History

 

The Evangelical Church of India was founded by the Oriental Missionary Society, newly called OMS International, whose founders Mr. Charles E. Cowman and Mr. E. Kilbourne commenced OMS ministry in the year 1901 in Japan.

From the beginning OMS International was an undenominational Society with a three-fold emphasis upon 1) the establishing of Bible Seminaries and training institutions 2) Intensive and extensive evangelism 3) the planting of indigenous national churches in the various countries in which it operates. The Society conducted the first nation wide house-to-house Scripture distribution campaign between 1912 and 1917  in Japan, and since that time similar systematic campaigns have been conducted in a number of countries. By the time the Japanese Government forced the amalgamation of all Protestant Churches in Japan in World War II, the church established by OMS international in Japan was the fourth largest Protestant Body with some 400 Churches.

Korea was entered by OMS in 1907 where there are now nearly 2,000 congregations with about 500,000 membership. The church there is known as Korea Evangelical Holiness Church, the third largest protestant denomination in South Korea. China was next entered where three Seminaries were opened and indigenous churches established. Contact with those Seminaries and the Church had been lost owing to change of policy of the Government there. OMS International is now actively working in the following countries : Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Greece, Spain, Columbia, Ecuador, Brazil, Haiti, Philippines, France, China and Russia.

In 1941 OMS began its work in India. It presently operates three Bible Seminaries, namely Allahabad Bible Seminary, Madras Theological Seminary & College and Calcutta Bible Seminary. The Evangelical Church of India also runs Bombay Bible School in Bombay, Freeman Bible School in Vijayawada, North India Bible Training Institute in Lalitpur, Orissa Bible School in Nowrangpur, Sadhu Sundar Singh Bible School in Solan,Karnataka Bible School in Gangavathy,  Missionary Training Centre in Kozhivilai and  Gujarat Bible School in Vyara. The first national church was planted somewhere in 1952. Till 1967-68 the OMS Field Executive Committee was in charge of the administration of the Church through their appointed national and missionary leaders. After 1969-70 amendments, ECI became fully autonomous and elected its own leaders and OMS withdrew their administrative control.

The Church now has Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Kanarese, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Manipuri, English, Malto, Santhali and Konkani linguistic  congregations numbering  about 1610 new Churches in the following States and Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, New Delhi, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar, Orissa, Kerala, Punjab, Manipur, Jharkand and the Andaman Islands. The Administration of the Church is divided into various ecclesiastical Dioceses, Areas and Districts under the All India Conference of ECI.  ECI has set a goal of 1000 churches by the year 2000 AD, but reached that objective by 1998.  Since then ECI has prayerfully fixed a goal of 2000 Churches by AD 2005 and we have achieved the goal well ahead of time.

The Evangelical Church of India is registered at the All India Conference level under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860, at Lucknow, U.P., the registration number being 449 of 1958-59. The Board of Governors of the AIC is the Governing Body and the Trustees of the Society. Prior to 1976, the Society was called the Evangelical Christian Church  and also came to be known as the Evangelical Christian Church of India  and was officially changed to assume the present name Evangelical Church of India.

After several years of deliberation ECI has adopted Episcopalian form of Church order effective from 3-4, November 1992 Mt.No.AIC 92/23.  Rev. Dr. Ezra Sargunam was elected as the First Bishop of Evangelical Church of India, and was consecrated on February 13, 1993.  Further ECI has vision to formulate Five Dioceses with their Head Quarters in Madras, Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Hyderabad with five Bishops with the All India Administrative Office in Madras, with the registered office in Allahabad under one All India Conference and one Board of Governors.

It is hoped that other Christian groups will integrate within the frame work of the Evangelical Church of India, and thereupon historical statements concerning such amalgamations will be included in future statements.