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The Fifteenth Bishop of Colombo

The Rt Revd Dhiloraj Canagasabey was the 15th Bishop of the Diocese of Colombo, Church of Ceylon and was made the Metropolitan’s Commissary and Vicar General following his retirement in May 2020 till an new appointment to the See is made.

Bishop Dhilo as he is affectionately known, hails from Batticaloa in the east of Sri Lanka and was schooled at the prestigious St Michael’s college in Batticaloa. He later entered the field of hospitality where he worked for several years before accepting the call for theological studies and the priesthood in the Anglican Church.

He earned his Bachelor’s degrees in Theology and Divinity from the Theological College of Lanka, in Pilimatalawa affiliated to the University  of Serampore, India. He was ordained in 1983 and served in several parishes across the island. He was appointed as the Archdeacon of the Nuwara Eliya Archdeaconry in 1997 where he also served as the Acting Headmaster of St Thomas’ College Bandarawela.

He was elected as the Bishop of Colombo in 2011 and was consecrated on 14th May in the same year at the Cathedral Church in Colombo. He served as the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Ceylon and was also the Vicar General of the Diocese of Kurunagala when the Bishopric See was vacant for nearly four years.

Bishop Dhilo has been a compassionate pastor with an emphasis on mission, evangelism and ecumenism. He has been part of many collaborations in these areas throughout his career and has led for a closer working with other Protestant denominations.

He is known as a keen administrator and for his use of strategic thinking in overcoming issues and challenges in the Church and society. He has been vocal on many peace and justice issues that have challenge the Christian calling in Sri Lanka.

His wife Harshani has been an ardent support of the ministry of Bishop Dhilo. They have two children Dhilukshini and Dhiranjan. Bishop Dhilo and his ministry coupled with his presence and style will be missed by all in the Church as a strong character with will. We wish him and his family the very best in all future endeavours.

Rt Revd Keerthisiri Fernando
Bishop of Kurunagala
Church of Ceylon

Easter Sunday Service 2020 was LIVE

Rt. Revd Keerthisiri Fernando, Bishop of the Diocese of Kurunagala, Church of Ceylon, Anglican Communion has this to say about the  Lenten season.


Today(Ash Wednesday) once again we enter into another season of Lent. During this season we try to take account of our lives. We try to look into our inner life. To do this we use various means. Fasting is one of the traditional ways of focusing on our inner life. With the same purpose fasting is used in other religions such as by Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. Do you think we can still use this age-old method meaningfully in the twenty-first century?

How can fasting be meaningful? What do we expect to gain by fasting? When we fast we feel hungry. For the food to be digested the stomach produces hydrochloric acid. That’s why when we are hungry we feel something burning in our stomach. That’s why in Sinhala the word for hungry literally means a fire in the stomach. And this makes us contemplate the material needs of others. Often we forget how many people in this world scarcely have the basic necessities of life.

Here I am reminded of a saying of the Roman Catholic Archbishop Don Helder Camara. He said Food for my stomach is a material need, but food for my neighbour’s stomach is a spiritual matter.  Do you think that it is God’s will for some people to have too much and others to have too little? This is a spiritual matter. Think about it. Some people have too little because others have too much.

Secondly, fasting teaches us self-discipline. When we fast we learn to control our emotions. This really helps us in our day-to-day activities. Lack of self-discipline is one of the main problems in our society. Often people try to control others but find it difficult to control themselves. Fasting is a good way of seeing how far we can control ourselves.

Thirdly, fasting helps us to realise that our lives do not wholly depend on material things. Perhaps unconsciously we think we depend on material things. Let me ask a question. &Do we live to eat or eat to live?& At times we think we live to eat and forget we eat to live. Do you remember how people wanted to make Jesus a king when he fed the five thousand?Jesus was very unhappy about this and said, “You follow me because I gave you something to eat”

Often we don’t realise how much our lives are controlled by material things. We have become slaves of money and wealth. Fasting helps us to liberate ourselves from this bondage. It is necessary for us to understand that although we need money and wealth for everything money and wealth are not everything.

Today I would like to draw your attention to these three aspects as subjects for meditation. Just think on these three things and see whether you can get some benefit from fasting. Let me remind you of them. First, to have a taste of the suffering of others. Secondly, to learn to control ourselves. Thirdly, to realise that we do not fully depend on material things.

I am sure you can use this as a way towards a higher level of spirituality, both for yourself and for the benefit of others. Take the first step during this Lent and go forward. Let us ask God to give us His grace to understand ourselves so that we will be able to serve him and His creation in His world.

Rt. Rev'd Keerthisiri Fernando
Bishop of Kurunagala
Diocese of Kurunagala
Church of Ceylon
Sri Lanka


A. Pastoral Message
"22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
I will not look upon.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos. 5:22-24)

Dear members of the Council, it is my pleasure to welcome you all for the 63rd annual session of the Diocesan Council. We as clergy and lay members gathered here today as well as the thousands of our members across this great Diocese are thankful for God’s grace during the past years of the Diocese and especially for the work that has been initiated, conducted and fulfilled in 2018/19. We are confident that God who journeys with us will guide us in the many days to come. [More]

Solidarity Visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Metropolitan of the Church of Ceylon His Grace Justin Welby to Sri Lanka

On His Grace Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury's second day on the Solidarity Visit to Sri Lanka he visited the Sacred Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. He was welcomed by the officials of the Temple and were also joined by his group of Mrs Caroline Welby, Bishop Anthony Poggo, Canon David Porter and the Church of Ceylon Bishops together with the Provincial Secretary.

He was then escorted to the Malwathu and Asgiri Buddhist Chapter Prelates thereafter and spent close to two hours of cordial pleasantries and discussions on the possible way forward in the aftermath of the recent unrest in the country.

The Archbishop also visited the war memorial in Kandy after which he was flown to the Theological College of Lanka in Pilimatalawa. The Theological College was in a celebratory mood with decorations and presence as the visitors were welcomed with traditional offerings under a pandal. He was led in procession to the chapel where a creative worship was held and where he also brought greetings to the academic community.

After a visit to the office, photographs, tree planting and a quick lunch the Archbishop was in attendance at the Cathedral church in Kurunagala by 2.30pm. A grand procession with Hevisi and Nadaswaram led the way into the church where a large gathering of congregations were present.

He preached, celebrated during this colourful yet traditional period of worship conducted cathedral. He also blessed the new Registrar of the Diocese and exchanged souvenirs with the Vicar of the Cathedral and the Principal of the Theological College of Lanka. Afterward he blessed the gathering, the Diocese and the Kurunagala town on a podium which was place in the cathedral premises. After which he spent time with the clergy, congregations and many visitors in fellowship and in discussion.

The time spent he spent in the Diocese of Kurunagala was well received by the many who came out to meet and witness at different places on the trip. It was great experience to the Diocese and we hope that the visiting party felt the same way during this short but highly event-packed day.

Joint Statement by the Bishops of Colombo and Kurunagala of the Church of Ceylon.

We are terribly shocked and deeply saddened by the barbarous acts of violence brought on innocent worshippers, children, women and men at Easter Sunday services at St. Anthony's Church, Kochchikade, St. Sebastien's Church, Negombo and Zion Church, Batticaloa., as well as on several hotels in Colombo targeting visitors to our country.

The Church of Ceylon unreservedly condemns these cowardly and cruel acts of terrorism and we offer our deep condolences to the families and friends of the over one hundred persons who have lost their lives and those who have been hurt. We wish all those who have been injured full recovery. We pray for them and their families that God’s comforting presence will continue to be with them through this tragic experience.

We call on the government to institute quick action to investigate thoroughly these incidents and to bring the perpetrators to justice., to ensure the safety of places of religious worship and to prevent any individuals or group taking the law into their hands or provoking acts of intimidation or violence against any community or group.

We call on all Sri Lankans to be mindful at this time and to act with patience and understanding. We ask for the continued support of all security and emergency services in ensuring public peace and in providing care for the affected the motives of those twisted and warped minds who planned and executed such appalling acts could very well be to destabilize the country and to cause damage to the unity and harmony of our nation.

We pray that these persons, whoever they may be, will be awakened to the awfulness of their crime.

We pray we will be able to journey through this dark phase of our country. May the Peace of the Risen Christ who on the cross prayed for forgiveness be with you all.

Rt. Revd. Dhiloraj Canagasabey
Bishop of Colombo
Rt. Revd. Keerthisiri Fernando
Bishop of Kurunegala

Attacks on places of worship – A reflection.

Last Sunday (April 13 – Palm Sunday) once again a Methodist centre was attacked in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. This attack had been carried out by an organized mob breaking law and order in the civil society. This attack on a Christian  centre cannot be isolated from the incidents such as attacks on Islam places of worship in Sri Lanka. 

Often there are people who try to ignore attacks of this nature as mere religious issues. Although these issues have a religious connotation and outlook they are integrally connected to many others concerns which should be analyzed to sustain lasting peace and harmony in society. What are the reasons for these attacks?

The mobs behind these attacks often say that these places of worship are illegal and that they are involved in unethical conversions. However, in Sri Lanka, the Constitution of the country has guaranteed religious freedom to every citizen, and he or she is allowed to practice the religion of his or her conviction individually and collectively. Therefore to practice one’s faith the place is immaterial. In this particular context these attacks are violations of the Constitution of the country and the basic human right of the believers of the relevant faiths. 

Unethical conversion is an issue that has been discussed in Sri Lanka for a considerable period of time. If somebody tries to change the religion of a citizen by using violence or force, that is not only unethical but illegal as well. At the same time, if an individual or a group tries to stop the worship of another religion it is both unethical and illegal according to the Constitution of the country and the commonly accepted norms of the society, country and many international communities. Also this creates a very negative impression of the country in the eyes of the rest of the world.

In many countries religious identities are tied up with the ethnicities of people. In Sri Lanka the identity of Buddhist people is tied up with Sinhala ethnicity, while Hindu identity is closely associated with the ethnic identity of Tamils. In the case of Muslims, ethnicity and religion are intertwined. Where Christians are concerned there are Sinhala, Tamil, Eurasian and other minority ethnicities who are adherents of this faith. Therefore Christians as a sociological entity are not particularly associated with one ethnicity. These are associations that have been evolving throughout the ages.  

Therefore it is clear that these so called attacks on religious places of worship are heading towards more serious issues than ethnic issues. It is sad to notice that the political authorities and the police are not taking adequate steps to address this vital concern in the society. Very often when these attacks are carried out, the police do not make the same effort that they would make to stop strikes, etc. Also they are very lethargic in arresting perpetrators when compared to the way they arrest people who are engaged in protests. Often when these attacks are taking place the police just wait, allowing the mobs to attack these places of worship.  

As a country just trying to raise our heads from the ugly war associated with Sinhala and Tamil ethnicities, these attacks will add fuel to the much more complicated ethno-religious issues, which will in turn result in many other international issues. As we live in an era where what happens in any corner of the world can be communicated to the rest of the world, these attacks are given wider publicity through many media such as the internet and television.  As citizens of Sri Lanka, let's try to respect each other’s ethnicity and religion to restore this country and to make it a country of peace for everybody to live in harmony. Let's appreciate the contributions made by each community to build this country. Let's use the strengths of each community to contribute to the betterment of this beautiful island.

Keerthisiri Fernando 
Bishop of Kurunagala 
Church of Ceylon

Easter message by the Bishop of Kurunagala – Church of Ceylon.

“Let us discard out self centeredness and be a risen and liberated community”

A Buddhist monk once told me that he found Christianity to be an effective religion and could agree with many of its teachings. But then he said that he has a big problem with one of the teachings of Christianity. When I asked him what that was he said the teaching of the resurrection. How could you believe that a dead man was raised to life and that he lives forever?

I told that monk that the resurrection is not a teaching or a doctrine in the Christian church, it is a living reality. It is the very foundation of the Christian church.

That monk, though a disciple of Jesus, is not alone in facing the problem of the resurrection. It is very human to have this problem because it is not something that has happened to human beings. It is something very hard to imagine and comprehend. We read in the Bible how the faith of Thomas was strengthened by seeing the risen Jesus. He made this strong statement of faith: “My Lord and my God”. Up to that point Christians called Jesus 'Lord' but not 'God'.

In the Bible we read that when Jesus was resurrected from the dead he was able to enter a closed room. He was not a ghost because he had a body. For instance, he could eat, as he did with his disciples. But his body was different from our bodies. He had a glorified body, which would never die again. When he was resurrected he was not subject to death. 

The Bible clearly shows how this risen Jesus transformed those who became his Church. This Jesus gave us courage and the assurance that life is more powerful than death. No worldly power could control or defeat Jesus. 

We see how his disciples obtained this assurance after his resurrection. According to John's gospel, when the disciples were in a closed room Jesus came into the room and said “ Peace be with you” Then he breathed on them and said "Receive the Holy Spirit". Here we are reminded how God created humankind out of dust and breathed the breath of life into their nostrils to make them living beings. This Jesus breathing the breath of life on his disciples made them live once again. The reason is after the death of Jesus, although physically they were alive, morally they were dead. 

In Luke’s gospel we are given the story of how the resurrected Jesus met two people as a stranger. According to this story, when two men were walking to Emmaus they met a stranger who started to walk and talk with them. They did not recognize him. But he was with them throughout the whole day.  At times they did not recognize him but when at last he broke bread at the Eucharist they were able to recognize him. 

This gave them the realization that all human beings are created in the image of God and have the capacity to reflect the resurrected Jesus.  This realization made the early Christians accept anyone into their fellowship irrespective of class, code or ethnicity. 

This is very clear in the story of the conversion of Saul, later known as Paul. His conversion took place on the road to Damascus as he was going to arrest Christians and persecute them. But the resurrected Jesus appeared to him and told Saul that by his actions he had been persecuting Jesus himself. 

Today do we see the risen Jesus in other people? Especially people who have been persecuted? I am sure the day we acknowledge this is the day of our conversion. This gives new hope, through the risen Jesus, to the whole world. I believe that in the life of Pope John Paul II some have been able to see the resurrected Jesus as a sign of this hope. 

Therefore as we break bread let us try to recognize the resurrected Jesus who has come to us as strangers.

From the Diocese
The structure of Diocesan administration has now being restructured and several committees assist the Bishop and the Archdeacon in their ministry. The Bishop's Trusteeship Advisory Committee, Architectural and Building committee and Legal advisory teams assist with the many important aspects with regard to administration. The Bishop will be in overall in charge while the Archdeacon will specially overlook the aspect of administration. The Area Dean's will have a special task of concentrating on the pastoral ministry within their deaneries.  

In past few months we have been able to work at Youth programmes, Women's board of work, Sunday's school and Day schools. We thank the many members who voluntarily help us in these committees. As we plan for this year ahead we pray for God’s guidance on these important activities. We have looked into developing the celibate ministry within our Diocese. We have the Devasevikaramaya, Methpiyasa, Benedictine and Franciscan spiritualities which we intend to develop in their strengths. We have also looked at ways in which our clergy and lay workers could be further strengthened in their ministries through education, professional training and guidance.  

A lay training programme is conducted at Christ church in Kandy. We have been able to complete three new churches in Hiriyala, Liyangala and Galewala and we thank the clergy, congregations and numerous well wishers who have assisted in this regard. We are also happy to report that the Panideniya chapel is functioning again. As you would have seen we have done some TV and Radio programmes and we will continue with promoting the talents and creativity of our diocese through these programmes. 

We continue to build networks and fellowship with a forum called "Friends of the Diocese of Kurunagala in Colombo". The network building is also worked at with other countries, Anglican worldwide networks and our friends and partners in the Anglican Communion. On the Finance side we are developing links with our friends, through links, development of properties and Trust Funds. A building programme is in place to look at repairing the Cathedral, our churches and mission houses in need of repair. 

We thank all of you for your continued support and pray for each and every person who make up this unique Diocese. We request your further support and prayers as we journey through a meaningful Lent and as we recognize our Lord at the Easter. 

The Rt Revd Keerthisiri Fernando
Bishop of Kurunagala – Church of Ceylon

The Diocese of Kurunagala – A look at the past year 2018/19

I. Structure of the Diocese and Administration
On the 6th of January the New Bishop, the sixth in the Diocese was consecrated at the Cathedral Church in Kurunagala. The advisory and decision making forums within the Diocese was restructured with the

a. BTAC - Bishop's Trusteeship Advisory Committee - With representatives from the standing committee, incorporated trustees and professionals to have an overview and forum of the major aspects of the Diocesan administration.
b. Panel of Legal advisors – To advise on legal related matters
c. Architectural and Building committee – To formulate and work on construction related area
d. BAAD - Bishop, Archdeacon and Area dean's – The Area deans were invited to the Bishop and Archdeacon meeting to further the conversation and planning
e. BAT - Bishop, Archdeacon and Treasurer – To Overlook the financial aspects of the Diocese

The Bishop will be in overall in charge while the Archdeacon will specially overlook the aspect of administration. The Area Dean's will have a special task of concentrating on the pastoral ministry within their deaneries.

Mission Work will be conducted by the Bishop's office in Kurunagala and Administration function s will be carried out through the Diocesan office in Kandy.

II. Mission Oriented Activities

a. Youth work -Several Youth programmes have been held foremost amongst these was the Residential camp.
b. Women's work -Programmes have been held and the Board of Women contribute to play an important role within the Diocese.
c. Sunday's school – The Children's rally and a teacher training was held while other programmes relate to religious education continue to take place.
d. Day schools – The appointed committee is functioning and have made progress in the process of developing a former school with the contribution of the Diocese.

Missional activities
e. Lay training at Christ Church Kandy – An innovative programme to develop lay leadership is being continued at CC Kandy.
f. Ministerial training - Diploma of English and IT studies for clergy and lay workers is being conducted. Several other professional development programmes have also been looked at.
g. Construction of new churches - Hiriyala, Liyangala and Galewala had new church buildings constructed and consecrated. The Panideniya chapel is functioning again.
h. Media and publications – TV and Redio programmes were held. The Kithumina newspaper is functioning and newer avenues of publicizing it is being looked at. A book was published on "Christian Worship and Liturgy" while a book on "Pastoral Ministry" is being completed.

III. Diocesan Institutions

a. BLWMC – Kurunagala- has been refurbished and improved. The centre continues to play a vital role in mission.
b. BAKC - Thalawa - Has been restructured and progressing. Potential to make use for further mission.
c. House of Joy Thalawa, Evelyn Nurseries in Kandy and St. John's Boy's home continue with the most important aspect of child welfare, development and protection.
d. Christhodaya and Devasaranaramaya are being restructured accordingly with an emphasis on mission. The institutions have contributed the Diocese in financial and missional perspectives.
e. Fellowship of Celibates () instituted The contributions of the Fellowship of Celibates as follows

IV. Continuing and Future Objectives

a. Support networks – Building of fellowship and a support network within at Christ Church  and externally has been looked at with the forum of “Friends of the Diocese of Kurunagala in Colombo”. The network building is also worked at with other countries, Anglican worldwide networks and our friends and partners in the Anglican Communion.
b.Finance – We realize that this is a long term objective and we have todate worked at
1. Support from friends
2. Support through links
3. Development of properties
4. Trust Funds

c.Repairs of the buildings – A building plan has been formulated in which the following have been highlighted
1. Cathedral
2. Churches
3. Mission Houses

d.Clergy development - Higher studies, professional development and special ministries are some of the areas we hope to work at, at clergy advancement
e. Worship and Evangelism – Our committees in liturgy and M & E have been active in these areas. We hope to build further consensus and participation at the local church level. It will be our mission to bring in the uniqueness of our Diocese into these important mission work.

Sexual Orientation and the Anglican Response.

If we were to think of one aspect of life that has been of immense scrutiny and discussion in the Church it would be human sexuality. The debates and arguments that have raged across the Church contexts have even threatened unity, doctrines, abandonment of faith and the like. The fact that human sexuality has also been expressed in the light of human freedom and liberation has further complicated matters. For examples sex change surgeries, LGBTQ rights, status of same sex couples, transgender realities etc have maneuvered the ongoing debate on sexuality into unchartered waters. In the absence of a collective theological response secularism has infiltrated this issue in such a way that it has left the Church wanting of a view addresses these questions.

The Anglican Communion

In the recent past the Anglican Communion has been having many discussions, discourses and debates on human sexuality. It is not just for the fact that the Anglican Communion has been immune or affected to this ongoing discussion but rather we ourselves have faced severing of relationships, theological revolutions and even brought the Communion to the brink of a schism. There have been sharp contrasting viewpoints on the Evangelical and Conservative African context against the Western and the Americanized wing of faith affirmation. Amongst our deliberations but not limited to, have been the nature versus nurture debate on homosexuality, the legal status of same sex unions, adoption and related recognition of same sex couples, ordination of and ministerial view points of openly homosexual persons and a unified front on confronting a secular view with a theological response. 

From a Church perspective

Our articulation of a response to this phenomenon must be intricately related to how we look at ourselves. What are the binding facts of the Anglican Communion? We need to revisit and redefine what we as a Church envisage for ourselves and the world. The same fact that we are a moderate and outward looking Congregation needs to be highlighted in this regard. While we are bound with creeds and the instruments of unity we also recognize that we are all belong to diverse affirmations and contexts. While we use the same pillars of tradition, scripture and reason we must also remember that we are an outcome of a revolution but also with a firm resolve of an Anglo –Catholic nature. It emphasizes the fact that we need to be a bridging Church, a Church that needs to tolerate and accept different affirmations. The Anglican Communion with diversity in geography, culture, languages, contexts, theologies, traditions etc spell this to us more clearly and challenges the Communion than any other Church. The Marks of the Anglican Mission gives an insight into the very forward looking and integrating mission that we engage in and this calls us to a deeper understanding of human sexuality from Biblical, theological & sociological perspectives.

Biblical, Theological and Sociological Perspectives

The Bible relates to us the goodness of God and continuing human frailty. When we read and mark the Holy Bible we need to have an in-depth idea of the contexts addressed and the culture on which these have been written. For examples we can cite the sexuality of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob and the prophets with a reference to Hosea. What is the understanding of literature such as the Song of Solomon, the letters of St Paul etc? What are the cultural implications of the Israelite understanding of Polygamy, Bigamy etc. which is found in several places of the Bible?

Theologically we also understand God of the ‘many’ in the thought of Jesus. How Jesus integrated all people in the mission of God’s reign is probably the best theological initiative we have when discussing this issue. Human sexuality had several exceptions in the Bible and Jesus’ overview of these makes these exceptions realistic and present. The best examples of this would be how Jesus treated, accepted and recognized people in the periphery. We need to look at this phenomenon through the eyes of the New Testament but also as how Jesus would have viewed same.

Sociologically we need to understand that differing human sexuality is a reality. While a small proportion may belong to one polar and another proportion to another side all the others remain at differing proportions on the scale of human sexuality. How can we then to promote "diversity in unity" rather than "unity in diversity"? We cannot expect or force everyone to belong to one category. It would seem as strange as asking everyone to colour one’s skin one way or the other. The Anglican Communion must excel at bringing together diversity as unity. We cannot be bound by "colonial" uniformity which has been in place for several centuries across many parts of the world. We need to understand and respect each person and for what he or she may stand. We need to respect what he or she has inherited. We need to respect each other with diverse views and principles.

Jesus' spirituality and our mission

We always reiterate the fact that our mission must be the mission of God. It cannot be further away from what God wants us to do. The best lenses we see God's mission is by the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus accepted people as they were.

People are born with a variety of sexual orientations. We can attribute this genetically, medically, ethically, secularly or in any other manner. But it remains a reality. We must now think how to accommodate them in the Church and in the human family. How can we make them feel wanted, welcomed, respected and indeed honoured. This cannot be a superficial outlook on forgetting distinctions but having unresolved issues internally. We must be open and widening our horizons in a manner that makes us no longer differentiates between anyone with any sexual orientation. Human sexuality remains just one more matter that can divide humanity adding to a host of which makes us have prejudices and reservations. If we can lift ourselves to look beyond these differences and to have vision of Jesus’ we would be able to even lead the world view against discrimination and marginalization. Our prayer must be that we keep on listening to what God instills in us as humans and we engage in the mission of integrating in the power of the Spirit.

The Rt Revd Keerthisiri Fernando
Bishop of Kurunagala – Church of Ceylon
09 Feb 2019

Christmas: The Festival of Light and Life

Independence Day Message 2018

If we ask any non Christian as to one festival so closely linked to a particular religion and which has now become universal; the answer would be Christmas without any competition. For Christians, Christmas is but one of several feasts they observe throughout the year and which are sometimes more significant than this feast in December which has become more vibrant due to commercial purposes in the modern times. Why do people celebrate Christmas? A straightforward answer to this question is that Christmas is the birthday of Christ. Does this mean that Jesus was born on the 25th December? No, it does not mean that He was born on December 25th. The truth is that nobody knows the day on which Jesus was born. Then one may ask the reason for celebrating Christmas on the 25th December every year. This is a complex and complicated story, which needs to be investigated to have a sound understanding of Christmas.

According to the Bible

It is clear that the early Christians did not celebrate the birthday of Christ. In the New Testament of the Bible, apart from the records of the birth of Christ we do not find any record of these early followers of Jesus Christ celebrating the birthday of their leader and master. This is not something surprising as Jesus was a Jew and most of the early followers of Jesus were Jewish people. For Jews birthdays were not very important as for the Romans or Greeks. In this background the only clear birthday recorded in the New Testament is the birthday celebration of King Herod, after which event John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, was beheaded. 

When Christmas began to be celebrated on the 25th December this festival became meaningful to people as it was able to enrich the birth of Christ by absorbing the meaningful festivals already celebrated in society.  This is the core factor that has made Christmas so important for people all over the world. In this particular context it is clear that Christmas is not a mere birthday party for Jesus Christ. It is a festival of light and life. This is clear in the following Bible verses taken from the traditional Bible passage read for Christmas from St. John’s Gospel (St. John 1.1-14),

″In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it…..″

Let us see how Christmas became a rich mixture or a colourful tapestry though many sociological, religious and ethical influences

The Historical landscape

According to the generally accepted history of the Christian Church Christmas has been celebrated on 25th December since 354CE. Before this time, and after the New Testament period, this festival was celebrated on 6th January. It is necessary to understand the context of  January 6th to comprehend the festival that was celebrated on this date. In pagan antiquity 6th January was the feast of Dionysus the Greek vegetarian god of wine. It was the belief of the followers of this god that by transforming water into wine this god revealed his divine power. Very probably, when the early Christians gradually initiated the celebration of the incarnation of God in Jesus the established legend of Dionysus would have created a significant ground to make the nativity of Jesus effective and meaningful. This is clear in the way in which they celebrated the Epiphany on the 6th January by commemorating the feast of the power of revelation of their God in a way by displacing the feast of the epiphany of Dionysus.

On the other hand the gradual development of 25th December as the nativity of Christ from the mid 4th century cannot be understood without a sound understanding of the mid winter festivals of the ancient world. These festivals were especially prominent in ancient Babylon and Egypt. At the same time Germanic fertility festivals were also held during this winter season. Along with the winter festivals the birth of the sun god was particularly associated with 25th December. For instance, the births of the ancient sun god Attis in Phrygia and the Persian sun god Mithras were celebrated on December 25th. The Roman festival of Saturn (Saturnalia), the god of peace and plenty, was from 17th to 24th December. These festivals were held with great festivity along with public gatherings, exchange of gifts and candles, etc.

Cultural Influences

Apart from these origins there are many other customs and traditions from other cultures which are embedded with Christmas.  For instance the custom of decorating homes and altars with evergreen leaves of holly and mistletoe during the Christmas season came from the ancient Celtic culture of the British Isles where they revered all green plants as important symbols of fertility. The tradition of calling Christmas Yule tide in many countries is derived from an ancient ritual of burning Yule logs as part of a pagan ceremony associated with vegetation and fire. This community act was performed with the expectation of magical and spiritual powers. It is believed that the widely venerated Saint Francis of Assisi introduced the practice of making cribs by making a model of the scenes of nativity to re-enact the birth of Christ in order to bring spiritual revival to the laity. As is common knowledge, singing is part and parcel of almost all cultures of the world. In the background of this “cultural universal” singing of the carols for Christmas appeared in the Middle Ages and by the 14th century this custom became an integral part of the religious observances of the birth of Christ.  Apart from these customs, rituals and ceremonies there are many other traditions such as the Christmas tree and the observance of saint days that are intertwined with the celebration of Christmas.

What Christmas means for us today

Christmas has the power to bring many cultures, traditions and symbols together to uplift humanity to divinity and bring down the divine to humanity. It is the responsibility of Christians and others concerned to make this festival meaningful by adsorbing all life affirming and light generating festivals and activities to this festival.  We can see that already this has happened commercially. It is our responsibility to make this happen ethically, morally, culturally and spiritually.

The necessity for this responsibility springs up in the post war contexts of many countries as there are people who still exist in bleak life threatening situations. Here the message of Christmas is not to look into their caste, code, class, ethnicity or religion, but to accept and honour them by respecting them and making them understand that their liberation and redemption is tied up with the salvation of whole humanity.

While celebrations will continue this Christmas as well, let us direct our minds to understand those that are unable to celebrate not religiously but in any practical manner according to hardship, non recognition, discrimination, fear and loneliness. The message of God who becomes a human being in order to know humanity and to save humanity cannot resonate at all if we are unable to bring this joyful news of light and life into the lives of the above. Let this be a season where we share this light and life with them and many others. May the peace of Christmas be with you all..

Rt.Rev'd.Keerthisiri Fernando
Bishop of Kurunagala,
Church of Ceylon,
Sri Lanka

Political Uncertainly in Sri Lanka

Independence Day Message 2018

There has been political uncertainty, anxiety and a constitutional crisis which has given way after the  President of Sri Lanka his Excellency Maithripala Sirisena invited the former President the Hon Mahinda Rajapakse to be sworn in as the new Prime minister of the country while removing the previous Prime minister the Hon Ranil Wickremasinghe from Office on Friday 26th October 2018. This has been due as the President's party has pulled out of the coalition Government which has been in place for the past three and a half years.

While the previous Prime minister has confirmed that he is still remains in this post and he has the majoritarian support of Parliament, the President has dissolved Parliament and it is due to reconvene in three weeks time.  While this vulnerable situation remains for this time period it is our duty to share our thoughts on this matter as the Diocese of Kurunagala in the Church of Ceylon.

Sri Lanka is still recovering from a three decade war and different other turmoil that have been given ignition under ethnic, religious and political lines.  It is certainly not in the interest of the people of this beautiful country to suffer yet again another conflict which has been in the making for awhile and it looks at present that people at the ground level are also been influenced by same. These impediments result in time and energy spent, distancing people on divisive lines,  tarnishing the image of the country in the international stage and presenting stumbling blocks in the country's reconciliation and recovery journey.

As responsible representatives of the people we call on each elected official not to fuel into the emotional and sentimental mentalities of vulnerable populations which has only shown us calamity in the past. We also call upon all our citizens to act responsibly in this moment of indecisiveness and especially not to be carried away with divisive rhetoric or violent political agendas. It is time we all need to tap into our emotional intelligence to overcome this while maintaining harmony and respect with each other.

As regards the ongoing crisis as the legal opinions have favoured, the situations remains an issue that must be resolved in the parliament with the consensus of the elected members of this body. In this country the mandate of the people has been duly practiced by the parliamentary representatives for many decades with a rich traditional history and with the supremacy of the constitutional framework. We are certain that this uncertainty can be cleared with due process and with the opinions of the elected representatives. We also hope that the outcome of such process will be respected by all as it is the will of the people in this democratic state.

We pray that God's will, will prevail upon this situation while calm and dialogue will triumph so that the country will once again be able to concentrate on the task of building up, reconciliation and development.

Rt.Rev'd.Keerthisiri Fernando
  Bishop of Kurunagala,
Church of Ceylon,
Sri Lanka
27th October 2018

Statement on the resumption of executions for convicts of drug offences

It has been reported that the President and the Cabinet of Ministers have taken a decision to authorize prison authorities to resume the execution of those sentenced to death for drug related crimes and are yet continuing to be involved in the drug trade while in prison.

As Christians, we believe that all people are made in the image of God and are therefore imbued with the spark of the divine within them, however obscured and hidden it may be. This is why the taking of human life is expressly condemned by the Church, whether by man or by the state. (Read More>>)

The 62th Annual Session of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Kurunagala

The Sixty Second Session of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Kurunagala will be held at the Bishop Lakshman Wickremasinghe Centre Auditorium on Saturday September 22, 2018 under the Patronage of the Rt. Revd. Keerthisiri Fernando . The Chief Guest will be Revd. Heshan De Silva The president, Baptist Sangamaya of Sri lanka. The order of proceedings will commence at 8 a.m. with Celebration of Holy Communion in the Cathedral Church of Christ the King, Kurunagala. The morning session of the Council will begin at 9.45 a.m.


To serve the people of God and the body of Christ with utmost commitment, love, with true discipleship and to witness for His incarnation, death and resurrection.

We acknowledge that all this is the Grace of God and that we have nothing that is not from God. In this gratitude we set our wills to fulfill the work of representing the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church so that the people of this land will find a new spirituality and true community in the new creation. We pray that the life and witness of our church contribute to the wider life and witness of the Church of God in Sri Lanka, Asia and the world: and that this in turn will lead all people to the truth in God.

The Church
The Church of England in Ceylon came into being with the establishment of British rule in Sri Lanka and the Diocese of Colombo comprising the whole island was formed in 1845. At the centenary celebrations of the Diocese in 1945 a resolution moved for creation of a second diocese to enable better pastoral care of its congregations and more effective mission of the Church. Thus began the Diocese of Kurunagala in 1950 with Rt. Revd. Lakdasa de Mel as its first Bishop.More

During British rule in Ceylon, the spreading of the gospel according to the Church of England was undertaken by three church organizations. The Church Missionary Society (CMS) operated principally in the rural areas. The society for the propagation of the Gospel (SPG) covered the coastal areas with extensive networks. The Tamil Church Mission which operated under British tutelage catered for the plantation areas. Thus the rural base of the Diocese of Kurunagala was a historical factor stemming from the activities of the Church of England in the nineteenth century. (1950-2000)... More

The 63rd Annual Session of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Kurunagala

The Sixty Three Session of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Kurunagala will be held at the Bishop Lakshman Wickremasinghe Centre Auditorium on Saturday September 28, 2019 under the presidentship of the Rt. Revd. Keerthisiri Fernando.

The Chief Guest will be Senior Professor Lal Mervin Dharmasiri the Director, National Centre for Advanced Studies (NCAS) University Grant Commission. The order of proceedings will commence at 8a.m. with Celebration of Holy Communion in the Cathedral Church of Christ the King, Kurunegala.

The morning session of the Council will begin at 9.45 a.m. 31. Ministers, 10 nominees of the Bishop, 5 nominees of the Standing committee and the 72 Lay representatives of the Diocese are deemed suitable to participate.

The Secretary of the Diocese Mr.Lashantha Perera informed that only the above will be allowed to enter the Centre and take their reserved seats.

Vesak Message

St.Luke's Church Galewela will be consecrated by the Rt.Revd. Keerthisiri Fernando, from 8.30am on 9th March 2019

St.Luke's Church Galewela

St.Luke's Church Galewela

St.Luke's Church Galewela

Christmas Messages



Kithumina Coverpage


The Episcopal Ordination and Enthronement of the 6th Bishop of Kurunagala

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One Year On..

One Year On

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