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BISHOP’S CHARGE TO THE 63RD ANNUAL SESSION OF THE DIOCESAN COUNCIL OF THE DIOCESE OF KURUNAGALA 20018/19 – RT REVD KEERTHISIRI FERNANDO

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.Are we ready for the day of the Lord? Are we prepared? Can we present ourselves as acceptable in the sight of the Lord? These were questions that God communicates to the people through the prophet Amos in the above passage. Amos challenges people to leave and look beyond ritual religion and to be partakers of practical and real ministry. The Israelites had gotten used to offerings and festivals with songs that were merely on the outside. The true change and transformation of the heart was missing. Amos goes onto the point of saying that with this spirituality they should not hope for the day of the Lord as it will be a disaster and a dark day. God's rewards and pleasure will not be on them.

This is in fact a common message among most of the prophets in the Old Testament. It also presents to us human weakness. Rather than having a change of heart we just observe rules. We become superficial but we do not look for transformation. God speaks of transformation from the state of separation into reconciliation. This as Christians must also be our ministry. In the final sentence from the above passage we find that famous phrase of the need for justice and righteousness to flow. Unless we can confirm that our Church, Society, Country and the World are visible with justice and righteousness we are not prepared to call for the day of the Lord.

As in many of the transformations that are needed for change, this must also begin with us. At most times we either blame Governments or the Church. However we are part of each of these institutions. We can start transformation by changing ourselves. Justice is a key issue in the Old Testament scriptures. There is blame on the Israelites for withholding God's justice. God's justice is meant for the foreigner, widow, orphan and the slave. The people themselves took the liberty of giving out justice and in their weakness they became selfish. Today in the world there is no issue that is bigger than what we can solve. It can be political conflicts, hunger, poverty, exploitations; these have all come up to this level because of human greed and the inability to let God's justice from reaching everyone.

Today we are called as the prophet called his people that day, to give emphasis on true change. It can be in our spiritual, personal, family or Church lives. We are called to refrain from superficial or ‘only outside' actions. These are for praise by outsiders and not from God. God sees the inside of us and does not stress what we do superficially. Transformation could be difficult. Jesus our Lord also had quite a lot to say on superficial religion. He exposed Pharisees as leading this spirituality and not having practice. He called this hypocrisy and blamed them for the many issues that were found in that society.

The modern culture today leaves very little room for honesty and truthfulness. We see every cause being subject to the power of wealth. As religious as persons belonging to this Diocese with its rich history we are called to ‘live our faith' in the midst of difficulties. This will yield more results than all the rituals and traditions we practice in our faith life. Yet we can make small changes in our lives which will in turn then transform others and then it will transform even the world. The best example will be our Lord. Jesus called for and acted transformation in every perspective of life. This was sometimes met with persecution but its results are felt even today. In the Spirit, our call then this day will be to love justice and righteousness, to imitate these qualities in every aspect of our lives and to hope in expectation that God finds us acceptable in the day of the Lord.


B. Diocesan Matters
The Diocesan Calendar is one which is eventful and keeps on throughout the year. The visit of the Archbishop of Canturbury his Grace Justin Welby was indeed a highlight of the past year. He and his wife Caroline were accompanied by Rt Revd Anthony Poggo and Canon David Porter as they undertook this solidarity visit. They met with the President, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Religious leaders as well as had services in both our cathedrals.

We were able to hold many of the traditional events in the calendar and also concentrate on a few new changes.

One of these main changes was to restructure the administration of the Diocese. This was a need as we felt that there were special forums where specific mission areas were to be discussed. This has also made it possible to get more persons interested working within the Diocese in planning and organizing. This has resulted in professionals and other experts working in the Diocese, making a stage for discussing ideas and it also gives us collective accountability. The following committees now assist the Bishop in mission work.

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 as well as put in order the legal aspect of many of our deeds, processes, court proceedings etc.
c. Architectural and Building committee – To formulate and work on construction related areas as well as on refurbishment and repairs which is a long term need.
d. BAAD - Bishop, Archdeacon and Area Dean's – The Area deans were invited to the Bishop and Archdeacon's meeting to further the conversation and planning.
e. BAT - Bishop, Archdeacon and Treasurer – To overlook the financial aspects of the Diocese and to promote the many areas in which we can fund our mission.
The Bishop will be overall in charge while the Archdeacon will specially overlook the aspect of administration. The Area Deans 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 functions will be carried out through the Diocesan office in Kandy.

When we look at the year past in ministry, we are pleased to mention the following

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 School – The Children's rally and a teacher training was held while other programmes related 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.
Further to these we also have worked on
e. Lay training at Christ Church Kandy – An innovative programme to develop lay leadership is being continued in 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. We are thankful for a donor who has assisted us in building a church in the Pathragala plantation. This was a faithful community for many years and it is a joy to see them receive this blessing together with the Diocese.
h. Media and publications – TV and Radio programmes were held. The Kithumina newspaper is functioning and newer avenues of publicizing it is being looked at. Books were published on “Ethno Religious Identities”, "Pastoral Ministry” and “Church Administration".

Our Diocesan Institutions continue to play a major role in our mission.
a. Bishop Lakshman Wickremasinghe Memorial Centre – Kurunagala- has been refurbished and improved. The centre continues to play a vital role in mission.
b. Bishop Andrew Kumarage Memorial Centre - Thalawa - Has been restructured and work is progressing. There is 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 to the Diocese in financial and missional perspectives.
e. Fellowship of Celibates (ශ්‍රමණ ඇසුර) instituted . The contributions of the Fellowship of Celibates as follows Sevikaramaya– Proclamation of the Gospel in rural areas with an emphasis of indigenous cultural context, Meth Piyasa – To serve various ethno-religious communities with a Christian spirituality, Franciscan spirituality – Spiritual growth in harmony with the nature and Benedictine spirituality – Meditation, reflection & discipline.

C. National Affairs 
Our country had experienced relative peace for the past ten years. In that context the terror attacks that took place this year at Easter shook us to our core. It was a barbaric attack on innocent people from all backgrounds targeting places of worship. We condemn wholeheartedly and without reservation these actions by extremist groups on Easter day. Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected, the victims and the many who are still searching for answers. We as a Diocese gave several press releases and also took part in television and practical forums on the causes and prevention of such calamities.

There were many perspectives of the problem that were highlighted some were political, some religious, social and international. While all these aspects remain realistic we as a Diocese are committed to the cause of reconciliation as it is our duty following in the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also our conviction that another extremism cannot be used to deal with one extremism. This is evident in the fact that many groups seem to use this for political or anti social agendas. Each ethnic and religious group must be respected while political and legal forces must be used to maintain the integrity of life. Life is God's gift to us. In all matters we must endure to sustain the dignity of life and this must be our teaching as well as our practice.

The political scenario in Sri Lanka continues to deepen with opportunism and questionable practices. This was visible in the past year with the government takeover. A people's struggle was initiated with good governance and accountability of the Government was called into question. We believe that leadership must also be developed and refreshed.

Embracing a political class merely for their benefit is not advantageous to the majority of population. While huge expenses are given to the public it is necessary that all of these are used for the benefit of the public. While still in many areas unemployment, poverty and exploitation remain we call on all leaders to respect their mandates and work through the government for the betterment of all. On top of that all political parties must be committed for true reconciliation. It is then that harmony and good will will prevail. We as Christians area called to live our faith in a manner that is exemplarily and this is our calling. Where there is hate and division we must bridge these divides. God's reign of freedom and joy must not be concepts too hard to imagine it must be lived on this beautiful country.

D. International Affairs
The Lambeth Conference is set to take place next year with the theme ‘God's Church for God's World'. We as a diocese have already had some feedback on the contribution we hope to make through the visit of the Bishop to this important gathering which takes place once in ten years.

I was also able to visit England, Lambeth Palace and many other well wishers in the UK this year. This was a visit of developing links and strengthening previous relationships. Much ground has been achieved through this and I was part of a group of newly elected Bishops who spent time in preparation for ministry. A most important point of discussion in modern Church circles in the west has been ‘Human Sexuality'. There have been varied interpretations on this and it has sometimes led to certain divisions within the Church. Some of our discussions on this matter can be found on the diocesan website. Eventhough it is yet a debatable topic in Sri Lanka it will be suitable to discuss on how well our Christian faith must endure this challenge.

During this year with the Easter Attacks we also saw the challenge of ethno identities being swelled up. As we discussed on this important issue it is up to us to realize the differences and points of division that lies in this very complicated sociological issue. A book titled ‘Ethno Religious Identities' was published by myself through the Theological College of Lanka which presented thought provoking essays on the topic. We as a Diocese will be keen on the unity and reconciliation which must be achieved through the challenge of years of history and tradition. In our Diocese we are capable of recognizing these identities as we are blessed with this multiculturism therefore let us develop our sense and work on it.

E. Future planning
We continue to work on
a. Support networks – Building of fellowship and a support network within 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 Support from friends, Support through links, Development of properties and the use of Trust Funds.
c. Repairs to buildings are underway– A building plan has been formulated in which the following have been highlighted the Cathedral, urgent repairs in parishes and 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 and already this plan is in progress.
e. Worship and Evangelism – Our committees in Worship, Liturgy and Mission & Evangelism have been active in these areas. We hope to build further consensus and participation at the local parish level. It will be our mission to bring in the uniqueness of our Diocese into this important mission work.
f. The Lambeth Conference – This will be held next year. We as a Diocese have already made planning towards it and are upholding the event in prayer.

F. Gratitude
As another year ends we thank God Almighty for journeying with us. We believe the past year even though with challenges was an effective year of ministry. We are indeed grateful for many well-wishers around the world and around the country who pray and assists us in our pilgrimage. We thank the many who have assisted us in the building of churches and in funding our daily ministries such as mission travel, repairs, day school programmes etc. We thank our Archdeacon, Ven George Melder, Previous Registrar Mr Saman Hapuwatte and Diocesan Secretary, Mr Lashantha Perera for their valuable services and we wish them well. We also thank all the members who voluntarily serve on all committees and for the many who take on special interests.

We are thankful for the Diocesan staff as well as for the many clergy and laity at different levels of management who have assisted the Diocese in varied capacities. I also thank the Bishop's office staff with Mr Banda and Mr Raju and the Bishop Lakshman Wickremasinhghe Centre staff for their enduring support. I also thank my family Arlene, Sethlath and Sethsara for their encouragement at all times.

May God bless and guide us in achieving our potential and working in God's vineyard.


Service & Event to show gratitude to Bishop Dhilo & Ven. Nimal

Independence Day Message 2018

Event and service organized to show gratitude for the services rendered to the Diocese of Kurunagala by Rt Rev Dhiloraj Canagasabey and Ven Nimal Wickramaratne


Get together and workshop for the diocesan Sunday school and day teachers

Independence Day Message 2018

Theological College of Lanka, Pilimatalwa hosted a get together and workshop for the diocesan Sunday school and Day teachers on 9th April 2018


The Installation Service of 9th Archdeacon of Kurunagala

Independence Day Message 2018

Succeeding the invite extended by the Rt Rev Keerthisiri Fernando, Bishop of Kurunagala to Fr George Melder to be installed as the 9th Archdeacon of the diocese, the installation was held on the 29th of May 2018 at 3.00pm at the cathedral church in Kurunagala.. At the same service the collation of two Canons Fr Neil Wimalasena and Fr Neil Vandort also took place with ceremony


The Sunday Schoo Rally

Independence Day Message 2018

On the leadership of the Board of Religious Education the Sunday School rally was held at St Andrew’s church in Meetanwala on 15 June 2018.


Service of Collation & Installation of the 9th Archdeacon of Kurunagala

Independence Day Message 2018

Service of Collation & Installation of the 9th Archdeacon of Kurunagala : Fr George Melder & The Canons of the Cathedral - Frs Neil & Gabriel
Date - May 29 ( Poya Day)
Time - 3.00 pm @ Cathedral of Christ the King - Kandy Road : Kurunagala.


Easter Message of the Bishop of Kurunagala (28 - 03 - 2018)

We are in the season of Easter – the season of new life. As Christians we know that Easter is the foundation of our faith. For our meditation on Easter I would like to ask you three questions. What is Easter? How do we understand Easter? And what is the meaning of Easter for us today? 
What is Easter?  Read More >>


 

9th Archdeacon of Kurunagala - Revd. George Melder (23 - 03 - 2018)

Independence Day Message 2018

After much Prayers and reflections, The Bishop of Kurunagala  Rt. Revd. Keerthisiri Fernando has invited Revd. George Melder to be the 9th Archdeacon of Kurunagala. Revd George Melder is presently the vicar at St. Peter and St. Pauls Church, Hewadiwela
We continue to uphold Revd. Melder in our Prayers. Read More >>

 


Ethno-Religious tension in Sri Lanka

Independence Day Message 2018

Once again the ugly face of ethno-religious identities in Sri Lanka has been raising its head with destruction of properties and human life. It has been reported that personal and minor issues have been blown as major issues and shaped into ethnic and religious conflict. This has been very visible in Ampara in the Eastern province and Theldeniya in the central province of this Island. In the past few days mob violence, hate speeches, heightened tensions and destruction of religious places  has spread into the surrounding areas of the Digana-Theldeniya administrative regions. Read More >>

 


 

Independence Day Message - From the Bishop of Kurunagala

Sri Lanka is celebrating Seventy Years of Independence from the colonial past in this year 2018. The journey towards our independence and the journey from the independent era towards the modern times has not been easy. There have been much points of debate, conflicts and continued struggles. Sometimes we as the citizens and onlookers doubt why a small nation such as ours with people such as us who are naturally friendly and smiling, cannot live in peace and Unity. Unity in our country has had many changes made to its meaning through these seventy years. Our country is blessed with many resources from natural to biodiversity to a rich heritage to human potential. Our country is even more blessed to have within us many of the great religious traditions, cultures, languages and ideologies. All these aspects have enriched the life of the country from many years even before the foreign rule set in. On an important occasion such as this, we must ask from ourselves whether we treat this diversity or mixture as our strength or as our threat? Read More >>

 


The Service of the Episcopal Ordination and Enthronement of the 6th Bishop of Kurunagala of the Church of Ceylon (Anglican) Diocese of Kurunagala



The Episcopal Ordination and Enthronement of The Ven. Devapriya Keerthisiri Fernando as the 6th Bishop of Kurunagala of the Anglican Church in Sri Lanka, known as the Church of Ceylon, will take place at a special celebration and service which will be held at the Cathedral Church of Christ the King, Kurunagala on Saturday, the 6th of January, 2018 from 8.30 am.

This service will be graced by many Bishops from all over the world, Christian and non-Christian Clergy, Political Leaders and Ministers, Local & foreign and a very large number of worshippers.

All are Invited

ලංකා සභාවේ (ඇන්ග්ලිකානු) කුරුණෑගල දියෝකීසියේ 6 වන රදගුරු හිමිපාණන් ආසනාරූඨ කිරිමේ විශේෂ දේවමෙහෙය වන්දනීය දේවප‍්‍රිය කීර්තිසිරි ප‍්‍රනාන්දු අනුනායක පියතුමා, ලංකා සභාවේ (ඇන්ග්ලිකානු) කුරුණෑගල දියෝකීසියේ 6 වන රදගුරු හිමිපාණන් ලෙස, සංස්කාරකර, ආසනාරූඨ කිරිමේ විශේෂ දේවමෙහෙය, 2018 ජනවාරි මස 06 වන සෙනසුරාදා, පෙ:ව:8.30 ට, කුරුණෑගල ක‍්‍රිස්තු රජීද මුල් දෙව් මැදුරේදි අති උත්සවාකාරයෙන් පැවැත්වේ. එදින පැවැත්වෙන විශේෂ දේවමෙහෙය සදහා දෙස් විදෙස් රදගුරුවරු, කිතුනු හා අන්‍යාගමික පූජකවරු, දේශපාලනික නායකවරු හා මැති ඇමතිවරු, දෙස් විදෙස් ප‍්‍රභූවරු ඇතුලූ බැතිමතුන් විශාල පිරිසක් සහභාගි වීමට නියමිතය. ඔබ සැමට ගෞරවණිය ආරාධනා !





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