We, the undersigned members of the Independent Christian Laymen Association, Yeotmal, beg to answer some of the questions, out of the questionnaire set up by the Committee.
1. The General Missionary Secretary of Free Methodist Mission had paid a visit to Yeotmal in the year 1948 and we other, Christians who do not work for the Mission had put a representation, dated April 4, 1948, before him explaining him how Christians like us are treated by the Missionaries, vide paragraph 2 of our letter quoted above (original and copy enclosed). To this, he has replied on August 6, 1948, in paragraph 4 of his letter stating that Missionaries were sent to India in the first instance to serve the real needs of the people in your country. In paragraph 14 of his letter he has stated that he has drawn the attention of the Director of the Commission on Missions and accordingly we have brought this to the notice of the Chairman of this Mission in India and requested him whether he got any instructions from the Directors regarding our grievances in paragraph 6 of our letter dated November 27, 1948 (original and copy enclosed). To this the Chairman never replied. In the mean the Missionaries here got angry with us because we continued our correspondence with the General Missionary Secretary in U. S. A.
2. Due to this, the Missionaries here severed all relations with us and as it to prove their anger against us, in a meeting held on August 8, 1950, Dr. F. A. Puffer, insulted us by uttering the words ‘Shut Up’. By this the things became worse as stated in paragraph 2 of our letter dated October 9, 1954, presented to the Missionary-Enquiry Committee, on October 10, 1954, at Yeotmal. Consequently Dr. Puffer called a meeting of the Official Board of this Mission on September 30, 1950, and put before it a proposal to dismember the Christian Laymen who were not working tinder them and fed by the Mission money. No decision was taken in this meeting but was declared that the decision would be taken in the next meeting. On this we requested Dr. Puffer, Chairman of the above Board, in a letter, dated September 30, 1950, i.e., the same day, that he should intimate us the time and place of the next meeting in which our case would be considered (original and copy enclosed). He never intimated us this and subsequently he declared us dismembered in the service on the following Sunday.
3. This fact was brought to the notice of the Home Board of this Mission in America on October 10, 1950, (Original and copy enclosed). We again wrote to Rev. E. S. Root on May 17, 1951, and October 20, 1951, to Dr. F. A. Puffer, on October 20, 1951, March.20, 1952, and December 27, 1952, to the Pastor of this Church on October 21, 1951. and to the Bishop Head of this Mission in America on March 1/17, 1951, (original and copies of all letters quoted in paragraph 3 above, are enclosed), and requested them to settle our grievances and reconcile the matters. But nothing has been done till the Missionary Enquiry Committee arrived here on October 10, 1954, before which we were compelled to put our grievances. On this the Missionaries got infuriated and when on November 7, 1954, we went to morning Sunday School, they caused the Pastor of this Church not to open the Church for us. This fact has already been brought to the notice of Deputy Commissioner, Yeotmal (original and copy enclosed). From this thou-h it may seem that the Indian Pastors, our people are locking the Church for us we strongly suspect that there is the hand of these Foreign Missionaries behind the action.
4. The Field Secretary of this Mission Rev. E. C. John had come here and we requested him also to settle our matters with the Missionaries here and other Indian leaders of this Mission in our letter, dated November 18, 1954, and further requested him that we desire to see him in this connection. He called one of us and one Indian leader Rev. P. T. Gaikwad, and tried to set right the matters. Rev. P. T. Gaikwad promised him to do so, but till this time, though we met him several times in the meantime, did not take any action to set right the matters. Again we requested the Field Secretary to grant us an opportunity to have an interview of all the Laymen Christians with him. To this the Secretary never replied. In our nation we see temples are thrown open to any individual who desires to worship the God. But here in our Church we see that we are not allowed to enter our own Church. We therefore, strongly suspect that a big game is being played by these Foreign Missionaries through their pets.
5. We had an occasion of meeting the Indian Pastor of this Mission Rev. P. T. Gaikwad, and he told us that the Foreign Missionaries have given the Church into the hands of the Indian Christians. This fact was also told by Rev. F. J. Kline and R. N. Davis when they appeared before the Enquiry Committee at Yeotmal on October 10, 1954, that they have handed over the affairs of the Indian. Church into the hands of the Indian Christians. But we see that for the administration of the Church they have applied the American Discipline. This is illegal. If they have given the Church into the hands of the Indian Christians then they cannot apply the American Discipline applicable to this Church. This means that their handing over the affairs is bogus. While handing over the Church to Indian Christians they must also stop the Foreign Discipline. The property acquired by this Mission is for charitable purposes and solely for the welfare of the Indian Christians and thus we have hereditary right to own all the property which has been acquired for us. They possessed the property up to this time but now we desire that this property should be given to Indian Christians unconditionally and that Government should ask these Missionaries by law to give the possession of this property to Indian Christians and that should vacate the big bungalows occupied by them free of rent. If they want to live in India and preach the gospel, they should take on rent other bungalows. There is a big space lying fallow in the compounds where they live now. They use the bungalows and do not even allow the Indian Christians to live on the site lying fallow round about their bungalows. This means that they are using the land for themselves and nor allowing the usage of the land for whom it has been acquired. Really speaking they have no right to use the land for themselves. The very purpose for which the property has been acquired has thus been defeated. Nowadays there is an acute problem of housing and if the land lying fallow in these big compounds is given to poor Indian Christians they would not feel the scarcity of housing. Man; Indian Christians had applied to Rev. R. N. Davis many times for a site from the Mission compounds to live on, but they have given to none of them. These applications can be had from Rev. R. N. Davis, Missionary here.
Suggestions:- From all the foregoing paragraphs it will he seen that the Foreign Missionaries are here not to preach the gospel but for ruling the Indian Christians and enjoying a kingly life in India. Their attitude is such that they do not allow the Indian Christians to prosper socially and do not desire to heighten the standard of Christian Society by not allowing the Indian Christians to manage their own Church affairs. This will be clear from the fact that they have not repealed the Foreign Discipline as yet though they say that the affairs of the Church have given into the hands of the Indian Christians. And hence we earnestly request that these Foreign Missionaries should immediately be asked to quit India as they do not prove themselves of any utility to the growth of Indian culture or Christian Society. We are now able to manage our own affairs and we do not want their interference any longer. We are now in Free India and likewise we think our Social affairs should free from any religious Foreign policy.
Yes, I desire on behalf of the, ‘Independent Christian Laymen Association, Yeotmal, to appear before the Committee to give evidence orally.
F. B. LUCAS,
The 30th December 1954.