Nagercoil India Seminary
The Seminary in Nagercoil India is one of the international mission projects selected by the delegates to the Minnesota North District Convention that will be supported through the appeal.
Click here to download a copy of mission work that is being done in India. It is also shown below.
Click here to download a copy of the People and Religious Life of India. It is also shown below.
In 1895, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod began mission work in India—the first “foreign” mission field in the Synod's history. The India Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELC) became an LCMS sister/partner church in 1959. The LCMS invested human and financial resources in developing a total Christian ministry of congregations, pastoral training, lay training, school education and human care ministries. A large LCMS missionary presence continued until the 1980's, and the last LCMS career missionary retired in 2003.
LCMS World Mission began an experimental approach to involvement with a mature church from 1997 with the use of short-term consultants in India. The IELC requested help in the areas of theological training, administration, conflict resolution, and education, and LCMS World Mission provided them with consultants who visited India twice a year to train in these areas. Beginning in 2003, LCMS volunteers have gone to conduct a Spoken English Workshop at the seminary in June. Stewardship education is a new area in which the church has requested leadership training from the LCMS. Aid is also contributed toward supporting new seminary graduates during a three-year "probation" period, during which students work in church planting and mission outreach efforts. The program was designed by Dr. Herb Hoefer, LCMS World Mission Area Facilitator for India and Sri Lanka. Dr. Hoefer continues to travel to India as a consultant for short-term assignments.
In 2008, David and Beth Hoeppner arrived in India to serve as educational consultants for the IELC’s primary and secondary schools. The Hoeppners work with the IELC schools to develop religion curriculum, train teachers, and upgrade school facilities.
Over the years, the India Evangelical Lutheran Church has grown to a baptized membership of 50,000 in almost 1,000 congregations and preaching stations with a national staff of more than 1,400 pastors, evangelists, teachers, lay preachers and other staff members.
The church operates Concordia Seminary in Nagercoil. This institution is key to the on-going development of the church. It graduates 15 new pastors every three years and averages 25 lay people each year in the one-year evangelist training course. The seminary has plans to expand its educational options with a new Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) program. This undergraduate degree will attract students and faculty from across India and has even garnered interest from other Asian countries.
The IELC also manages three hospitals, a special deaf ministry, a printing press, a technical training institute, five boarding houses, 80-plus schools, a teachers training institute, and institutions for the deaf, blind, mentally disabled and physically handicapped. The IELC is currently proclaiming the Gospel in seven different languages throughout India. Since 2001, new seminary graduates, called “probationers,” are sent out on three-year assignments to new areas as church planters. As a result of this probationers-as-church-planters program, over 75 congregations have been established or re-established.
The church experienced difficulties in holding elections in recent years. However, one good consequence was growth in local responsibility and initiative in mission outreach. The church continued to grow, with one district reporting 1,200 convert baptisms in 2002. In 2004 and 2006, elections were held for new church leadership.
People & Religious Life
India also is a land of great diversity. In 1991, 4,635 distinct people groups were identified within the country. Moreover, racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity is made even more complex by the caste system, in which there are an estimated 6,400 castes. Each caste is a distinct group divided by social barriers from the others. Despite efforts at social reform and the fact that caste discrimination is forbidden by India's constitution, the caste system—which is fundamental to Hinduism—influences all religious and social structures in India. Hindi is the official language, though there are 406 other languages spoken by India's indigenous people groups.
Though India's cities are crowded, 60 percent of the people still live in villages. Some Indians are extremely wealthy; however, 60 percent of the people live in deep poverty with an annual per person income of about US$370. Consequently, 40 percent of the people cannot afford an adequate diet. Two-thirds of the labor force works in agriculture.
Two hundred and fifty million Indians have a high standard of living, comparable to the United States, with vehicles, televisions and good housing. India is the seventh largest industrial nation in the world. It has an outstanding educational system, so people come to India from all over the world for higher education. Twenty million Indian nationals live outside the country, primarily as engineers and computer experts. India has become a worldwide center for the technology industry.
The rise of Hindu extremism has resulted in persecution against Muslims and Christians since the 1990s. This is particularly true in the state of Gujarat, where in 1998, 34 Christian churches suffered destruction or damage. In Gujarat, Orissa, and Tamil Nadu (the state in which the India Evangelical Lutheran Church predominantly works) Hindu fundamentalist governments have passed anti-conversion legislation.To further complicate matters, India has closed its doors to foreign missionaries, leaving some of the world's largest communities of people isolated from the Gospel.