History Of  CSI

Central  Kerala  Diocese







The CSI Madhya Kerala
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3


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Early in 1876, the Society began negotiations with the Secretary of State for India so that a new see might be formed under the Jerusalem Bishopric Act 1 for the Church of England in the Native States of Travancore and Cochin. And towards the end of the year a public announcement was made that the Rev. J. M. Speechly, then Principal of the C. N. I., would be the first Bishop of the New Diocese. It was also made clear that "the appointment of an experienced European Missionary as a Bishop was a preparatory step to the ultimate appointment of native Bishops". 2 Rev. J. M. Speechly (1879-1888) was consecrated as the first Bishop for the newly formed Anglican Diocese of Travancore and Cochin, on St. James Day, the 25 July 1879, in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, and he arrived at Kottayam on January 27, 1880.

The main intention of the Society to form a Diocese was, "to build up well-trained native congregations under native pastors... to resign all pastoral work into their hands" and for the missionary gradually, "to relax his superintendence over the pastors themselves, till it insensibly ceases." 3 To this end there began a steady increase in the number of the local ministers and the condition of the Native Church began to be improved.

From July 18 80, a Diocesan Magazine in English was published known as 'The Diocesan Gazette' and later changed its name as 'The Diocesan Record'. The editor wrote, "Our readers are lay and clerical, native and European, learned and liberal Hindus, the Christians of the S.P.G. (Society for Promoting Gospel), L.M.S. (London Missionary Society), and C.M.S. Missions. We have subscribers in the three presidencies." 4 During the episcopate of Bishop Speechly there were four Mission districts - Kottayam,  Mavelikara, Thiruvalla and Mundakayam, of which Melukavu Mission was a part. The Mundakayam Mission District was not yet incorporated with the provincial council.  

Snake Boat

House Boat

Paddy Farm

It was another step forward in the Diocesan life when in 1885 a Malayalee, the Rev. K. Koshi, was appointed Archdeacon of Kottayam. The Rev. J. Caley was  the Archdeacon of Mavelikara. Rev. K. Koshi was an eminent scholar, which was proved by the fact that in 1892 he was given the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity by the Archbishop of Canterbury for his good work as chief reviser of the Bible in Malayalam.


In 1888 the Rt. Rev. J. M. Speechly left for England and was unable to return, and the Rt. Rev. E. N. Hodges (1890-1904), a C.M.S. Missionary from Ceylon followed him as the Bishop of the Diocese. He was installed in the Pro-Cathedral, Kottayam. in November 1890. It was at this time that a reformed section of the Jacobites left the Orthodox Church and formed the Marthoma Church. The newly formed church was progressive and fervent in evangelism, and had worked closely with the Anglican Church over the years.  


In 1894 an Industrial School with a boarding house attached, was opened in Kottayam for Dalit Christians. It was the resort of the Christians from the backward classes, when their huts or church sheds were burned down and their crops carried off by angry upper class people. But things were changed when a government Proclamation in . formed the public that "all high roads, markets and courts of justice are open to all". Bishop Hodges issued an order to the effect that all church buildings in the Diocese were to be opened to Christians from every community. As time went on, the church developed and expanded. The Bishop appointed, in place of a missionary, the Rev. Jacob Chandy to be his chaplain. In 1896 T.K. Benjamin, the first graduate in the Diocese was ordained.


A Diocesan conference, forerunner of the Diocesan Council, was inaugurated by Bishop Hodges in 1896 with the immediate object of discussing plans for Diocesan participation in the Three Years' Enterprise (T.Y.E.) in connection with the centenary celebrations of the Church Missionary Society in 1899. The T.Y.E. was taken up very earnestly all over the Diocese, resulting in a quickening of life and the raising of funds. Through, T.Y.E. a noble sum of Rs. 11,000  was raised. 5 Families living far from a church were eager to build their own churches. Subsequently more pastors were ordained and more pastorates were formed. The number of the baptised members of the Church had grown from 22, 388 to 3 5, 910 in 1900, chiefly by the admission of new members from non‑Christians. 'In almost all the stations the children were taught in Sunday Schools'. 6  



During the episcopate of Bishop Hodges, the first Missionary enterprise of the Diocese organized as its Home Mission, was started at Adoor in 1903. A decade of strenuous evangelistic work was amply rewarded. In 1914 there were 9 stations with 321 Christians. In the course of thirty years the field widened and the number of stations increased to 20 with a total membership of 2600. There were two primary schools and a weaving school started in 1945. Most of the people were backward in every walk of life. 7


The period covered by Bishop Hodges' episcopate was a time of consolidation in the Diocese and general development of Church life. The work of the missionaries became more and more limited to evangelization and education. The staff of the CNI and the CMS College were increasingly “Indian-ised”. Education made great strides and as a result of the work among the women, the women flock of the Diocese developed considerably. The evangelization among the backward class had become a mass movement (whole families and groups coming in together) demanding much attention and posing considerable problems. 8  With better travel facilities more visitors were coming to Travancore and it was more closely in touch with world affairs and movements in Christendom.

Bishop Hodges retired in 1905 and was succeeded by Bishop Charles Hope Gill (1905-1925), who was consecrated in Westminster Abbey and arrived in Kottayam. in 1906. He had served as a CMS Missionary in North India for eighteen years. During this time the Travancore and Cochin Diocese had just celebrated its Silver Jubilee.

Bishop Gill was a great pastoral Bishop, a true shepherd of his flock. He traveled far and wide throughout his Diocese and paid special attention to the least developed areas of the church. He visited all the centers where there were backward class Christians, taking services in their humble prayer sheds. He urged them to have a better position for which lie helped them and uplift them. Long afterwards the Bishop said, "Our aim in my time was the unification of the various elements in our church in the one Body to the glory of God, whose grace could alone make it possible" 9  It was during his episcopate that teachers and catechists from the back-ward class community were first admitted to the Cambridge Nicholson and Buchanan Institutions  


Chinese net
- Cochin

Boat Race



One of the main features of this period was the development of work among the women. Consequently Mrs. Gill founded the Mothers' Union in the Diocese in 1908 and in 1913 was able to get a Mothers' Union Secretary, Miss. Lilian Davis from England as a full-time worker.   10

Unfortunately, at this time great difficulties occurred in the church. There were several Christian sects with strange doctrines. They attracted many, especially of the Dalit Christians, away from the church. 

False teachers also arose, notably a man called PoyikayiI Yohannan, who misled several people from the church. 11


At the Diocesan Conference, which was held in 1909, the important subject of the establishment of a Synod for the Diocese was considered. The Bishop pointed out that the formation of a Synod would be the natural outcome of the work of the CMS in Travancore. The main object of its mission was the establishment of native churches with a view to their ultimate settlement upon a self-supporting, self-governing, and self-extending system. 12 The Bishop emphasized the fact that in a synod, the church would be given the opportunity of functioning as a corporate body. It had already been working towards that object through its local committees, District Councils, Provincial Council and Diocesan Council. A resolution was passed, "that the conference is of opinion that the time has come for the formation of a Synod for the Diocese, and that the Bishop of the Diocese be requested to take initial steps for its establishment." 13

One of the greatest events to be recorded was the revision of the Malayalam Bible. The new Bible was printed and was ready for sale in 19 10. From 1914, Gospel Sunday, and then Gospel Week were observed at the time of the Onam14 Festival. It has become a practice of the church, and has continued up to the present time.

In 1914, an Anglican Churchmen's Union was formed in the Diocese with the aim of strengthening the layman's contribution to the church. It attracted men in positions of influence and leadership under the able presidentship of Justice P. Cheriyan. From this union stemmed the Youth work of the Diocese, which began in 1916. 15  

Bekal Fort



Beach- Cochin

In 1915, with a view to forming a Church Synod for Travancore and Cochin, a Synod formation Committee was appointed, which drafted and revised a constitution. There were, however, legal difficulties in the way of forming such Church Synods. The Bishops of the Indian Provinces, therefore, at their Synod in 1915, decided upon a system of Diocesan Councils and Provincial Council for the whole of India. After this a draft constitution for Provincial Council of the Church in the Province of India and Ceylon, provisionally accepted by the Episcopal Synod, and a tentative constitution for Diocesan Council were published. 16

The first World War did not affect South India much and the work went on steadily. In 1915 there were 36 Indian clergy, eight men missionaries and two chaplains, seven lady missionaries and church members numbered 53,655.  17  



The centenary of the founding of the Mission was celebrated in 1916. There were local celebrations in various parts of the Diocese, which culminated in the central celebrations at Kottayam. The Pro-Cathedral was full to over - flowing for the main thanksgiving service, and there was as recorded, at the time, 'an enormous gathering' for the public meeting held in the place where the Centenary Memorial Building was to be erected.18 .

Educational institutions were going from strength to strength. The Director of Public Instruction of Travancore State wrote in 1917:   "What struck me most about the Kottayam College was what I should describe as the collegiate atmosphere.   I have never felt this anywhere in South India as I have felt it here". 19

The Diocesan Record for 1919 notes that the Christian Institute, Alappuzha was opened and which was the only Reading Room with a care for souls.

Mention of Union negotiations that finally resulted in the formation of the Church of South India, began to be mentioned from time to time in the Diocesan Magazine of that day. Bishop Azariah of Dornakal, was the inspired leader behind this union movements. Meanwhile, the idea of a Union College was conceived by a group of men of spiritual power and vision, who were seeking a way to overcome the divisions between the churches in Travancore and Cochin. The idea was to work and worship together and so grow into oneness. Thus the Union College, Aluva, run by a team of Jacobites, Marthornites and Anglicans (now C.S.I.) came into being as a resident second grade college and was opened in 1921.




The Diocesanisation which began in 1879 fulfilled in 1920, when Bishop Gill constituted, "Travancore and Cochin Diocesan Council" to assist in the management of the temporal affairs and financial business of the Church. Its first business was to relate all existing organizations to the Diocesan Council, and a standing Committee was appointed.


In 1921 an extensive effort to reach a thousand Ezhava Families living in the costal areas was set on foot by an independent committee, in relation with the Church. With Miss. Isabel Baker's (C.M.S. Missionary) generous contribution, a school, hospital and a coir factory were established under the title 'Karappuram. Mission' in the Shertellai area. Later this was a famine center and a fertile ground for communism. In 1953 the Diocese undertook full responsibility of the mission but it continued to fail.


In 1922, Miss. Neve, a C.M.S. Missionary, felt the need to serve the women of the Diocese in a wider sphere than in the Training School (B.I. Pallom) 20 where she was working. Miss. Rachel Joseph, a high school teacher, joined her in the new venture. They rented a house in Alappuzha and undertook various activities among the women there. The name 'Bethel' was adopted, and their work soon attracted women students from all parts of the Diocese.

Bethel moved to permanent quarters at Warikkad, Tiruvalla, in 1926. In the same year, the community school for backward class children was started. There were a home for motherless babies, a creehe, a dispensary, industrial section and all the other activities of the community. When the C.M.S. headquarters secretaries visited Bethel in 1934, they were impressed by its distinctive Indian character and the emphasis placed by the Ashram upon, "meditation and devotion. 21 Branches of Bethel have subsequently been opened at Trichur, Kallada, Parkal and Melukavu. 'Bethel Day' has throughout been a very popular annual feature drawing a large crowd year by year.

In 1922, the Rev. T. K. Benjamin, was appointed Archdeacon of Kottayam. and Bishop's Commissary. It was said at that time, "This is essentially a step in the right direction and cannot fail to be of great benefit.22


Inspired by the example of Missionary Societies, the Diocese of Travancore and Cochin started organized missionary work in and outside the Diocese. The first native missionaries 23 were sent out in 1924, and the field was Parkal Taluq, Hyderabad in the Dornakal Diocese 24  (Now C.S.I. Karimnagar Diocese).

Progress was rather slow at first, but after about a decade the work gathered momentum. The backward Mala and Madiga castes first came under the influence of the Gospel, but later higher castes were also attracted. Today there are 10,000 baptized Christians, 100 Christian Villages, 50 worshipping centres, 19 Churches, 28 mission house, 2 orphanages, 2 child care centers, 6 schools, 2 hostels, 3 hospitals, 4 Ashram. Centres, one technical school and one nursery school. 25

Bishop Gill retired after a fruitful ministry in 1924. It has been said of him; "He was the Apostle of the out-castes who championed their cause in the church, school and state. His blood boiled over in indignation at the social injustice shown to the depressed classes. He entered into the work of uplifting Harijans by granting them admission to all Mission Institutions, establishing Boarding, Schools for them and abolishing separate seats for them in churches. Vigorous opposition could not divert him from the right path." 26  Bishop Gilt has also been called the Master Builder of the Church who established and nourished his congregations with paternal care and affection.

The fourth Bishop of the Diocese, the Rt. Rev. E.A.L. Moore, (1925-1937) was a missionary in Madras. He was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and was welcomed to Kottayam with much enthusiasm. Bishop Moore was a bachelor of rather austere and ascetic habits, and far from taking a salary, put back his allowances into a diocesan fund. Diocesanisation progressed rapidly and a well -drawn up Constitution was passed in December 1926 and came into force on 1st January 1928.


It was at this time that the medical work was begun in a systematic way. Bishop Moore started clinics in country boats called 'Floating Dispensaries' to take medical aid to out of the way places in water ‑ logged areas, each in charge of a doctor. In one month alone we read that 2,000 patients were treated from one of these mobile dispensaries. They ran for about 20 years and thereafter discontinued. By that time small mission hospitals were growing up in different parts of the Diocese.

The Community School, Ranni, was started in 1928 to help in the development of the backward Christian boys of the Diocese. It was a middle school with a vocational basis, in the morning going for study and in the afternoon for industrial work. Bishop Moore had keen interest in the growth and development of out-stations. In order to impart knowledge and to inspire the Diocesan Evangelistic work, missionary festivals were organized at various centers. This great gathering became a strong impetus to giving, praying and working for the spread of the Gospel. Rev. C. K. Jacob was the chief adviser to the Bishop in this matter. He was created Archdeacon of Mavelikara in 1932. The Bishop accepted only genuine believers into the Christian faith, not those who came, as the Ezhavas at that time, on the wave of a desire for speedy social improvement. Even Mahatma Gandhi appreciated his attitude when he came to Travancore at the time of Temple Entry Movement. In 1936, the famous 'Temple Entry Proclamation' was issued. 27  Following this proclamation several private temples in Travancore were opened to the lower castes and outcastes of Hinduism. Significantly, this proclamation made a sudden stop to the discussions about mass movements 28.

It was in Bishop Moore's time that the first two men from the backward Christian community, P. J. Isaac and C.I. Mathai, were ordained as pastors. By this time the Diocese became fully organized with its Diocesan Council and standing Committee with the several Boards. The Missionary Conference was abolished and the several congregations in the Missionary Districts were brought under the District Councils. The previously existing four District Councils were sub‑divided into nine, each with its own separate chairman 29. The retirement of Bishop Moore came, in the words of the Bishop of Madras, "after a long service in Madras, Tinnevelly and Travancore. He was a very fine administrator and a scholar but he was always anxious to keep in the background and avoid any display of his gifts".30

The Rev. B.C. Corfield, (1938-1944) a C.M.S. Missionary in North India succeeded Bishop Moore. He was consecrated as Bishop in St. George Cathedral, Madras on 18th October 1938. With simplicity and sincerity and with a particular love for the underprivileged, he began his work. Bishop Corfield's time was a difficult one. His period roughly covered the years of the Second World War. Within the country, nationalist feelings were mounting. There was unrest among the backward Christians within the Diocese and they were more politically conscious. They began movement for a 'Separate Administration' fearing the days when a more democratic regime would mean that they were overshadowed in the Church by their more advanced Syrian brethren. 31

In 1938, a deaf school was started at Pallom and in 1941 it was moved to a rented house in Tiruvalla. In 1951, a section of the Tholassery Mission Compound was given for the school and good buildings were constructed. In 1940 the Kerala Christian Council was formed consisting of Marthoma, Anglican and South India United Church as its members.


The Sisterhood connected with Bethel and fore-runner of the Women's Order of the C.S.I., was formed. In 1944 a large group of women of the Church was admitted by Bishop Corfield as Associates of the Ashram Fellowship. There were about 500 members at the time of its inception.






In 1943, a Forward Movement 'for the spiritual, evangelistic, social and economic progress of the church in this Diocese' was inaugurated. Special literature was published. Systematic giving was urged on church members and there was a consider‑able increase in the diocesan income from pastorates.


In the same year 1943, the Kerala United Theological Seminary was started at Trivandrum. The Anglican Diocese of Travancore and Cochin had taken the lead in suggesting the possibility of a union theological college of C.M.S., L.M.S. and Basel Mission. L.M.S. generously allowed the use of their land and existing buildings.



In 1944 Bishop Corfield, quite unexpectedly, resigned as the fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Travancore and Cochin 32. Archdeacon C. K. Jacob was selected to the Bishopric, the first non-missionary Bishop, and he was consecrated in 1945. Bishop Jacob was well known for his fervent life of prayer and his knowledge of the Bible. Besides, he had an intimate knowledge of the Diocese in all its parts and majority of the Church Workers were his students. His first Diocesan Council was memorable in that it was conducted for the first time entirely in Malayalam as well as the first under an Indian Bishop. 33

Every year Bishop arranged a special mission to the diocese with a missioner from outside. Mr. Jardine, one missioner wrote about the lay leadership as he had observed it. "At every center I have observed that this church is rich in enthusiastic laymen. Retired officials, businessmen, teachers - all seen to give their time and energy. Quite a number of Young men - students, ex-soldiers, teachers and workers in firms have told me about their plans and desire to serve Christ" 34

India became independent on August 15, 1947, and one month later, the formation of the Church of South India took place, its inauguration on 27th September 1947 was a historic event - an Indian Church in an Indian - ruled country.  



History of  Madhya (Central) Kerala Diocese.... by Rev. C.Y. Thomas  Contd......



Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3 




Chapter 2


1 .This was the Act of Parliament passed in 1845 to enable the consecration of Anglican Bishops for places beyond the King's dominions.

2. 150 years of Service, CMS, p. 30.

3. The Church Missionary Society, A Manual Outlining its History Organization and Commitments, London        

4. Eira Dalton. Fellow Workers with God. p.33  

5. W.S. Hunt, The anglican Church in Travancore and Cochin. Vol. II p.219                                             

6. Eira Dalton, 'Fellow Workers with God', p. 41.

7. 150 years of Service, CMS p. 25.

8. Eira Dalton, Fellow Workers with God, p. 42.

9. lbid, p.42

10. 150 years of service, CMS - p. 24.  

11. W.S. Hunt, The anglican Church in Travancore and Cochin. Vol. II p.235

12. ibd p.245.  


13. ibd, p. 245

14. Onam is a national festival of Kerala.

15. Eira Dalton. 'Fellow workers with God'. p 43

16. W.S. Hunt, , 'The Anglican  Church in Travancore and Cochin'’ p. 245

17. Eira Dalton, 'Fellow workers with God', p. 44.  

18. Anderson Memorial flail. Which is the main building of the Diocesan Office today.

19. Eira Dalton, 'Fellow workers with God', p.48.

20. Buchanan Institution was the first training school for women teachers in the state.

21. 150 years of service, CMS, ‑ p.24.

22. Eira Dalton 'Fellow workers with God', p.52

23. Mr. A. J. Thomas and Mr. K. E. Eapen, ordained in 1934. Mr. A. J. Thomas soon had to return and his place was filled by Mr. TN. Thomas, ordained in 1937.

24. 150 years of service CMS p.25

25. Parkal Mission Paper, 1997, p.2

26. Eira Dalton, ‘Fellow workers with God’ p.53

27. J. W. Gladstone, 'Protestant Christianity and people's Movements in Kerala', p. 410,

28. Ibid, p. 411.

29. Report of the Diocese of Travancore and Cochin for 1935 - 1937, p~5.

30. Ibid. p.6.

31. Eira Dalton, ‘Fellow workers with God’ p.57

32. Eira Dalton, ‘Who Thee by Faith, p. 41

33. Ibid, p.50

34. Ibid, p.52