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Licensed with colour


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FACED WITH an interregnum, the PCC of Wootton-by-Woodstock, Oxford diocese, was delighted when the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, proposed that the Revd Anand Raj (centre), newly arrived from the Church of South India to research for a doctorate at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, should be licensed to officiate on Sundays.

The Revd Timothy Shepherd (right), a retired priest living in the parish, says that, never having left India before, Mr Raj found the range of English services daunting. So he was delighted when it was suggested that he might share a little of the Indian Christian tradition with the people of Wootton.

The church’s small music group began to practise Indian music, and at the service the congregation was invited to sit in a circle in the empty chancel, round the altar decked with unusual candles, flowers, and incense sticks. Mr Raj wore colourful Indian robes, and led the singing with a tambourine and in his own language.

A relevant passage from the Upanishads was read, and he then told the story of how a Hindu Pandit found Christ through his Hindu scriptures. The congregation sang the Indian words as best they could, and the service ended with a rousing “Kum Ba Yah”, and an Indian blessing. Sharing in the event was Cynthia Howard (left) from South Africa.

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