Adventist Church celebrates 100 years in India’s Kerala state
Church President Wilson encourages members to continue serving society
Seventh-day Adventists in the Southwest Indian state of Kerala last weekend celebrated 100 years of the Adventist Church’s work in the region, a century after the Adventist message first arrived with an Adventist bookseller from a neighboring state.
More than 4,000 people attended festivities held October 24-25 at the Al Saj International Convention Center in Kerala’s capital city of Thiruvananthapuram.
Seventh-day Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson attended the weekend celebration. Wilson spoke at two press conferences in which he emphasized that Adventists wish to serve God by responding to needs of society. Wilson also met with Sri Oommen Chandy, Kerala’s chief minister.
Chandy inaugurated the Friday, October 24 afternoon meeting. In his keynote address, he commented on the service of the Adventist Church in the state through its schools and hospital. He also expressed his appreciation for the service of the Church to everyone irrespective of caste. Discrimination of caste is a major factor that is detrimental to the progress of a society, he said.
Wilson challenged Church members to stand firm for truth and to serve others faithfully while waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus. He urged those in attendance to live a life based on Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
Wilson also encouraged Adventists in southern India to not only enjoy looking at the past but to focus on the future outreach of the Church as they entered the 101st year.
“When you are looking at a total population of 1.2 billion for the country of India, we have much to do to proclaim the three angels’ messages in this vast and complex country and in the entire Southern Asia Division,” Wilson said. “This is why an intense personal Bible study and prayer life is so important and requesting of heaven the latter rain of the Holy Spirit.”
John Rathinaraj, president of the Church’s Southern Asia Division, which includes India, presented the history of the Adventist Church in the region. He began with an Adventist bookseller named Suvshesha Muthu who came from the present-day neighboring state of Tamilnadu. Muthu sold Adventist books and literature in the towns of Vadacode and in Danuwachapuram.
The Adventist Church’s work gradually progressed in the region through its health ministry outreach and schools.
Today there are nearly 37,000 members in the state, as well as 27 schools and a hospital with a nursing school.
Kerala was formed in 1956 by combining several Malayalam-speaking regions.
More than 55 percent of Kerala’s population are Hindu and nearly 25 percent are Muslim. Roughly 20 percent of the population is Christian.
It is believed that Thomas, the disciple of Jesus, founded the first Christian church in India in what is now Kerala.
Saturday afternoon festivities included presentations on Adventist World Radio’s work in the region and the work of the local publishing house. Several books in Malayalam were released, and Church pioneers and retirees were honored during the session.
On Saturday evening, a delegation traveled to Kawadiar for the inauguration of the newly rebuilt Central Adventist Church. Wilson spoke at the dedication ceremony, saying he appreciated the beauty of the church and urged all members to be beautiful exhibitions of the character of Jesus in their own lives in order to attract others to the gospel.