TT: What does a century of autonomy of Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church (GEL) mean?
Lakra: During World War I, the British government in India ordered deportation of all German missionaries. As they left, GEL Church was restructured and given to local people. It became self-governing on July 10, 1919
Why is autonomy so important to GEL?
Ninety-four years ago, we said no to donations. Despite Anglican offers to assume financial responsibility after German missionaries left, Indian Gossner leaders stayed self-reliant. In the early days, in many Christian homes, a handful of rice was set aside before a meal for the church
Tell us about preparations to celebrate it.
We set up an expert panel to examine our strengths and weaknesses, scrutinise our activities and draw up an action plan. The report will be placed before the apex GEL body that meets in Germany from October 13 to 27. A team of GEL from India, headed by me, will attend the meetings
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
An expert panel is looking into this aspect
What are the sources of GEL funds?
We have many income generation activities to fund our activities such as a theological college, Bible school, four colleges and secondary schools each, two teachers’ training cradles, technical and agriculture training centres, a hospital and dispensary, a printing press, an HRD centre
What are your future plans?
We intend to be self-reliant and deepen our commitment to education
Any expansion plans?
Certainly. We will upgrade our tech institute at Fudi, Khunti, into an engineering degree college, add a nursing training centre to our existing hospital at Rajgangpur, Odisha, and launch technical and management courses at Gossner College, Ranchi
GEL has been a frontrunner in granting women the right to lead mass from the altar.
Of the 200 pastors at GEL today, 25 are women
How will you assess women pastors?
Our women pastors are dedicated and good communicators. They have struck a perfect balance between family life and church
Will GEL have a woman as its head?
Sure, why not!