Madhya Pradesh Region

By Samuel Serjit, and Gordon E. Christo

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 Samuel Serjit

Gordon E. Christo, Ph.D. in Old Testament and Adventist Studies (Andrews University). Christo is retired and working on contract as assistant editor of the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists and assistant editor of the Seventh-day Adventist International Biblical-Theological Dictionary. He is currently setting up a heritage center for Southern Asia Division. Some of his research on Adventist history can be seen at https://sudheritage.blogspot.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/SUDHeritage/.

Madhya Pradesh Region is a part of Northern India Union Section in the Southern Asia Division of Seventh-day Adventists. It was organized in 2016.

Territory: The State of Madhya Pradesh

Statistics, as of June 30, 2020: churches 4, membership 828, population, 82,881,237. Address: SDA Church Campus, Patel Nagar Colony, Bibisha Road, Bhanpur, Bhopal 462010, Madhya Pradesh, India.

Madhya Pradesh, or “middle state,” is so named because it is in the geographic center of the country of India.

Early Work

W. O. James and his wife canvassed in Jubbulpore in 1904. They reported several customers in the city who had earlier subscribed to Adventist magazines, so likely they were not the very first Adventists in the city.1

Later, another colporteur, Frank Otto Raymond, lamented that even 25 years after beginning work in India, Adventists had yet to begin regular work in the Central Provinces which are “in the very heart of India.” He observed that the province had not heard one Adventist sermon preached. This was astonishing to him because Jabalpur, a large and important city, was on the main railway line between Bombay and Calcutta, on which ministers regularly traveled. Furthermore, Jabalpur was only 250 miles from the Adventist headquarters in Lucknow.2

In 1931 the North West India Union president reported that the “Central Provinces Unorganized Mission” had an initial effort in Jubbulpore and a few scattered believers in other parts.3 These believers disappeared in the next quarter of a century. Meanwhile the spelling changed to Jabalpur after independence. In 1958, Len P. Tolhurst, union president, referred to plans to enter Jabalpur in a serious way as early as 1949 or 1950, but those plans didn’t materialize and now finally, only in 1958, could Tolhurst report that Jabalpur was finally entered.4

He was referring to a series of meetings in Jabalpur which began on March 3, 1958, with Len Tolhurst the leader, Steve Vitrano the speaker, and Gerald Christo, the music leader. Six persons were baptized.5 The division president’s report at the 1958 General Conference Session reported the formation of a company in Jabalpur for the first time.6

First Congregation

After the evangelistic series was completed, Gerald Christo was left behind as the first resident pastor of the congregation in Jabalpur.7 There was no other Adventist work in central India, so union president Theodore R. Torkelson could say, “From Calcutta to Bombay one would find a worker only at Jabalpur while crossing Northwestern India territory.”8

Terrence Davin, who had served as an intern with Christo in Bombay earlier and whose father, a Civilian Gazeted Officer with the government who had been transferred to Jabalur, assisted Pastor Christo in a follow-up series of meetings while waiting to emigrate to Canada. Terrence’s mother had been baptized ten years earlier in Rawalpindi. When Terrence left, Stephen Phasge served as ministerial intern with Pastor Christo.9

One of the most significant persons to join the church as a result of the Jabalpur effort was D. R. Thambi, who later served Adventist schools in Falakata, Jowai, and Roorkee. His children Ramesh, Vinod, and Sheila, have made meaningful contributions to the institutions in the Northern Union.10

Another early important Jabalpur family was that of Major Lionel Walker.11 Around this time Adventist division leaders started attending meetings of the Christian Association for Radio and Audio-Visual Services (CARAVS) in Jabalpur. The first was J. Frank Ashlock who also took time to meet with Christo, Terrence, and G. S. Wilson in the home of Blossom Walker.12

In 1960 Len Tolhurst, Lal Din Paul, and Robert P. Bazroy conducted the first evangelistic meetings in Indore.13 Several were baptized at the conclusion of those meetings. Lynwood R. Burns was posted in Indore and, hoping to establish a church, he conducted another series of meetings starting in January 1962. He was assisted by William G. Johnsson and Bruce Johanson, a senior student at Vincent Hill School.14 Lal Singh stayed in Indore to care for the few members. Then Faqir Chand and Piyare Lal Solomon conducted a series of meetings which revived the interest. In 1968 B. M. Isaac shifted the Central India headquarters to Indore, where a school had started. The church in Indore was organized on January 19, 1970, by L. D. Paul with 17 members present.15

The company in Jabalpur received strong support from colporteur Paul Borge in the early 1960s. He prepared five people who were baptized by Pastor Faqir Chand in 1961.16 Later that year Lynwood R. Burns, Central India Section president, baptized another four, bringing the total membership in Jabalpur to 19, enough to organize a church.17

In 1963 Burns moved the headquarters of the Central India Section from Indore to Jabalpore.18 In 1965 Inayat Masih Chand, president of the Central India Section, held another effort in Jabalpur.19 For a few years the union officers cared for the Central India District. Then Barkat Masih Isaac, who had been posted there around 1964 and was made district leader in 1966, was appointed president of the Central India Section in 1968 and moved the headquarters back to Indore. A school opened in Indore around this time.

Later Developments

Other workers who later served in Jabalpur were Umesh Nag, Ronald David, Ramesh Banjare, Rajesh Banjare, and Nagesh Maravi. The current church building was inaugurated on August 6, 2011.

Later pastors who served in Indore were Amrit Monah Sagar, Parvez Masih Lall, Ronald David, Samuel Serjit, and Maxwell Massey. The current church building was inaugurated on June 16, 2000, by Pastor Probodh Kumar Gayan.

Pastors who served in Bhopal include Eric Paul, John B. Bazroy, Daniel Jacob, Hidayat Masih, Nazir Murti, Parvez M. Lall, Barkat Masih, Sanjeev Gill, Ramesh Banjare, Ardon Ward, and Ronald David. The current church building was inaugurated in 2003.

The Parasia Church started with the Lord and Ward families who met regularly on Sabbath.

These believers learned about the region office in Madhya Pradesh and requested a pastor to care for them. Ronald David organized the church with the help of the region director. Later pastors who ministered there were Ardon Ward and Rajesh Banjare. Land for a church has been purchased.

Organizational History

Perhaps no region in the Adventist Church, and certainly not in Southern Asia, has been through so many organizational changes. The reasons for this are two: (1) the territory was central enough in the division that portions or the entire province could belong to any of the three unions that surrounded it; and (2) there was little or no Adventist presence in the territory that could be emotionally affected by organizational changes.

Central Provinces Mission (unorganized) as part of the Northwest India Union (1928-1932). When the division was organized in 1919-1920 the Central India and Rajputana Agencies and the Central Provinces were in the territory of the Northwest Union which included what is currently the Western India Union. In 1929, when the Bombay Presidency Mission was detached from the Northwest Union, much of the Central Provinces moved with it.20 The 1928 SDA Yearbook listed a Central Provinces Mission (unorganized) as part of the Northwest Union. After the departure of Shrewsbury, the evangelist, the mission station is listed as “unoccupied” in the 1932 SDA Yearbook, after which it disappeared altogether.

Central Provinces Mission Station as part of the Western India Union, (1935-1940; 1945-1950). In 1935 The Western India Union opened a mission station in Nagpur.21 The following year, in a reorganization, the Central India Agencies and the Central Provinces were brought under the Western India Union, which organized the Central Provinces Mission Station/Field with H. Christensen as acting superintendent and Benjamin J. Hivale as the local worker. J. B. Carter was appointed superintendent for 1937.22 After Nathaniel Carter Wilson was superintendent (1938-1940), the mission field/station disappeared from the yearbooks. It appeared again in the 1945 SDA Yearbook with H. C. Lamb (1945-1948), and later with D. S. Harris (1949-1950). From 1949 on it appears as the Central Provinces Mission. Meetings were held in Bilaspur, Raipur, and Nagpur by Lamb and Charles R. Holford. Holford was authorized to visit Jubbulpore once every three months.23

In 1950, after the new names given at Independence took effect, the names Madhya Bharat and Madhya Pradesh replaced Central India Agencies and Central Provinces but the Mission’s name remained Central Provinces Mission. The mission territory included Bhopal and Vindhya Pradesh.

Central Provinces Mission as part of the Western India Union (1951). The mission station was upgraded to a mission and organized with a president for the first time, as reported in the 1951 SDA Yearbook. Cecil Bennet Guild was president and Robert L. Juriansz was elected secretary-treasurer. Guild reports two mission stations in the Central Provinces Mission, and mentions a man waiting for baptism in Jubbulpore.24

West Central Mission as part of the Northwestern India Union (1952-1954). In 1952 the Northwest India and Western India Unions were combined into the Northwestern India Union.25 The Central Provinces Mission territory was combined with Bombay and North Maharashtra into a West Central Mission with Sadanand Laxmanrao Khandagle as president and Robert L. Juriansz as secretary-treasurer.

Central India Section as part of the Northwestern India Union (1954). In 1954 Bombay state was detached from the Central Provinces Mission and connected directly to the division. The territory that remained with the Northwestern India Union (Madhya Pradesh, North Maharashtra, Vindhya Pradesh, Nizamabad, etc.) was organized into the Central India Section with Mathi Daniel Moses as president and Leonard E. Allen as secretary-treasurer.26

In 1955 the government of India pushed back the borders of the state of Maharashtra, enlarging it. The Western India Union was reorganized with the Bombay State Mission, Goa, and North Maharashtra. The following year the Central India Section was reorganized, minus Aurangabad, Osmanabad, and Vindhya Pradesh, leaving just the state of Madhya Pradesh.27 The union officers and executive committee cared for the section administration. Moses moved from being president of the Central India Section to the North Maharashtra Section in the new Western India Union, and Gerald James Christo moved from Bombay in Western India to Jabalpur.28

Central India Mission gets its own executive officers and headquarters. In 1968 executive officers were elected for the Central India Section and the headquarters was moved from the union office to Indore, where a school had been opened.29 In 1970 Rajasthan was added to the mission territory and the headquarters moved to Bhopal.30

Central India Section dismantled, territory divided between Northwest India Union and the Western India Union. In 1972 the state of Madhya Pradesh was split between the Northern Union and the Central India Union, and the Central India Section was dismantled. The districts of Bastar, Bilaspur Durg, Rajgarh, and Raipur were absorbed into the Maharashtra Section of the Central India Union, and the remaining districts were absorbed into the Upper Ganges Section of the Northern Union. Rajasthan is mentioned only in the Northern Union’s territory and not assigned to any section.31 In 1975 the Upper Ganges Section dropped the territory of Madhya Pradesh, and the Madhya Pradesh territories came directly under the union.

Organized into a Region in Northern Union. In 1976 the Madhya Bharat Region was formed by combining the territories of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.32 The next year the headquarters was shifted to Jaipur.33 For a few years in the 1980s, Rajasthan is not shown in the SDA Yearbooks as part of the Madhya Bharat Region, but that is an error as the headquarters continued to be in Jaipur, Rajasthan, throughout those years, though the region was administered from the union office in New Delhi.

Upgraded from Region to Section. In 1982 an important step was taken to upgrade the Madhya Bharat Region when it was given a local officer. L. D. Paul, the pastor in Jaipur, was made region secretary. In 1983 the five districts of Madhya Bharat in the Central India Union were transferred to the Madhya Bharat Region in the Northern Union in exchange for the districts in Orissa that went from the Northern Union to the Central India Union.34 In 1984 the region was upgraded to section level and L. D. Paul was elected president. The headquarters was unanimously voted to be in Bhopal.35

Reorganized as a Region. In 2016 the state of Rajasthan was separated into a separate Rajasthan Section, taking away 50 churches. Madhya Pradesh, with four churches remaining, and a membership of 770, was reorganized into a region called Madhya Pradesh Region.36

Institution

The Indore Seventh-day Adventist Higher Secondary School is an English medium school affiliated with the Indian School Certificate Examinations. It has classes up to the twelfth standard. The coeducational school is located on Kanadiya Road, near Vaibhav Nagar, Indore.

Executive Officers

Central Provinces Mission (Western India Union)

President: C. B. Guild 1950-1951); secretary-treasurer, R. L. Juriansz (1950-1951).

West Central Mission (Northwest India Union)

President, S. L Khandagle (1952-1953); secretary-treasurer, R. L. Juriansz (1952-1954).

Central India Mission/Section (Northwest India Union)

President: M. D. Moses (1954-1956); union presidents (1956-1964), L. R. Burns (1964); union presidents (1964-1968), B. M. Isaac (1968-1969); L. D. Paul (1969-1971).

Madhya Bharat Section (Northwest India Union/Northern Union)

Union president (1971).

Madhya Bharat Region (Northern Union).

Union presidents (1977-1983).

Madhya Bharat Section

Presidents: L. D. Paul (1984-1985); Peter Mundu (1985-1986); Victor K Singh (1987-1991); S. R. Gill (1991-1997); M. G. Kisku (1997-1999); P. K. Gayen (1999-2000); Hidayat Masih (2002-2005); Ravi Gill (2006-2016); P. M. Lall (2016).

Secretaries: Maxwell Paul (1984-1985); Robinson Daniel (1986-1987); John Herbert Joseph (1987-1991); Samuel G Masih (1991-1994); Wilson Raju Pilly (1994-1995); S. Kisku (1995-1997); Hidayat Masih (1997-2000); Alamgir Khan (2002-2005); Shekhar Chand (2006-2011); Franklin Francis (2011-2016); Harun Lakra (2016).

Treasurers: Maxwell Paul (1984-1986); S. R. Gill (1987-1991); union treasurer (1991-1994); Wilson Raju Pilly (1994-1997); union treasurer (1997-1999); Alamgir Khan (1999-2005); Shekhar Chand (2006-2016); Harun Lakra (2016).

Madhya Pradesh Region Administrators

Ronald Maxwell David (2016-2019); Samuel Serjit (2019-present).

Sources

“Miscellany.” Southern Asia Tidings, February 1, 1959.

“With Our Evangelists: Indore.” Southern Asia Tidings, November 15, 1960.

Borge, Paul. “Let us Share our Faith Through Literature Ministry.” Southern Asia Tidings, November 11, 1961.

Chand, I. M. “Indore Church Is Organized.” Southern Asia Tidings, March 1970.

Christo, Gerald J. Out of the Clay Pit. Hosur: Thomson Graphic and Co., 2009.

Guild, Cecil B. “India Unions Are Realigned.” Southern Asia Tidings, January 1971.

Guild, Cecil. B. “Progress in Western India.” ARH, September 27, 1951.

James, W. O. “Tundla.” Eastern Tidings, March 1, 1904.

Johnsson, W. G. “When God Stopped the Wind.” Australasian Record, April 23, 1962.

Lange, O. W. “A Visit to Central India.” Southern Asia Tidings, May 15, 1963.

Mattison, O. O. “Southern Asia Division: Entering New Territories, GC Report # 7.” ARH, June 27, 1958.

Minutes of the Western India Union Committee, August 5, 1935. Southern Asia Division Archives, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Northern Union Committee. January 2, 1976; February 2, 1977; May 24, 1984; June 8-9, 2016. Southern Asia Division Archives, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Northwest India Union Committee. January 7, 1954; January 11, 1968; January 30, 1970. Southern Asia Division Archives, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division Committee. March 29, 1929; November 8, 1951; December 10, 1956; April 6-10, 1983. Southern Asia Division Archives, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Western India Union Committee. January 12, 1937; November 8, 1951. Southern Asia Division Archives, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Raymond, F. O. “An Unentered Province.” Eastern Tidings, October 1, 1922.

Tolhurst, L. P. “A Hindu Family Won to Christ.” Australasian Record, November 28, 1960.

Tolhurst, L. P. “Jabalpur Entered.” Southern Asia Tidings, August 1, 1957.

Torkelson, T. R. “What the Voice of Prophecy Means to Us Tidings.” Southern Asia Tidings, Oct 15, 1958.

Williams, A. H. “Northwest India Union Mission Report.” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1931, Special issue.

Notes

  1. W. O. James, “Tundla,” Eastern Tidings, March 1, 1904, 12.

  2. F. O. Raymond, “An Unentered Province, Eastern Tidings, October 1, 1922, 3.

  3. A. H. Williams, “Nowthwest India Union Mission Report,” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1931, Special issue, 15.

  4. L. P. Tolhurst, “Jabalpur Entered,” Southern Asia Tidings, August 1, 1957, 5.

  5. Ibid., 14.

  6. O. O. Mattison, “Southern Asia Division: Entering New Territories, GC Report # 7,” ARH June 27, 1958, 159.

  7. Gerald J. Christo, Out of the Clay Pit (Hosur: Thomson Graphic and Co., 2009), 43-44.

  8. T. R. Torkelson, “What the Voice of Prophecy Means to Us Tidings,” Southern Asia Tidings, October 15, 1958, 2.

  9. Christo, 44.

  10. L. P. Tolhurst, “A Hindu Family Won to Christ,” Australasian Record, November 28, 1960, 3-4; Christo, 44.

  11. Christo, 45.

  12. Miscellany, Southern Asia Tidings, February 1, 1959.

  13. “With Our Evangelists: Indore,” Southern Asia Tidings, November 15, 1960, 7.

  14. W. G. Johnsson, “When God Stopped the Wind,” Australasian Record, April 23, 1962, 8.

  15. I. M. Chand, “Indore Church Is Organized,” Southern Asia Tidings, March 1970, 12.

  16. Southern Asia Tidings, June 1, 1961, 12.

  17. Paul Borge, “Let us Share our Faith Through Literature Ministry,” Southern Asia Tidings, November 11, 1961.

  18. O W Lange, “A Visit to Central India,” Southern Asia Tidings, May 15, 1963, 3.

  19. Southern Asia Tidings, September 1, 1965, 15.

  20. “Bombay Union Organization,” Minute of the Southern Asia Division Committee # 2276, March 29, 1929, 659.

  21. “Nagpur Reading Room,” Western India Union Committee Minutes # 713, August 5, 1935, 90.

  22. “Superintendent for Central Provinces Mission Field,” Minutes of the Western India Union Committee # 858, January 12, 1937.

  23. “Bilaspur and Jubbulpore,” Minutes of the Western India Union Committee #3996, November 8, 1951.

  24. C. B. Guild, “Progress in Western India,” ARH, September 27, 1951, 18.

  25. Minutes of the available members of the Southern Asia Division committee, November 8, 1951, no. 13267, p. 3603. Minutes for 1952 are incomplete, but this must have been passed, since it is in the index. The combined union retained the name Northwestern Union.

  26. “Central India Local Mission,” Minutes of the Northwest India Union Committee #89, Jan 27, 1954.

  27. Minutes of the year-end committee of the Southern Asia Division, December 10, 1956, no. 56-611, p. 232

  28. Christo, Out of the Clay Pit, 43

  29. “Central India President,” Central India Secretary-treasurer,” Minutes of the Northwest India Union Committee, #68-8. 68-9, January 11, 1968, 4.

  30. Central India Headquarters Land Purchase, Minutes of the Northwestern India Union Committee # 70-9, Jan 30, 1970, 3.

  31. Cecil B. Guild, “India Unions Are Realigned,” Southern Asia Tidings, January 1971, 1

  32. “Reorganization of Regions,” Minutes of the Northern Union Committee 76-442, January 2, 1976, 165.

  33. “Madhya Bharat Region Headquarters,” Minutes of the Northern Union Committee 77-6, Feb 2, 1977.

  34. “Northern Union and Central India Union Exchange of Territories,” Minutes of the Southern Asia Division Committee D 83-20/88, April 6-10, 1983.

  35. “Madhya Bharat Region into Section,” Minutes of the Northern Union Committee # 84-82, May 24, 1984, 27.

  36. “Formation of Madhya Pradesh Region,” Minutes of the Northern Union Committee #2016-65, June 8, 9, 2016, authorized by Southern Asia Division Committee action 2016-100.

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Serjit, Samuel, Gordon E. Christo. "Madhya Pradesh Region." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. July 12, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AJBG.

Serjit, Samuel, Gordon E. Christo. "Madhya Pradesh Region." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. July 12, 2021. Date of access January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AJBG.

Serjit, Samuel, Gordon E. Christo (2021, July 12). Madhya Pradesh Region. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AJBG.