These three important studies of the Christian Church in North India are concentrated in three areas - in Delhi, the Punjab and the Kond Hills. Here Christian communities have for generations lived alongside Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or animistic communities, and are therefore in a continuous 'mission' situation. The authors have, by exact observation and investigation, been at pains to understand the Church in relation to its environment, and also survey the manner in which it is organised and what is its 'growing edge'. The studies are valuable for the whole witness of the Christian Church in non-Christian environments, being marked by careful research on the spot, and honest reporting of the facts as the authors see them.
In this volume are brought together three studies which were separately commissioned in North India as parts of the World Council of Churches project entitled Churches in the Missionary Situation: Studies in Growth and Response. They were conducted under the auspices of the National Christian Council of India, the President of which, the Rev. Dr. David G. Moses, wrote as follows:
'Too long have we been satisfied with general impressions which many, some competent and others not so competent, have expressed about the life and growth of the younger churches. Based on vague feelings and uncritical examination of data, these appraisals have been unfruitful, either in giving a correct analysis of the problems which the younger churches were facing or in suggesting proper solutions for them. The aim of the present series of studies has been to study the life and growth of these churches with a new understanding of the meaning of the terms "life" and "growth". The life was to be studied in terms of "aliveness", that is in terms of the response and adjustments of the churches to their environing conditions, and the growth in terms not only of numbers, but also of the new ways and dimensions in which the living faith of the churches is expressed.'
As the title of the volume indicates, its unifying theme is that of 'Christian community'. In a country such as India, where Christian communities have for generations lived alongside Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or animistic communities, it is particularly easy—and significant —to study the connotation of this concept in that kind of situation. But within the broad lines of a common definition, each of the three Christian communities described in this volume has its own distinct characteristics, analysis of which invites comparison with that of the others.
The Church in Delhi is one of our 'depth' studies. The Rev. James Alter was born in the Punjab, where his parents served as missionaries. After receiving his college and theological education in the U.S.A., he returned to India in 1945 as a Presbyterian missionary within the United Church of Northern India. Mr. Alter is the Director of the Christian Retreat and Study Centre, Rajpur, Dehra Dun. The Rev. Herbert Jai Singh, Ph.D., was born in the United Provinces, where his father served as a Methodist pastor. He received his college and theological education in India and did graduate study in the U.S.A. Dr. Jai Singh is a minister of the Methodist Church, and is now Associate Director of the Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, Bangalore.
The other two studies are broader, supplementary studies. The Rev. Ernest Campbell was also born in the Punjab, where his father was a rural missionary. After college and theological training in the U.S.A. and his first term as a missionary back in the Punjab, Mr. Campbell took up study of rural sociology. He is now Pastor-at-Large to the Punjab Synod of the United Church of Northern India, based upon Jullundur City. Miss Barbara Boal was born and educated in England. Appointed by the Baptist Missionary Society in 1948, she served from 1950 to 1960 in the Kond Hills, Orissa, as a district missionary of the Utkal Christian Church Central Council. She is now a tutor at Carey Hall, one of the Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham, England.
We are very grateful to all four authors, and to the Churches and Mission Boards which seconded their services for this purpose.
VICTOR E. W. HAYWARD
C.W.M.E. Research Secretary