Farewell to Bishop Daniel

After 12 years of Bishopric Bishop Daniel is going to be retired in July next month. During these days he came for a last official visit as Bishop of the Diocese of East Kerala (Church of South India) to EKHN (Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau). Since more than 30 years we have a deep partnership relation with his Diocese. Yesterday I had the chance to honor him and his wife Betty in a farewell service in the village of Wenings in the Deanery Büdinger Land.

Dear respected Bishop Daniel,
respected Bishop Amma,
dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

it’s a great pleasure for me to say some words of honoring you Bishop Daniel in this special service in these days before your retirement as Bishop of the great ecumenical Church – the Church of South India – and especially as the Bishop of our partner Diocese East Kerala.

It’s wonderful that so many people form Oberhessen, from the former deaneries of Aslfeld, Vogelsberg, Nidda and Büdingen are coming together for this extraordinary service. Old friends and new friends are here to honor and felicitate you for your time as Bishop and for being our partner. It shows the long history of more than 30 years of our partnership relation.

I remember very well the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007 when we expected the decision of the CSI who would become the new Bishop of East Kerala Diocese. And we were eager waiting for the date of the consecration of the new Bishop.

It was the 12th of February 2007 when you have been elected as the third Bishop of East Kerala Diocese. And only 5 days later on the 17th of February you had been consecrated and installed. No chance for us to participate in this great day in the history of East Kerala Diocese – but our hearts and minds and prayers have been with you during these days.

The Daily Watchword for the 17th of February 2007 – the day of your consecration – was taken from Psalm 28 Verse 7: “In the Lord my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”

I’m convinced that this Psalm Verse guided you during your service as Bishop in this 12 years. It expresses sureness: God our Lord has been with you, that God is still your spiritual leader and your songs giving thanks to him have the tune of gratefulness!

As the Bishop you had a great responsibility in leading the Christian community in the eastern part of the State of Kerala and to bring forward the Church of South India in her mission serving Christ in the South Indian Society.

All the groups and people who visited your Diocese in the last years got an overview of the work which is done by the members of East Kerala Diocese under your leadership. In my visits in the years ago I was deeply impressed of the pastoral, social and educational work and training programs. And you have been a spiritual leader and a missionary to all of your people but especially to the tribal people and to the people in the mission fields outside of the Diocese.

In the last years many people from your Diocese could come to Oberhessen and also people from Oberhessen could visit your place. Deep relationships could crow and although we are living in different cultures, we could share our joys and sufferings, our happiness and burdens. We still have differences in our theological thinking, about the understanding of our relationships to people of other faith or when we are discussing about the ordination of women, but we found safe spaces where we can discuss these differences without hurting or blaming the other.

In the days of your Bishopric we could strengthen our solidarity and in times of crisis we shared our resources – spiritual and financial resources. It was only a few months after your consecration as Bishop when heavy storms and rains hit East Kerala and no doubt – your sisters and brothers in Oberhessen and in EKHN immediately shared their resources and we still do this till today – last time in October last year after the heavy floods.

But your commitment was also for the education of children and for the tribals in the Tea Estates – we shared this commitment by developing common projects. You are a spiritual leader to your pastors and deacons, and you have a commitment to be with the people on the ground. You took care of your mission fields not only in Delhi but also in the US and Emirates. Spreading the gospel to those who are in need – this was and is your mission. Thanks, God, for that.

May God’s Holy Spirit be with you in these days when you are going out of the responsibility of being the Bishop of East Kerala Diocese and may God grant you many years to enjoy being a retired Bishop!

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