Indian Missionaries Return 'Home' to Resolve Britain's Priest Shortage

( [email protected] ) Sep 07, 2007 01:42 PM EDT

A shortage of priests in Britain has led to a new wave of clergymen being drafted in from India. The latest Indian priest to be brought to Britain's shores is the Rev. Kesari Godfrey, who has been appointed curate at the Priory Church in Bridlington, Yorkshire.

Furthermore, it is not only Indian priests who are coming to serve in British churches, but there has also been a steady increase in the number of Christian migrants, particularly from India’s Kerala state, coming to Britain and boosting dwindling congregations.

The Asian Age publication in India recently explained how Indians are returning the work of British missionaries who traveled to remote tribal areas throughout the 19th century to convert tribes to follow Jesus Christ.

Godfrey, 34, is a member of the Church in South India, and will carry out his curacy for three to four years in Yorkshire.

Prior to taking up this position, the reverend studied for his Ph.D. at the University of Birmingham, and was later licensed by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, who is originally from Uganda, to assist at St. George’s Church in Edgbaston as a preacher and teacher.

“I want to share my experience of God and encourage more people into the church,” Godfrey said.

One of the first Indian priests to arrive in Britain to preach Christianity, according to The Asian Age, was the Rev. Hmar Sangkhuma from the Diocese of Mizoram in north-eastern India. Mizoram has a majority Christian population that was initially converted by missionaries from Wales between 1840 and 1960.

Sangkhuma felt the call to return to what is in essence his “spiritual homeland,” to offer guidance to the local Welsh population in Maesteg, near Bridgend.

According to reports, the attendance in churches in Britain have been decreasing recently. The 2001 census showed that fewer than one in 10 people in Wales regularly attended church or chapel.

In Staffordshire, sources say, Indians and others from various countries like Poland and Fiji are helping boost congregations.

Christian Post correspondent Dibin Samuel in New Delhi contributed to this report.