The Church of South India has consecrated its first woman bishop. On 29 Sept 2013 the Rev. E. Pushpa Lalitha was consecrated Bishop in Nandyal in the Southern Indian state of Andhra Predesh.
On 25 Sept the CSI’s Synod Executive selected Bishop-elect Lalitha from among four candidates short listed by the diocese to succeed the Rt. Rev. P.J. Lawrence.
Bishop-elect Lalitha (57) was born in Diguvappad village in the Kurnool district of Andhra Predesh in Southern India. Educated at Andhra Christian Theological College, she was ordained a priest in 1984. A Telugu speaker, she ministered in several villages before serving as the director of Vishranthi Nilayam in Bangalore and as the administrative head of the CSI’s women fellowship.
In a statement released on her behalf by the CSI, Bishop-elect Lalitha said: “My parents had decided to dedicate me to the lord even before I was born, as they had already lost two sons. My life has been God’s mercy, and I wish to be his servant for life.”
Among her priorities is the empowerment of women. “Be it any institution, women are always given second-rung treatment. We need to change that by promoting values that teach us to not to discriminate and treat all humans the same.”
“I hail from a village and my parents sold their land to educate me. I want every girl from such a background to get the best education possible. Only education can change lives,” she said.
“As a priest, my primary responsibility was towards my congregation. As a bishop, the responsibilities are much more,” she said.
Women were first ordained for the Church of South India – a united church formed from the merger of the Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist and other Protestant denominations in 1947. The church at present has 110 women clergy.