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Transformed By His Grace
by the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
 
CEYLON 051029-1
October 29, 2005

Address to Diocesan Council 2005

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] 


1. Welcome to Council

1.1. My dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, I welcome you all to our 120th Diocesan Council Sessions. The presence of the Heads of Churches and Ecumenical Organisations affiliated with the NCC as well as Observers that represent them are both signs of ecumenical interest and symbols of our solidarity. Your gracious presence reminds us that we Anglicans are but a small part of the wider Church of Christ. It also challenges us to be united in Communion and witness, so that the world may believe.

1.2. I also welcome all our delegates, Lay and Clergy, from far and near. You have all made sacrifices to attend Council. It is my prayer and hope that our proceedings will centre on Christ and influence the forward journey of our Diocese in Christ. To the extent that this happens our efforts will be compensated.

1.3. The gathering of the people of God to take counsel together provides opportunities for edification and fellowship. With this in mind the group Bible studies introduced last year will continue, and an additional address has been introduced. Tomorrow Dr Hiranthi Wijemanne the current Chairperson of the NCPA will speak to us on our responsibilities by our children. It is also for purposes of edification that I have requested the clergy to deliberately use the debates to teach and nourish Council. I invite the Laity to do so too. Your insights from a more secular perspective are as important in our deliberations. Please also make best use of this opportunity to meet, share experiences and build friendships across your regions and cultures.

2. Future Councils

2.1. While on the subject of Council I wish to revisit the possibility of returning to weekend Diocesan councils, if we are to retain three day Sessions. For many of our Laity from the Regions, attendance at this three-day event requires five days of leave from work. This would mean that Parish representation at Council is likely to exclude many who are employed/studying and unable to secure the required leave.

2.2. Consequently if we are to benefit from the participation of resourceful laypersons between the ages of twenty and forty-five, and this is where the future of our Diocese lies, we ought to seriously reconsider Sessions that span a weekend. This will of course mean that the Clergy will be away from their Congregations on the Sunday concerned. For many this will not be a new experience since a number of our Congregations do not have the presence of an ordained person every Sunday. In fact this could become an opportunity for gifted Laity to exercise even greater liturgical responsibility.

2.3. Along with this suggestion I wish to throw out another thought. Should we not be thinking of conducting our Sessions at least every third year or so in the respective Archdeaconries? We need to talk about this possibility, which could well enhance our image as a National Church, while highlighting the specific issues and needs of the respective Archdeaconry. It will also equalise the inconvenience of travel, offer exposure to regional realities for more, and certainly encourage our distant, scattered Congregations. Our Schools, Conference Centres, and Congregations will I am sure, willingly and adequately cope with the logistics.

3. Tsunami-Community response and learning

3.1. You are familiar with the statistics of victims. Many Anglicans and some of our property were affected. The standing Committee Report gives more details on our response as a Diocese.

3.2. This tragedy stunned us and shook our faith in God. Coupled with the unprecedented and spontaneous response of people of good will of all communities, were the hard questions that required frank answers. I am grateful to all those of our Diocese, particularly the Clergy, who responded in both areas. I am also grateful to the National Christian Council, and the Task Force and Relief and Rehabilitation Desk of the Diocese, all of whom have worked tirelessly to help reconstruct shattered lives and broken Communities.

3.3. Soon the continuing work and the evolving questions led to three emphases in our response to the tragedy. These are a concurrent commitment to Relief and Rehabilitation, Advocacy and a relevant Spirituality and Theology.

3.4. The ethnic composition of our Diocese and past experience in community service called for clear options and a definition of values. Accordingly, all external funding was received through the centre and shared equally between the North, East and South. We also resolved that we would not exploit human suffering to strengthen our own image and interests. As a community based Church we realised we could not ignore other suffering and deprived communities in our work of rehabilitation. We are grateful to our Partners who gave us their blessings to engage on this stance known as “impartial justice”. The handling of unprecedented large sums of money that people had entrusted us with brought its own lessons. We had to work speedily but not at the expense of financial accountability and discipline. For this competent financial services had to be obtained and effective systems introduced. A spirituality we need to acquire in Christ, is to learn how to intervene in the destinies of the afflicted with respect for human dignity. The possession and management of large funds can all too easily bring a sense of power and dominance. The Gospel demands that we remain vigilant regarding this pit-fall.

3.5. Through all this, adequate support and care for over worked clergy and Lay Workers in the affected areas, had to be provided. This included additional personnel such as Co-ordinators and ad-hoc Ministerial support; additional Pastoral visitations and Counselling, additional allowances for extra travel and entertainment, enforced vacations (!), and regular communications and the sharing of information and advice through the R and R Desk.

3.6. A lesson learnt at much cost has been our inadequacy as a Church to respond promptly and willingly to disaster. With a very few admirable exceptions I found it almost impossible to move our human resources at short notice to meet with the urgent needs of suffering humanity. Sadly, decades of war and other recurring calamities, have somehow done little to transform our values and sensitivities. These are crucial areas in the character of the Church we shall need to work on without delay.

4. Peace -Opening the doors

4.1. Lost opportunities

4.1.1. Our continuing inability as a people to reach consensus in pursuit of peace is cause for deep sorrow. We have for too long remained a tensed, bruised, suspicious and even trivial people, diverting timely opportunities for co-operation and trust into confrontational politics.

4.1.2. Two such opportunities are the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) and the post tsunami reconstruction work. In both instances there was overwhelming goodwill from the world community and reasonable local support. But once again we have lost the momentum for peace.

4.2. The way forward

4.2.1. The way forward now is very clearly a strong, courageous leadership that is prepared to pick up the core issues ironically highlighted by extremism, neutralise its oppressive elements, harness and consolidate the views of the moderates and pursue justice. The magnitude of the task requires that it be undertaken collectively by the several Political parties. If not the Government in power is obliged to get on with the task. Deliberate doors towards peace must be opened, soon, or else we will simply plunge into deeper chaos and immense hardship.

4.3. Learning from others

4.3.1. That this is possible is being proved repeatedly in different parts of the world. Two very recent examples of such courageous initiatives stare us in the face. These are, the action taken by Ariel Sharon’s Government to dismantle their own Jewish settlements in the Gaza strip and West Bank, militarily annexed from the Palestinians 38 years ago; and the IRA decision to abandon the use of arms in its struggle. We certainly ought not to romanticise such political decisions that pursue peace, since all models and examples have their limitations and can easily shift into positions of reaction and more complex conflict. Yet the direction and decisiveness in these current stances should inspire us to review our stalemate.

4.3.2. The leadership shown in the former in particular has other interesting lessons for any political leadership dealing with violent, protracted conflict. In this action Sharon reversed a historical act of aggression against the Palastinian people that he himself led as a General in 1972. What is more he was then strongly in favour of occupying Palestinian territory through Jewish settlements as an Israeli military strategy. This complete transformation shows that it is both essential and indeed possible, for political leaders to change their stance if doors to peace are to be opened.

4.3.3. The story moves on. Sharon’s action was acclaimed as a sign of courageous and credible political leadership by Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas. Such affirmation by the “other side”, inevitably builds trust in relationships between leaders, which in turn, strengthen paths to peace. Having done so, Abbas is now called upon to neutralize extreme Palestinian groups like Hammas as an act of reciprocation if the Sharon initiative is to receive momentum. No doubt Sharon himself will have to face the reaction of fundamentalist groups in Israel that will threaten the future of his Government. But if through all this both leaders are courageously opening doors to peace than their people will call them blessed.

4.3.4. The IRA decision to abandon its armed struggle implies a confidence in the democratic process and opens a new door to peace. Militant groups only reach this stage when they sense their objectives are within reach through negotiations. Consequently credit must be given to both sides in the Conflict; the British and Irish Governments for their seriousness in creating this confidence and the IRA leadership for demonstrating its cause is nothing other than an end to hardship and lasting benefit for its constituency. Together the protagonists have established that there is still a better way to sustainable peace than through violence.

4.3.5. There are several doors to peace that our Sri Lankan leaders can open. One of the substantial issues on which the forthcoming Presidential Election should be contested is the vision and commitment of the candidates to do so. I have listed some possibilities below, and call upon the new President to deliberately steer the destinies of the Country through doors of peace. I also call upon and GOSL, the Leaders of all political parties and the LTTE to prove their intentions and credibility as leaders through courageous and pragmatic decisions, affirmation and reciprocation.

4.3.6. A compulsory ingredient in this process is a sub-structure of continuing dialogue no matter the fluctuating ground situation. We are called to learn and relearn that this mostly paves the way to deal with hatred and prejudice and misunderstanding, and builds trust. To fight each other in trying to bring about peace for our wearied people is the surest disqualification from leadership. Our leaders may through haggling and rhetoric manage to remain in power, but if the situation continues to worsen they would have lost the moral right to be our leaders. Consequently, I suggest that both leaders and people address the following:

1. Devise an impartial and effective method of investigating allegations of violations of the CFA. The present role and authority of the SLMM is grossly inadequate to investigate and prescribe strictures. Either the SLMM should be vested with more authority or a new Body should be formed. In either instance the culture of safe, ritualistic monitoring that prevails just cannot continue. It serves no one and achieves little. More visible representation on the Monitoring Body from experienced persons of the global south and from countries caught up in similar conflicts is also desirable.
2. An International Commission should be invited to immediately investigate the internecine political killings. The truth must be made public and perpetrators dealt with under the law of the country. This Body should be vested with authority to prescribe sanctions, which the world community should uphold. The killings must stop and the people must know the truth.
3. The GOSL should strategically reduce the area controlled in the high security zones and the LTTE should return to positions held at the time of signing of the CFA. There should be a strategic demilitarisation of border areas and armed Soldiers and Cadres should be restricted to camps.
4. The LTTE should immediately return all children conscripted through a responsible Body to their parents and stop all further child conscription.
5. There should be a moratorium on additional recruitment to the GOSL Armed Forces and LTTE. Access to Camps and policy should be made available to the SLMM/New Monitoring Body
6. Equal aid for rehabilitation and development should reach persons affected by the tsunami in all parts of the Island, specially in those parts under LTTE control. The pre tsunami mechanisms for supplying State resources to these areas should be used. The LTTE should demonstrate that all such aid reaches the recipients.
7. With a view to a negotiated permanent political settlement, talks should commence forthwith to ensure dignity and political devolution for the Tamil people within the framework of an United Sri Lanka. It should provide for the aspirations of the Muslim and Sinhala Communities in the North-East. The people should be appraised of its contents and rationale.
8. Parallel with these talks, a culture of democratisation must be forged with the Government and the LTTE taking the initiative. The violation of the rights and dignity of all should be highlighted and addressed. Space for engagement in this democratic political process particularly by Tamil groups with other points of view must be an integral part of this arrangement. This task cannot be left only or primarily to the Government and the LTTE. The necessary apparatus and mechanisms must be set-up with Civil Society groups involved in this process.
9. Immediate attention must be given to the plight of the poor and the voiceless, specially in the light of the paucity of persons and groups who today speak for them. The poor who suffer most in any set back, political or military, have patiently waited for change and a better quality of life. Substantial change in their life styles must be introduced regardless of the pace at which the talks move.

4.3.7. I also call upon our congregations as well as all religious communities to open little windows to peace. The Church certainly can make a difference if we think and pray and act in Christ. As disciples of Christ we are called upon to rise above sectarianism, affirm a pro-life perspective for all, voice peace and justice opinions and take similar options, propagate inclusive values and help build local community understanding and trust even in the most complex areas. The RAP Desk of the Diocese under the able care of Fr. Rienzie Perera is only too willing to help our Congregations with solidarity visits, suggestions, interventions and programmes.

4.3.8. In all the above, as we call our leaders to account and strive to do our bit we must never forget that peace is finally a gift from God. It is in God that we trust as we pray and work.

5. Transfers

5.1. I am grateful to the Archdeacons and Transfers Board for assisting in this arduous responsibility that a Bishop is called upon to exercise. The present system, the preferences of Clergy and their families and the rigid demands of some Congregations are together making effective transfers that enhance the mission of the Church increasingly difficult. I welcome the resolution before council though the real need is not so much systems but a review of Vocations and a holistic approach towards mission. The system will work best when we stop thinking of ourselves first and only, and see transfers as a family sharing human resources and gifts according to our various challenges and needs.

6. Children

6.1. It is widely reported that 600 million Asian children live in poverty. Of this 350 million are absolutely poor, being deprived of more than two basic necessities. Basic necessities are described as wholesome food, clean water, shelter, education and schooling, health care, sanitation, security and play. No doubt a high percentage of our own children fall into these categories and our National policies and Budgets must provide for liberation from misery.

6.2. Jesus taught that hindering the growth and welfare of children is serious matter for which adults will be held accountable. Consequently the Church too has a direct role to play in caring for the little ones in our midst. While appreciating all that is being done for children through the various ministries of the Diocese I request every congregation that has not done so already to engage in a ministry of child welfare, however modest. Ideally this work should serve the poorest. I am confidant that the cultural identity of the child will be respected and that the leaders of other faiths and parents will have a place in the planning, organisation and evaluation. The awareness Child rights and abuse should be sensitively introduced on these programmes. This way every year will remain the year of the child until our children receive the love and care and respect they deserve. Like in most of our lasting work the offering of human resources first, will ensure that the necessary financial resources for this work will follow. This is how the people of God step out in faith.

6.3. While on this topic I wish to reiterate a plea made repeatedly to the Archdeacons and Area Deans, to the whole Diocese. Please be vigilant and entrust the care of our children to reliable and trusted persons who will treat them with respect. We must all strive to create an ethos in which our children will be fulfilled and protected and happy; and one in which there will be no intimidation of any sort, physical, sexual or emotional. All Principals and Boards of our Schools, Vicars and Wardens of Parishes and Wardens and Boards that manage our Homes should please adequately brief those who have direct contact with children on our expectations and values. We should also please be aware of happenings in our respective areas of responsibility.

7. Schools

7.1. In-spite of several constraints and some pressing problems, our Diocesan Schools continue to make a substantial contribution to the life of Church and Society. You may be interested to know that approximately 15,000 children of all faiths and ethnic groups receive an education annually in 11 Schools associated with the Diocese. Of these 8 are secondary Schools and three, Schools that provide special education for the hearing, speaking and vision impaired.

7.2. Through routine and special events and the numerous encounters between teachers and students our children receive a formation and are prepared for leadership, exams, and wider responsibility. Most turn out to be useful and responsible human beings carrying with them the values imbibed in our Schools into family, employment and Civil society. In short our Schools engage in vibrant, valuable ministries and we simply cannot take them for granted.

7.3. Consequently I take this opportunity to place on record the gratitude of the Diocese to our Principals and all categories of staff of our Schools for their Vocation and ministries.

8. The emerging Church- the days ahead

8.1. Many anticipate that our evolving political culture will generate endless conflict between extremists and moderates. This will sap the country of time and energy and could well lead to the neglect of the burning issues of peace, poverty and national integration. These trends must concern the Church and could raise new challenges for Christians and the Church. The two pending Anti Conversion Bills which threaten the very heart of the democratic rights of our people as well as the life and work of our Church is a case in point. The complex implications of these Bills require all persons committed to the democratic culture and indeed Christians, to stand together for the protection of our rights and the religious and ideological freedom of future generations. The common stance of the Roman Catholic Church, the EASL and the NCC in this regard is a high point in our otherwise fractured ecumenical relationships, and needs to be consolidated through dialogue and mutual edification.

8.2. Whatever the outcome of these and other trends, the Church is called to be consistent in representing Christ and serving our people, both in good times and difficult times. We can never react or withdraw for our life in Christ leaves us with no other option. Christ is our life and our primary and lasting identity. It is He who has called us, brought us together as a Church, made us what we are, and motivates us to proclaim the love of God known through Him.

8.3. S. Paul’s spirituality of representing Christ, makes three requirements of us. We are to recognise what Christ has done for us; trust Him to continue to nourish us; and strive even more in obedience in our partnership with Him; whose plan ‘ for the fullness of time (is) to unite all things in Him, things in Heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1.10).

8.4. So, for the Church to represent Christ today requires us to activate our Faith, our Trust and our Obedience in Christ, in a way that is compatible with God’s purposes for the liberation of God’s world. For the Church in Sri Lanka today this cannot be done in vacuum. It has got to be done in spite of all passing counter cultures of suspicion, hostility and violence, and amidst the external forces of dehumanisation, subtle deception and intrigue. This is mission.

8.5. Consequently I appeal to you my Sisters and Brothers and indeed to the whole Christian Community in our Country to renew our commitment to mission in Christ in our beloved Sri Lanka today, sensitive to what God expects of us and mindful of what is happening around. This is a vast task and is best undertaken collectively and ecumenically. As a modest contribution to this task I wish to offer some insights on the type of Church we ought to become so that relevant mission is better facilitated.

8.5.1. A listening Church.

8.5.1.1. We have to learn that God who speaks through endorsement speaks more persistently by disturbing us. We have to listen to God through the poor and deprived as the Biblical prophets did, as well as respond with integrity to our critics and those who are different from us, as Christ did. More specifically we have to hear the recurring voices, however hurtful or exaggerated, that question thoughtless and aggressive mission, our loyalties and identity as a Sri Lankan Church, and hidden agendas of destabilisation and connivance with super powers.

8.5.1.2. A hasty, defensive, response to these criticisms and opinions may not be prudent. Christ would expect us to first engage in self-scrutiny before we respond. To hear, search and then respond is the Christian way of practicing intentional listening. A Church that listens this way is in a better position to be transformed into a more sensitive Church.

8.5.1.3. Such a Church will also be in a better position to facilitate listening amongst human Communities. This will include the victims and the perpetrators, the voiceless and the dominant, extremists and moderates. Surely this is the way towards building restorative communities, which is Christ’s answer to the current trend of destructive, confrontational communities, and fragmentation.

8.5.2.A participatory Church.

8.5.2.1. Mission is the responsibility of all the people of God. Unfortunately we have created and perpetuated two types of persons, specialists and amateurs in the Clergy and laity. This has been to our detriment for to the extent that the laity remain passive the church is deprived of the gifts of God given for the work of the whole Church. To the extent we resist change in this area we remain an impoverished Church. If this is to change, and change it must, we require creative programmes and transformed attitudes.

8.5.2.2. Lay training must take precedence over most activities in the life of the Congregation. Viable, relevant and pragmatic courses should be set up and the laity encouraged to enrol. Some of this may be done in clusters, and certainly more structured courses will be the responsibility of the centre. The Cathedral Institute is embarking on a series of occasional seminars and courses for those interested, and will share information with you all in due course. Please make best use of these opportunities. I hope to set up a review of our work as a Diocese in the area of Lay Education soon.

8.5.2.3. Those trained must be welcome into the life, leadership and mission of the church and given space to serve and offer their gifts. There are numerous ministries that require personnel, such as teachers for those who yearn for knowledge, counsellors and be-frienders for the disturbed , community workers to unite and empower the poor, peace motivators in conflict, carers of the sick and elderly and so on. Much of this can be done ecumenically; and all of it should be done voluntarily. Lay volunteers help keep the real nature of the church alive, for all Disciples are volunteer ministers. The payment of a stipend to some is a historical aberration that we somehow seem to have regularised!

8.5.2.4. In all this Women and Youth are to receive their rightful place. There is a thing about the resilience of women and idealism of youth that this Diocese needs badly. I have a hunch that a greater equipped and active presence of youth and women will bring a spirituality that will make us more caring, simple and realistic in our ways, and less triumphant and hierarchical in our structures.

8.5.3. An Ecumenical Church.

8.5.3.1. Our divisions continue to our shame. This is the will of Christ our Head, for His Church, the Body. There is no better way in which we can prove that our greatest priority is to serve Christ and not our denominations. Such a Church will enable a much more realistic sharing of gifts and resources and add credibility to our voice that calls for understanding and unity in the Nation. It will certainly enhance the Churches role in mediation in the Country.

8.5.3.2. Many testify that it has been openness to the work of God in the other Denomination that has been the nursery to openness to working with the other living Faiths. No doubt contextual exposure and collaborations also contribute significantly to this openness. Keeping in mind our call to proclaim the Gospel and to dialogue on different values and perspectives, the need for a deepening inter religious collaboration in this country must be seen by the Church as a mandatory imperative.

8.5.3.3. I invite competent persons of the Diocese to undertake a serious study on the scope and quality of our current Ecumenical relationships. This will no doubt inform and edify our forward journey in this transforming task.

8.5.4. A Proclaiming Church.

8.5.4.1. It is the Church only, frail as we are, that can proclaim the good news of abundant life in Christ. This however must begin where life is mutilated and threatened and tortured through brutality, abuse and violence; and where it is distorted, dishonoured and ridiculed among the poor and deprived, weak and voiceless. In an impoverished, violent and corrupt society, it is to the extent that the Church proclaims the right to a dignified life for all humans that we will earn the right to be better heard when we proclaim faith in Christ as the way to the most abundant and fulfilling life for all.

8.5.4.2. Two other realities we should bear in mind in our task of proclamation is that almost all our hearers belong to other living faiths and that many of them are poor. Respect for the others religious position and refusal to exploit the trust and vulnerability of the poor are values that please Christ. A positive way of sharing the good news in Christ in these circumstances is to do so amongst friends. This eliminates hidden agendas and reduces exaggeration; for friends do not lie and remain to respond to emerging questions, all of which are intrinsic to proclamation. This will also mean that proclamation will be reduced across the classes; for the poor will hear the good news from the poor and the Middle Class from their neighbour of the same class. None can take exception to this process either as a mission method or a way of life.

8.5.4.3. It is as we pursue these qualities that we will be transformed by Grace into the contrast community. It is the Christ in this Community that will enable eyes to see and ears to hear; hearts to feel and minds and wills to respond. No doubt there will be risks to face and sacrifices to pay on this journey, but with Christ in us and each other beside us all things are possible.

9. Finances

9.1. The financial situation of the Diocese is a matter of concern for us all. The Standing Committee Report and Statement of Accounts gives us more details. Three merging trends seem to have caused this problem. Two of them are obvious; the drop in dividends from investments and the spiralling cost of living. The third is our complacence in fund raising. Together these trends prevent us from introducing a much delayed revised salary scale for Clergy, Lay Workers and Diocesan and Bishops Office Staff, and also from restructuring the mission and work of the Church.

9.2. The way ahead requires several considerations. While cutting costs we need to engage in realistic budgeting. Fund raising must be brought onto the agenda and monitored closely by our Standing and Finance Committees. With sensitivity to the environment and the needs of our Communities, our property assets should be developed to bring in greater returns. Of this a percentage should be set-aside for the more visible mission of the Church. The Corporate Fellowship Tithe Scheme introduced by the Late St. Elmo Gunesekera seems to be more acceptable than the previous Quota System, and should hopefully bring in Parish contributions without delay. In addition of course regular free-will monthly subscriptions must be canvassed through teaching and clarification. Parish Stewardship Missions and Area –Deaconal Conferences organised by the Archdeacons are useful gatherings for these purposes.

9.3. This programme requires the concerted efforts of us all. I commend these proposals to the prayers and response of all our Congregations. Please say your prayers and ease the burden on the collection bags with notes! I hope to also request the new Standing Committee to give higher priority to this financial programme.

10. Thanksgiving

10.1. I end on a note of thanksgiving for three laypersons and a brother Priest, all of whom have been called to their rest in Christ. I have on previous occasions paid more appropriate tribute to them.

10.2. Victor Weerasinghe was an outstanding Civil Servant of impeccable integrity. He remained a prophetic voice on behalf of Civil Society till the end. His resolute opposition to political interference in Government Service and his challenge to our leaders to set standards of integrity inspired and edified many. We were privileged to have had his services as Manager of the Diocese for a brief period.

10.3. Dianne Pereira served the Diocese for over 30 years and was my Personal Secretary for three and a half years. She was extremely conscientious and disciplined in her work and simple and helpful in her ways. As a good Secretary she was often my memory and at times even my conscience.

10.4. St Elmo Gunesekera was a Diocesan legend. He served a total period of nearly twenty-five years as Hony Treasurer and Diocesan Manager. He was more like a father to me. We had our share of fights. The one fight I regret I lost was to get him to slow down. He worked himself to death serving His Lord and Master through the Church he loved so much.

10.5. Fr Nelson Mendis was a gifted and simple Priest. He was ordained in middle age and served several Sinhala Congregations. His particular contribution to the life of our Diocese was in the sphere of music and singing. Padanama, the singing group established by him at Moratuwa is a lasting tribute to his memory. His death came too early and after a period of illness.

10.6. I thank my God for every remembrance of them, as I thank their families for sharing them with us. May they rest in peace.

10.7. Finally I express my sincere gratitude to all those of you who have shared responsibility with me in the work of the Church. I will not attempt to name you since you are too vast a cloud of witnesses. Thank you for attending to the details and thank you for providing leadership and easing the stress and strain in so many different ways. Your partnership in the Gospel is indispensable in my work and supplements my several lapses and shortcomings.

10.8. It is “For this reason (that) I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with might through His spirit in the inner person, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”. (Eph. 3.14-19.)

Thank You.



+ Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo