The Mizoram Synod and Calcutta Diocese have been acquainted with each other for quite a long time which resulted in the later making a trip to the Mizoram Synod.
In response to the invitation made by Rt. Rev. P.S.P. Raju, to the Mizoram Synod; the Synod Executive Committee, after much consideration, handed over the decision to the Officer’s Meeting which decides to send 10 Synod personnel, 8 from Mizoram and 2 from Kolkata itself to make a trip to the Calcutta Diocese. They are as follows –
1. Rev. Dr. R. Lalbiakmawia, Executive Secretary & Leader
2. Rev. Lalrongheta, Synod Junior Secretary
3. Upa C. Hmingthanga, Statistician
4. Upa Zonunmawia, Coordinator, Synod Information & Publicity
5. Ms. Vanlalsawmi, General Secretary, Kohhran Hmeichche Khawmpui
6. Ms. Lalduhawmi, Teacher, P.C. Girls’ School
7. Mr. Lalhmuchhuaka, K.T.P. Central Committee Member
8. Ms. Malsawmdawngliana, Principal, Synod Higher Secondary School
9. Rev. C. Lianhmingthanga, Field Secretary, Kolkata
10. Rev. Lallianpara, Pastor i/c St. Nicholas
The team left Mizoram on August 14, 2006 at 1:00 p.m. from Lengpui Airport and arrived at Dum Dum Airport, Kolkata in 45 minutes. We were met at the airport and were directly taken to Monica Guest House (Our Lodging place). Just nearby Monica Guest House stood St. James Church, constructed 180 years ago. The Church is enormous, ancient and castle-like with two tall pinnacles on the roof which provided a spectacular sight.
We attended several Independence Day celebrations on August 15, 2006. We joined the St. James Church Service at 7:00 A.M. and celebrated Independence Day followed by Holy Communion. After which, Rev. Sukhendro Bishwas hoisted the Indian National flag followed by the singing of Jana Gana Mana, the National Anthem. Such were never experienced in Mizoram. We attended prayer meeting every morning at St. James Church. We were made to read given scriptures and participated in the Holy Communion. Due to the busy schedule of the church members it was possible for only one or two members to attend the service regularly. Yet, the priest would never reschedule the service.
During our stay, we visited four English Medium Schools thoroughly which are the best of CNI Schools. They are – St. John’s Diocesan Girls Higher Secondary School, St. James Higher Secondary School (Boys), St. Thomas Higher Secondary School (Boys) and Pratt Memorial higher Secondary School (Girls). The Schools starts from Nursery to Class XII. Pratt Memorial School is the only School among them that provides hostel. There are also 15 Mizo students. We were served dinner at St. John’s and St. Thomas Schools. Their hospitality is deeply appreciated. We were taken on a tour in the School premises and were open to our inquiries. There are 3800 students in St. John’s and the rest also comprises of more than 2000 students.
We also made a trip to Serampore College, Bishop’s College and Scottish Church College. We are deeply touched by their warm hospitality. We were taken for sight seeing and guided us with much enthusiasm.
The main service is the Sunday Morning Worship Service. We all divided into groups and taken to three different Churches. The services lasted for more than two hours, comprising of different programmes, so it was never boring. The main part of the service is reading of the given scriptures and responsive reading. Most of the Churches are so huge, and are constructed during the British period.
Definite opinion about their work regarding evangelism cannot be given. Many steps they had taken for the upliftment of the society can be acknowledged. We visited the Oxford Mission at Behela established by Oxford Mission Trust Association in 1880, now undertaken by the Church of North India. Care Centre for HIV positive and AIDS victims, School for B.Sc. Nursing are also ongoing process. We visited the Bengali Medium School comprising of 600 students, (Nursery-Class IV), Music School, ENT Free Clinic, hostel and T.B. Hospital. We also visited Kestopur Child Development Centre where 224 children of poverty have been given care.
AN OVERVIEW OF CALCUTTA DIOCESE
1. The Church building that we see are old and were constructed during the British period.
2. The Church of North India has good Schools, school buildings and infrastructure. The maintenance of these schools are highly standard. They generate large income and they also work a great deal for the upliftment of the society.
3. The Bishops are the governing body in the Church of North India. They are highly respected by the Presbyters (Pastor).
4. It would be of immense benefit for the several Schools under the Mizoram Synod to acknowledge and learn from the CNI Schools regarding their maintenance.
5. The CNI came into existence when 6 different Churches made ecumenical effort in 1970. They are :
c) Baptist (England)
e) Diciples of Christ, and
f) Bre theren
The systems and practice are not altogether similar, yet they are united.