Receiving Honor from Men

As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet…. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” -Acts 10:25-26

William MacDonald comments:

“When Peter arrived, the centurion fell down at his feet as an act of reverence. The apostle refused… protesting that he was only a man himself. It would be fitting if all self-appointed “successors” of Peter would imitate his humility by forbidding people to kneel before them!”

We’re sad to learn our former leader seems to have chosen differently.

“His Eminence the Most Reverend Dr. K.P. Yohannan” receiving one of many kneels at his feet and kisses on his hand at a 2009 ordination. 

But more concerning is KP’s answer at an April 20, 2015 staff meeting:

“Did anybody ever kiss my hand or my ring? In memory I cannot ever recall I allowed it to happen or if they did it. Because we never teach it. We never promote it. That is not our doctrine, I am not a god, anything, but if people who talk about it and say this, they saw it, what can I do.”

Later in the same meeting KP also said:

“What have I done to you or to anyone here to promote me? When I took the ring on my hand, as God Almighty my witness, I was going to a death chamber. I never asked anyone to kiss my ring, I never allowed it to happen. We never teach it, we never promote it.”

It is through statements such as these that we have lost trust in the leaders of this ministry.

To churches in the West we simply want to reveal GFA’s ritualized clergy-above-laity practice that has been hidden from conservative evangelical donors through careful marketing.

Video of Bishop Ordination Service

Eyewitness Testimonies from current and former staff regarding ring kissing

A former Believers’ Church secretary, who worked for GFA at the seminary where this video was filmed, said, “Regarding kissing the ring, we are told by our bishops in that time, the way of wishing the Bishops & Metropolitan is: When we see first time in the day we have to go to them and take their hand, which is having ring and kiss it. We have done many times. And later they have changed that, we have take their hand, which is having ring keep on our forehead. During the Ordination time Bishops (Simon John, Juria Burdan) have instructed us, after the Metropolitan given the ordination we have to touch His feet. And we have done the same. We are 40+ pastors done the same on that day.”

A former Believers’ Church state leader said, “Way back around 2009 there was this ‘confusing’ instruction about kissing KP’s ring. I did see some of the Synod staff and clergy members doing it. I call it a confusing instruction because many did not actually understand how to do it. And it looked quite awkward. As for me, I somehow escaped from doing it. Soon, the practice was revised and the new instruction was – ‘hold KP’s right hand with your right hand, raise it up to your forehead as you stoop low, and then touch the ring on your forehead’. The explanation given was that the ring had the church’s emblem on it, so we were recognizing the authority of the shepherd of the church. As for this act, I did it quite often!”

A former SD student said, “I personally saw it as well. So did my husband. Any of the people who were on our SD trip with us would have seen it too. They kissed his ring. That was 2011.”

A former US staff member said, “While living over in India for six months on the Believers Church seminary campus in 2010-2011, I witnessed multiple encounters where a BC pastor or member of the church would come up to KP and bow before him, take his hand and kiss his ring. It shocked me because it seemed so universally accepted. No one, KP included, ever tried to stop it. On a side note, I also traveled with KP several times and he always wore his long robe and the big wooden cross around his neck. One time in the airport, a woman came up to him while we were sitting at the gate, knelt down at his feet, grabbed his ankles, and bowed repeatedly to him as if he was a statue of a god or something. It was so disturbing to me. Afterward, KP told me that this was just a cultural practice and that he needed to allow the people to do it because he was seen as a leader in the church in India. I couldn’t help but think, though, of other leaders (like Gandhi, for example) who lived very humbly and modeled servanthood, as well as the explicit teaching of Jesus that ‘let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.’ (Luke 22:26)”

Additional Testimonies

A senior US leader’s wife was told the order of service by a “Father”. This was part of an ordination service in Kerala. He explained when different things would happen. Part of that dialog was at what point the person being ordained would kiss KP’s ring.

Another senior US leader was told by KP that they were going to stop the “ring kissing stuff” on the field, meaning that it had been a practice before then.

Someone whose cousin was a teacher at the Believer’s Church residential school or the seminary told us: “My cousin was teaching in a school in Kerala – which I visited. In Kerala, kissing someone else’s hand is not part of the culture. I have never seen anyone doing it. My cousin left the school because he was asked to kiss KP Yohannan’s ring, and he refused to do it.” They continued, “I am not sure if KP Yohannan personally asked him to kiss the ring or if he was just told that this was something that was being instituted in the school. But that’s the reason he left.”