In September 2016 we welcomed the Rev Dr Israel Selvanayagam, to start pastoral ministry (his passion) at Evesham Methodist Church from 1 September 2016.
Israel is a presbyter of the Church of South India, originating from a remote village in the deep south, less than one mile from the shores of the Indian Ocean. As a teenager, he joined ministry as a lay church worker and after four years, he joined the Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Madurai (a temple town of southern India) for theological education and ministerial training.
He was asked to stay on in the seminary to initiate interfaith dialogue along with assisting a congregation in preparation for ordination. Higher studies followed whilst he continued to serve the seminary with different roles such as Lecturer in the area of Religions, Mission and Interfaith Dialogue, Director of the lay theological education, Convener of the prison ministry and Editor of the Tamil Theological Book Club.
In 1996 Israel became the World Church Tutor at Wesley College, Bristol and Queen’s College Birmingham, under the Methodist Church’s Programme on World Church in Partnership.
From January 2001 to July 2006 he was the Principal of the United College of the Ascension (Anglican-Methodist), one of the Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham, then becoming the Interfaith Consultant of the Birmingham District while being a preaching minister in the Elmdon Circuit.
In 2008 he returned to India to become the Principal of the United Theological College, Bangalore, and from 2010 to 2016 he was the Professor of Religions at Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute, Chennai.
Israel has maintained and expounded the holistic gospel and integrated spirituality. He has published extensively both in English and Tamil, and composed nearly a hundred songs in Tamil and 50 of them were put into a MP3 CD (uploaded in YouTube).
He and his family have kept in close touch with their extended family in their original village where they established a charity in 1983 called ‘Rural Development Movement’ with the help of their friends. In 2013 a book of essays in his honour was presented, and the title (Discipleship and Dialogue: New Frontiers in Interfaith Engagement) reflects his position (some copies are available with him).
Israel is married with Leela; their two daughters, Ani and Arul, are maths teachers living and working in Birmingham, and they are blessed with three grandchildren.