South India remembers sacrifice of Basel missionaries

|PIC1|Churches in Karnataka and Kerala have celebrated the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the Basel Mission in India.

In Mangalore, the executive committee of the Church of South India has organised a programme of activities to mark the arrival of the missionaries in the coastal city on October 30, 1884.

A special photo exhibition and a thanksgiving service will be held at the Karnataka Theological College on November 1. In addition, a cultural programme and special prayers will be organised by the committee.

The Church of South India in North Kerala diocese held mass prayers and seminars earlier in the month to mark the occasion.

The Basel missionaries there were credited for setting up several educational institutions, such as the BEM schools in Palakkad and Kozhikode and the Malabar Christian College.

A member of the Basel society, Herman Gundert, also wrote the first Malayalam dictionary in 1872.

The German missionaries have been credited with several literary and linguistic works. The first Kannada newspaper, Mangalura Samachara, is also claimed to be the concerted efforts of the Christians.

The Basel Mission that began as the German Missionary Society in 1815 was the result of a pledge taken by a few dedicated Christians at Basel in the face of a military threat.

If God would spare their city, they pledged to begin a seminary for the training of missionaries. Although sharing the Gospel was their main objective, the economic and educational needs of local Indians drove them to establish schools and colleges for the education of all, irrespective of caste or creed.

They went on to establish small-scale industries to help create employment opportunities and to make the rural population self-dependent. The Basel Mission trained them in printing, tile manufacturing and weaving.