On 18 June 2017 at Epiphany Church of Oxford Mission, Barisal the enthronement of Rt. Rev Shourabh Pholia took place. The program started with a very meaningful worship service led by Rt. Rev Paul S Sarkar and the word of God was shared by Rt. Rev Samuel Sunil Mankhin. After the service, there was a reception for the Bishop of Barisal Diocese where many dignitaries of civil society, church leaders and lay people were present.
The first council of Barisal diocese was held in the presence of 33 councilors under the chairmanship of Honorable Bishop Shourabh Pholia at Oxford mission Barisal on the 17th June 2017. The Honorable Moderator of the Church of Bangladesh and Bishop of Dhaka was present as the chief guest at the council. Besides the priests of Barisal diocese 25 councilors were present at the council.
First council session started with the welcome speech of the new Bishop of Barisal Diocese, Rt. Rev. Shourabh Pholia. “This beautiful journey of Barisal Diocese started on God’s blessings. This journey is Christ-centered so the victory is sure”, he said, “Each of us has an active role to play in the church. We all needs to support this diocese in its progress by abiding with Christ”.
The Moderator in his greetings shared that in 2009, the decision was made to form Barisal diocese and on 12 February 2012 the foundation stone was laid by the Bishop of Llandaff diocese and The Arch Bishop of Church of Wales Rt. Rev. Barry Morgan. The Moderator also expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all those people who dreamt the need of Barisal Diocese.
Dr. James Tejosh Das, Synod Secretary of CoB, Sister Jharna, Superior, CSS and Father Francis SPB conveyed their greetings along with the Bishops.
The diocesan council was concluded with the formation of new Diocesan executive body consisting of 12 members.
The diocese council for 2016 was held in Barisal on 17 June 2017. The theme for the council was “I am the vine you are the branches”. The chairperson of Dhaka diocese Rt. Rev Paul S Sarkar shared in his elocution “We need to work together with unity, love and fellowship so that we will stay connected with the vine (Christ)”.
Dr. James Tejosh Das, Synod Secretary of COB was present in the council as a guest. He conveyed in his greetings,“In order to pass on the God given responsibility to our next generation as legacy we need to work together with one mind and spirit”.
Various departments of the diocese presented their annual reports. It is worth mentioning that this was the last council for Dhaka diocese with Jobarpar and Khulna deaneries as henceforth, these two deaneries are part of Barisal Diocese.
During past few days, 16-18th March 2017, the 9th Synod session of the Church of Bangladesh has been concluded with a total 72 delegates attended, representing Church and all institutions those two Church of Bangladesh runs under existing two dioceses. Theme this session was – “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it”- 1st Corinthians 12:27. Moderator Bishop Paul S Sarkar presented a paper on this theme while deputy moderator Bishop Samuel S Mankhin presided over the session. 29 reports including 2 diocese, all Church-run institutions were presented in this meeting. A new Synod committee was elected for next three years (2017-2019) and Dr. James Tejosh Das became the honorary Secretary while Mr. Lawrence Mondol, the honorary Treasurer.
On 19th Feb. 2017, after a warm reception Moderator Bishop Paul S. Sarker & Deputy Moderator Bishop Samuel S. Mankhin visited some families of Karpasdanga Parish. First, they visited newly ordained Deacon Peter Mondol’s family and spend some times there; afterwards they also visited Rev. Santi Mondal’s family. They prayed for them and Rev. Mondol’s brothers’ family. During the visit, Rev. Asish Mondol, Rev. Daniel Mondol & Mr. Jones Loton Roy, Information & Documentation Secretary Cob were with them.
On February 12, 2017 at the Helmel meeting Mr. Richard Mardy was been ordained at Babuldang church. Honorable Bishop Samuel S. Mankhin ordained him with the co-operation of the Priests from Rajshahi Deanery. Brother Erick from Taize community the preacher in the church service, later newly ordained Deacon was welcomed.
Mr. Richard Uttam Biswas and Mr. Manik Baroi also ordained at ‘BORO SOVHA’ of Jobarpar Deanery on February 12, 2017 at Kandi. The ordination was conducted by the honorable Bishop Paul Shishir Sarker of Dhaka Diocese; and was assisted by the Priests. Rev. Shourabh Pholia preaches from the Holy Bible, later a warm receptions were given to the newly ordained Deacons.
Mr. Dipok Ujjal Biswas and Mr. Peter Mondol were ordained at Christ Church, Karpasdanga on February 19, 2017. Honorable Moderator & Bishop of Dhaka Paul S. Sarker and deputy Moderator & Bishop of Kushtia, Bishop S. Mankhin conducted the ordination service jointly; other Priests present also assisted while Rev. Simson Mazumder preaches. Later a reception was given to the ordained Deacons.
This year the Lenten pledge is devoted to elderly, the golden age people. It is observed that our dedication and responsibility to elderly including the parents have largely declined. But our scripture teaches us to care and respect them with decency and loyalty. Church has the responsibility to think of them. CoB plans to do something for the elderly people at each parish. Foreign support in this area is not available as such as it was before and therefore we have to act on our own and sure that God’s will is with us to fulfill His words towards that end.
We request to contribute your Lenten pledge 2017 to this cause, and urge to expedite the efforts, individually and from parish, to care the elderly people as we are instructed by our God –
“Pay attention to your father, and don’t neglect your mother when she grows old.” – Proverb, 23:22.
By God’s grace Church of Bangladesh (CoB) has elected Revd Shourabh Pholia the Bishop for it’s third diocese – Barisal. On 24th February Bishop’s Electoral Board comprising laities and all clergy of Church of Bangladesh gathered in a retreat at CoB Conference Centre at Savar, Dhaka and later both the houses voted to elect the Bishop. The retreat led by Fr. Benjamin Costa, C.S.C, Vice Chancellor (Acting) of Notre Dame University. Br. Guillaume from Taize Community and Sr. Agnes from Christo Sevika Sangha assisted Bishop Paul Shishir Sarker, Moderator of CoB to conduct the election.
It is a historical event for the Church of Bangladesh with lots of hopes to expedite the way of creating God’s Kingdom. Revd Shourabh, the Bishop-elect did his Bachelor in Science from B.L. College, Bangladesh in 1992. Later he obtained Bachelor Degree in Divinity (1993-97) and Masters in Missiology (2005) from the Senate of Serampore College (University), India and from Gloucestershire University, UK respectively. He ordained in 1997 as Deacon and in 1998 as Priest of CoB. In his journey with CoB he took different responsibilities in the Church Ministries. For last couple of years he has been serving as General Secretary of the Bangladesh Bible Society on deputation.
“It is God’s grace which I have received through you all. Please continue your prayers for me so that I can fulfill and follow the God’s will. I humbly submit myself to His call to serve our Church and the society. In this journey I need your prayers, blessings and support.” Said by the newly Bishop-elect Revd Shourabh Pholia.
Let us continue to pray for Revd Shourabh Pholia and his wife Suchitra Behera and their only daughter Shatabdi Pholia. Let us uphold them to our Lord so that they can be an ideal family, and Rev. Pholia, may become such a Shepherd who could bring his flock under God’s grace and care.
The Moderator of Church of Bangladesh blessed the newly constructed building of Christo Sebika Sangha at Jobarpar Sisterhood, unveiling the cover of the stone plaque. After that the Bishop Paul S Sarker and Moderator of Church of Bangladesh, the Roman Catholic Church Barisal Diocesan Bishop Subrata and the Father of Oxford Mission Barisal cut the ribbon and entered into the house. Later, the Bishop administered a devotion service on this occasion. During the blessing of the new building all the sisters, all priests of the deanery, distinguished guests and few leaders of the community were present in the programme. The host sisters offered a feast in the lunchtime. The little girls of the Shishu Jishu Hostel organised a cultural programme and performed. However, the new building blessing ceremony was begun with the special Eucharist service at St. Mary’s Church in Jobarpar parish. The service was conducted by the Bishop Paul S Sarker. Moreover, Rev Dr. Albert S Walter, Principal of St Andrew’s Theological College gave sermon.