India: Theological Training

India is a very diversified country but so are the challenges which face the many co-workers of the Church of South India every day. Further training courses and workshops are designed to support them and help them in their work.

The Church of South India has four million members spread over 24 dioceses. 3,500 pastors of both genders, thousands of evangelists, catechists and voluntary workers play an important role in the congregations. They carry out the work of the church and are important links to people living in remote regions. Every day they face new challenges and problems which take them to limits of their personal skills and knowledge. This is why EMS is supporting four theological training projects organised by the Church of South India (CSI). They consist of further training courses and workshops to provide co-workers with new skills and give them new confidence in their work.

Capacity Building for Pastors

Pastors of both genders at the CSI bear an enormous responsibility for the members of their congregations. Every day they encounter social and political problems, religious fanaticism, violations of basic rights and poverty. Their theological training includes no economic or socio-political basis which could help them deal with these challenges. In the first phase of the capacity building project, they receive training courses in personnel and finance management and on human rights and in the second year, they attend courses on stress management and grief work. It is not only the 500 pastors or more who benefit from the courses and complete their training, it also benefits the rural Christian congregations of Dalits and Adivasis who live as minorities on the margins of Indian society.

Training Courses in Pastoral Care

Violence against women is still a major topic in India. Co-workers and volunteer workers of the Women's Fellowship of the CSI often visit the homes of their congregation members. They find out at first hand the problems and challenges which these women have to deal with and they see that many women and girls are affected by violence and oppression.

This is why the Church of South India trains its volunteer group leaders in pastoral care for the family. They organise training courses to teach them conflict management strategies and how to deal with loss, depression and illness. Armed with new skills the volunteers actively help resolve conflicts, give pastoral support to the people and liberate Indian women from violence and discrimination.

Training for Evangelists

At the CSI, evangelists assume many tasks as missionaries, congregation leaders and social workers. They visit remote villages and share the problems and concerns of the poor people. For the Church of South India, they therefore represent important contact persons. To prepare them for their many tasks, about 100 volunteers a year receive a five-day training course which includes Bible studies, personal development and meditation. The workshop is organised at regional level and is conducted in the local language of the Indian congregations. Regional conditions can be integrated in the training course in this way and Bible studies in the local languages make communication easier with congregation members. The training courses help boost the self-confidence of volunteer co-workers so that they can support their fellow congregation members with advice and pastoral care. This strengthens their function as leaders so that they can act as trainers to instruct new volunteers.

Training of Volunteers in Children's Worship Services

For the Church of India, the younger generation is very important since over one million out of the four million members are children and young people under 18. To make children's worship services more attractive for younger congregation members, the CSI has developed a further training concept for volunteer co-workers in four of the 24 dioceses. During the five days of the course, they learn new methods and innovative concepts which they can use in their work with children and young people. How can the Bible be made more understandable for children? What playful elements can I include? Course participants receive answers to these questions and also learn more about what urban and rural life means to Indian girls and boys. The training also includes a psychological part so that volunteers can support their protégés when they have problems.

The Church of South India promotes the theological training of its co-workers in many projects. Join us in helping them!

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