Kumbanad Convention - Media Reports & Facts
Following the conflicting reports and rumors spread about Kumbanad Brethren Assembly with respect to the ‘Convention’ in various publications, magazines and social media among the brethren, we thought it would be good to pen a few facts for the knowledge of whomsoever it may concern. Firstly, to introduce ourselves, we were born and brought up at Kumbanad, spiritually nurtured by the Kumbanad Brethren Assembly until we moved to different parts of the world in relation with our work. Though physically not residing in Kumbanad currently, we are closely associated with the assembly and following up on all the happenings there. Being well aware of the disheartening circumstances facing our fellow brethren in Kumbanad these days, we would like to present the facts related to these issues clearly. If by any circumstance, any detail is recorded incorrectly, kindly notify us. We will look into the matter and rectify the same if needed. We hope that all readers will take this letter in its face value and may the Lord’s name be glorified through this venture. We were keeping our fingers crossed so long and didn’t want to make this public show. Now that facts are being distorted and deflected from reality, we are forced to speak the truth in love. “We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ,…” Eph 4:14, 15
As you know, Kumbanad Brethren Assembly had been established more than a century ago and has been maintaining its testimony for the past many years. Our forefathers who prayerfully decided to separate from the nominal Christian backgrounds, decided to gather separately for the honor and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Foreign missionaries like Noel family, Ms. Shutleef etc. came to this land and provided great assistance and support to the local assembly and also to the Kumbanad Community. They set up schools, provided medical assistance and also provided all the needed guidance materially and spiritually. As time progressed, the missionaries left India and handed over the properties to the Steward Association for maintaining these for the glory of the Lord’s name. One of the conditions that were mentioned in the title/deed transfer is that they have no right to sell the land. The local assembly at each place had the right to use the property for the glory of the Lord by keeping up its testimony. This was the situation which prevailed in Kumbanad till about 10-15 years back.
At Kumbanad, the land includes Noel Memorial School, Bethany Bible School, Missionary’s Bungalow (later renamed as Noel guest house), Brethren Assembly Hall and the ground in front of the hall which was used to preach the gospel (for convention) for the past many years. At a later stage, Brethren English Medium School and Assembly Mess Hall were constructed. Quite recently Steward Association office also has come up in the same premises. Assembly members were actively involved in the establishment of Brethren English Medium School and were physically, materially and financially involved in the construction of the building and the premises for the school. Also few years back, assembly members actively participated in the construction/renovation work of the Bethany Bible School at the same premises. The Mess Hall that was constructed by the Assembly in the later 70's or early 80's, too called for renovation due to its dilapidated condition. Though the Assembly made the decision to renovate the same so that more people could use it and various spiritual gatherings could be conducted for His glory it didn’t materialize due to many reasons. A few years back, the assembly has requested the Steward Association of India (SAI) to allot some of the unused land adjacent to the mess hall which was then in the possession of Brethren English Medium School for the renovation and expansion of the mess hall. After consulting the office-bearers of the Brethren English Medium School, measures were taken to facilitate the payment of Rs 5,00,000 by the Assembly to the School. Considering the fact that the land was given free of cost by the missionary, the Assembly declined to pay the sum directly to the school. But informed SAI that it did not consider it necessary to pay Rs. 5,00,000 but a lower amount of Rs. 3,00,000 could be paid to the SAI if the SAI so insists. SAI and the school declined the request stating that the school requires the above mentioned piece of land for future expansion. To make matters worse, in a few months’ time, the same land was given to KEM FUND to construct its office building. We refrain from entertaining any educated guesses to how such a transaction occurred!
A year back, some anti-social elements made several damages to the assembly hall premises, toilets, broke several water pipes and also engaged in alcohol consumption along with immoral activities at the assembly premises during odd hours causing much distress to the believers. On account of several similar incidents, the elders of the assembly decided to protect the hall premises with proper fencing and gates to avoid trespassing. The SAI with the help of convention committee members wrote several letters and verbally questioned this decision of the elders, mentioning that assembly has no right to protect its premises. The interesting reason put forth by SAI was that the compound and the area belongs to SAI and convention committee; therein demanding that the gates be removed.
The trouble for the assembly continues from then on. The organizations grew stronger and stronger with huge financial and political support led by the same people or their relatives or group members to hold the post of convener or secretary.
However as a need of the hour, the oversight of the local assembly decided to carry on with the renovation work of the Mess Hall in the existing premise after it became evident that the adjacent land (including some part of assembly property) was given to KEMF by SAI for its office construction and was already in progress. Once this renovation work of the mess hall started prayerfully on March 2013, Steward Association in India (SAI) and its Kerala auxiliary along with other so called Brethren organizational representatives approached various authorities (Local Panchayat, RDO, District Town Planner, District Collector, Kerala State Panchayat Directorate, local Police Station) with complaints and baseless allegations against the local assembly. Apart from these official complaints, these organizational representatives tried to influence local general bodies (like ‘Paura Samithi’) to file complaints to State ministerial departments and governing bodies notifying print & electronic media. They also worked behind the scenes to organize protests with the various trade unions to annul the construction work of the Mess Hall. It was quite unfortunate that the trade union members marched to the assembly premises as a procession raising slogans against the assembly and worsened to an extend to even physically assault one of the worker involved in the construction. The police took charge of the situation and maintained law and order.
Our elders were called up and questioned by various departmental authorities multiple times over the past months. Amidst of these persecutions, the assembly and well-wishers around the world wholeheartedly prayed earnestly. One of the government officials (he was a Hindu by faith) who visited the site to investigate these repeated complaints was sarcastic to make this statement, "What is wrong with you people". It is with excruciating pain in our minds and we are unable to comprehend, as to why these organizations & committees are so much distressed and agitated against the construction of the Mess Hall by the local assembly which is intended to be used for a common gain. If there are any differences of opinions or matters of dispute with the assembly members or the elders, is it scriptural to reach out to police and worldly authorities for a resolution? How dare these organizational follies threaten and abuse the Lord's people? Is it not similar to the state of Israel during their post exile period when prophet cried out – “How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” Habakkuk 1:1-4
It is with a heart of gratitude to the most High that by the manifold grace and mercies of God, even in the midst of these tough oppositions from our own so called brethren, the construction of the Mess Hall was completed (Structure) and a thanks giving service was conducted early Nov 2013. Today it is being used by the assembly for Sunday school and other special activities. Needless to mention, that the same hall was used for the annual gathering of the Kumbanad center ‘Sodari Samajam’ recently. Even though some work is pending (related to Kitchen and other interiors), it is open for all spiritual meetings among the brethren that glorifies the name of our Lord.
As of today, many complaints and investigations are pending against our elders. These official complaints are filed by the same people who are involved in KEMF, SAI, NM High School, Brethren English School and Kumbanad Convention Committee. Recently, a police complaint was filed against the elders accusing land encroachment by these so called Brethren organizational office bearers and with deep distress we have to write that our elders were called to the local police station for interrogation and an investigation is pending on them in this regard. The complaint is being evaluated and progressed as per the law of the land. There are even threats against few of our brothers. As a small group of people we appear to be feeble but we put our confidence in our Lord who is able to safe guard His assembly. Please join us and earnestly lift our eyes to HIM that protects us from all evils prevailing through these office bearers of so called Brethren organizations.
Based on these instances described above, it is impossible to co-operate whole heartedly with the Kumbanad convention event being hosted by the same people who filed the complaints against our elders and who profess themselves as esteemed office bearers and committee members of this Convention event. We are well aware that the committee does not need financial assistance to conduct this grand event (Sorry that we cannot call this as a convention, but only as an event as some flex boards say) at Kumbanad. They have their financial, political and material support and with that anything is possible anywhere. The designated speakers of the Kumbanad Brethren event came to know about the complaints filed against the elders and contacted the local assembly, event committee (hereafter called instead of convention committee) and the BEM School to settle any dispute in their presence. The request was declined by the event committee and informed the speakers that they have no time to utilize in this regard. Thereafter, the evangelist speakers wrote back saying that they might not be able to minister the word at this 'event' as it will not be honoring the Lord. At this point, the committee had to agree and met with the Lord’s servants. The end result was unfortunate that no representatives from the BEM school or SAI were present for the discussions. The event committee informed the Lord’s servants that as a committee they have not filed any complaint or case and hence they cannot withdraw the same. Even though the same committee members are the people who filed complaints against the elders of assembly (as School committee members and SAI representatives), they declined to withdraw the complaints and said that "convention committee is separate and cannot be involved in this". The designated Lord’s servants had no choice but to agree with the event committee due to the above 'reasons' and communicated the same to elders of the assembly requesting to cooperate with this event for now and settle the concerns with the organizations at a later day.
Our elders have informed the Lord’s servants that they have issues/objection with committee members. At the same time, they added that they have no concerns regarding the Lord’s servants ministering from the word of God thereby not having any intentions to defame the name of our Lord among the people of this land. In consistence to lateral years, the Assembly Hall, Mess Hall and the premises are given free of cost for this event. The event committee later declined to use the renovated Mess Hall and retaliated that they will be using the school premises instead. As we scribble this document, we don't know what level of involvement as an assembly will be having in this event and it is certainly our personal conviction to not support this event which is organized amidst of dispute and disharmony. We are sad to mention that we refrain from any fellowship with these so called Brethren organizers but will respect the decision of our elders and we pray that God will grant wisdom to them and be bold enough and His name will be glorified through all these happenings.
We request prayers for the following
1. Whatever the situation be, no untoward incident happens during the Kumbanad Convention and no involvement of police or law enforcement officers during this time.
2. The Lord's name will not be dishonored among the people of this land during this event season.
3. Pray earnestly for the assembly and the elders who are battling several complaints which were filed by our own ‘Brethren’ office bearers.
For more details:
Warm Christian Regards,
Youths of Brethren Assembly, Kumbanad