The Church of South India is the result of the union of churches of varying traditionsAnglican, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian, and Reformed. It was inaugurated in September 1947, after protracted negotiation among the churches concerned. Organized into 24 dioceses, each under the spiritual supervision of a bishop, the church as a whole is governed by a synod, which elects a moderator (presiding bishop) every 2 years. Episcopacy is thus combined with Synodical government, and the church explicitly recognizes that Episcopal, Presbyterian, and congregational elements are all necessary for the church’s life. The Scriptures are the ultimate standard of faith and practice. The historic creeds are accepted as interpreting the biblical faith, and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are recognized as of binding obligation.
The Motto and The Cross
The Logo of the Church of South India is as important and significant as the formation of the CSI through the process of unification. The Lotus and the Cross used in the Logo possess a rich cultural history and heritage which will help us in the understanding of the significance of the unification and our call and mission as members of this great and unique church.
The Lotus, a typical Indian flower, in Mythology is supposed to be not only a temple flower but also the seat of the creator. “Pankajam” one of the Indian names given to the Lotus has a very significant meaning that “it is born in mud”. The Lotus blooms at sunrise and withers at sunset, in other words it lives as long as it can receive the sun’s rays hence it is also called ‘Thammipuvu’ meaning flower of the sun. Whether it means “born in the mud” or “flower of the sun” to the Indian Church, it stands to be interpreted as symbolizing the composition, nature and role of the members of the Church of South India in the bond of the union and in the context of being indigenous and also being dependent on the grace of God.
The petals of the Lotus and the arms of the Cross are beautifully intertwined together with the fiery tongues of the Holy Spirit. This again is an authentic Indian expression of people’s communion with God. The colours being red (for life), purple (for piety and ecclesiastical) and the white backdrop (for purity) implicitly communicate the nature of the mystical union, where, an inseparable companionship is established ,which, again is a typical Indian thought form.
The words’THAT THEY ALL MAY BE ONE, CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA ‘are embossed in a circle around the Lotus and the Cross. The words, as we know, are taken from the high priestly prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ who prayed not only for the ‘Church’ but also for the whole world. This universality is expressed by placing the words in the form of a circle symbolizing not only the universe but also the inclusive nature of the Church.
“That they all may be one; as thou, father, art in me, and I in thee that they also may be one in us……” (John 17:21) is an inclusive affirmation showing explicitly that Christ is the Head and the Church, His body. It also symbolizes the prayer of the Church that not only Churches need to be united but alsoall people of this country,which can be interpreted as a meaningful prayer for national integration.
The imposing central position of the cross in the Logo conveys the idea that the indefatigable,
selfless supreme sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is the basis of the Church and its faith. The cross runs through the Lotus depicting its cleansing act working in the hearts of the members of the Church and restoring them to the pristine purity of heaven.
The four ends of the cross made of equal size symbolizes the equality and also the contextual peaceful co-existence and communal harmony.