Biateram Synod Thurchi Tlangpui

An Overview Of Biateram Synod

          The Biates occupy a contiguos area on East Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya and Dima Hasao, Assam on both sides of the river Kopili. Christianity was first introduced among the Biate tribe by the Welsh Presbyterian Missionary, Rev. Robert Evans and Mr. Khlumalang, an intinerant preacher from Jaintia Hills. They came to Saipung (Saipum) village in Meghalaya in 1890. Since then the Biates have been attached to the Presbyterian Church till today. The first full fledged Church came into existence early in 1897 at Saipung. Filled with evangelistic zeal, the new converts preached the gospel to their own people and the other neighbouring  tribes. It was those Biates in the Jaintia Hills who brought the Gospel to the Biates of the North Cachar Hills. As a result, the first Church in Assam was inaugurated at Sangbar in 1909. The whole Biate tribe had become 100% Christian in 1990. 

          The Biates were under one sub-district called Hadem Bial (District), the first Meeting of which was held at Sangbar village (Dima Hasao) on 11th & 12th Janueary, 1909. The Hadem Bial (District) was administered by Missionaries from Shangpung Mission Headquarters, Jaintia Hills. For a long time the two Districts of Saipung and Mualsei were under the Sutnga Presbytery of the KJP Synod and the two Districts of Sangbar and Thuruk were under the Haflong Presbytery. Sangbar Presbytery was formed in 1972 and Saipung Presbytery was formed in 1975. 

          The idea of forming a separate Synod for Biate Christians might have been conceived by some leaders long time in the past. It was openly expressed about the year 1979 only to be left aside due to lack of unity between the two Presbyteries; Sangbar and Saipung.  The idea was revived in the meetings of the Committee for Biate Centenary Celebration during 1988-1989. The celebration took place in 1990. The Committee continue to take up the new idea and met several times for the purpose. All the Churches within the two Presbyteries were informed to submit their opinion to the Committee held on 13th-16th December 1990. The Churches unanimously agreed to move for the Biateram Synod.

          In 1991, fifteen members were selected from the two Presbyteries to form a Joint Committee of the Synod Movement. The Joint Committee met several times without the knowledge of the two Presbyteries. It was finally agreed to submit a Memorandum for the creation of Biateram Synod comprising of Saipung Presbytery of the KJP Synod and Sangbar Presbytery of the CHT Synod to their respective Synods on September, 1992.  The two Synods forwarded the applications to be considered in the Session of the Biennial Meeting of the PCI General Assembly in 1994.

Factors Contributing to the Movement:

1. Language barrier or communication gap between the KJP Synod Sepngi and Saipung Presbytery causes lack of pastoral care and mutual understanding. The Khasi Pastors who are incharge of Pastorates in Saipung Presbytery find it difficult to communicate with the people and majority of the people could not understand the Khasi lanuage properly. They have to use the Sunday School text books in Khasi but examinations could not be arranged for the students. It is also a problem for them to participate in Committees and Sessions of the Synod. Leaders of the KJP Synod also recognized this problem and accepted that they could not be of much help for them.

2. Care for future development: Leaders of the two Presbyteries believe that better and all-round development of the Biate Christians  would be made if the separated people are put under one Church administration. Leaders of the Sangbar Presbytery expressed a deep concern for the future of their brethren on the other side of the river. Coming together under one Synod, it is said, would also ensure better and more production of literature in their own language. Moreover, it is believed that hte united Church would bring back many who had left the Church resulting in the unity of the whole Biate tribe in the future.

Establishment of Biateram Synod:

The 32nd Biennial Meeting of the General Assembly, PCI held at Churachandpur from 26-28 April, 1996unanimously resolved that the Biateram Presbyterian Church Synod be granted provisionally for a period of two years. Consequently, the provisional Synod was officially inaugurated on 1st September, 1996 at Fiangpui Presbyterian Church by PCI General Assembly Moderator, Rev. Lalchhuanliana and other PCi Officers with the Parent Synod Officers. 

Further, the 33rd Biennial General Assembly, PCI meeting held at Nongbah Presbyterian Church during 16th-20th April, 1998 resolved again that the Biateram Presbyterian Church Synod be granted a full-fledged Synod. Accordingly, the Synod was constitutionally inaugurated by Rev. Jathanga Ngirsim, Moderator of PCI General Assembly, on 17th May, 1998 at Fiangpui Presbyterian Church in Haflong.

Growth and Development of the Synod:

i) Pastoral Ministry:

The Synod Pastoral ministry is growing steadily. At present, there are six Presbyteries and eighteen districts in the Synod. As on 2021 there are 18 Pastors and 7 Pro. Pastors within the Synod. The Synod takes serious concern about the Pastoral ministry for the spiritual growth of the Church and also to encourage in giving tithe and other contributions as well. While the Pastors and Pro. Pastors are engaged in their Pastoral ministry full time, they are also involved in Special programmes like seminars, crusades, etc., besides their Pastoral visit programmes.

ii) Mission and Evangelism:

The Synod gives top priority to Mission and Evangelism. Mission and Evangelism work is done mostly among the Chorai, Ranglong, Nepali and Karbi tribes. Most of the Mission workers are sponsored by the local Churches, Pastorates, Presbyteries, Women’s Wing of the Synod, Youth Wing of the Synod and some individuals. The Synod constantly encourages the Churches to contribute more for the mission works. As on 2021 March the Synod has 14 Evangelists and various other Mission Workers. Some of the Mission Workers are teachers at Mission Schools in the Mission Fields.  

iii) Theological Education:

Theological Education Committee (TEC) is the department concern about theological studies for future Pastors. Therefore, TEC selects the prospective candidates for theological studies at recognised Seminaries/Colleges. The candidates sent for theological studies are given monthly stipend and other necessary allowances. 

iv) Education:

The Synod has 1 High School, 2 Upper Primary (Middle) Schools and 4 Lower Primary Schools. The Synod formed an Education Committee in 2020 to look after the Management of these Schools. 

v) Youth Ministry:

The Synod Kristian Vanglai Pol has Annual Meeting during the month of April every year. KVP conducts different kinds of programmes in the form of seminars and awareness programmes on social evils, ecology, education and social works in different places within the Synod. KVP encourages students among the youths and children to go for higher education and  trainings. KVP plays a pivotal role in the development of socio-economic life of the community and also in the spiritual growth of the young people. KVP gives importance to Mission and Evangelism. It sponsors Mission Workers in the Mission works of the Synod. KVP also gives importance to literature and Media ministry. It occasionally published books and made use of Social Media in its ministry. KVP has been the backbone of the Synod from the local Church level upto the Synod level. 

vi) Women's Ministry:

The Presbyterian Women fellowship called Presbyterian Nupang Pol (PNP) has its Annual Meeting during the Synod Annual Meeting. PNP has one full-time Co-ordinator in the Synod Office. PNP Day of Prayer is observed on 2nd October every year. PNP Sunday is observed on second Sunday of October every year. The Synod PNP encourages its members in Christian giving. It gives importance to Mission and Evangelism works of the Synod. PNP sponsors one Mission worker in the Synod. Collection of Handful of Rice looked after by PNP at the local Church level is one of the main source of the Synod. The PNP organises seminars on Christian giving, Education, Health, Preservation of environment, human trafficking, social evils, etc.

vii) Sunday Schools:

The Synod gives importance to Sunday School, through which Bible knowledge and truth are imparted to the adults and children. The Synod arranges Sunday School in two departments; Adult and Primary Departments. Adult Department is put under the responsibility of the Presbyteries, the Syllabus of which is prepared by the Synod. Primary Department is put under the responsibilty of the Pastorates. The Presbyteries conduct the exam of the Adult Department and the Pastorates conduct the examination of the Primary Departments. The Synod, Presbyteries, Pastorates and local Churches have their own Sunday School Boards. The Sunday School Boards of the Synod, Presbyteries, Pastorates and local Churches organize seminars, Sunday School Teachers's trainings in their own areas and local Churches. World Sunday School Day is observed with special programmes in every local Churches. 

viii) Synod Revival Team:

The Synod has a Revival Committee organizes Revivl Camps, Crusades and Retreat Programmes in the local Churches and at the Pastorate levels. The works of the Revival Committee in the Synod has tremendous impact on the spiritual life of the people especially among the youths. The Revival Committee has contributed towards  strengthening the spiritual lives of the local Churches.  

ix) Community Development Project:

The Synod has a Revival Committee organizes Revivl Camps, Crusades and Retreat Programmes in the local Churches and at the Pastorate levels. The works of the Revival Committee in the Synod has tremendous impact on the spiritual life of the people especially among the youths. The Revival Committee has contributed towards  strengthening the spiritual lives of the local Churches.  

The Synod also have Fruit Tree Plantation and various other Cash Crops Plantation especially in the premises of its educational institutions.