All of us are aware of the meeting that was held on 08th October 2010. A write up by Johnson C. Philip (“JCP”) on his Facebook site reads as follows:

Close to 1200 Brothers form Brethren Churches in Kerala (India) prayerfully came together today, the 8th October 2010 at Kumbanad (Kerala) to discuss the legal problems that Brethren Churches have been facing lately. The meeting started with Dr. OM Samuel as the Chairman. Several senior brothers, church leaders, and Bible teachers were present on the stage with him. The meeting started with a presentation of what it is and what it is not. The problems faced by the church at Angamally, the arrest of brothers in several places in Kerala during witnessing, and similar problems were presented. The brothers discussed the problems in 26 groups and the majority was of the opinion that a collective work needs to be done. It was also felt that the assemblies need to get more information about all the legal formalities that the government now expects them to fulfill under the changed laws.”

On www.brethrenassembly.com, the same matter was published but the headlines read “Brethren Christian Coordination Council Formed!” (see attached screenshot below)

Snapshot of www.brethrenassembly.com published on 9th October 2010

If you closely examine what has been published and what has happened, you will find that there are a lot of disparities. And that is what I would like to address through this article. There are other issues relating to the same case which I will address in later posts.

Very interesting, today I came across an e-book published by JCP – “Analysis of Propoganda Techniques”. Not surprisingly, a lot of the techniques mentioned in this e-book has been used by those in the adhoc committee and those related to it to create a lot of confusion amongst people and also to try and create divides in churches. Before I go into an examination of the techniques that has been used in this case, let us look at the above declaration made and its validity.

1.    Close to 1200 Brothers form Brethren Churches in Kerala (India) prayerfully came together today, the 8th October 2010 at Kumbanad (Kerala)

There has been a lot of dispute on the actual number of people who attended the meeting. There are claims that records have been kept of who all attended. But none of that was made public. A person who has published the results of the responses received has stated that 1127 registration forms were received. However only 936 response forms were received at the time of tallying. I do not know and so I am not going to comment on the same. Whatever the number, the fact remains that all the brethren churches in Kerala were not represented at this meeting. The publication of this count is just to make the reader feel that there was a wide cross section representation from all the brethren churches. Infact, if they actually wanted a wider representation, they could have kept the meeting for a later date and ensured that the participation of all assemblies were there.

2.    to discuss the legal problems that Brethren Churches have been facing lately

From the videos, that I have seen, not much time was spent on discussing the legal problems that the churches have been facing. “Legal problems?” denotes more than 1 issue. What were these issues that were discussed? These are coming later on in the write up and so let me leave this point at that.

 3.    The meeting started with Dr. OM Samuel as the Chairman. Several senior brothers, church leaders, and Bible teachers were present on the stage with him.

Dr. O.M.Samuel was an unfortunate scapegoat to have been made as the chairman. He was not the person who was supposed to be the chairman. Unfortunately for the ad-hoc committee, the person that they were intending to make as the chairman was restrained from doing so by the organization that he was representing and working for in Kerala and so OMS was a last minute replacement. But note the mention of “Dr OM Samuel”. Gives the whole write-up a more legal feeling and a feeling of approval by eminent people of all the things that took place during the meeting.

4.    The meeting started with a presentation of what it is and what it is not.

A statement was made by the chairman that this is not about forming a committee or council of any sort and if anything of that sort was there, he would be the first one to object it. If this was not about forming a committee/council, then what was this about? The next point states that.

5.    The problems faced by the church at Angamally, the arrest of brothers in several places in Kerala during witnessing, and similar problems were presented.

Those who watched the videos will know that the representative from Angamally was given 5 minutes to present the issues pertaining to their assembly. But then, wasn’t the meeting called to discuss the issue of the Angamally assembly? Then how come only 5 minutes was given to the brother? That’s because the Angamally assembly problem was only supposed to be the front cover for their own devious plans which were behind the scene.

And if I am not mistaken, barely 2 minutes was given to discuss the other problems regarding incidents faced during witnessing in Kerala. Except for one incident mentioned about North East India, I do not recollect any specific incidents that were presented before the people. Do correct me if I am wrong. It was all generic references to such incidents. If they were so burdened about it, they could have had actual victims testifying the problems that they had faced. There was none of that. Why? That because that was not the main aim of the ad-hoc committee. Let’s move on.

6.    The brothers discussed the problems in 26 groups

This is what I found most amusing. It was like a joke to me.

Lets do some mathematics here.

The claim is that 1200 people attended the meeting. They were divided into 26 groups. Now this division happened based on areas and so they were not evenly distributed. However, for discussion sakes, let’s assume that the people were evenly divided. So we have 46 people per group. They were given 15 minutes of discussion time. And if we were to give an equal opportunity for everyone in the group to speak, with 15 minutes in hand and 46 people in a group, each person would get 20 seconds at the max to make his point know. And given that there were 6 questions to discuss, that gives the person just over 3 seconds per question to make known his view point.

So its 3 seconds to give your view point on supposedly important legal issues that are facing the brethren people.

So then, what kind of a discussion did take place? The group leaders were all preselected by the ad-hoc committee members and no doubt they would have been given instructions on how to lead discussions in the groups. Not everybody would have been able to voice their opinion but since they attended and they were in the group, no matter what their opinion was, whatever was said from their group on stage was what counted as their opinion.

 7.    and the majority was of the opinion that a collective work needs to be done

No where in the 6 questions that were listed was there any question which talked about a collective work that needs to be done. The question that would come closest to even remotely suggesting such a formation would be question 4. “Is there a need for a mechanism to provide legal assistance when one faces troubles?”

No doubt a lot of people answered “Yes” but a majority of them also very clearly stated that if this mechanism meant that a committee of some sort had to be formed, then they were against such a committee formation.

Not surprisingly, if you look at all the 6 questions, which of those questions would you answer a “No” to? Let’s just have a brief look at the questions

              i.        Do you agree with the opinion of the legal experts that our local assemblies should adopt the name “Churches”?  There is no evidence to this statement of the legal experts. To my knowledge, such a statement is foolish. The law of the land does not decide that you are a church just because you have that included in the name. But to someone who is not literate about such things will definitely answer “Yes” because he thinks that will solve the problems.

             ii.        Do you agree with the local assemblies registering themselves with the local authorities? Many churches within and outside Kerala are registered as trusts in accordance with the law. And so people would definitely answer “Yes”.

            iii.        It is mandatory to maintain registers with details of birth, death, wedding and baptism details along with details of church members. If these registers are not there in your churches, will you start maintaining such records?I am not aware of any such mandatory law. Most churches already maintain wedding and death registers. And since it’s a positive thing, people will definitely give a positive response.

            iv.        Is there a need for a mechanism to provide legal assistance when one faces troubles? Who in their right mind would refuse assistance when in time of need? But do you a need an all  Kerala brethren church committee to do that for you? Majority of the people made clear their reservations to any new committee forming just for this purpose.

             v.        On the basis of the current events, do we need to hold regional gatherings to inform the brethren of the details of events? Of course people will think that it’s a good thing that everybody is made aware of the happenings and so that people can pray for these things. So why would anybody say no?

            vi.        Do we need to maintain a register of addresses of all the assemblies in Kerala? People wouldn’t say “No” especially after the point was subtly raised that invitations could not be sent to all the assemblies since the addresses of all the assemblies were not there.

As seen above, none of the questions addressed anything specifically about the formation of a committee. This was just a front for creating such a committee.

And if there were people who were burdened to help those in trouble, my question to them is

            i.        Why couldn’t you have started something private and then made yourself available for assistance to those who needed it?            

            ii.        Why was such a big meeting called for this purpose?

            iii.        Why was the media invited?

            iv.        Why was false and misleading reports given to create confusions in the minds of people?

             v.        Why was it made to look like you had the approval of all the brethren churches?

This was just because the aim was not for the welfare of the brethren people or those actually in need of help but for personal gains.

For sometime now, there has been a move in India to create a hierarchial system for the brethren people and to have so called bishops and heads of this structure. The reason for this is that there are funds available from sources outside India but for which there has to be a single channel of flow of these funds in India. These top representatives will decide who gets what and how much. And this “committee” is just a continuation of that effort. It just so happened that the Angamally case happened at the right time for pushing such a mandate forward. IBCM also intends to bring in national leaders of the brethren churches for international discussion. Their mission statement on their site www.ibcm.net reads The purpose of the International Brethren Conferences on Mission (IBCM) is to bring together every four years the national leaders of local churches connected with the Brethren movement across the world for spiritual reflection, fellowship and, we pray, renewed experience of the Lord. The overall goal is the mutual encouragement of leaders in the movement in the different countries.If there is no hierarchy, then who can rightfully claim the post of being national leaders in India of the brethren churches? This is where this is headed. This has started at state level and will move national shortly.

My dear readers. Beware of the wiles of the devil. He appears as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We have to be wise.

Lets go back to questions 4 through 6 of the discussion material keeping this need in mind.

            iv.        Is there a need for a mechanism to provide legal assistance when one faces troubles? Having such a central representative committee and providing legal assistance will make it seem in front of the government that this “BCCC” is the elected legal representative of the brethren people in Kerala and is empowered to represent them. Subsequently, this committee then can be presented to the outside world as a representative of the brethren movement in India.

             v.        On the basis of the current events, do we need to hold regional gatherings to inform the brethren of the details of events? People have answered “Yes”. But then, who will hold these meetings and do the presentation and talkings? BCCC. They will control what people will know and hear. Once again, they will appear before the brethren people as those elected and mandated to hold meetings and to inform brethren people of what they want.

            vi.        Do we need to maintain a register of addresses of all the assemblies in Kerala? Definitely such a register would be favourable for the BCCC committee as this would be proof that they are the only ones with records of all the churches and that is because only they have the mandate to represent all the churches.

So like I said earlier. Things are not what it seems to be on the face. There is a hidden agenda behind all this. Be wise of these techniques.

-Thomas Abraham