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Indian priests meet shortage of UK priests

india Updated: Dec 14, 2006 13:11 IST
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Christian priests from India, particularly from the states of Kerala and Mizoram, are helping churches in Britain cope with dwindling congregations.

Western missionaries in the 19th century trekked to the remote tribal areas of India and converted backward tribes who are now returning the favour by moving to places such as Wales to meet a shortage of priests there.

One of the first Indian priests to arrive in Wales to preach Christianity was Rev Hmar Sangkhuma, from the Diocese of Mizoram in northeastern India. Mizoram has a majority of Christian population that was initially converted by missionaries from Wales between 1840 and 1960.

Sangkhuma has been offering spiritual guidance to the local Welsh population in Maesteg, near Bridgend. Some time ago, a Methodist church in Swindon had its first Indian minister, Rev Ajay Singh.

On taking over, Singh remarked that he was surprised that the congregation was not substantial.

"One of my aims while here will be to increase the size of the congregation; not to just fill the church, but for them to accept God," he stated.

According to Church sources, attendance in Churches in the UK has been progressively dwindling in various parts of the country. The 2001 census showed that fewer than one in 10 people in Wales regularly attended Church or Chapel that also faces a shortage of priests.

The county of Staffordshire has reported that recent migrants from various countries including India, Fiji and Poland are helping boost congregations.

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