North India Section

By Gordon E. Christo

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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/.

First Published: September 15, 2022

North India Section is a subsidiary church administrative unit of the Northern India Union Section in the Southern Asia Division of Seventh-day Adventists. It was organized in 1942 and reorganized in 1952, 1998, and 2010. Its headquarters is in Jalandhar, Punjab, India.

Territory: The states of Jammu and Kashmir, and Punjab.

Statistics (June 30, 2021): Churches, 57; membership, 10,354; population, 44,592,026.

Early History

The first full-time Adventist worker in Punjab (then known as Patiala state) was John Last, baptized in Mussoorie by Luther Burgess in Dehradun in June 1907. A native of Patiala he had adopted the name John Last when he became a Christian. John Last witnessed untiringly in market places, trains, and railway stations all over Punjab till he was beaten by a mob, which resulted in his death on July 10, 1911.1

In 1929 Faqir Chand began doing colporteur work. He was from the first batch of graduates of the North India Training School in Roorkee, located in Amritsar.2 Faqir Chand would go on to become the first indigenous president of the East Punjab Mission in 1942, the first president of the North India Mission in 1952, and the first president of the Jammu and Kashmir region in 1954.3

Bheni Mian Kawan (Bhain Mian Khan) soon gained the reputation of producing mission workers. Around 1933 young people from this village started attending our schools. Soon many turned into preachers, teachers, and nurses. One became an editor and another a Bible instructor. By 1947 twelve workers, including B. M. Shad, were engaged in ministerial work.4 However, there was no church there till 1963 when workers and members joined together to purchase land and build a church.5 This village continued to supply the Adventist mission with workers.

Phulriwala (Pholriwal), a village near Julllunder (Jalandhar), had one of the first Adventist churches in North India. In the late 1920s some persons from this village went to Singapore and were led through Bible studies by Elder Lake. Some time later upon their return to India a few came in contact with Adventists in Karachi through whom they learned about the SDA headquarters in Delhi and the East Punjab Mission office in Lahore. In 1943 Faqir Chand, the superintendent of the East Punjab Mission, went to visit the group in Pholriwal. In December of that year he held evangelistic meetings and baptized 24 of them. The members donated Rs 3000 for a church and started a school with Hakim Din as teacher. 6

Ferozepur. In 1944 Faqir Chand had a series of meetings in Ferozepur, and C. Samuel was stationed there to follow up the interest. 7

Amritsar. Barkat Masih had conducted an effort in Amritsar in the summer of 1939, after which Sultan Ahmed settled there to foster the interest created.8 In the 1940s Samuel Dass, a carpet factory worker, laid a good foundation with Bible studies in Amritsar.9 He then assisted Faqir Chand, who came in 1950 to hold meetings. These were attended regularly by four hundred to five hundred persons, who also begged for extra lectures.10 Five were baptized on July 15, 1950, following which a communion service was held. Members in Amritsar met in a rented chapel till 1957 when a residence was purchased, the front of which was converted into a small chapel.11

Fategarh Churian. During the 1950 Amritsar meetings, Joseph, a married student came from Roorkee High School for the summer vacation to his wife’s home in Fategarh Churian, twenty-five miles from Amritsar. He convinced the Chaudhry village leaders to attend Faqir Chand’s meetings in Amritsar. After a couple of meetings the leaders returned to their village, but came back with two school teachers to invite the Adventists to hold meetings in their own village. M. E. Kemmerer, who had arrived in Amritsar for the baptismal service, accompanied Faqir Chand to Fategarh Churian where they held a meeting that weekend.12 The workers’ meetings for 1950 were held in Fategarh Churian October 1-7.13 In 1952, following a full series of meetings in Fategarh Churian itself, Kemmerer returned for a baptism of 50 persons.14

Jullunder (Jalandhar). After the separation of India and Pakistan, the East Punjab mission headquarters shifted from Lahore to rented quarters in Jalandhar in 1947. The property on Cantonment Road was purchased in 1951. The East Punjab Mission was reorganized as the North India Mission in 1952 with headquarters in Jalandhar. The first major evangelistic effort in Jalandhar opened on August 1, 1958.15 Weldon and Clara Mattison directed in the establishment of the Jalandhar elementary school, which opened in May 1962. The institution was built for 80 students, but since 180 came, three more classrooms were hastily added. After the Mattisons left in 1963 for Poona, Mrs. Lange, P. L. Solomon, and Mrs. Campbell operated the school.16

Mehtabpur. The Mehtabpur Church is a result of the work of Rahmat Masih who each year won four or five through his loving care. In 1958 members donated for land and a church and workers quarters.17

Aliwal. The Aliwal Church is a testament to the witness of Mr. Dass who traveled by bus and tonga 20 miles to preach there every day. Members provided the land, and a thirteenth-Sabbath offering provided the church building in 1961.18

The 1961 thirteenth-Sabbath offering also built a church in Kawan in Hoshiarpur. When the membership reached twenty, they gave land for a church, a school, and for worker’s quarters. Those were completed in 1962. Other buildings started in 1962 include those at Bhain Mian Khan, Maima Chak, Fategarh Churian, Kasawala, and Jullunder. 19

Organizational History

When the Southern Asia Division was organized in1919, the territory of the Punjab Mission included the undivided state of Punjab, Kashmir, and the Northwest Frontier (Pakistan). All the mission stations were at that time in present-day Pakistan, and the unofficial headquarters was in Chuharkhana. In February 1942 the union voted to change the headquarters to Lahore and directed that the superintendent should reside there.20

At the end of 1942, with the onset of World War II, the union moved to develop indigenous leadership and divided the Punjab Mission along the Chichoki Canal into the West Punjab Mission with headquarters in Chuharkhana and the East Punjab Mission with headquarters in Lahore (12 miles from the India-Pakistan border), under the leadership of Faqir Chand. Boarding schools and English work came directly under the Union.21

After the separation of India and Pakistan in 1947, the Pakistan portion of the East Punjab Mission was reorganized into a Central Punjab Mission and the headquarters of the East Punjab Mission moved to rented quarters in Jalandhar while a special committee searched for a permanent location.22 The special committee met on March 22, 1951, and decided to favor Col. Som Datt's property in the Cantonment area.23

In 1952 following reorganization of the Northwest Union when Bombay presidency was separated, the union reorganized the territory of the East Punjab Mission into the North India Mission,24 and the territory included Himachal Pradesh, Chamba, H. P., Patiala and East Punjab States, and Kashmir.25 Essentially, this was Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir. After the creation of the state of Haryana in 1966 out of Punjab territory, that state was included too.

In 1995 Chandigarh, Himachal, and Jammu and Kashmir were organized into the Northwest Region with headquarters in Chandigarh, but in 1998 they were amalgamated into the North India Section again.

When work had developed in the Haryana territory, due largely to the work done by Global Mission pioneers, the state was separated and organized into the Haryana Region effective in the year 2000.26 The North India Mission was thus left with Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh.

Work advanced in Himachal Pradesh from the base in Simla, and the division approved the recommendation of the union to form this state too into the Himachal Pradesh Region in 2008.27 Thus, the North India Mission was now left with Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. This reorganization took effect in 2010.

Executive Officers

Presidents: Faqir Chand (1952-1954); Weldon H. Mattison (1954-1962); James M. Campbell (1963-1966); Inayat Masih Chand (1966-1969); Saudagar Chand (1969-1977); Lal Singh (1977-1982); David S. Poddar (1982-1985); P. L. Solomon (1986-1991); Bachan Massey (1991-1998); S. R. Gill (1998-2001); S. M. Gill (2001); Jacob M. Gill (2002); Samuel Masih (2002-2005); Robin Ram (2005-2011); Samuel Gill (2011-2015); Kishore Gill (2015- ).

Secretaries/Secretary-Treasurers: Robert L. Juriansz (1952-1955); L. E. Allen (1955-1958); S. M. Isaac (1958 and 1959); D. M. Rai (1959-1961); Sunder Singh (1961 and 1962); Prabhu C. Sharan (1962-1968); Sunder Singh (1969-1971); Prem H. Lall (1972-1974); Stephen J. Phasge (1974); Nicodim J. Swansi (1975-1978); P. L. Solomon (1978 and 1979); S. R. Gill (1979-82); T. R. Gill (1982-87); Bachan S. Massey (1988-1991); M. M. Gill (1991 and 1992); I. H. Dass (1992); M. M. Gill (1993); Samuel Masih (1994-1999); Satish Sharma (1999-2006); Anil Kandane (2006-2009); Samuel Gill (2009-2011); H. B. Bairagee (2012-2015); Om Prakash Singh (2015-2017); Yatish Lal (2017); Rajeev Gill (2018- ).

Treasurers: Nicodim Swansi (1977-1979); S. R. Gill (1982-1985); K. J. Oomen (1987 and 1988); Gopal R. Tudu (1988-1993); S. M. Kandulna (1994-1996); W. S. Mall (1997); Satish Sharma (1998); H. B. Bairagee (2009-2012); Yatish Lal (2018- ).

Sources

Campbell, James. “Jullunder School Prospers.” Southern Asia Tidings, June 1, 1964.

Christo, Gordon E. “Last, John (c. 1852-1911).” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. May 26, 2022. Accessed September 15, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EAKT&highlight=Last.

Dass, Samuel M. “Amritsar Effort.” Eastern Tidings, June 15, 1950.

Jenson, George R. “Northwestern India.” Southern Asia Tidings, August 1, 1959.

Kemmerer, M. E. “Northwest Union Mission.” Eastern Tidings, August 15, 1950.

Kemmerer, M. E. “Punjab Villages Calling for Our Message.” Eastern Tidings, October 1, 1950.

Mattison, O. O. “Around the Field in the Northwest.” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1944.

Mattison, O. O. “Northwest Welcomes Pastor Ham.” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1940.

Mattison, W. H. “A Hope in North India Begins to Be Fulfilled.” Southern Asia Tidings, Jan 1, 1962.

Mattison, W. H. “Beacon Lights in Northern India.” ARH, October 31, 1963.

Minutes of the Division Executive Committee, February 12, 1999; June 16-17, 2008. Southern Asia Division archives, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Northwest India Union, February 10, 1942; November 18, 1942; December 10, 1950; January 17, 1954. Southern Asia Division archives, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Special Committee of the Northwest Union, Mar 22, 1951. Southern Asia Division archives, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

“Miscellany.” Southern Asia Tidings, October 15, 1958.

“Punjab News Notes.” Eastern Tidings, November 15, 1929.

Shad, B. M. “My Trip in the Northwest.” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1947.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Thomas, E. D. “Phulriwala.” Eastern Tidings, April 15, 1947.

Torkelson, T. R. “Reorganization of the Northwest Union, Southern Asia Tidings, April 1, 1955.

Notes

  1. See Gordon E. Christo, “Last, John (c. 1852-1911),” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, May 26, 2022, accessed September 15, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EAKT&highlight=Last.

  2. “Punjab News Notes,” Eastern Tidings, November 15, 1929, 7.

  3. “Distribution of Labour,” Minutes of the Northwestern India Union Mission, January 17, 1954, #17, p. 10.

  4. B. M. Shad, “My Trip in the Northwest,” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1947, 6-7.

  5. W. H. Mattison, “Beacon Lights in Northern India,” ARH, October 31, 1963, 14.

  6. E. D. Thomas, “Phulriwala,” Eastern Tidings, April 15, 1947, 5.

  7. O. O. Mattison, “Around the Field in the Northwest,” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1944, 2.

  8. O. O. Mattison, “Northwest Welcomes Pastor Ham,” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1940, 3. 1.

  9. M. E. Kemmerer, “Northwest Union Mission,” August 15, 1950, 4.

  10. Samuel M. Dass, “Amritsar Effort,” Eastern Tidings, June 15, 1950, 7.

  11. Mattison, “Beacon Lights in Northern India.”

  12. M. E. Kemmerer, “Punjab Villages Calling for Our Message,” Eastern Tidings, October 1, 1950, 2.

  13. M. E. Kemmerer, “Northwest Union Mission,” Eastern Tidings, August 15, 1950, 4.

  14. Mattison, “Beacon Lights in Northern India.”

  15. “Miscellany,” Southern Asia Tidings, October 15, 1958, 16; See also George R. Jenson, “Northwestern India,” Southern Asia Tidings, August 1, 1959, 4.

  16. James Campbell, “Jullunder School Prospers,” Southern Asia Tidings, June 1, 1964, 13.

  17. Mattison, “Beacon Lights in Northern India.”

  18. Ibid.

  19. W. H. Mattison, “A Hope in North India Begins to Be Fulfilled,” Southern Asia Tidings, January 1, 1962, 5.

  20. “Punjab Mission Headquarters,” Minutes of the Northwestern India Union, Feb 10, 1942, # 2782.

  21. “Plans for Indigenous Leadership,” Minutes of the Northwestern India Union Committee,” Nov 18, 1942, # 2962.

  22. “Purchase of Jullunder Property,” Minutes of the Northwest Union Committee, # 5254, Dec 10, 1950, p. 133.

  23. “Approval of Plot,” Minutes of the Special Committee,” Mar 22, 1951, #5375, p. 153.

  24. T. R. Torkelson, “Reorganization of the Northwest Union, Southern Asia Tidings, April 1, 1955, 7.

  25. “North India Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1953), 195.

  26. “Formation of New Region,” Minutes of the Division Executive Committee, February 12, 1999, # 99-002, p. 1.

  27. “Formation of Himachal Region,” Minutes of the Division Executive Committee, June 16-17, 2008, # 2008-29.

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Christo, Gordon E. "North India Section." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. September 15, 2022. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BALB.

Christo, Gordon E. "North India Section." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. September 15, 2022. Date of access June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BALB.

Christo, Gordon E. (2022, September 15). North India Section. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BALB.