serving together

India: CSI Order of Women in the Church of South India, Women’s House

Conference Centre
A taste of the history of Vishranthi Nilayam (source: here)
The “CSI.Hindustani Church” located at the premises of “Vishranthi Nilayam” on Infantry Road Bangalore (within the territorial jurisdiction of the Karnataka Central Diocese of The Church of South India) is the legacy of Mission Work, started by CEZM- the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society more than 160 years ago.

Ministering the Good News of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to Burka clad Muslim Women in the Cantonment region of Blackpally Bangalore. (Now called Shivaji Nagar). CEZM Missionaries established ‘The Zenana Mission Hospital,’ ‘CEZM Urdu Primary School’ and a ‘HOME’ for converted Muslim Women and children on Infantry Road Bangalore.
Since 1904, spiritual needs, of the inmates and their children, as well as those others, being led to the Christian faith, were met through Fellowship in Worship & Prayer led by the CEZM Missionaries. In March 1934, our Church Building was commissioned for the above task and dedicated to the glory of God as a ‘House of Prayer’.
In 1947, after India got her independence from the British and faced the tyranny of partition. Many missionaries withdrew from Indian soil. Consequently Mission Work and properties, of several Churches and its Missions progressively came, to be transferred to The Church of South India (CSI), after its formation and inauguration on the 27th September 1947. Likewise, CEZM Mission Work in Bangalore, (predominantly a Women’s Program,) was placed under the control of the Bishop of the Mysore Diocese.
In 1950 the then Bishop of Mysore Diocese, handed over control, of the CEZM Women Program and its properties on Infantry Road Bangalore, to The Synod of the Church of South India, for its use, to accommodate The Head Office of the CSI Women’s Order and the CSI Women’s Fellowship. Interestingly, the Worshiping Community regularly meeting for Worship, Prayer and Holy Eucharist at our Church Building, remained a part of the Diocese, attached pastorally to ‘St Paul’s Church’ located near the entrance of The Bowring & Lady Curzon Hospitals Bangalore.
In the aftermath of the above changes, our Church unfortunately suffered the casualty of being neglected for a long time. Although extended pastoral care, was provided by the Diocese through successive Presbyters of St Paul’s Church., namely Rev Logapathi, Rev Pramanand,Rev Jacob ect.,
Meanwhile, in the changed circumstances, Church services held in Urdu and Roman Urdu, receded to the background in the absence of any fresh impetus for mission work, among the Muslim population. In consequence, the very existence of our Church, as a separate/independent place of ‘Worship’, became questionable! By the reasoning, that our building was just a ‘Meeting Hall.’ The building annexed to our Church, though occupied as a Parsonage, by Mr. Preetam Singh (Evangelist) and later Rev F.S.Macwana Presbyter, was also retrieved from our possession. A further partial ban, on the right of entry, into the campus, resulted in numerous pin pricks and hurdles. However, these matters finally culminated in the appointment of Two Diocesan Commissions that resulted in the maintenance of ‘status quo’, to perpetuate an uneasy truce, for unhindered worship.

In spite of such difficult times, our Church has survived, with the continued attendance and prayers, of a few faithful believers, living through the ordeal, for well over the last 70 odd years. Today, we celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of our Church building (1934-2008), gratefully acknowledging and glorifying God bountiful Grace and Mercy in raising our small worshipping Community of yester years, into its present stature a vibrant and lively congregation reaching out, to a varied section of people, from the North, West, East & Central parts of India.

President:      Smt. Anjali Singh
Vice president:     Smt. Aparna Toppo
The Church has a very active Women’s fellowship which is rendering yeoman service in all the activities of the Church under the leadership of Smt. Anjali Singh & Smt.Arpana Toppo.  Members meet on all Sundays after service and discuss and chalk out future programmes. Visiting the sick and extending financial help to the needy are routines. The Fellowship taking active role in the reconstruction of our new Church building and in the construction of parsonage by collecting money through auctions sales and sale of coupons and other donations. The women’s fellowship also takes up the responsibility of providing love feasts on every harvest festival day.

Sister Joyce Mansfield Woollard (1923–1997) was a missionary who served with the London Missionary Society / C.W.M. in Coimbatore Diocese of the Church of South India from 1948 and at Vishranthi Nilayam, Bangalore from 1988

Sister Woollard came to India on November 12, 1948. She was in the language school in 1949. She joined the order of sisters when it was started in 1952 as a Probationer, in St Mark’s Cathedral, Bangalore.

She worked in the villages around Kodumudi and Erode going on a bicycle. She maintained the contacts made during the evangelistic work in the villages, later when she worked in various capacities in Erode and Salem.

She was the convener of Women’s Work Committee, Hostel and Boarding Homes Committee and Creche Committee. She was the correspondent of Elementary Schools in Erode, Hobart School in Salem and Senior Citizen’s Homes in Athur. She was a member of the Diocesan Executive Committee, Secretary and Treasurer of the Women’s Fellowship of Coimbatore Diocese and of the order for women.

After retirement she came to Vishranthi Nilayam as the warden bringing her rich experience in the service of the order and the Mother House of the order for women. She was a great administrator, generous giver, loyal friend and above all an active member of the church. She lived an abundant life with a kind of passionate intensity. (Source: here)

Elizabeth Paul
The Order of Sisters in the Church of South India was founded in 1952[3] Bishop Kenneth E. Gill remarks that it was a religious order for women missionaries, teachers and nurses from many traditions who wished to live by a simple rule[3] . In 1966, Elizabeth Paul joined the Order of Sisters in the Church of South India. Sundar Clarke, then Bishop – in – Madras of the Church of South India ordained Elizabeth Paul as a Deacon on 6 May 1976.[1]

Bishop Kenneth Gill writes that the Synod of 1970 of the Church of South India took up the question of ordination of women. The issue of ordination was debated in all the subsequent synods of the CSI of 1972, 1974, 1976 and 1978 and some even went to courts.[3] It was not until 1982 that the Synod of the Church of South India voted with a two-thirds majority in favour of the ordination of women.[3]

It was in 1987 that Elizabeth Paul was ordained as a Presbyter of the Church of South India and became a Presbyter in the CSI Diocese of Madras serving as Assistant Pastor in Georgetown Church, Chennai.[1]

Sr. Elizabeth Paul participated in Diakonia World Federation Assemblies in 1963 and 1966 held at Berlin and Edinburgh and in 1976 became its Vice-President.[1] In 1980, she participated in a conference of the World Council of Churches in Geneva.[4]

Elizabeth Paul was looking after Vishranti Nilayam, the Headquarters of the Order of Sisters in the Church of South India when she died on 17 January 2001 due to a prolonged illness caused by a broken tooth.[1]

(3)Kenneth E. Gill, Count us Equal : The Ministry of Women in the Church of South India, Association of Theologically Trained Women in India, 1990. pp.48–49.



Information to be collected includes (but is not limited to) the following questions.


A brief history (may include links to documents and websites) – how did it all get started? What are the key dates and events? Are there documents that are part of the history (please specify)?


Diaconal ministry agents: consecretrated/commissioned/ordained/other?

Title: Sister, Deaconess, Deacon, Rev, etc


Historical information and dates re formation/recognition of diaconal ministry agents in the denomination/church agency.


Does the diaconal ministry agent wear a distinctive uniform? Are diaconal ministry agents able to be married? Are they remunerated? Do they live in community (eg motherhouse) or independently? Etc.


What kind of training/formation do diaconal ministry agents receive before formal recognition in their church. Are there expectations of ongoing training, or professional development? If yes, what is expected and how often does it happen?


How many diaconal ministry agents are there currently in the denomination or church agency? Any comment on trends in numbers?


Are there key people (historical or current) in the organization who have provided significant leadership. Any weblinks to their story, or a short write up?


Who are the current leaders in the diaconal association? (photos, ‘blurb’).


Relationship of diaconal ministry agents to a denomination/church agency


An overview of main responsibilities for diaconal ministry agents (past and present). Are they located within a church, a particular facility or agency, or community based? Are diaconal ministry agents appointed to individual placements or work together on projects or in institutions?


Are diaconal ministry agents able to preside at sacraments (communion, baptism, weddings etc)?


Who makes the appointments for diaconal ministry agents eg they apply for positions, they are appointed (eg by a Bishop, by the conference office, or another body/committee).


Is there a length of time for appointments (eg usually less than 5 years, usually between 5 and 10 years, at the discretion of the diaconal ministry agent or at the discretion of the appointing body), appointed to and remain with a particular mother house, etc.


Do diaconal ministry agents organize conferences, seminars, gatherings for professional development, pastoral peer support etc? How often and what is the nature of these events?


Key issues and challenges in the contemporary ministry context


Do the diaconal ministry agents have ‘code of conduct’ or ‘code of ethics’ that inform ethical and behavioral expectations for ministry?


Key documents (historical, vision and mission etc) – links or PDF or Word files




Links to relevant articles, websites etc


Other areas of interest……


(information to Rev Sandy Boyce, President, DIAKONIA World Federation,, to upload to this website)