‘For My Sake and the Gospel’s.’ Mark 8:35.
The motto of the Delhi Brotherhood (formerly known as the Cambridge to Delhi Mission) was chosen by Edward Bickersteth, as the first Brothers left Cambridge for Delhi in 1877. The vision was inspired by B.F. Westcott himself, who longed for a Community to settle on the banks of the Yamuna River, Delhi, building up the Church, until the Indian Church could take over the leadership of the Brotherhood itself. In 1988, the Brotherhood achieved its goal of Indian leadership, yet the shared history between Westcott House and the Delhi Brotherhood cannot be forgotten.
For today’s Ordinands, a Placement with the Delhi Brotherhood is a reminder of Westcott’s long tradition of forming Anglican Priests who are outward-facing, committed to fostering the Mission of the Anglican Church, and unafraid to live alongside and learn from all peoples Christ calls to be his own: For My Sake and the Gospel’s.
With over 14 different community projects across East Delhi, day-to-day life with the Brotherhood is busy and varied! There are opportunities to be involved in the two primary and secondary schools the Brothers run in Old Seemapuri, from helping out in older classes and teaching the younger children, to spending time getting to know the five children who live in the Boys’ Home. The boys themselves often come to the Brotherhood through the Night Shelter run for children living on the streets across Delhi, the Leprosy Colony where the Brotherhood help to provide medical care and lead a Church, and through referrals from people who know of the work of the Brotherhood. They are happy, healthy, and joyful, and can be found playing games of football and cricket with the Brothers at weekends in the monastery, as well as enthusiastically joining in with worship by reciting Hindi hymns! They love to laugh, learn, and play games, and remind us all of Christ’s call to see everyone we meet as a brother or sister, united in one Body, regardless of family relation, background, race, or religion.
In addition to following the daily rhythm of prayer, work, and rest at the monastery, there are also opportunities to visit other projects, including the Women’s Empowerment Project which serves to support, advocate, and provide legal assistance to women living with domestic violence, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and financial difficulties in some of Delhi’s poorest communities. Volunteers (who have often been supported by the Women’s Project themselves) meet weekly to sing songs and encourage each other in their work, as well as to discuss how best to tackle some of the cases they have been given. It is hard not to be moved by the power of the transforming work the women do, and to be reminded of the presence of Christ in times of brokenness and vulnerability, as well as healing and transformation.
There are many other projects run by DBS (the Delhi Brotherhood Society), including an Elderly People’s Home, a Vocational Training Centre for teenagers and young people, a Children’s Helpline for children living with abuse, neglect, kidnapping, illegal child labour, and trafficking. On Sundays, there are opportunities to visit one of the five different Churches led by one of the six Brothers who currently live at the Brotherhood. On Sunday Evening, there is an especially interesting opportunity to visit St. Stephen’s College – a college of the University of Delhi which was first established by the Cambridge Mission to Delhi – and who is now served by Father Monodeep Daniel, Head of the Delhi Brotherhood and Dean of St. Stephen’s College. The evening service offers a combination of contemporary music provided by the students themselves and liberal catholic worship. It is an opportunity to reflect on how the Brotherhood strives to serve so many different kinds of people across Delhi, regardless of background, gender, religion. One can only help but be reminded of Lightfoot’s University Sermon on the Cambridge to Delhi Mission in 1876, inspired by Hebrews 11.8: ‘And he went out, not knowing whither he went.’
It is hard to describe just how much transformative work the Delhi Brotherhood is doing across East Delhi, and difficult, too, to describe just how much of an impact a placement at the Brotherhood can have on the way one approaches future ministry in the Church of England. A placement with DBS complements the process of formation and curriculum offered by Westcott House by helping to contextualise theological study and reflection, as well as allowing space and time to reflect critically on one’s own personal vocation and commitment to the Five Marks of Mission. Delhi Brotherhood is like a home from home for Westcott Ordinands in Delhi, and I couldn’t recommend a placement here enough!
Rachael Gledhill, an ordinand on a 3-year training pathway at Westcott House, spent one month on placement with the Delhi Brotherhood during the Long Vacation of her first year.
More information about the Delhi Brotherhood Society is available from their website, which can be found here.