A Presbyterian theologian, the Rev. Roger Gaikwad, has been installed as the new general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India, which groups 30 Orthodox and Protestant churches.

“My aim is to strengthen ecumenical relations at the grass roots. This will bring out greater unity among the churches,” Gaikwad told ENInews on Dec. 14 following his installation five days earlier at the NCCI’s Nagpur headquarters in central India.

Fifty-seven-year old Gaikwad had been principal of the Aizwal Theological College of the Presbyterian Church of India and was chosen unanimously for the post in August.

The installation service was led by the NCCI president, Methodist Bishop Taranath S. Sagar, in the presence of council office bearers, staff and representatives of Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim leaders from Nagpur.

Gaikwad will be responsible for convening the once-every-four-years assembly of the Indian church council in 2012, and for guiding the church grouping through its centenary year in 2014.

The appointment of Gaikwad came after a long delay in finding a successor to Church of North India Bishop D. K. Sahu, whose tenure as NCCI general secretary ended more than a year ago.

Born into a Methodist family in western Maharashtra state, and with a doctorate in theology, Gaikwad had been chairperson of the Student Christian Movement of India for nearly a decade. He has been associated with several ecumenical and youth ventures in north-east India, where three of the seven states have a Christian majority.