Letter from Bangladesh
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Warmest greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from the Church of Bangladesh.
The year 2007 was a very special year for us as the Church for various reasons. We had
(a) our Clergy and wives Conference-cum-Retreat from July 23-27;
(b) On the 27th July we ordained 7 of our ordinands to the office of Deacons and one to priesthood; . (c) Our Churchs and our Social Development Partners Consultation was held from 24-26 October. Bishop Bill Down was with us in the Consultation. Later he visited Oxford Mission in Barisal and Jobarpar;
(d) We celebrated the Silver Jubilee of our Social Development Programme which was started in May and ended in and with the Partners Consultation in October;
(e) We had our 6th Synod Meeting held from 22-25 November when we elected Bishop Paul Sishir Sarkar as our new Moderator of the Church of Bangladesh.
There was also a new Executive Committee formed in the Synod for next 3 years.
These were, in fact, some of the great events in and for the life of the Church of Bangladesh and we are indeed very grateful to God for His abundant blessings As you all know that, in November 2007 we had a very severe Cyclone called Sidr which hit Bangladesh and took away the lives of more than 7-8 thousand people. Millions lost their houses, trees were uprooted, school buildings were smashed and crops were damaged. Prior to that there were floods, twice. We raised some money from our members and have helped giving relief materials to those affected. We also received some money from our friends and partners abroad, from Christian Aid and from the ACT and are still doing some rehabilitation works. The government and the NGOs are also engaged in giving help and support to those affected in these natural calamities.
When I visited some of the affected areas, I was always encouraged by seeing the faith and courage of our people. Most people have been trying to start life again, though the scars of the havoc are still visible and very much prominent. It is a national calamity and the Government is struggling hard to revive back the almost collapsed state of economy of the country, which is not very easy as you can understand.
Our country is still under Emergency rule and run by an Interim Government. The Government and the Election Commission have promised and have been doing everything possible to hold a free and fair election by December 2008, for which the whole nation is eagerly awaiting. Please continue to remember us and our country in your prayers that we may have an Elected Government who would then be able to stabilise democracy and bring peace and harmony in the country.
We began the year 2008 with our Annual Spiritual Revival Meetings, which were held in 4 Deaneries during these last 3 months. In January we had our Haluaghat Deanery meeting in a village called Telekhali. In February there were Bollobhpur Deanery and Rajshahi Deanery Meetings. Bollobhpur Deanery Meeting is known as Holy Wednesday and we celebrated the receiving of the Holy Spirit. This happened to some of our poor farmers of the locality 105 years ago, and we still believe that God blesses us with His Spirit year after year and every day. We were very happy to have two Women Leaders from the Methodist Church in this meeting. This year we celebrated the Golden Jubilee of our Santali Churches along with the Helmel Sava (Fellowship Meeting), which was also something very special for our Santal brothers and sisters. The 4th meeting was in Jobarpar Deanery in a village called Koligram in the first week of March. All these were great and very special events for the life of Church of Bangladesh and we received abundant blessings from God.
In January we had the privilege of receiving the Revd Alwyn Jones, who visited Oxford Mission in Barisal and Jobarpar and also went round to other places to meet friends from his long years of connection with the Church of Bangladesh. Very recently I visited Oxford Mission in Barisal and Jobarpar and was happy to see things are going on very well. Finally, a note to let you know that, in 2009 we shall elect a new Bishop for our Kushtia Diocese, who will then take over charges of Kushtia Diocese and the Moderator Bishop Paul Sishir Sarkar will come to Dhaka from Kushtia and I shall retire in October 2009. As I am writing this during the Holy Week, let me wish you a very Happy Easter.
THE RT. REVD. MICHAEL BAROI
Bishop of Dhaka and Moderator of the Church of Bangladesh