The Church of South India (CSI) has decided to pull out from the Kerala Council of Churches (KCC), an ecumenical forum of non-Catholic Protestant Churches in Kerala, in protest against the KCC decision to provide membership to the Believers Church. The second largest Christian denomination after the Catholic Church, CSI is the largest Protestant denomination in India. The CSI Moderator, Bishop Thomas K. Oommen, said the CSI could never accept inclusion of the Believers Church in the KCC strictly on moral and ethical grounds.
Believer’s Church is the country’s top foreign-funded NGO. Its head K.P. Yohannan, who is also founder of Gospel for Asia, is facing a lawsuit in the US for fraud and misuse of charitable donations.
Bishop Oommen told The Hindu that the regional forum of the CSI Synod members had unanimously decided to disassociate with the KCC and its programmes. The latest development has to be viewed in the backdrop of the controversy over the episcopacy claims of the Believers Church that its head, K.P. Yohannan, was consecrated by then CSI Moderator Bishop K.J. Samuel in 2003.
The CSI has outright rejected this claim of the Believers Church, saying that the former has never done such a thing at any point of time.
According to Bishop Oommen, the CSI had never consecrated Yohannan and whatever news spread in this regard were baseless.
“The CSI never considers the Believers Church as an episcopal church or accept its leader, K.P. Yohannan, a bishop. As per the CSI view, K.P. Yohannan is a layman and the KCC decision, overlooking the CSI objection, was unfortunate,” he said. He said the bishop was the constitutional head of CSI. As per the constitution of the Church, the Synod executive has to authorise the Moderator to consecrate a clergy as a bishop. The CSI Synod executive never authorised the Moderator to consecrate K.P. Yohannan as a bishop, he said.