Saturday, 10 December, was a day to be remembered in the annals of the Church of South India, Jaffna Diocese. The names of two candidates in the Revds. David S. Solomon and Veluppillai Pathmathayalan, both Presbyters of the Diocese, elected at a specially convened Diocesan Council held on Saturday, 24 October, at Otley Hall, Jaffna College, Vaddukoddai, were sent to the CSI Synod for choosing one of them to be fifth bishop. Having completed the procedure, the Rev. V. Pathmathayalan was chosen, and duly consecrated on Saturday, 10 December at 9:30 a.m. at a Service of Consecration held at the Platinum Jubilee Chapel at the CSI Synod Secretariat in Chennai.
The Service Order both in English and Tamil was in hands of those present at the service. The opening hymn “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ Her Lord…” was sung after a brief prayer, and the liturgy continued with ‘The Preparation’ with prayers, confession and absolution, followed by the presentation of the Bishop-elect. The Most Rev. Dharmaraj Rasalam, (Moderator and Bishop of the South Kerala Diocese), presided over the Service, and he was assisted by the Rt. Rev. Dr. A. Chandrasekaran, (Moderator’s Commissary and Bishop of the Trichy-Tanjore Diocese), who delivered the message, and a few other clergy and Bishops participated in different aspects of the service.
Three clergymen – Rev William Jebasingh Samuvel, Rev. Sathees Daniel and Rev. Thirunavukkarasu Dixon, representing the Jaffna Diocese presented the Bishop-elect, with the words: “Reverend Bishop in God, we present to you this godly and learned person to be consecrated Bishop.”
Then the General Secretary of the Synod, Advocate C. Fernandas Rathina Raja read the instruments of election and appointment. The presiding Bishop then asked the congregation, “Do you trust that Rev. Pathmathayalan, by God’s grace, is worthy to be consecrated?”
The congregation responded with the words, “We trust that he is worthy, To God be the glory.”
This was followed by ‘The Ministry of the Word’ in which four Scripture portions were read in the order:
Old Testament: Ezekiel 34: 11-16
- Epistle: Acts 20: 28-35
- Psalm 119: 105-112
- The Gospel: John 20: 19-23
The sermon was delivered by the Rt. Rev. Dr. A. Chandrasekaran, emphasising on three aspects of episcopal ministry, namely,
– office of a Bishop is for the ministry of Christ, the Good Shepherd;
– a Bishop is to identify with people of diverse background, especially with the oppressed;
– a Bishop is essentially an Evangelist, proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed.
After a silent reflection, the Nicene Creed was said by all. A Tamil number, “Nallaavi uutrum theva…” After this, the presiding bishop conducted the examination of the Bishop-elect, admonishing the “Calling and Purpose”, warranted by the Scripture, responded in faith and confidently answering to each admonition, “I will, God being my helper”.
This was followed by ‘The Consecration’, of which the hymn “Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire…” was sung with solemnity, and the laying on of hands by Bishops and Presbyters, the presiding bishop said: “Send down your holy spirit upon your servant, Rev. Dr. V. Pathmathayalan, whom we, in your name, and in obedience to your most blessed will, do now ordain and consecrate Bishop in your Church.”
The Bishop put on the episcopal stole on the new bishop, and the pectoral cross. Then, the Moderator delivered the new bishop the Bible and the Pastoral Staff. He also gave the right hand of fellowship. Then he led the new bishop to the Bishop’s Chair, seated him with the words: “We declare that Rev. Dr. V. Pathmathayalan is a Bishop in the Church of God,
in the name of the father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
With a loud voice, “Amen. Thanks be to God.” This was concluded with the singing of the Doxology.
The installation of the bishop
The newly consecrated Bishop was led to an episcopal chair. As he assumed his seat, the people also sat. The Lay Secretary welcomed the new bishop, with the words: “Reverend Bishop in God, we rejoice that you have been lawfully appointed, consecrated and installed, as Bishop of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India. You have promised to fulfil the duties of your office in accordance with the constitutions of the Church of South India, and the Constitution of the Diocese of Jaffna, and as representatives of the whole diocese we promise you all due honour and obedience.”
The representatives of the Jaffna Diocese said in turn in unison: On behalf of the members of the diocese, we accept you, Rt. Rev. Dr. V. Pathmathayalan duly consecrated and installed Bishop of the Church of South India in the Diocese of Jaffna and acknowledge the authority committed to you lawfully to exercise your office, and promise you all due honour and obedience, praying that every member of the church in Sri Lanka may be faithful servant of Christ and a witness to his resurrection.
The new Bishop in response, said: “In thankfulness to God, and trusting his grace I renew the promise which I have made to fulfil the ministry committed to me this day in accordance with the Constitution of the Church of South India and the Constitution of the Diocese of Jaffna so help me God. Amen.”
The Lord’s Supper continued with a Congregational song “Thanthaen ennai yesuvae, intha neram umakkae”, followed by ‘intercessory prayers’. The keerthanai, “Ka.rtharin panthiyil vaaa…” was sung in preparation for ‘The Breaking of the Bread.’ The members of the congregation were invited to share the Blessed Bread and Wine, and the post-Communion prayer was said by all. The concluding hymn “All hail the power of Jesus name” brought the service to a conclusion with the Benediction from the presiding Bishop, Most Rev. Dharmaraj Rasalam.
Vote of thanks
The newly consecrated bishop expressed his sincere thanks by honouring each person who participated in the service. As Rev. W. Jebasingh Samuvel invited each person, Bishop Pathmathayalan covered with a ‘shawl’ that symbolised the honour bestowed for what everyone has done to make the service a solemn and Spirit-filled event of a lifetime.
To God be the glory!