Monday 28 January 2019 2:12 AM UTC
By Alison Rebello
Gateshead Jan 28: The fifth edition of the Ecumenical Christmas Celebrations took place in Winlaton, Blaydon in the august presence of the Anglican Bishop of Durham Right Reverend Paul Butler.
Ecumenical guests and priests who attended the service include the parish priest of host church St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church Fr Happy Jacob, the Head of the Department for Interreligious Relations in Hexham and Newcastle Diocese Fr Arockia Mariadass Pagyasamy O.C.D and Fr John Ulaganathan O.C.D, Fr Neil Cockling, Rev Lorna and Rev Brain from St Cuthbert’s church, Mrs Pauline and Mr David from St Paul’s parish, Rev Jonathan Rose from St Mary’s church besides representatives from St Anne’s Catholic Church, Winlaton and Trinity Methodist Church .
The event started off with an opening prayer by Fr Happy Jacob where he prayed for Christian unity followed by lighting of the lamp by the guests and committee members representing various churches. Orthodox Church Secretary Reji Thomas extended a warm welcome to all invited guests and community members from various churches.
In his inaugural address Bishop Butler thanked the organisers for inviting him to this ecumenical carol during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
He was forthcoming in that he disclosed that after a long time he received such a detailed invitation letter which specially mentioned “please do not say no” so I didn’t say no. He further added:
“I am pleased to be with you all today and also extend the warm greetings of Bishop Dr John Perumbalath, with whom I spent some time in retreat just recently.” (It may be mentioned here that Bishop Perumbalath is the first Malayalee Bishop of Church of England in the UK).
As his inaugural address was soon after the traditional lighting of the lamp, Bishop Butler recalled that this was only the second such occasion when he was lighting the lamp; the first being in Italy, where unfortunately the heavens opened up but he was pleased to tell the audience that there is power in the light of Christ.
As we celebrate Christmas together may we be inspired by Christ’s light and that we live and shine as his light to the world. He concluded by saying:
“I am thankful to the organisers that they gave me the opportunity to represent the wider church in such an ecumenical event and I pray that ‘may we shine together in the name of Jesus.’ ”
The Carol evening saw the children choir from each of the four communities of St Alphonsa Syro Malabar Catholic community of Sunderland, St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church, Marthoma Fellowship Church Newcastle and St Gregorious Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church present a song each.
With the exception of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox church children group who sang Malayalam song, all other groups showcased their singing talents by rendering English carols.
The Syro Malabar Children choir from Sunderland played a live choir using piano, violin and cello.
The only group missing this year was the Syro Malabar Catholics of Newcastle. Within the Syro Malabar rite, the Knanaya catholic community in the north east has been given a separate mission status and so they are likely to join this annual ecumenical event from next year onwards.
In the church choir group carol singing the Marthoma church group started off with one English number and one classical carnatic based Malayalam carol song and the rest of the group sang two Malayalam songs each and enthralled the gathered audience.
The Vicar of the host church Fr Happy Jacob said in his address that such events needs to be celebrated and enjoyed together as it reinforces the significance of an ecumenical community living together and congregating for worship in a worthy manner.
He also praised the organisers for all the efforts they put in to make this event a successful one.
The fifth edition of the ecumenical carol service saw the event raising funds for national charity Greenfingers, which creates magical gardens for children in hospices.
The event raised £400 for the charity which was handed over to the representatives Paul Mandeir and John Dolan by Mathew Vattakunnel of St Alphonsa’s Syro Malabar Catholic community of Sunderland.
Speaking on the occasion Carmelite priest Fr John Ulaganathan said: “we are known for our celebrations, our traditional values, historical background and cultural identity.
I see Christmas as Christ coming to dwell with us so we should become an instrument of joy to each one of us.”
He concluded by appealing everyone to give generously to the Greenfingers charity which supports children suffering from cancer so that our generosity brings joy in their lives too.
The vote of thanks was proposed by the master of ceremony Josey George, secretary of Marthoma Fellowship. The event concluded with refreshments.
CLICK TO FOLLOW UKMALAYALEE.COM