Friends of the Church in India Day Service – 5 Oct 2019
Theme of the day: Christian relationships with other faiths
Sermon by The Venerable Alastair Cutting, Archdeacon of Lewisham & Greenwich
Acts 17:16-34; John 14:15-21;
Beauty for Brokenness: Graham Kendrick
All of my earliest childhood memories are Indian.
My parents had been doing their missionary training at one of the Selly Oak colleges in Birmingham when I was born, and the three of us arrive together in India when I was aged about 18 months old.
We lived most of the next 12 years in a small rural town called Jammalamadugu, in the Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh, in the Rayalaseema Diocese of the CSI.
A few years later, my sister was born in India, in the CMC hospital in Vellore, even sharing the initial of her name CMC with the hospital she was born in.
If you wanted to understand some of our Indian heritage as a family, you might share the confusion that the Registrar of Births had when my father went to register my sister Catriona’s birth.
“So, your daughter was born in India, so her nationality is Indian!”
“Well, no, said my father, she has the same nationality as me, and I am British.”
“Ok, said the birth Registrar, so where were you born?”
My father explained that as his parents had previously also been medical missionaries in India, in Chik Ballapur, near Bangalore, so he William Cutting had in fact been born in India.
“Then she is Indian! replied the Registrar!”
Well, no, explained my father patiently, he was British because his father was British.
“So where was your father born?”
Well, said my father, his father Cecil Cutting’s parents had actually also been missionaries in India, as teachers, since 1893, so his father had also been born in Ranikhet, then later lived in Benares/Varanasi in India.
“So she IS Indian!” exclaimed the Registrar, triumphantly!
There was the a scurry to provide birth certificates and marriage certificates for my father William Cutting, my grand father Cecil Cutting, and my great-grandfather also William Cutting, before my sister could have her nationality confirmed as British. Which was complicated, as there were no Birth certificates in the 1850s when my great grandfather William was born…
A Baptism Certificate fortunately sufficed.