Thoba Parish in the Diocese of Amritsar poses with Bishop P.K. Samantaroy (in white vestment) after a Sunday service. The bishop’s wife Lily is to his left, as is Canadian Andrea Mann. The parish in the Punjab, Northern India, numbers about 600 families in three congregations.

“All world religions promote peace, yet people and communities of faith continue to fail to put peace into practice. We can no longer talk about peace in the abstract, and we can’t have peace until poverty is eradicated globally, until we ‘recognize the divine light in everyone’, until we live faithfully by principles of righteousness”.

So began a local delegate to the South Asia Initiatives for World Peace Conference hosted in November by the Diocese of Amritsar, Church of North India, in Amritsar, Punjab.

Some 40 representatives and leaders of Sikhism, Islam, and Christianity gathered with secular experts, women and men, to discuss local issues and communal tensions, local initiatives and community peace.

Amritsar is best known as the city that is the site of Sikhism’s holy Golden Temple. While the majority of the 25 million people who live in the Punjab on the Indian side of the “line of control” with Pakistan are Sikh, the region is also home to many Dalit Christians, Muslims, and Hindus.

The Diocese of Amritsar, as throughout the Church of North India in each of its 26 dioceses, has long served the people of West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir in active interfaith partnerships for peace with justice.

An ecumenical priority for the diocese is the Christian Institute for Religious Studies in nearby Batala. This organization reaffirms the importance of conversation between different faiths that is open, serious and based upon sound scholarship.

The Dit Memorial Research Centre for theological training among Dalit Christians in North West India is another priority.

Amritsar Diocese and its companions in faith respond together where human need is critical. With others, the diocese was among the first to arrive with blankets, tarpaulins and tents in Kashmir following the October 2005 earthquake centred in Rawalakot, over the line in Pakistan.


A cantor in the service leads the bhajan, a sung prayer.

A long history of friendship and partnership in mission exists between the Diocese of Amritsar and the Anglican Church of Canada. Prior to the formation of the united Church of North India in 1970, many Canadian Anglican mission personnel served as priests, teachers, doctors, nurses and other professionals in the then (Anglican) Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon.

In recent times, a number of Canadian Anglican theological students, participating in our International Internship Program, have been supervised in Church of North India parishes. This summer, another Canadian seminarian, Jessica Worden of the Diocese of Ottawa, will be traveling to the Diocese of Amritsar for such an internship.

The Diocese of Amritsar and the Anglican Church of Canada continue to seek ways of deepening our relationship through more person-to-person interaction. Amritsar Bishop P.K. Samantaroy is seeking a Canadian diocesan companionship and invites groups of Canadian Christians to visit for a more authentic experience of India’s Punjab and her people.

Partners in Mission, the international mission partnership program of the Canadian Church, is working with the diocese and Canadian Anglicans interested in these and other activities.


Women of the parish preparing a community meal, which takes place after services every Sunday. They are preparing roti, a bread, over a small fire lit near the church. (Photo by Bishop P.K. Samantaroy.)

Canadian Anglicans also support the work of the Dit Memorial Research Centre, the Christian Institute for Religious Studies, Bishop’s College in Kolkota (Calcutta), and the national mission priorities of the Church of North India. The annual Partners in Mission grants totalled $17,000 last year.

Let us give thanks for the Diocese of Amritsar and its important, historic work in interfaith partnerships for peace with justice in northwest India. Let us pray that our partnership with the diocese, and with the whole Church of North India, continues to deepen in hospitality, mutual learning and companionship for God’s mission.

Andrea Mann, the Canadian Church’s Partners in Mission Regional Mission Coordinator for Asia, South Pacific and the   Middle East, visited the Diocese of Amritsar in November 2005.