On May 26th, the India Evangelical Lutheran Church elected and installed a new president, Rev. Y. Suviseshamuthu. Of the sixty-five valid ballots, thirty-five chose to elect Rev. Muthu as president of the India Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Once the delegates cast their ballots under the watchful eye of Mr. Benjamin Franklin, IELC election commissioner, he gathered them to count the votes. While Rev. Raja Gambeeram, president-emeritus of the IELC, and President Muthu watched, he counted the votes with the help of his fellow commissioners.
Rev. Roger James, South Asia area director of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), and Rev. Roy S. Askins, Asia communications director of the LCMS, observed and verified the votes and counting. Gambeeram and Muthu along with accompanying witnesses signed the ballot sheet and verified that Muthu had in fact been elected president of the IELC.
Despite Gambeeram’s signing of the election documents, a brief fracas broke out among delegates and witnesses of the election. One attendee attempted to seize and destroy the election documents. Mr. Benjamin Franklin, IELC election commissioner, rescued and photographed the document, pictured here.
After the altercation, the LCMS observers were escorted from the property. The installation of the new president belongs to the responsibility of the outgoing president. In the hours following the election, former president Gambeeram refused to install Muthu as he had also done years previously when the IELC elected Rev. J. Samuel. This time, however, he authorized Rev. Y. Sukumaran to install Muthu on his behalf.
Vice President Rev. Y. Sukumaran installed Muthu into his newly elected office later that same evening on behalf of Gambeeram.
The district presidents of the Nagercoil and Trivandrum synods also participated in the installation service. They brought greetings and pledged to support the newly elected President Muthu.
Rev. Dr. Christudas, principal of Concordia Theological Seminary, Nagercoil, also brought greetings and encouragement from the seminary. He pledged the seminary’s ongoing support, and asked the newly-elected President Muthu to be present at the seminary’s opening services this coming June.
The Rev. Roger B. James brought words of greetings from the president of LCMS, Rev. Matthew Harrison. He encouraged president Muthu, pointing out that the church belongs to Christ, and Christ will prevail over all the machinations of the evil one.
A Thankful Leader
President Muthu closed the installation service by offering his thanks to those gathered, who saw fit to entrust this service to him. He acknowledged the great difficulty before them.
“Before today, the IELC was divided in two,” Muthu noted. However, the day had “divided the IELC in three.” He acknowledged the great burden God had placed upon him by placing him within this office. Yet, he promised to reach out and reunite his brothers and sisters in the IELC into one church.
May the Lord grant him strength and courage to accomplish this task.