The southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu has decided to create a welfare board for church workers.
This is going to be one of the first of its kind in the country.
On May 25, 2022, the Tamil Nadu government issued an order stating to create a welfare board for catechists and employees of the churches.
Since September 2021, the state Minister for Minority Welfare and Overseas Tamil Welfare mooted the idea of creating a welfare board for catechists and employees of the churches. It also took the responsibility of crafting and implementing it. Besides, the Ministry sought help from other welfare boards to form a new state board for church personnel.
The order has passed now. The formation has to take place.
Following the order, persons working in Christian churches like catechists, altar servers, singers, cemetery workers, persons who work at Christian orphanages, appellate centers, and the staff of alternative care homes and leprosy rehab homes would benefit from the proposed new board. Church workers do not receive a monthly salary per se, but receive minimal remuneration that comes from donations.
In the backdrop of this, the kinds of welfare the new board will provide include accident relief, scholarship, marriage and maternity allowance, and various welfare schemes such as an old-age pension.
Persons working in Christian churches may act through the Welfare Board.
The designated authorities who would certify people and recommend their names to the Welfare Board include the Catholic Church and its archbishops and bishops, Protestant churches including the denominations from Church of South India bishop, Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church Bishop President, Arcot Lutheran Church Bishop President, Indian Evangelical Lutheran President Church President, Methodist Church of India Bishop President, Advent Church Bishop President, Evangelical Church of India Moderator, Marthoma Syrian Church Bishop, Syrian Orthodox Church Bishop, Baptist Churches Chairman, Salvation Army Commander and Synod of Pentecostal Churches-Vice President.
Further, anyone who wants to be a member of the Welfare Board such as a pastor can apply through the Synod of Pentecostal Churches.
Along with this, the government will verify the facts and issue identity cards to the welfare board members.
The eligibilities to benefit are one must be 18 years of age or under 60 years of age, and must be a Christian; he or she has worked in the churches concerned for at least seven years. The certificate must be obtained and submitted from the approved church mentioned above.
Christians in a southern Indian state have welcomed the government’s decision to create a welfare board of catechists and employees of churches.
“This is recognition from the government which gives an extra boost to work for the church. It encourages me to work for the church and after me,” said Mr Wilson, 55, a church worker at John the Baptist Church, Karayanchavadi, Poonamallee of Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese.
He has been a sacristan for 16 years.
“It is great to know the benefits and recognition help my family and future,” said Mr Wilson, a father of two.
“It is good to have such a welfare board. Government just announced it and it has to come into reality. After its realization only we can come to know how far it is benefiting us,” said Mr. Charles (52), a father of two. He has been working as a sacristan at St. Joseph’s Church, Ambattur.
According to the government, 500 to 1000 in each district would be benefited. Tamil Nadu state has 38 districts. Accordingly, 19,000 to 38,000 will be benefited.
South Indian state Tamil Nadu according to the 2011 census has 6.12% of the total population of Tamil Nadu which is 67.9 million. – RVA Tamil Service
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