Rev. Dr. Ipe Joseph
General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in India
25 September 2003
Rev. Dr. Ipe Joseph, who is general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India, spoke at Amritavarsham50‘s Interfaith Summit, Religions Embracing for Peace & Harmony. The NCCI is the ecumenical forum of the Protestant and Orthodox churches in India.
How to reconcile the Church’s doctrine that Jesus Christ was the only son of God in the face of someone like Amma?
“Doctrine must take a back seat.”
But isn’t that difficult for the Church?
“It is very difficult, but doctrine must take a back seat. God chooses many ways to manifest His grace in the world.”
Were you born a Christian?
“Yes, the doors of our house were always open to everyone, and I mean that literally; the doors were never closed. Everyone was welcomed. On either side of us were Hindu houses and we all grew up together.
“Our neighbors were a couple who had no children, and every month, they would ask my mother to send me over to say the prayers with them and my mother would say: ‘Just go, and say the prayers with them. They have no children, so go.’ And I would go and they would light the lamp and the lady said, ‘You say your prayers’ and she chanted the Hindu prayer. Then she gave me banana chips, perhaps I just did it because I liked the banana chips, I don’t know. But we grew up without the distinction of ‘I am a Christian; he is a Hindu.’ This is how we should be.”
Have you known about Amma long?
“I have known about Her for six years, but I have never met Her. I am waiting for Her darshan now. Actually I met Her through Bawa Jain. He said I should come to meet Amma, and then the very next day Swami Amritaswarupananda phoned me and said we would like to send a swami to come and invite you personally to Amritavarsham50. I said no, that’s not necessary it would be a waste of money, a phone invitation is sufficient. But I have been impressed by the humility of the devotees. When I arrived, I was assigned someone to help me and he himself is a bank manager, but he is so humble. He sat and waited for me in the hotel foyer, and I said it’s not necessary, but he said ‘No, that is my duty. I will not leave you, and you must call me whenever you need something.'”
What do you hope to accomplish at Amritavarsham50?
“I want to ask Amma how we can work together with the Math. This is the real interfaith, to do service together, especially in the field of HIV infection. This is very important. And also I would like Amma to write a forward to a set of 38 poems I wrote about the Mother. They are quite short; they won’t take Her long to read. In fact, they were inspired by my own mother. She died when she was 87, but they are universal. Even God needed a mother to be born. I wrote them six years ago, but the project has been delayed and delayed. The Archbishop was going to write a forward, but I said it should be a woman, and it should be a real mother also. I think I have found my mother now.”