GEL Church members in Ranchi
Gossner Evangelical Lutheran (GEL) Church on Sunday declared that it would no longer depend on only offerings from the faithful, but would expand its scope of activities to generate sufficient income to fund its varied religious and social commitments.
“Self-reliance is a simple concept that encourages each one of us to take responsibility for our own needs and the needs of the Church,” Nelson Lakra, moderator of GEL Church, told The Telegraph.
He added that in 1919, the Church had said “no” to donations. “Today we intend to move GEL Church forward. Instead of depending solely on offerings, we would be setting in motion a series of income generation activities to fund the varied and ever increasing religious and social activities of the church. Our plans include upgrading our technical training institute into an engineering college, adding a nursing training centre to our existing hospital at Rajgangpur, and adding a number of technical and management courses at Gossner Colleger,” he said.
In the aftermath of World War I, the then British government in India had ordered deportation of all German missionaries from India. Since no other Lutheran missions came forward to take their place, the Gossner Evangelical Church with its headquarters in Ranchi was restructured and given to local people, leading to the birth of the first fully self-governing and property-owning Church on July 10, 1919. A central committee was set up to administer its affairs.
Beginning 1919, Lakra said GEL Church had learned to become self-reliant by opening up a number of schools, educational institutions and health care facilities etc to generate income to fund its activities.
GEL Church runs a theological college, Bible school, four colleges, two teachers training colleges, one technical and agricultural training centre, four secondary schools, a hospital, a printing press, a dispensary and a human resources development centre.
However, as the GEL continues to expand its welfare and social activities, the demand for additional resources too have been increasing. Hence, there is an urgent need to come up with more income generation modules.
“As part of plans, the existing Technical Training College (TTC) at Fudi on Ranchi-Khunti road would be converted into a multi-disciplinary engineering college. At present, thousands of young boys and girls are forced to migrate to elsewhere in the country for higher studies. We intend to convert the TTC into an engineering college of repute with state-of-the-art infrastructure that would provide quality education at much cheaper costs,” the GEL moderator explained.
At Rajgangpur in Odisha, where there is a hospital, plans are underway to add a nursing training centre given the increasing demand for nursing degrees. At GEL College, Ranchi, new courses like information technology, MBA, social works etc would soon be introduced.
In 2019, GEL will commemorating 100 years of being a fully autonomous church.