Protestantism in India

Protestants in India are a minority in a predominantly Hindu country, but form majorities in the north-eastern states of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and sizeable minorities in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and various east coast and northern states. Protestants today trace their heritage back through a rich history of Christian and monotheistic faith on the Indian subcontinent.

The history of Protestantism in India

Protestant missionaries began to work throughout India, leading to the growth of different Christian communities. In 1793, William Carey, an English Baptist Minister, came to India as a missionary. He worked in Serampore, Calcutta and other cities founding churches. On the educational front, in addition to starting the Serampore College, he also translated the Bible into Bengali and Sanskrit, continuing with these labours until his death in 1834. According to the chronicler Otto of Freising, Arnold had studied in Paris under the tutelage of the reformer and philosopher Pierre Abélard. He took to Abélard's philosophy of reform ways. Anthony Norris Groves, Plymouth Brethren missionary came to India in 1833. He worked in the Godavari delta area of then Madras Presidency, until his death in 1852.

Many Protestant denominations are represented in India, the result of missionary activities throughout the country especially under British rule. The largest Protestant denomination in the country is the Church of South India, since 1947 a union of Presbyterian, Reformed, Congregational, Methodist, and Anglican congregations with approximately 4 million members as of 2014. The broadly similar Church of North India had 1 million members. (Both churches are in full communion with the Anglican Communion.) There were about 1.3 million Lutherans, 473,000 Methodists, and 425,000 Baptists as of 1995.

Pentecostalism, one of the largest Protestant denominations worldwide, is also a rapidly growing denomination in India. It is spreading greatly in northern India and the southwestern areas, such as Kerala. The largest indigenous Pentecostal denominations in India are The Pentecostal Mission (TPM) and the India Pentecostal Church of God (IPC).

As for the smaller denominations, another prominent group is the Brethren. They include Plymouth Brethren, Indian Brethren, Kerala Brethren etc. The Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Churches in India has more than 100,000 members.

One of the oldest denominations meanwhile is the Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church.

List of Protestant Churches in India

Source of the list: World Christian Encyclopedia.


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