

The Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India recognizes the participation of the people at all levels of Church government, but, as members of the Body of Christ and servants of the Servant Lord, we remind ourselves that power and authority should be considered a means of service.

We prayerfully commit our lives to Christ, the giver of New Life and acknowledge the need to be continually renewed by the Holy Spirit so that we as a Church will be the sign and instrument of peace and reconciliation in the many conflicts around us. We stand before God in prayer, asking God’s Spirit to empower us and lead us in Christ’s way. We pledge to follow and uphold the Governing Principles of the Church of South India and the provisions of the Constitution for the glory of God, the good of the Church and the welfare of all people.

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THE NAME OF THE CHURCH AND THE BODIES WHICH HAVE CONSTITUTED IT

 

The name of the Diocese shall be the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India (hereinafter referred to as J.D.,C.S.I.) and the Diocesan Council of this Diocese shall be called the Jaffna Diocesan Council of the Church of South India(hereinafter referred to as the Diocesan Council).

The name of the Diocese shall be the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India (hereinafter referred to as J.D.,C.S.I.) and the Diocesan Council of this Diocese shall be called the Jaffna Diocesan Council of the Church of South India(hereinafter referred to as the Diocesan Council).

Whereas the Jaffna Council of the South India United Church is a constituent part of the Church of South India which is an Episcopal Church, it is necessary that the work of the Jaffna Council of the South India United Church and that of the American Ceylon Mission be coordinated under a common Diocesan Council. The name of this Council shall be Jaffna Diocesan Council of the Church of South India.

Whereas following the arrival of the American Ceylon Mission in Jaffna on the 11th July in the year 1816 and the formation of the Ceylon Congregational Council in 1905, the Churches of the Madura and Jaffna Missions of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and those of the South India District Committee and the Travancore Mission of the London Missionary Society (LMS), in their organized capacity as “The United Churches of South India and Ceylon,” on the one part; and the Churches of the Arcot Mission of the Dutch Reformed Church and those of the United Free Church Mission of Madras in their organized capacity as “The South India Synod of the Presbyterian Church” on the other part; have determined for the glory of God to unite organically into one body:

And whereas, in pursuance of this determination, the above two bodies have agreed upon a common basis of union which has been accepted by the Churches which they represented:

It was, therefore, resolved that the appointed representatives of the two Bodies as referred to above, having been assembled for the purpose of consummating the proposed Union, gratefully acknowledging God’s guidance in the past, and invoking His blessing upon all those who were present on 25th July 1908 constituted themselves the Provincial General Assembly of the South India United Church; and that they adopted as their own name of the Plan of the Union “The South India United Church (S.I.U.C.).” The S.I.U.C. was formed in the year 1910 and the Jaffna Congregational Council became the Jaffna Council of the S.I.U.C.

The Church of South India (C.S.I.) is the Church constituted by the union, in 1947 (27th September), of the Madras, Madura, Jaffna, Kannada, Telugu and Travancore Church Councils of the South India United Church; the South India Province of the Methodist Church, comprising the Madras, Trichinopoly, Hyderabad and Mysore districts, and the Dioceses of Madras, Dornakal, Tinnevelly and Travancore and Cochin in the Church of India, Burma and Ceylon, in which in 1950 merged the North Tamil Church Council of the South India United Church, in 1958 the Bombay Karnataka Council of the United Basel Mission Church in India, in 1968 the South Canara and Coorg District Council of the United Basel Misiion Church in India, and in 1975 the Anglican Congregations in the Nandyal Diocesan area.

As a result of this historic union, The Jaffna Council of the South India United Church became the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India (J.D.,C.S.I.). Within a month, on 20th October 1947, the American Ceylon Mission handed over its work to the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India. This integration of the Mission with the Diocese has made the Diocese responsible for a wider and varied type of work.

The Jaffna Council of the South India United Church had inherited a Congregational tradition, though the “independency” of the Local Church which is the governing principle of Congregationalism, had in later years come to be considerably modified. But the Church of South India is Episcopalian in character.

The Handbooks of the Jaffna Council of the S.I.U.C. and the J.D.,C.S.I. were published in 1942 and 1959 respectively. The Constitution of the Jaffna Diocesan Council of the Church of South India together with the Institutional Appendix incorporating all amendments up to the end of the Diocesan Council of 1995 was published in 1995. Later in the year 2009, The Constitution of the Jaffna Diocesan Council of the Church of South India was amended incorporating all the obligatory clauses of the Revised Constitution of the Church of South India.

The present Constitution (November 2016 Edition) incorporates all the obligatory and mandatory clauses of the Revises Constitution of the Church of South India Synod as proposed and passed at the Special Session of the Church of South India Synod held on 8th April 2015 in Chennai, India and later ratified by the required number of Diocesan Councils. This also incorporates all Bye-Laws that came into effect from April 08, 2015.

Nothing in this Constitution shall be of any effect which is not in accordance with the Constitution of the Church of South India of which the agreement, the Synod of the Church of South India, shall be the sole judge.

The jurisdiction of the Diocesan Council shall be the work of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India as allotted to the Diocese by the American Ceylon Mission at the time of the official handing over of the Mission on 20th October 1947 soon after the birth of the Diocese on 27th September 1947 at the very first meeting of the Executive Committee of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India.

This does not preclude any adjustments that may at any time be made with respect to certain definite areas and portions subject to the approval of the synod of the church of south India.

The Office of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India (hereinafter called the Diocesan Office) shall be situated in the Cathedral Precincts, Vaddukoddai, and / or at such other place or places as the Diocesan Council or its Executive Committee may, from time to time decide.

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THE GOVERNING PRINCIPLES OF THE CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA

 

The provisions of the subsequent chapters of this Constitution must be in consonance with the Governing Principles of the Church of South India here set forth, and no provision of the Constitution shall be of force if it be adjudged by the Synod of the Church of South India to be at variance with or contrary to any of these Governing Principles.

The provisions of the subsequent chapters of this Constitution must be in consonance with the Governing Principles of the Church of South India here set forth, and no provision of the Constitution shall be of force if it be adjudged by the Synod of the Church of South India to be at variance with or contrary to any of these Governing Principles.

The Purpose and Nature of Union - The Church of South India affirms that the purpose of the union by which it has been formed is the carrying out of God’s will, as this is expressed in our Lord’s prayer ‘That they all may be one ….. that the world may believe that Thou didst send me.’ It believes that by this union the Church of South India will become a more effective instrument for God’s work, and that there will be greater peace, closer fellowship and fuller life within the Church, and also renewed eagerness and power for the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ. It hopes that it may be a true leaven of unity in the life of India and Sri Lanka, and that through it there may be a greater release of divine power for the fulfillment of God’s purpose for His world.

The Church of South India believes that the unity of His Church for which Christ prayed is a unity in Him and in the Father through the Holy Spirit, and is therefore fundamentally a reality of the spiritual realm. It seeks the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. But this unity of the Spirit must find expression in the faith and order of the Church, in its worship, in its organization and in its whole life, so that, as the Body of Christ, it may be a fit instrument for carrying out His gracious purposes I the world.

Again for the perfecting of the life of the whole body, the Church of South India needs the heritage of each of the uniting Churches, and each of those Churches will, it is hoped, not lose the continuity of its own life, but preserve that life enriched by the union with itself of the other two Churches. The Church of South India is thus formed by a combination of different elements, each bringing its contribution to the whole, and not by the absorption of any one by any other. It is, therefore, also a comprehensive Church, and its members, firmly holding the fundamentals of the faith and freedom of opinion in all other matters, and wide freedom of action in such differences of practice as are consistent with the general framework of the Church as one organized body.

The Church of South India acknowledges that, in every effort to bring together divided members of Christ’s Body into one organization, the final aim must be the union in the Universal Church of all who acknowledge the name of Christ, and that the test of all local schemes of union is that they should express locally the principle of the great catholic unity of the Body of Christ. The Church of South India desires, therefore, conserving all that is of spiritual value in its Indian (and Sri Lankan) heritage, to express under Indian (and Sri Lankan) conditions and in Indian (and Sri Lankan) forms the spirit, the thought and the life of the Church Universal.

The Church of South India desires to regulate all its actions by the principle that it should maintain fellowship with all those branches of the Church of Christ with which the Churches from which it has been formed have severally enjoyed such fellowship, and that it should continually seek to widen and strengthen this fellowship and to work towards the goal of the full union in one body of all parts of the Church of Christ.

It prays that it may never so use the provisions of this Constitution under which it begins its life that they will become barriers against the fuller truth and richer life to be attained in a wider fellowship, but that it may always be ready to correct and amend them as God’s will becomes more clearly known through the growing of the several parts of the now divided Church into a common mind and spirit under the guidance of the one Holy Spirit.

The Evangelistic Calling of the Church - The Church of South India thankfully acknowledges that the Churches which have been united to form it owed their existence mainly to the faith, zeal and prayers of many who either came themselves from other lands to India in order to preach the Gospel and build up the Church of Christ; or gave liberally of their time and money for the furtherance of that work. It believes that the Holy Spirit has guided those Churches into this union in order that this same work of evangelization may be the more effectually fulfilled, in accordance with the prayer which Christ prayed that by the unity of His disciples the world might know that He had been sent to be its Saviour. Therefore the Church of South India purposes ever to be mindful of its missionary calling; and prays that it may not only be greatly used of God for the evangelization of South India and Sri Lanka, but may also take its due share in the preaching of the Gospel and the building up of Christ’s Church in other parts of the world.

The Church and its Membership - The Church of South India acknowledges that the Church is the Body of Christ and its members are the members of His Body; and that these members according to the will and purpose of God who have been baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and, receiving the calling and grace of God with faith, continue steadfast therein maintaining by the same faith, through the various means of grace which He has provided in His Church, the vital union with the Head of the Body, and through Him their fellowship one with another.

The Faith of the Church - The Church of South India accepts the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as containing all things necessary to salvation and as the supreme and decisive standard of faith; and acknowledges that the Church must always be ready to correct and reform itself in accordance with the teaching of those Scriptures as the Holy Spirit shall reveal it.

It also accepts the Apostle’s Creed and the Creed commonly called the Nicene, as witnessing to and safeguarding that faith; and it thankfully acknowledges that same faith to be continuously confirmed by the Holy Spirit in the experience of the Church of Christ.

Thus it believes in God, the Father, the Creator of all things, by whose love we are preserved;

It believes in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God and Redeemer of the world, in whom alone we are saved by grace, being justified from our sins by faith in Him;

It believes in the Holy Spirit, by whom we are sanctified and built up in Christ and in the fellowship of His Body;

And in this faith it worships the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity.

The Church of South India is competent to issue supplementary statements concerning the faith for the guidance of its teachers and edification of the faithful, provided that such statements are not contrary to the truths of our religion revealed in the Holy Scriptures.

The Sacraments in the Church - The Church of South India believes that the Sacraments of Baptism and the Supper of the Lord are means of grace through which God works in us, and that while the mercy of God to all humankind cannot be limited, there is in the teaching of Christ the plain command that men and women should follow His appointed way of salvation by a definite act of reception into the family of God and by continued acts of fellowship with Him in that family, and that this teaching is made explicit in the two Sacraments which he has given us. In every communion the true Celebrant is Christ alone, who continues in the Church today that which He began in the upper room. In the visible Church, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is an act of the Church, the company of believers redeemed by Christ, who act as the local manifestation of the whole Church of Christ in heaven and on earth. It has in experience been found best that one minister should lead the worship of the Church, and pronounce the words of consecration in the service of Holy Communion. From very early times it has been the custom of the Church that those only should exercise this function who have received full and solemn commission from the Church to do so; this commission has ordinarily been given by the laying on of hands in ordination.

The only indispensable conditions for the ministration of the grace of God in the Church are the unchangeable promise of God Himself and the gathering together of God’s elect people in the power of the Holy Ghost. God is the God of order; it has been His good pleasure to use the visible Church and its regularly constituted ministries as the normal means of the operation of His Spirit. But it is not open to any to limit the operation of the grace of God to any particular channel, or to deny the reality of His grace when it is visibly manifest in the lives of Churches and individuals.

In the Church of South India the Sacraments will be observed with unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.

The Ministry in the Church - The Church of South India believes that the ministry is a gift of God through Christ to His Church, which He has given for the perfecting of the life and service of all its members. All members of the Church have equal access to God. All, according to their measures, share in the heavenly High Priesthood of the risen and ascended Christ from which alone the Church derives its character as a royal priesthood. All alike are called to continue upon earth the priestly work of Christ by showing forth in life and word the glory of the redeeming power of God in Him. No individual and no one order in the Church can claim exclusive possession of this heavenly priesthood.

But in the Church there has at all times been a special ministry, to which men and women have been called by God and set apart in the Church. Those who are ordained to the ministry of the Word and Sacrament can exercise their offices only in and for the Church, through the power of Christ the one High Priest.

The vocation of the ordained ministry is to bring sinners to repentance, and to lead God’s people in worship, prayer, and praise, and through pastoral ministrations, the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments (all these being made effective through faith) to assist men and women to receive the saving and sanctifying benefits of Christ and to fit them for service. The Church of South India believes that in ordination, God, in answer to the prayers of His Church, bestows on and assures to those whom He has called and His Church has accepted for any particular form of the ministry a commission for it and the grace appropriate to it.

Necessary Elements in the Life of the Church of South India - The Church of South India recognizes that episcopal, presbyteral and congregational elements must all have their place in its order of life, and that the episcopate, the prebyterate, and the congregation of the faithful should all in their several spheres have responsibility and exercise authority in the life and work of the Church, in its governance and administration, in its evangelistic and pastoral work, in its discipline, and in its worship.

The Congregation in the Church of South India - The Church of South India accepts the principle that as the Church of the whole region, being in fellowship with other regional Churches, is ideally the embodiment of the Church Universal in that region, and as similarly the Church of a diocese as a living part of a regional Church is the Church Universal expressing its one life in that diocese, so also in the purpose of God every local group of the faithful, organized for Christian life and worship as a congregation or pastorate within the fellowship of the diocese, represents in that place the same one, holy catholic and apostolic Church.

Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, and to such general regulations thereunder as may be issued in any matter by the Synod of the Church or by a Diocesan Council, every congregation of the Church shall, with its pastor, be responsible for watching over its members, for keeping its life and doctrine pure, for ordering its worship, and for the proclaiming of the Gospel to those outside the Church; and every pastorate shall have general administrative authority within its area, shall have certain responsibilities in Church discipline, and shall have an opportunity of expressing its judgment both as to the appointment of its pastor and the selection of candidates for ordination from that pastorate.

The Presbyterate in the Church of South India - The Church of South India believes that presbyters are specially called and commissioned by God to be dispensers of His Word and Sacraments, to declare His message of pardon to penitent sinners, to build up the ,members of the Church in their most holy faith, and, through the councils of the Church and otherwise, to share with the bishops an lay members in it government and in the administration of its discipline.

It is the rule of order in the Church of South India that the celebration of the Holy Communion shall be entrusted only to those who have by ordination received authority thereto. But it is desired that, with the ordained presbyter, there be present to assist him/her in the administration of the Lord’s Supper others appointed by the Church for this purpose.

The Episcopate in the Church of South India - The Church of South India accepts and will maintain the historic episcopate in a constitutional form. But this acceptance does not commit it to any particular interpretation of episcopacy or to any particular view or belief concerning orders of the ministry, and it will not require the acceptance of any such particular interpretation or view as a necessary qualification for its ministry.

Whatever differing interpretations there may be, however, the Church of South India agrees that, as Episcopacy has been accepted in the Church from early times, it may in this sense fitly be called historic, and that it is needed for the shepherding and extension of the Church of South India. Any additional interpretations, though held by individuals, are not binding on the Church of South India.

The meaning in which the Church of South India thus officially accepts a historic and constitutional episcopacy is that in it:

  • (a) The bishops shall perform their functions in accordance with the customs of the Church, those functions being named and defined in the later chapters of CSI Constitution;
  • (b) The bishops shall be elected, both the diocese concerned in each particular case and the authorities of the Church of South India as a whole having an effective voice in their appointment;
  • (c) Continuity with the historic episcopate will be effectively maintained, it being understood that as stated above, no particular interpretation of the historic episcopate as that is accepted in the Church of South India is thereby implied or shall be demanded from any minister or member of the Church; and
  • (d) Every ordination of presbyters shall be performed by the laying on of hands by the bishops and presbyters, and all consecrations of bishops shall be performed by the laying on of hands at least of three bishops.

The Church of South India believes that in all ordinations and consecrations the true Ordainer and Consecrator is God, who in response to the prayers of His Church, and through the words and acts of its representatives, commissions and empowers for the office and work to which they are called the persons whom it has selected.

In the service of consecration of a bishop in the Church of South India, the person to be consecrated shall be solemnly presented to the bishop presiding at the consecration by three presbyters of the diocese to which he/she is to be appointed and these three presbyters shall join with the bishops in the laying on of hands. If, however, the Diocesan Council concerned specially so determine, hands shall be laid on by the bishops only.

In making the provision for Episcopal ordination and consecration, the Church of South India declares that it is its intention and determination in this manner to secure the unification of the ministry, but that this does not involve any judgment upon the validity or regularity of any other form of the ministry, and the fact that other Churches do not follow the rule of Episcopal ordination will not in itself preclude it from holding relations of communion and fellowship with them.

The Worship of the Church of South India - The Church of South India will aim at conserving for the common benefit whatever of good has been gained in the separate history of those Churches from which it has been formed, and therefore in its public worship will retain for its congregations freedom either to use historic forms or not to do so as may best conduce to edification and to the worship of God in spirit and in truth.

No form of worship which before the union have been in use in any of the united Churches shall be forbidden in the Church of South India, nor shall any wonted forms be changed or new forms introduced into the worship of any congregation without the agreement of the pastor and the congregation arrived at in accordance with the conditions laid down in Chapter X of CSI Constitution.

Subject to these conditions, and to the provisions of CSI Constitution and any special regulations which may hereafter be issued by the Synod under the Constitution with regard to the services of ordination and consecration and the essential elements or central parts of other services, especially those of Baptism, Holy Communion and Marriage, every pastor and congregation shall have freedom to determine the forms of their public worship.

Unity in Ministry and Life within the Church of South India – Every presbyter of the Church of South India may minister and celebrate the Holy Communion in any church of the united Church, and is eligible to be appointed to any charge therein subject only to the subsequent provisions of this section.

Unity in Ministry and Life within the Church of South India – Every presbyter of the Church of South India may minister and celebrate the Holy Communion in any church of the united Church, and is eligible to be appointed to any charge therein subject only to the subsequent provisions of this section.

But it is convinced that this can take place on the basis of freedom of opinion on debatable matters and respect for even large differences of opinion and practice, and it believes that this freedom and mutual respect can be safeguarded not by the framing of detailed regulations but by assurances given and received in a spirit of confidence and love.

The Church of South India therefore pledges itself that it will at all times be careful not to allow any over-riding of conscience either by Church authorities or by majorities, and will not in any way of its administrative acts knowingly transgress the long established traditions of any of the Churches from which it has been formed. Neither forms of worship or ritual, nor a ministry to which they have not been accustomed, or to which they conscientiously object, will be imposed upon any congregation; and no arrangements with regard to these matters will knowingly be made either generally or in particular cases, which would either offend the conscientious convictions or persons directly concerned, or which would hinder the development of complete unity within the Church or imperil its progress towards union with other Churches.

The Relations of the Church of South India with other Churches - The Church of South India desires to be permanently in full communion and fellowship with all the Churches with which its constituent groups have had such communion and fellowship.

Any communicant member of any Church with which the Church of South India has relations of fellowship shall be at liberty to partake of the Holy Communion in any church of the Church of South India, and any minister of such a Church shall be free as a visitor to minister or celebrate the Holy Communion in any church of the Church of South India, if he/she is invited to do so.

The Church of South India will also gladly accept invitations to send delegates as visitors to the assemblies of other representative bodies of the Churches through whose labours its constituent groups have come into being, and will seek, by interchange of visiting delegates or such other means as may be available, to promote and maintain brotherly relations with other Churches in India, Burma and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and to work towards a wider union of Churches in those countries.

The Relations of the Ministries and Members of the Church of South India with other Churches – None of the ministers or members of the Church of South India shall because of the union forgo any rights with regard to inter-communion and inter-celebration which they possessed before the union.

Every minister of the Church of South India who was ordained outside its area shall be at liberty to retain the ecclesiastical status (e.g., connection with a home presbytery or conference) which he/she had before the union in the Church in which he/she was ordained, subject to such arrangements between the Church of South India and of the Churches concerned as may be found necessary and provided that he/she shall not by any such arrangement be released from the obligation of his/her position as minister of the Church of South India.

Every minister of the Church of South India shall be at liberty to minister and to celebrate the Holy Communion in any church of a Church with which any of the uniting Churches have enjoyed relations of fellowship, if he/she is invited to do so.

In all these, as in other matters, the Church of South India desires to avoid on the one hand any encouragement of license or condonation of breaches of Church comity and fellowship, and on the other hand any unchristian rigidity in its regulations or in their application; and in all its actions it will seek the preservation of unity within, the attainment of wider union, and the avoidance of immediate contests on particular cases.

Relations of the Church of South India with Churches in India – The Church of South India desires that the most cordial relations shall always exist between itself and the Church of India, Burma and Ceylon, and whenever need arises, suitable arrangements shall be made for taking counsel together.

Relations of the Church of South India with Churches in India – The Church of South India desires that the most cordial relations shall always exist between itself and the Church of India, Burma and Ceylon, and whenever need arises, suitable arrangements shall be made for taking counsel together.

Maintained Churches and Chaplains – Omitted.

The Autonomy of the Church of South India - The Church of South India claims the right to be free in all spiritual matters from the direction or interposition of any civil Government.

It is an autonomous Church, and free from any control, legal or otherwise, of any Church or Society external to itself. At the same time it remembers that on account of its origin and history it must have special relations with the Churches in the West through which it has come into existence. And so far as in it lies it will maintain fellowship both with those Churches and with other branches of the catholic Church with which those Churches are in communion.

It is an autonomous Church, and free from any control, legal or otherwise, of any Church or Society external to itself. At the same time it remembers that on account of its origin and history it must have special relations with the Churches in the West through which it has come into existence. And so far as in it lies it will maintain fellowship both with those Churches and with other branches of the catholic Church with which those Churches are in communion.

The Basis of Union and the Constitution - The Basis of Union and the Constitution is a document in which before the inauguration of union the uniting Churches stated the general nature and purposes of the proposed union, gave an outline of the principles of faith and of Church order on which they agreed and of the fundamental rules for the organization and life of the Church in which they were prepared to unite, and expressed certain hopes and desires for the future of the united Church.

In the Constitution of the Church of South India, the substance of the Basis of Union has been incorporated and provisions as far as possible made for giving effect to the intentions and the desires of the uniting Churches. As included in this Constitution, these provisions are subject to alteration as provided in Chapter XIV hereof, since the Church of South India cannot remain legally bound by the action of the uniting Churches before union. But it is hereby declared that in any alteration of this Constitution, and particularly of these Governing Principles, full regard shall be paid to the Basis of Union as a permanent record of the intentions and desires of the Churches by the union of which this Church has been formed.

Of the Interpretation of this Constitution – If any questions shall be raised with regard to the interpretation of any part of this Constitution, they shall be finally be determined by the Synod of the Church, in accordance with the proceedings of that body.

For the avoidance of misunderstanding, it is here stated that where nothing is said in the Constitution about any doctrine which has been taught or any practice which has customarily been followed in any of the Churches from which the United Church has been formed, it must not be inferred either that, that doctrine or practice is forbidden in the Church of South India to be believed in, thought or followed, or that it is considered to be of no importance. Specific mention of a doctrine or practice has in some cases been regarded as unnecessary, since it was a matter of well-known common agreement among the uniting Churches; in other cases there has been disagreement among those Churches on matters which were of importance, yet not such that agreement on them was regarded as a necessary condition of union in one Church, and it was believed that a united Church woulkd in due time be able to come to agreement on them.

Initial Provisions of Ministry – The Bishops of the diocese of the Church of India, Burma and Ceylon which are included in the Church of South India are accepted as bishops of that Church, provided that they assent to the Basis of Union and accept the Constitution of the Church.

All the other ministers of the uniting Churches in the area of union who have been ordained as ministers of the Word and of the Sacraments are acknowledged as such and have the status of presbyters in the Church of South India, provided that they assent to the Basis of Union and accept the Constitution of the Church. Every such presbyter of the Church of South India is at liberty to minister and to celebrate the Holy Communion in any church of the Church of South India, subject to the pledge given in section 13 above.

Similarly, subject to the same provision of assent to the Basis of Union and acceptance of the Constitution, deacons and probationers retain in the Church of South India the status they had in their own Churches before the union.

Such bishops, presbyters, deacons and probationers shall, subject only to necessary restrictions in certain directions, retain (so far as the Church of South India is concerned) all rights and liberties which they previously possessed in the several uniting Churches.

It is the intention and expectation of the Church of South India that eventually every minister exercising a permanent ministry in it will be an episcopally ordained minister. For the thirty years succeeding inauguration of the union, the ministers of any Church whose missions have founded the originally separate parts of the Church of South India shall be received as ministers of the Church, if they are willing to give the same assent to the Governing Principles of the Church of South India as shall be required from persons to be ordained or employed for the first time in the Church.

After this period of thirty years, the Church of South India will determine whether there shall continue to be any exceptions to the rule that its ministry is an episcopally ordained ministry, and generally under what conditions it will receive ministers from other Churches into its ministry. In so doing, it will give equal weight to the principle that there shall be a fully unified ministry within the Church, and to the no less fundamental principle that the Church of South India shall maintain and extend full communion and fellowship with those Churches with which the Churches from which it has been formed have severally had such fellowship. The status of those at that time already received as ministers in the Church of South India not be affected by any action which the Church may then take.

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THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA

 

The Church of South India affirms that the Church is the servant of God and is called to carry on the mission of God in the world. The Church exists for mission and by mission. Mission is fulfilling God’s purpose revealed in Jesus Christ and is testified to in the Scriptures. The pivotal clue to know God’s purposes is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To discern God’s presence in life situations is to discern Christ among people.

The Church of South India affirms that the Church is the servant of God and is called to carry on the mission of God in the world. The Church exists for mission and by mission. Mission is fulfilling God’s purpose revealed in Jesus Christ and is testified to in the Scriptures. The pivotal clue to know God’s purposes is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To discern God’s presence in life situations is to discern Christ among people.

Jesus Christ proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, which is eternal and universal, bringing about transformation of society, and wholeness of all creation. The Kingdom of God calls for repentance and faith (Mark 1:15). The Kingdom is realized through the conversion of heart and life (metanoia). The Church is called in every age and place to participate in the transforming and liberating mission of God in Christ, in order that it becomes a sign and sacrament of the reign of God with justice, peace and integrity of the whole creation. The Church of South India realizes that to be committed to mission in Christ’s way is to identify itself with the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized, thereby enabling them to achieve wholeness and freedom.

The mission of the Church is rooted in Jesus Christ and based on the Scriptures. Jesus Christ has commissioned the Church for mission (Matt. 28:19) and the Holy Spirit, the prime mover of mission, empowers the Church to carry on the mission of God in the world (Acts 1:8). Mission needs courage and commitment and might involve suffering and rejection. Jesus defines the mission as the breaking in of the reign of God as a sign of hope for all humanity, particularly for the victims of injustice and those deprived of abundant life (John 10:10). Jesus as the head of the Church sends it to the world as an agent of transformation and channel of grace and peace in each and every place (John 20:21).

The mission of the Church is rooted in Jesus Christ and based on the Scriptures. Jesus Christ has commissioned the Church for mission (Matt. 28:19) and the Holy Spirit, the prime mover of mission, empowers the Church to carry on the mission of God in the world (Acts 1:8). Mission needs courage and commitment and might involve suffering and rejection. Jesus defines the mission as the breaking in of the reign of God as a sign of hope for all humanity, particularly for the victims of injustice and those deprived of abundant life (John 10:10). Jesus as the head of the Church sends it to the world as an agent of transformation and channel of grace and peace in each and every place (John 20:21).

The Church of South India is united and uniting Church. The purpose of unity is that the Church might be more effective in its witness to the Gospel in India as it is expressed in the prayer of Jesus Christ “that they all (disciples) may be one” (John 17:21). Thus unity and witness go together. The Church of South India conceives its mission as part of the world mission where Churches are called to closer ecumenical fellowship, communion, caring and sharing for the sake of the Gospel.

The Church of South India is united and uniting Church. The purpose of unity is that the Church might be more effective in its witness to the Gospel in India as it is expressed in the prayer of Jesus Christ “that they all (disciples) may be one” (John 17:21). Thus unity and witness go together. The Church of South India conceives its mission as part of the world mission where Churches are called to closer ecumenical fellowship, communion, caring and sharing for the sake of the Gospel.

Mission is proclamation of the Gospel (Kerygma), the Good News of Jesus Christ and the salvation that he has provided through his life, death and resurrection. The Church of South India acknowledges evangelism as it is primary responsibility. The Church as the Body of Christ and as a community of believers, in its life and work endeavours to bear witness to the Gospel wherever it is placed. Mission is not aggressive propaganda but a way of life. The local congregations need to be equipped to show the love of Jesus to the community around them. Individual members of the Church in their life and action shall endeavour to bear witness to the Gospel wherever God has called them to be. Dialogue with the people of other faiths becomes an occasion for the Church to share the Gospel as well as to learn from them. True mission is carried out in a spirit of openness to and respect for other faiths, avoiding any attitude of triumphalism.

Mission is nurturing the people of God through worship, preaching, Christian education and pastoral care, thus building up Christian fellowship (Koinonia), deepening spirituality and empowering them to be fruitful instruments in mission. The Church of South India seeks to equip its people for mission through interpreting its faith that is relevant to the contemporary world. The Church pays special attention to children and new believers in Christian nurture.

Mission is service with dedication (Diakonia). As Christ served the people with love and compassion, the Church seeks to engage in the service of the people. The Church of South India believes that the service rendered through its medical and educational institutions, children’s homes, rural development projects and other diaconal ministries are an essential part of the mission entrusted to it. The Church extends its service to the people irrespective of caste or creed but with a preferential option for the poor and the neglected in the society.

Mission is striving to establish justice in society. The Church seeks to establish a just participatory and reconciling society. This means to transform unjust structures, to denounce all forms of domination and exclusion and to work towards equal and participant patters of relationships. It also means renewing cultures and working for peace and reconciliation. The Church seeks to equip its members to actively participate in the building up of the nation through involvement in political structures and people’s movements. This will also mean that the Church needs to be prepared to work together with others where aims and strategies are consonant with the values of the Kingdom.

Mission is stewardship of God’s creation. The Church seeks to create awareness among all people without environmental and ecological concerns and thereby to care for God’s creation. It endeavors to encourage people to refrain from excessive exploitation of nature’s resources and to strive to keep the earth a habitable place for the present as well as future generations.

The Church realizes that its mission is done in the power of the Holy Spirit. For this reason its understanding of mission is never static but creative and undergoes constant review based on a discernment of the signs of the time. In the final analysis Christian mission is not so much what we do as who we are as God’s people. It is a life lived in response to God’s purpose for us and for all creation. The living response, with trust in the judging and forgiving love of God, is total and affects all realms of our life on earth. Mission is to participate in the liberating and transforming act of the Triune God. All mission needs to be in Christ’s way leading us to fullness of life, and always confessing, “To God be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus for all time, for ever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).

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THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA

 

  • 1. (a) The Church of South India, affirming the standard and ideal of membership in the Church of Christ which it has declared in its fourth Governing Principle, recognizes as its members those persons who, being resident in its areas, namely, the five southern States of India – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu and Telangana and also Jaffna* [*Jaffna shall include those residing in Jaffna, those who moved from Jaffna to other locations in Sri Lanka and those who have been living in other parts of Sri Lanka and are members of the Jaffna Diocese] in Sri Lanka,

    have been baptized with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and

  • 1. (a) The Church of South India, affirming the standard and ideal of membership in the Church of Christ which it has declared in its fourth Governing Principle, recognizes as its members those persons who, being resident in its areas, namely, the five southern States of India – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu and Telangana and also Jaffna* [*Jaffna shall include those residing in Jaffna, those who moved from Jaffna to other locations in Sri Lanka and those who have been living in other parts of Sri Lanka and are members of the Jaffna Diocese] in Sri Lanka,

    have been baptized with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and

    are willing to abide by the faith and order of this Church, and

    are not members of any Christian body which is not in communion with this Church, and

    are not excommunicated by lawful procedure and have not openly abandoned the Christian faith.

    All baptized children are members of the Church, and share in the privileges of Christian nurture and obligations of membership so far as they are capable of doing so.

  • (b) Those members of the Church of South India living outside the above mentioned geographical area are encouraged to seek membership in churches which are in communion with the Church of South India. However, if they desire to keep their identity and fellowship with the Church of South India, they may continue their identity as members of the Church of South India by organizing themselves into congregations recognized as such by the CSI Synod Executive Committee / Working Committee. The Moderator of the Church of South India or Diocesan Bishops appointed by him shall have Episcopal oversight of such congregation.
  • 2. The full Privileges and obligations of membership in the Church of South India belong to those who, having attained to years of discretion and having gained some measure of experience in the Christian life, and having received due instruction in Christian truth and in the duties of their Christian calling, make public profession of their faith and of their purpose, with God’s help, to serve and to follow Christ as members of the Church.

    They shall make this profession at a public Service of Confirmation in which prayers are offered for them that they may be strengthened by the Holy Spirit and may receive His manifold gifts of grace for their life and work.

    Persons who have been thus admitted to full membership in the Church shall also thereby become eligible to partake of the Holy Communion in the Church, and all such persons shall be at liberty to receive Communion in any of the churches of the Church of South India.

  • 3. In addition to the Order of Service for Confirmation authorized for use in the Church, any form of Service for Confirmation or for admission to full membership or communicant status which were in use in the Church at the time of the union are accepted as forms of the Service referred to in Rule 2 above, provided every such service shall include profession of faith before the assembled congregation, prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit and the laying on of hands by the Bishop or presbyter. The Confirmation shall normally be administered by the Bishop, but where the bishop is not able to do it may be done by the Presbyter with the prior approval of the bishop.
  • 4. The privilege of participation in the government of the Church is confined to adult communicant members of this Church. A person may hold membership in only one congregation where he/she shall have the right to vote. The Synod or a Diocesan Council shall have the power to prescribe additional conditions to the exercise of this privilege of participation in the government of the Church. “Adult Communicant Members” shall mean persons who have attained the age of 21 years, have been duly confirmed, and partake in the Holy Communion.
  • 5. A member of any Church in communion with this Church, when in consequence of residence in the area of this Church he/she accepts the privileges and obligations of membership in this Church, does not thereby sever his/her connection with the Church to which he/she previously belonged, or lose his/her right to enjoy the privileges of that membership on his/her return to the reign of that Church’s ministrations.
  • 6. In the preparation of candidates for baptism, the Apostle’s Creed (or, if so desired, the Nicene Creed) shall be used as the basis of part of the necessary instruction. It shall not be necessary that, in answering questions with regard to their faith, candidates for baptism should use the actual words of either of these Creeds in affirming their belief.
  • 7. All persons who before the union have been confirmed or have been admitted to communicant status in any of the uniting Churches shall be recognized as communicants throughout the Church of South India and shall be at liberty to receive communion in any of its churches.
  • 8. It is the privilege of all members of the Church to know themselves to be children in the family of God, be nurtured in Christian faith by being in the Fellowship of the Church, and to rejoice in the experience of their salvation. It is their calling to express their salvation by being diligent in private and family prayers to the Triune God and in the reading of the Scriptures; by participation in public worship and Holy Communion; by serving faithfully, as unto God, in that calling and state of life into which God leads them, and offering the ministry of intercession; by contributing of their time, talents and resources to the pastoral, diaconal and evangelistic work of the Church; and by manifesting a Christian disposition and practice in all their dealings with their fellow beings, and especially by helping those who are in need, sickness or distress; and by responsible use of the earth’s resources and care for the whole creation.
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THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA

 

The Ministry of the Church
The Church is the ‘royal priesthood of all believers. All its members have direct access of God and share in the Commission and authority of the whole Church. Through the Holy Spirit all believers have the rights and duties of a priesthood of offering to God in Jesus Christ the sacrifice of themselves and all their gifts and of making God known to the world, while to the whole Church and to every member of it belongs the duty and privilege of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The Ministry of the Church
The Church is the ‘royal priesthood of all believers. All its members have direct access of God and share in the Commission and authority of the whole Church. Through the Holy Spirit all believers have the rights and duties of a priesthood of offering to God in Jesus Christ the sacrifice of themselves and all their gifts and of making God known to the world, while to the whole Church and to every member of it belongs the duty and privilege of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The ministry of the Church expresses the servanthood of Jesus Christ. The ministry in its priestly, pastoral, prophetic and service aspects is received from the ministry of Jesus Christ, manifested during his earthly life and continued as the risen and ascended Lord.

A. THE ORDAINED MINISTRY
For the equipment of the whole Church for the fulfillment of its ministry and thus to build up the body of Christ, Christ has given to the Church the gift of the ordained ministry.

The ordained ministry of the Church shall consist of Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons.

I. Bishops

The Functions and Responsibilities of Bishops and Administration of Vacant Diocese

  • 1. Pastoral Oversight – The Bishop of the diocese has the general pastoral oversight of all the Christian people of the diocese, and more particularly of the ministers of the Church in the diocese.

    As the Chief shepherd under Christ of his flock in that part, he is responsible for doing all that he can to foster the true spiritual unity of the diocese be entering as far as possible into personal relation with every member of the flock; especially by ministering, as occasion may serve, the rite of Confirmation or by presiding, when desired, at other services in which admission is given into full membership of the Church.

  • 2. Leadership in Evangelization – It is the duty of the bishop to take the lead in the evangelistic work of the diocese; and he should do all in his power to foster and promote it both by his own example and also by the encouragement when he gives to others; and therefore he should continually remind both ministers and people of their duty in this respect.
  • 3. Teaching – The office of a bishop is also essentially a teaching office, and he should do all that is in his power for the edification of the ministers and congregations over whom he has oversight by instructing them concerning the truths of the Christian faith.

    On each bishop in his own diocese, and on the bishops of the Church as a body, is laid the responsibility of publicly stating, as need may from time to time arise, the doctrine of the Church Universal as understood by the Church of South India, and its application to the problems of the age and the country. But the bishops acting as a body shall only issue such statements after consultation with representatives of the presbyters and laity to be appointed for this purpose under rules laid down by the Synod of the Church; and no such statement shall have any force as a rule of the Church unless and until it be adopted by the Synod as such.

  • 4. Worship – The Bishop of the diocese, acting in accordance with the rules laid down in this Constitution concerning the worship of the Church, shall acquaint himself with the various methods of worship and forms of service used in the diocese, shall advice the ministers and congregations in this matter, and shall cause to be prepared and shall issue special services and prayers as they may be required from time to time. He shall have authority in the case of grave irregularities in public worship to forbid their continuance, and any such prohibition shall remain in force pending any action which the Executive Committee of the Synod of the Church may take thereon.
  • 5. Ordination – The bishop of the diocese will accept candidates for ordination and ordain them, acting in these matters in accordance with the rules of Section A : II & III of this Chapter.
  • 6. (a) Authorization - The Bishop of the diocese, acting in accordance with such rules in the matter as may be laid down in this Constitution or by the Synod, will give at the time of ordination authorization to ministers to officiate and to preach in the diocese and authorizations to other ordained ministers who may from time to time come to undertake definite work in the diocese.

    (b) Stationing of Ministers – The stationing of ministers shall be carried out by the bishop of the diocese together with the diocesan committees or other bodies prescribed by the rules of the diocese.

  • 7. Discipline - The Bishop of the diocese alone shall have authority in disciplinary cases to pronounce sentences of suspension from Holy Communion or of excommunication and to restore those that are penitent to the fellowship of the Church. But he may only exercise this authority in accordance with the rules for the Disciple of the Church contained in Chapter XI of the CSI Constitution and such regulations as may this Constitution be laid down the Synod or by this Diocesan Council.
  • 8. Discipline of Ministers – Charges against a minister shall in the first instance be submitted to the bishop of the diocese, who shall if possible settle the matter by personal enquiry and advice and, if necessary admonition. Or, he may suspend the authorization of the minister concerned, as a punishment, in consultation with the Officers of the Council, for a period not exceeding six months. But if the bishop shall direct, or the accused minister demand, that case should be referred to the Court of the Diocesan Council, it shall be so referred and dealt with, as far as possible, within a year, according to the rules of Chapter XI of the CSI Constitution. A Bishop may not withdraw the authorization permanently from a presbyter except by way of carrying out a sentence duly passed by the Court of the Diocesan Council and confirmed by the Moderator or by the Synod Court in appeal, or when the presbyter voluntarily submit himself/herself to the decision of the bishop.
  • 9. Diocesan Council - The Bishop of the diocese shall be president of the Diocesan Council, and shall have the right to take part in the proceedings of any standing committee, board or council of the diocese. He shall have the right of suspending the operation of certain classes of decisions or resolutions of the Diocesan Council, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter VIII of CSI Constitution.
  • 10. Finance - The Bishop of the diocese shall have a general oversight of the financial administration of the diocese but shall not exercise any direct control over the finances.
  • 11. The Synod – Every bishop of a diocese shall be ex-officio member of the Synod of the Church.
  • 12. (a) Duration of Appointment – The bishop of the diocese shall remain bishop of that diocese until he resign, or shall accept the charge of another diocese, or depart permanently from the diocese or be deprived of his charge by sentence of the Court of the Synod, or be adjudged by the Executive Committee of the Synod to be mentally, physically or otherwise incapable of discharging the duties of his office. A bishop shall retire on completion of his 67 years of age.

    (b) Voluntary Retirement - The bishop of the diocese may opt for voluntary retirement any time after completing ten years of service as a Diocesan bishop.

    A bishop who has voluntarily retired will be entitled to such retirement benefits as may be prescribed by the Synod Executive Committee. The Executive Committee of the Synod or the diocese concerned may use his services in an alternative field of ministry with such emoluments and prerequisites as are fixed by the Executive Committee of the Synod or of the diocese, as the case may be.

    A bishop who has voluntarily retired will be a member of the Synod and the Council of Bishops, until he attains the age of 67, but shall not hold the office of Moderator or Deputy Moderator.

  • 13. Compulsory Resignation – When it seems to the Moderator that there is a good reason to believe that the bishop of a diocese is mentally, physically or otherwise incapable of duly discharging the duties of his office, he shall present the matter to the bishop concerned with a view to securing his resignation, and if the bishop refuse to resign, the Moderator may bring the matter before the Executive Committee of the Synod. The Executive Committee shall then have power to appoint a special commission to investigate the matter, and if, on the report of such commission, the Executive Committee shall decide that the bishop concerned is, as defined above, incapable of discharging the duties of his office, it shall formally adjudge him so to be, and he shall thereupon cease to be bishop of that diocese. The Synod shall lay down rules for the procedure of such commissions in accordance with the principles which govern judicial procedure in the Church.
  • 14. Commissaries – The bishop of a diocese may appoint a commissary either under a general commission to act for him in the diocese during his absence from the diocese or incapacity to discharge his duties as bishop, or under a special commission to perform on his behalf some particular duty named in the commission. The appointment of a General Commissary must be made in consultation with the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council. If the bishop is going to be absent from the diocese for more than 30 days, or is incapacitated for more than 30 days he shall appoint a commissary under this rule. If the bishop is going to be out of the country for less than 30 days, he shall appoint a commissary in consultation with the Officers of the Council. The bishop shall intimate to the Moderator his absence from the diocese as well as the appointment of the Commissary.

    A diocesan bishop cannot authorize his commissary to represent him in the Synod or in any committee or board thereof, or to exercise his suspensory power over decisions and resolutions of the Diocesan Council, nor can he (unless the Commissary be himself a bishop) delegate to him his functions with respect to Ordination and Confirmation.

  • 15. Assistant Bishops – If in any diocese the bishop of the diocese and the Diocesan Council desire the appointment of an assistant bishop and are prepared to make the necessary financial provision, the Synod or the Executive Committee of the Synod shall have power to consent to the appointment of such assistant bishop, and to issue instructions with regard to the method of election or appointment of a person as assistant bishop, his functions and sphere of work, and his tenure of office. An Assistant Bishop shall exercise every kind of special function which belongs to him by virtue of his consecration and have place as Bishop in the Councils of the Church. The Assistant Bishop shall not exercise suspensory power on decisions and resolutions of the Diocesan Council.

    Every assistant Bishop shall be an ex-officio member of the Synod of the Church of South India and of its Executive Committee.

  • 16. Administration of Vacant Diocese – Notwithstanding anything in Chapter V of CSI Constitution, whenever any Bishopric of the Church falls vacant or a Diocesan Bishop is inhibited from functioning either in person or through a Commissary, the charge and administration thereof shall devolve upon the Moderator who shall administer it with full jurisdiction in his own person, with or without the help of a Commissary or Commissaries appointed by him after consultation with the Working Committee of the Synod, until a new Bishop is appointed or the Diocesan Bishop is able to function. If a Bishopric, whose Bishop is also the Moderator, becomes vacant, the Deputy Moderator shall have all the powers of the Moderator in this regard.
  • 17. Council of Bishops – There shall be a Council of Bishops in active service of the Church of South India with the Moderator as its Chairperson to foster fellowship, share experiences, consult on matters of faith and national issues and to deal with matters concerning the functioning of bishops. The Council of Bishops shall have the authority to enquire into complaints and allegations against a Bishop and to take appropriate action. Allegation considered grave by the Council of Bishops may be referred by it to a Court of the Synod to be constituted in accordance with Rules 25 & 26 of Chapter XI of the CSI Constitution. The Moderator shall convene this Council at least once a year.

II. Presbyters

The Duties of Presbyters

  • 18. It is the special duty of a presbyter

    (a) to watch over the flock committed to him; to visit the congregation and especially the sick and the erring; to teach, to warn, to rebuke and encourage; and to maintain the doctrine and discipline of the Church in which he/she is a minister, with all fidelity;

    (b) to be a leader in the work of preaching the Word in the congregation committed to him/her and in building up all its members in their most holy faith; to strive to bring sinners to repentance and forgiveness both by public and private exercise of his/her ministry; to encourage and give full scope for the exercise by Church members of their various ministries in the Church; and to forward all efforts directed to the establishment of righteousness and the removal of wrong in the community;

    (c) to lead the worship and administer the Holy Communion in the congregation, and conduct the other sacred services of the Church;

    (d) to teach and baptize; to instruct the young and prepare candidates for Confirmation and for admission to communicant membership and to admit approved candidates to communicant membership;

    (e) to us every opportunity to preach the Gospel to all people and to bring them to the saving grace of God in Christ;

    (f) to equip congregations for mission and ministry of the Church, through striving for justice and peace and preserving the integrity of creation;

    (g) to strive to facilitate harmony and caring relationships among persons of all faiths in the neighborhood; and

    (h) to these ends, to be diligent in private study and prayer.

  • 19. It is the duty of all presbyters, when summoned, to attend a meeting of the Diocesan Council, and meetings of the ministers which may be convened by the bishop from time to time to discuss with them matters concerning their ministry and the faith, order and discipline of the Church or to advise them upon such topics.

The Ordination and Authorization of Presbyters

  • 20. Men and women will be ordained as presbyters in the Church of South India who offer themselves for the ministry because they are conscious of a call from God to that work, who are recognized by the Church as giving evidence of that call their possession of gifts appropriate to their calling, and who have been given due training for the work of the ministry.
  • 21. Subject to the provisions of the CSI Constitution, and in accordance with such standards as shall be determined and such general rules as shall be laid down by the Synod, each Diocesan Council shall make rules for the selection of candidates for training for ordination, for their training, and for the final approval and ordination of those who have received training.

    Rules with regard to these matters made by Diocesan Councils shall be submitted to the Synod to ensure that they are in accordance with general rules laid down, whether in this Constitution or by the Synod, and with the principles and standards accepted by the Church. Such rules shall always provide that at one stage or another there shall be recommendation by, or consultation with, the congregation or pastorate to which the candidate belongs, as well as such other bodies or persons (the latter including laymen and not less than three presbyters) as the rules may provide, and also acceptance of the candidate both by the bishop and by the Diocesan Council or some diocesan body appointed for the purpose.

  • 22. The Synod will prescribe a form of ordination for presbyters in which, while provision may be made for extempore prayer and variations in the details of the service, there shall be certain invariable parts; those to include at least (i) a prayer of ordination asking that those about to be ordained may receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit for the office and work of presbyters in His Church, and (ii) the laying on of hands by the bishop and by presbyters, with the words accompanying it. The ordination of presbyters shall normally take place in the course of the Communion Service.
  • 24. Every person about to be ordained in any diocese in the Church of South India is required to affirm his/her sincere belief in the truths witnessed to by the Nicene Creed, and his/her acceptance of the doctrinal truths included in the Governing Principles of the Church and in any other statement which the Church of South India may have officially set forth as a standard of doctrine.

    The Church of South India here declares that no acceptance of a written standard is sufficient for this or for any of the purposes for which such standards are used unless there be also an inward and personal experience of union with God in Christ.

    The act of Union does not debar any teacher of the Church of South India from using for the instruction of the faithful any confession of faith which had been employed in any of the uniting Churches before the union, and which is not inconsistent with the doctrinal standards officially set forth by the Church of South India.

  • 24. Every minister who is to receive authority to exercise other than an occasional ministry in a diocese of the Church of South India shall make the same affirmation of his/her belief as those who are ordained within the Church of South India.
  • 25. Every person who is being ordained as presbyter and every minister who is to receive authority to exercise other than an occasional ministry in the Church of South India, shall before receiving authorization from the bishop of the diocese under Chapter v, Rule 6 (a) declare his/her acceptance of the Constitution of the Church and of its rules of discipline.
  • 26. No person shall be ordained presbyter until he/she has attained the age of twenty-four years.

    A presbyter shall retire on the completion of 67 years f age.

III. Deacons

Functions and Ordination of Deacons

  • 27. The function of deacons shall, in the Church of South India, include the following: assisting the presbyter in the administration of the Lord’s Supper and in other services of the Church; administering of baptism; ministering in the temporalities of the Church; giving succor to the poor, the needy and the sick; instructing of children, catechumens and confirmands in the faith; preaching the Word; and generally giving assistance in pastoral and evangelistic work. Persons who have been selected as candidates for the prebyterate shall ordinarily, after undergoing the necessary theological training, receive ordination to the diaconate, and undertake the duties outlined above as part of their training for the presbyterate.
  • 28. The ministry of the diaconate may be undertaken for life by persons who have been accepted for this ministry by the diocesan authorities and have received due training.

    Deacons can be set apart for their ministry by the laying on of hands by the bishop of the diocese. No person shall be ordained deacon until he/she has attained the age of twenty-three years.

B. THE MINISTRY OF THE LAITY

  • 29. It is the duty and privilege of every member of the Church to share in the Church’s ministry. This ministry includes the worship of God both in private and in public Christian service both within the Church and the community at large, proclaiming and witnessing to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Within this ministry the Church recognizes a rich diversity of gifts both to men and women and will seek to provide opportunities as well as training for the full use of such gifts.
  • The members of the Church continue to the total ministry of the Church in such ways as the following:

    (a) by their life and witness in their family relationships and daily work through which God may renew and transform the situations in which they are involved;

    (b) by responsible participation in secular organizations, legislative bodies, councils and panchayats, and in other areas of public life, so that the decisions which are made in these areas may be controlled by the mind of Christ and the structures of society transformed according to His will;

    (c) by sharing in the Church’s corporate acts of witness and service;

    (d) by their participation in the public worship of the Church;

    (e) by the full-time service of the Church in the ministries of evangelism, education, healing and other forms of service;

    (f) by part-time and honorary service in the Church meeting different needs as they arise such as preaching, teaching, youth work, caring for the sick, social welfare etc;

    (g) by sharing with the ordained ministry of the Church, the spiritual care, nurture and government of the Church, and in the conduct of public worship. Such duties will include responsibilities for the temporal affairs of the Church such as raising and administration of funds, care of the Church’s property, ministration to the needy etc. Provision for these forms of ministry will be made in the Constitution and rules at the local, Diocesan and Synod levels.

  • 31. Those who are appointed to any responsibility in the Church or outside may be recognized at a service of worship in which they will be reminded of the nature and importance of the office, and prayers will be offered for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  • 32. The Church calls all its members to be faithful in the ministry of intercession. Those who have opportunity for other forms of service are not to be slack in this ministry. Those who through sickness or for other causes are prevented from exercising other ministries may regard intercession as their special obligation and privilege.

C. THE MINISTRY OF THE LIFE-DIACONATE AND SPECIAL ORDERS

  • 33. Based on the biblical understanding of priesthood of all believers and the vocation in life as living sacrifice acceptable to the Lord, the Church of South India encourages its members in the various vocations to be permanent / life-deacons in the world. e.g., deacons in teaching, deacons in health care, deacons in the legal profession etc. Such persons who feel called to the ministry of diaconate will be, after due orientation and preparation, commissioned in an appropriate special service of worship.
  • 34. Recognizing the continuing and varied gifts of the Holy Spirit, Special Orders of Fellowship such as the Order of Brotherhood, Order of Sisterhood, may be instituted in the Church. Those who are called to join such orders shall be dedicated and admitted into them after due preparation.
  • 35. Orders of Sisters: At the time of the union there were special Orders for women in different dioceses and several deaconesses from different traditions were working in the Church. To strengthen the witness of all these special groups they were brought together, and, after considerable preparation, the CSI Order of Sisters was inaugurated on the first of June in 1952.

    The Order is meant for women who are called for a life-long service in the Church, and live a life of celibacy, service and prayer. They may serve in the educational, medical, social or pastoral ministry of the Church.

    The Order shall be governed by a Constitution approved by the Synod Executive Committee.

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THE WORSHIP OF THE CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA

 

  • 1. Subject to Section 12 of the Governing Principles of the Church of South India, and to the general principles of freedom of worship therein laid down, and to the provisions of this Section, it is competent to the Synod of the Church to issue forms of worship to be used on special occasions, and regulations with regard to the essential elements or constituent parts of other services.
  • 1. Subject to Section 12 of the Governing Principles of the Church of South India, and to the general principles of freedom of worship therein laid down, and to the provisions of this Section, it is competent to the Synod of the Church to issue forms of worship to be used on special occasions, and regulations with regard to the essential elements or constituent parts of other services.
  • 2. Holy Communion – As the Church of South India grown in unity of mind and spirit and experiences closer fellowship in worship, it may develop a common form or forms of the Service of Holy Communion adapted to the special needs and religious experiences of South India.

    In accordance with Section 12 of the Governing Principles, no form of Communion Service which before the union was in use in any of the uniting Churches shall be forbidden; and every pastor and congregation shall have freedom to determine the form of worship which they will use, provided that includes the essential elements prescribed in Section 6 of the Section 12 of the Governing Principles and any other elements which the Synod hereafter shall declare to be essential.

    The following parts, numbered (i) to (ix) were before the union in general included in all the services of Holy Communion in the uniting Churches; and in none of those Churches was there in use a service from which any of the more important of these parts was omitted. The Church of South India desires that all these nine parts shall have a place in every Communion Service; but it is not necessary that the order in which they are here given should be exactly observed; and it may be arranged that one or more of the first three parts shall be included in a separate service which (whether held on the same or on a previous day) forms one whole with the actual Communion Service and which all those who will be communicants are expected to attend.

    • (i) Introductory Prayers
    • (ii) The Ministry of the Word, including readings from the Scriptures, which may be accompanied by preaching.
    • (iii) (iii) The Preparation of the Communicants by confession of their sins, and the declaration of God’s mercy to penitent sinners whether in the form of an absolution or otherwise and such a prayer as the ‘Prayer of Humble Access.’
    • (iv) The offering to God of the gifts of the people.
    • (v) The thanksgiving for God’s glory and goodness and the redemptive work of Christ in His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, leading to a reference to His institution of the Sacrament, in which His own words are rehearsed; and to the setting apart of the bread and wine to be used for the purpose of the Sacrament with prayer that we receive that which our Lord intends to give us in this Sacrament. Note: It is suggested that this section should begin with the ancient phrases and ascription of praise known as Sursum Corda and the Sanctus.
    • (vi) An intercession for the whole Church, for whom and with whom we ask God’s mercy and goodness through the merits of the death of His Son.
    • (vii) The Lord’s Prayer, as the central act of prayer, in which we unite the whole Church of Christ to pray for the fulfillment of God’s gracious purposes and to present our needs before the throne of grace.
    • (viii) The Administration of the Communion, with words conformable to Scripture indicating the nature of the action.
    • (ix) A Thanksgiving for the Grace received in the Communion, with which should be joined the offering and dedication of ourselves to God, unless this has been included earlier in the service. This Thanksgiving may be accompanied by an appropriate hymn.
  • 3. Baptism – In the administration of baptism, the following words shall always be used : ‘N., I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’
  • 4. The Creeds – The use of the Creeds in worship is an act of adoration and thanksgiving towards Almighty God for His nature and for His acts of love and mercy, as well as a joyful remembrance of the faith which binds together the worshippers.

    In the ordinary congregational worship of any congregation, no authority of the Church of South India shall forbid the use of the Creeds or impose it against the will of the congregation. In forms of service issued by the Synod under Rule 1 of this Chapter, recitation of the Apostles’ or the Nicene Creed may be recommended, but such recitation shall not be compulsory.

  • 5. Alterations in forms of worship – Acting subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a presbyter in charge of any congregation may introduce experimentally the use of an alteration in the accustomed form of worship of that congregation, or a new form of worship, after giving due notice thereof to the congregation, and shall report any such action to the bishop of the diocese.

    The presbyter shall thereafter consult members of the congregation on the matter, and if any three members so desire, the presbyter shall, after three months, consult a general meeting of the communicant members of the congregation, after due notice has been given, as to whether the use of the altered or new form shall be continued; and it shall not be continued unless at least two-thirds of those present at such meeting desire its continuance. The advice of the bishop of the diocese should be sought in any case of difficulty or serious division of opinion, and in some cases where alternative forms are not adopted for general use in a congregation, it may be agreed that they should be used occasionally or by way of alteration with those in regular use.

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DIOCESAN COUNCIL

 

  • 1. The Church of South India consists of dioceses with specified geographical boundaries. All the Pastorates of a particular geographical area with its institutions administered by the Church within that area form a diocese.
  • 1. The Church of South India consists of dioceses with specified geographical boundaries. All the Pastorates of a particular geographical area with its institutions administered by the Church within that area form a diocese.
  • 2. Each diocese is under the charge of a Bishop and is administered through a Diocesan Council within the framework of a Constitution of the Church of South India.
  • 3. The Synod shall determine the boundaries of the diocese.
  • 4. The geographical boundary of the Jaffna Diocese is not limited to Jaffna alone but expands to the whole of Sri Lanka.
  • 5. The Jaffna Diocesan Council of the Church of South India consists of:
    • (a) The Bishop of the Diocese;
    • (b) Assistant Bishop, if any
    • (c) All Presbyters in active service in the Diocese, whether in Churches, Pastorates or in Institutions under the Diocese, or appointed to responsible offices or spheres of work in the Diocese;
    • (d) Lay representatives, whether elected, nominated or ex-officio, at least twice in number to the Presbyters who are members of the council and not greater than thrice that the number;
  • 6. Elected Lay Representatives from the Churches and Pastorates
  • (a) They shall be elected from each Church or Pastorate within the Diocese by the General Body of the respective Church or Pastorate on the basis of number of voting members and the monthly assessment paid to the diocese as determined by the Executive Committee of the Jaffna Diocesan Council of the Church of South India (hereafter referred to as J.D.,C.S.I.);
  • (b) These provisions may be altered by the Diocesan Council from time to time by an ordinary majority;
  • (c) When there is one lay representative from a Church/Pastorate, it shall be either a man or a woman. In case of a Church/Pastorate sending more than one representative, at least 25% shall be women and 25% shall be under the age of 35 years;
  • (d) A person who is elected as a lay representative from a Church/Pastorate should have been a member of the respective Church/Pastorate for at least one calendar year preceding the date of such election and shall satisfy such other conditions that may be prescribed by the Church/Pastorate from time to time and shall continue to do so till the period of his/her membership in the Diocesan Council;
  • (e) No elected lay representative shall be a member of more than one Church/pastorate at the same time;
  • (f) A person who is elected as a lay representative from a Church/Pastorate shall reside in the territorial jurisdiction of the Church/Pastorate;
  • (g) No elected lay representative shall serve as an elected member of the J.D.,C.S.I. for more than two consecutive terms of the Diocesan Council. He/she shall be eligible for re-election after a break of one full term of the Diocesan Council;
  • (h) Conditions under which an elected lay representative may lose his/her membership in the Diocesan Council will be specified in the Bye-Laws of this Constitution.
  • 7. Other Elected Representatives

    (a) Two from Jaffna College: The Principal and one from either the Board of Directors of Jaffna College or from the Tutorial Staff (if he/she is a full member of the J.D.,C.S.I.) elected by the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council. If the Principal is a Presbyter of the J.D.,C.S.I. belonging to class ‘b’ of this Section, the one more person from either the Board of Directors of Jaffna College or from the Tutorial Staff (if he/she is a full member of the J.D.,C.S.I.) may be elected by the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council;

    (b) Not more than four Missionaries in the active service of the Diocese elected by the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council. If as many Missionaries as four are not available, those places may be given to the General Community who shall be members of the J.D.,C.S.I.

    If any person has a double delegateship, one place shall be voided and filled by the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council;

    (c) Four members of the General Community elected by the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council.

  • 8. Ex-officio Members
    • (a) The President of the Diocesan Women’s Fellowship;
    • (b) The Principal of Uduvil Girls’ College;
    • (c) The Principal of Jaffna College;
    • (D) One of the Medical Superintendents of the Diocesan Mission Hospitals (if he/she is a full member of the J.D., C.S.I.). In case no such person is available, an executive staff of the Mission Hospitals may be elected (if he/she is a full member of the J.D., C.S.I.).
  • 9. As many remaining members from the General Community as are necessary to make up the maximum number allowed the Constitution of the Church of South India, nominated by the Bishop of the Diocese.

    Nominated Members in the Council by the Bishop shall be 3% of the total membership. However, they shall not be less than ten and not more than twenty.

  • 10. Honorary or Non-Voting Members
    • (a) All Church Workers/Evangelists and Deacons under the Diocesan Council on a permanent basis of service who have not already found a place as members;
    • (b) Not more than seven others who may be elected by the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council;
    • (c) The Bishop of the Diocese may invite people either as Honorary Members or as Observers.
  • 12. Eligibility of Churches and Pastorates to send Representatives
    • (a) Churches and Pastorates which pay the monthly assessment (quota) to the Diocese;
    • (b) Churches and Pastorates which conduct their Annual Meeting before the end of January every year (unless the Bishop’s permission has been obtained for holding it later);
    • (c) Churches and Pastorates which complete their Annual Accounts and have them audited by the Diocesan Auditors before 7th of February (unless the Bishop’s permission has been obtained for doing it later).
  • 13. Eligibility of Members
    • (a) All members of the Diocesan Council shall be communicant members belonging to the Church of South India in Sri Lanka actively supporting the Church and its work through attendance at worship services, giving and service;
    • (b) No person who is under discipline either of the Diocese or of the Bishop shall be eligible to be a member of the Diocesan Council.
    • (c) Declaration:

      Every lay member of the Diocesan Council before he/she takes his/her seat in the Council shall sign before the Bishop or his representative the following declaration.

      "I................................. .. chosen member of the Jaffna Diocesan Council of the Church of South India, do solemnly declare that I am a communicant member of the Church of South India, and that I assent to the Constitution of the Church of South India, and of this Jaffna Diocese, and I agree to be bound by the rules of this Church and to act according to the Constitution, Rules and Standing Orders of this Council".

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OFFICERS OF THE DIOCESAN COUNCIL

 

  • 1. The officers of the Diocesan Council shall be:
    • (i) The Bishop of the Diocese, who shall be ex-officio President of the council;
    • (ii) The Vice-President or the Assistant Bishop, if any, who shall be a Presbyter;
    • (iii) The Secretary;
    • (iv) The Assistant Secretary;
    • (v) The Treasurer;
    • (vi) The Associate Treasurer;
    • (vii) The Registrar.
  • 1. The officers of the Diocesan Council shall be:
    • (i) The Bishop of the Diocese, who shall be ex-officio President of the council;
    • (ii) The Vice-President or the Assistant Bishop, if any, who shall be a Presbyter;
    • (iii) The Secretary;
    • (iv) The Assistant Secretary;
    • (v) The Treasurer;
    • (vi) The Associate Treasurer;
    • (vii) The Registrar.
  • 2. Mode of Election and Duration of Office

    (a) The Diocesan Council shall elect the Vice-President, Secretary and Assistant Secretary by ballot from among the members of the Council at its first session for a period of three years;

    (b) The Treasurer: The Bishop shall constitute a Search Committee consisting of two clergy and three lay persons (of whom at least one should be a woman) during one of the meetings of the Executive Committee prior to the Diocesan Council for the post of Treasurer. This Search Committee will bring a name (one who is a full member of the J.D.,C.S.I.) before the Council in the first session for the post of Treasurer;

    (c) The Associate Treasurer: Appointed by the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council, initially for a term of three years with the possibility of extension at the end of this period. This person shall be a full member of the J.D.,C.S.I.;

    (d) The Registrar: Elected in the first session of the Diocesan Council;

    (e) The elected Officers of the Diocesan Council shall hold office from the close of the meeting at which they are elected until the close of next ordinary meeting of the Jaffna Diocesan Council.

    (f) No person shall hold any elected office in the Diocesan Council for more than two terms consecutively (Chapter VIII, Rule 12 of CSI Constitution, 2003 edition);

    (g) In the event of a vacancy arising among any of the elected Officers, the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council shall make an appointment for the unexpired portion for which that person was elected.

  • 3. The Bishop along with the Secretary and the Treasurer shall serve as Officers (President cum Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer) of the American Ceylon Mission (ACM). These three Officers, by virtue of their election and appointment respectively to the respective offices, shall constitute the American Ceylon Mission for the purpose of the Act of Incorporation of 1908.
  • 4. No person shall hold any elected office in the Diocesan council for more than two terms consecutively.
  • 5. Duties and Functions of the Officers of the Diocesan Council

    I. The Bishop

    (a) The provision of the CSI Constitution, Chapters V and VIII shall apply in the relationship between the J.D.,C.S.I. and the Bishop and the functions and responsibilities;

    (b) The Bishop shall be the President of the Executive Committee, Ministerial Committee, Finance and Property Committee, Board for Uduvil Girls’ College and Board of Directors, Jaffna College. For other Standing Committees and Boards the Bishop may appoint suitable clergy or lay members as Chairpersons;

    (c) The Bishop may refer any decision of a Committee/Board to the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council whose decision shall be final;

    (d) The Bishop shall have the power of suspension over the operation of certain decisions or resolutions of the Diocesan Council which are specified in Rule 8 of Chapter VIII of the CSI Constitution (2003 Edition) in the manner described therein;

    (e) The Bishop shall have the power to suspend any action of any Standing Committee or Board pending reference to and decision by the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council, provided that such suspensory action is taken within a week of the receipt of the minutes of the concerned Standing Committee or Board;

    (f) The Bishop shall have the power, under extraordinary circumstances, to summon a meeting of the Diocesan Council or any of its Standing Committees or Boards;

    (g) The Bishop shall have the power, in exceptional cases, in consultation with the Executive Committee to enforce disciplinary action against Presbyters, other Ministerial Workers, Heads of Institutions or non-salaried persons holding responsible posts as appointed by the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council for the reasons of dereliction of duty, defying authority of the Bishop, mismanagement, embezzlement and acting in a manner which is prejudicial to the interest of the Church, Institution or the Diocese. If such disciplinary action involves transfer, it may be done without reference to the procedure laid down for normal transfers;

    (h) The Bishop shall have a general oversight of the financial administration of the Diocese but shall not exercise any direct control over finances (Chapter V, Rule 10, CSI Constitution, 2003 Edition);

    (i) The Bishop alone shall have the authority to inform banks about opening and closing of accounts of churches, institutions and any other body that comes under the Diocesan Council;

    (j) The Bishop alone shall have the authority to authorize signatures of all signatories to accounts of churches, institutions and any other body that comes under the Diocesan Council as per decisions of the Executive Committee/Officers of the Diocesan Council;

    (k) The Bishop shall have the right of suspending the operation of decisions or resolutions of the Diocesan Council which directly concern:

    • the faith and doctrine of the Church,
    • the conditions of membership in the Church, and the rules which govern excommunication from the Church,
    • the function of the ordained ministers of the Church, or
    • the worship of the Church, and any forms of worship proposed for general use in the Church.

    A decision or resolution so held in abeyance may be disposed of by agreement in a subsequent meeting of the Diocesan Council, and if not so disposed of shall be referred to the Synod for settlement.

II. The Vice-President

  • (a) If there be no Assistant Bishop, the Diocesan Council at the first session that elect a Presbyter among its own as Vice-President.
  • (b) The Vice-President shall act for the President in his absence or at his request during the sessions of the Diocesan Council and the meetings of the Executive Committee, provided he has not appointed or designated a Commissary;
  • (c) The Vice-President shall perform such other duties as may be assigned to him/her from time to time by the Bishop, the council and or the Executive Committee.

III. The Secretary

  • (a) The secretary shall keep a full and correct record of meetings of the Diocesan Council and the Executive Committee in books provided for the purpose and circulates the printed minutes to all members within two calendar months of the date of the meetings.
  • (b) The Secretary shall send out notices of all meetings of the Diocesan Council and the Executive Committee.
  • (c) The Secretary shall send out agenda for the Diocesan Council (which shall be prepared by the Executive Committee) to all members at least fifteen days before each Ordinary Session takes place. Evidence of posting shall be considered proof that the notices and agenda have been sent.
  • (d) The Secretary shall scrutinize lists of elected members received from Area Chairpersons to verify that they are in accordance with the constitution, and in the case of irregularity he/she shall bring it to the attention of the Executive Committee.
  • (e) The Secretary shall perform such other duties as may be assigned to him/her from time to time by the Bishop, the Council and/or the Executive Committee. If the secretary fails to send out notices or to perform the duties assigned to him/her the Executive Committee in between the Council Sessions is competent to supersede and function by appropriate measures.
  • (f) Except in matters requiring representation by holders of the Power of Attorney of the Church of South India Trust Association, the Secretary shall be the person to sue and to be sued and to appear on behalf of the Diocese on any litigation that may arise concerning the Diocese, its administration or its institutions.

IV. The Assistant Secretary

  • (a) The Assistant Secretary shall act for the Secretary in his/her absence or at his/her request during the sessions of the Council with the permission of the Bishop;
  • (b) The Assistant Secretary shall perform such other duties as may be assigned to him/her from time to time by the Executive Committee.

V. The Treasurer

  • (a) The Diocesan Council at the first session shall elect a Treasurer among its own members. It shall be the duty of the Diocesan Treasurer:
  • (b) The Treasurer will take charge of all the money belonging to the Diocesan Council; he/she will make all payments sanctioned by appropriate Committees and personnel and to keep the accounts of the same;
  • (c) he/she shall submit an audited statement of accounts annually to the Diocesan Executive Committee or to a body authorized by the Diocesan Executive Committee;
  • (d) he/she shall preserve the title deeds and other documents connected with the property and funds of the Diocese along with the Diocesan Registrar;
  • (e) he/she shall do all such other things as are expressed or implied as his/her functions in this Constitution.

VI. The Associate Treasurer

  • (a) The Assistant Secretary shall act for the Secretary in his/her absence or at his/her request during the sessions of the Council with the permission of the Bishop;
  • (b) The Assistant Secretary shall perform such other duties as may be assigned to him/her from time to time by the Executive Committee.

VII. The Registrar

  • (a) The Diocesan Council at the first session shall elect a Registrar among its own members.
  • (b) The Diocesan Registrar shall take charge of the related registers and documents in full, such as Baptism, membership, Confirmation, Marriage and other relevant records;
  • (c) shall have the power to issue Certificates
  • (d) shall also take charge of the records of the property along with the Diocesan Treasurer
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MEETINGS OF THE DIOCESAN COUNCIL

 

  • 1. The Diocesan Council shall meet once in every THREE years for its ordinary meeting at the place and time decided by the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council.
  • 2. Council shall meet at least once in between the ordinary meetings to discuss the life and work of the Diocese.
  • 3. At least six months before the expiry of the term of the Council, the Executive Committee shall in motion the arrangements for electing a new Council. In case the new Council cannot be convened within three months from the expiry of the term of the old Council, the Synod shall take steps for the proper administration of the Diocese.
  • 1. The Diocesan Council shall meet once in every THREE years for its ordinary meeting at the place and time decided by the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council.
  • 2. Council shall meet at least once in between the ordinary meetings to discuss the life and work of the Diocese.
  • 3. At least six months before the expiry of the term of the Council, the Executive Committee shall in motion the arrangements for electing a new Council. In case the new Council cannot be convened within three months from the expiry of the term of the old Council, the Synod shall take steps for the proper administration of the Diocese.
  • 4. Two weeks’ notice shall be given before the Ordinary meeting together with the Agenda that will be taken up.
  • 5. Special Meetings of the Jaffna Diocesan Council of the Church of South India may be called by the Bishop at any time with information to the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council to deal with specific urgent items of business. No business other than that is notified in the agenda shall be transacted. Notice of such meetings to all members of the Council shall be given at least three days before the date of such meetings.

Quorum:

  • 6. A quorum for any meeting of the Diocesan Council shall consist of one third of the Presbyter membership and one third of Lay membership.
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POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE DIOCESAN COUNCIL

 

  • 1. To determine and direct the policy and the general government of all work under its charge;
  • 2. To determine and direct the policy and the general government of all work under its charge;
  • 3. To co-ordinate all branches of work under it for the promotion of their welfare and to settle matters pertaining to the inter-relationship;
  • 4. To select candidates for church and missionary work and to train them as the case may be, and to frame rules regarding ordaining of ministerial candidates;
  • 5. To fix stipend and allowances of Presbyters and other Ministerial Workers and arrange for their regular payment;
  • 6. To make provision for the support of retired Workers of the Diocese;
  • 1. To determine and direct the policy and the general government of all work under its charge;
  • 2. To determine and direct the policy and the general government of all work under its charge;
  • 3. To co-ordinate all branches of work under it for the promotion of their welfare and to settle matters pertaining to the inter-relationship;
  • 4. To select candidates for church and missionary work and to train them as the case may be, and to frame rules regarding ordaining of ministerial candidates;
  • 5. To fix stipend and allowances of Presbyters and other Ministerial Workers and arrange for their regular payment;
  • 6. To make provision for the support of retired Workers of the Diocese;
  • 7. To make regulations and where necessary help in enforcing discipline in the Church within its territorial jurisdiction;
  • 8. To make regulations with regard to the demarcation, organization of Areas and Area Councils within its jurisdiction;
  • 9. To foster the development of evangelistic, pastoral, medical, educational, social and other work done or to be done within its jurisdiction;
  • 10. To receive reports and financial statements from Committees and Boards appointed by it;
  • 11. To receive and disburse all monies which come to it and present at the Meetings a Balance Sheet and Budget;
  • 12. To receive triennial reports from the Executive Committee, all Standing Committees, all Boards and Departments appointed by it;
  • 13. To undertake periodic assessment through commissions empowered by it, to discover special opportunities for advancing the Church’s mission within its territorial jurisdiction and also to combat the neglect that may have arisen in any aspect of its work which may be a negative influence in the life of the Church in Jaffna Diocese;
  • 14. To elect its Officers (except the Bishop), to elect an Executive Committee and to appoint members to all Standing Committees, Boards and Departments after receiving nominations from the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council. In all such Committees, Boards and Departments at least 25% of the total membership (excluding Officers of the Council) shall be youth under the age of 35 years and 25% shall be women.;
  • 15. To delegate functions and duties to all Standing Committees, Boards and Departments appointed by it;
  • 16. To elect ministerial and lay representatives of the Diocese in the Synod for each ordinary meeting of the Synod;
  • 17. To have an effective voice in the appointment of the Bishop for Jaffna Diocese;
  • 18. To have an effective voice in the appointment of the Bishop for Jaffna Diocese;
  • 19. To recognize the Bishop, the Secretary and the Treasurer of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India by virtue of their election and appointment respectively to those offices as having been appointed as President, Secretary and Treasurer respectively of the American Ceylon Mission for the purpose of the Act of Incorporation of 1908, till the Diocesan Council is incorporated;
  • 20. To consider if called upon by a vote of two-thirds of the members present any decision of the Executive Committee except in regard to finance. The stationing of Ministerial Workers, while it may not be set aside, may be discussed under the above conditions;

    To consider if called upon by a vote of two-thirds of the members present any decision of the Executive Committee except in regard to finance. The stationing of Ministerial Workers, while it may not be set aside, may be discussed under the above conditions;

  • 21.To decide to surrender its separate existence and unite with another Church or Churches and become part of the new Church thus formed on such terms as may seem fit to the Diocesan Council. Such a decision must be passed by not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting at any ordinary or special meeting of the Diocesan Council;
  • 22.To decide any other matters referred to it and to perform any other task that may come within its competence;

    Note: If any motion is to be included in the agenda moved by a member on behalf of a Church, notice must be given of it at least one month before the meeting of the Diocesan Council and this will be placed before the Diocesan Council with the comments of the Executive Committee.

  • 23.Subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the Church of South India, the Jaffna Diocesan Council has power to frame, amend or alter its own Constitution and Bye-Laws, provided that no Diocesan Constitution or any other alteration therein shall be of force if the Synod shall rule that such Constitution or alteration therein is at variance with anything contained in the Constitution.

Note:

  • (a) While the Diocese exercises powers and functions of administration within its territory on the basis of its own Constitution, it is affirmed that the Diocese is an integral part of the one united Church, of which the Church of South India Synod is the supreme authority in all matters pertaining to the whole Church (Chapter VIII, Rule 15, CSI Constitution, 2003 Edition).
  • (b) While the Synod shall deal with matters of common interest to the whole of Church of South India, and with those which affect the relation of the Diocese to another Diocese and to the rest of the universal Church, it shall leave the Diocesan Council to deal with the internal affairs of the Diocese (Chapter IX, Rule 15, CSI Constitution, 2003 Edition).
  • (c) The J.D.,C.S.I. shall advise the Synod on all matters which have been referred to it by the Synod.
  • (d) The J.D.,C.S.I. has the power to initiate business before the Synod.
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THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE DIOCESAN COUNCIL

 

  • 1. The Jaffna Diocesan Council of the Church of South India shall appoint an Executive Committee in consonance with the Constitution of the Church of South India (Chapter VIII, Rule 10, 2003 Edition).
  • 2. The Executive Committee shall act as the ad interim Committee of the Diocesan Council and shall perform the other functions allotted to it in this Constitution.
  • 3. All resolutions of the Executive Committee, except those dealing with financial matters, shall be subject to revision by the Jaffna Diocesan Council provided two-thirds of the members of the Jaffna Diocesan Council present shall consent to the proposal for revision being brought forward (Chapter VIII, Rule 11, 2003 Edition).
  • 4. The Jaffna Diocesan Council shall not delegate its power to amend or alter its own Constitution to its Executive Committee.
  • 1. The Jaffna Diocesan Council of the Church of South India shall appoint an Executive Committee in consonance with the Constitution of the Church of South India (Chapter VIII, Rule 10, 2003 Edition).
  • 2. The Executive Committee shall act as the ad interim Committee of the Diocesan Council and shall perform the other functions allotted to it in this Constitution.
  • 3. All resolutions of the Executive Committee, except those dealing with financial matters, shall be subject to revision by the Jaffna Diocesan Council provided two-thirds of the members of the Jaffna Diocesan Council present shall consent to the proposal for revision being brought forward (Chapter VIII, Rule 11, 2003 Edition).
  • 4. The Jaffna Diocesan Council shall not delegate its power to amend or alter its own Constitution to its Executive Committee.
  • 5. Membership:

    I. The Officers

    (i) The Bishop, who shall be the President/Chairperson of the Committee

    (ii) The Vice President

    (iii) The Secretary, who shall be the convener of the Committee

    (iv) The Assistant Secretary

    (v) The Treasurer

    (vi) The Associate Treasurer

    (vii) The Registrar

    II. The Ex-officio Members

    (viii) The President of the Diocesan Women’s Fellowship

    (ix) The Principal of Uduvil Girls’ College

    (x) The Principal of Jaffna College

    (xi) One Medical Superintendent of the J.D.,C.S.I. Mission Hospitals, who is a communicant member of the Diocese or In case no such person is available, an executive staff of the Mission Hospitals may be elected (if he/she is a full member of the J.D., C.S.I.).

    III. Presbyters: (xii-xvii) - Six Presbyters of whom at least one shall be under 35 years of age.

    IV. Lay People: (xviii-xxvii) – Ten Lay persons of whom at least two shall be women and four shall be under 35 years of age.

    V. Bishop’s Nominees: (xxviii-xxxi) – Four persons nominated by the Bishop of whom one shall be the Property Officer of the Diocese. The other three persons may be nominated before the close of the Diocesan Council Session.

  • 6. Procedure for the conduct of Business of the Executive Committee:
    • (a) Each member shall be informed of every meeting of the Committee by a written notice specifying the business to be transacted thereat and signed by the Secretary. Such notices shall be given at least seven days prior to the date of the meeting.
    • (b) The Bishop shall authorize the Secretary to convene the Executive Committee, with at least three clear days notice, to transact urgent business. Such meetings shall be called ‘Urgent Meetings.’
    • (c) A Special Meeting of the Executive Committee shall be called at the written request of 50% of the elected members of the Executive Committee to the Bishop to consider specific matters which shall be stated in the letter of request. The Bishop shall arrange for such meting to be held within four weeks of the receipt of the request. At such a Special Meeting, if a quorum is not present, the meeting shall stand cancelled.
    • (d) The names of the members present shall be recorded.
    • (e) No business shall be transacted at a meeting unless at least one-third of the total number of elected members are present.
    • (f) 50% of the elected members shall form the quorum. If a quorum is not present at a meeting within one hour of the commencement of the meeting, the meeting shall be adjourned.
    • (g) The Bishop (President/Chairperson), if present, shall preside over every meeting of the Committee. In the absence of the Bishop, the Vice-President of the Diocese shall preside with the permission of the Bishop.
    • (h) When the Secretary of the Diocese in unable or unwilling to perform his/her duties, the Executive Committee shall have the power to request the Assistant Secretary to perform all the duties of the Secretary.
    • (i) Every resolution at a meeting shall be determined by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting for or against; the person presiding at the meeting shall have a casting vote.
    • (j) The minutes of the proceedings of a meeting shall be drawn up and recorded in a book kept for that purpose and signed at the same or next meeting by the person presiding thereat. Any minutes purporting to be so signed shall be received in evidence without further proof.
    • (k) A copy of the minutes of the proceedings of a meeting so drawn up shall be issued to every member of the Committee not later than 15 days after the date of the meeting and shall be confirmed at the subsequent meeting of the committee.
    • (l) A member may resign on giving notice in writing to the President/Chairperson and any person appointed to fill in such vacancy shall hold office for the remainder of the period for which his/her predecessor was appointed.
    • (m) If a member fails to attend tree consecutive meetings of the Committee without informing the President/Chairperson in writing, he/she shall forfeit the membership of the Committee.
    • (n) The Executive Committee may appoint Sub-Committees and Ad-hoc Committees as and when need arises.
  • 7. Duties of the Executive Committee:

    The Executive Committee shall:

    • (a) act as the ad interim Committee of the Diocesan Council and in the interval between the meetings of the Council carry out all the duties of the Council, except those which under the Constitutions of the CSI and of the J.D.,C.S.I. are specifically reserved to the Council and to deal with matters referred to it by the Bishop and the Jaffna Diocesan Council of the Church of South India;
    • (b) appoint a Property Officer within the Diocesan Area;
    • (c) appoint a Treasurer for the Pension Board;
    • (d) appoint a Manager for Uduvil Girls’ College;
    • (e) appoint a Manager for the J.D.,C.S.I. Board for Church House (Girls’ Hostel), Colombo;
    • (f) appoint Project Officer or Officers for the Diocese;
    • (g) appoint a Director for JDCSI Pleasant Cottages (Home for Elders);
    • (h) appoint any other persons for carrying out functions for other positions as required by the Diocesan Constitution;
    • (i) appoint suitable Clergy and Lay People as Chairpersons for Standing Committee, Board and Departments for which the Bishop is not the ex-officio Chairperson;
    • (j) receive the Minutes and Reports, both financial and narrative, of all Standing Committees, Board and Departments;
    • (k) authorize Treasurer/Associate Treasurer and Secretary/suitable person to operate all accounts of the Diocesan Council and make changes when found necessary while the Bishop alone can send any resolution to the banks about the signatories, starting of accounts, closing down of accounts etc.;
    • (l) receive annual financial statements with all relevant information from the Churches, Institution etc that come under the Diocesan Council for annual audit (no such body can appoint auditors on their own unless otherwise the Diocesan executive Committee requires them to do so);
    • (m) appoint suitable Auditors for Churches and Institutions that come under the purview of the Diocesan Council;
    • (n) request the Registrar of the Diocese to maintain an updated list of all Churches, Pastorates etc as recognized by the Diocesan Council;
    • (o) arrange for regular scrutiny of the Church and Pastorate records by the Bishop and ensure updating of membership role of all Churches and Pastorates at least every three years (always prior to the triennial meeting of the Church/Pastorate prior to the Triennial Diocesan Council meeting);
    • (p) arrange for meetings of the Diocesan Council and prepare the agenda for the same and to set in motion, at least six months before the expiry of the term of the Diocesan Council, the arrangements for electing a new Council;
    • (q) elect members of the Diocesan Council for specified categories viz., Jaffna College, Missionaries, General Community;
    • (r) fill in vacancies that may occur in the membership of Standing Committees, Boards and Departments;
    • (s) be responsible for dealing with all legal matters relating to the Diocese, ordinarily through the Secretary, and appoint a sub commission on legal affairs to provide necessary advice to the Secretary as and when necessary;
    • (t) appoint at the beginning of each Triennium an Election Dispute Committee as required by the CSI Constitution to deal with the election disputes of Churches/Pastorates and lay down the rules for functioning of this Committee;
    • (u) appoint, discipline, discharge and fix the scales of salaries and allowances of the Heads and other Administrators of the Institutions under the Diocesan Council;
    • (v) station Ministerial Workers between two Councils, approve their resignations, retire them for reasons of health on the recommendation of a panel of doctors as appointed by the Executive Committee, discontinue them for disciplinary reasons (according to the terms of Chapter XI, Rule 13(a) of the CSI Constitution, 2003 Edition) and station the Foreign missionary personnel;
    • (w) advise the Bishop to take any particular action that may be necessary and appropriate for the maintenance of discipline and integrity of the Diocese.

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