- Niles, D.T.
- ( 1908-197 0 )ecumenical leader from Sri LankaDaniel Thambyrajah (D. T.) Niles was born into a Christian family in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, on May 4, 1908. He studied at the United Theological College in Bangalore, India (1927-33), and became the national secretary of the Student Christian Movement. He was ordained a Methodist minister in 1936 and served a district evangelist. Recognized as a talented young leader, in 1938 he was a major speaker and participant at the International Missionary Council gathering at Tam-baram, India. He became more widely known as the evangelism director for the World YMCA in Geneva(1939-40).In 1941, he was the first full-time general secretary of the National Christian Council (India). During the war, he began to write about dialogues with non-Christian faiths. After the war, he served as a Methodist pastor while continuing his role on the world stage as an ecumenical spokesperson. He preached at the opening service at the first meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1948, and then became successively the chairperson of its youth department (1948-52) and executive secretary of its evangelism department. His leadership with both the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka and the World Council continued through the mid-1960s.In 1957, Niles became general secretary of the East Asia Conference of Churches. He held the post until 1968, when he was named the conference's chairperson. That same year, he was selected to head the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka, and elected as one of the presidents of the WCC.Niles died in India on August 17, 1970. He is most remembered as an ecumenical strategist who helped structure the Protestant movement in southern Asia for the last decades of the 20th century.Further reading:■ Christopher L. Furtado, The Contribution of Dr. D. T. Niles to the Church Universal and Local (Madras, India.: Christian Literature Society, 1978)■ D. T. Niles, Brothers of the Faith (New York: Abingdon, 1960); , Buddhism and the Claims of Christ (Richmond, Va.: John Knox Press, 1967); - , The Message and the Messenger (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1966)■ Glen Wagner Snowden, The Relation of Christianity to non-Christian Religions in the Theologies of Daniel T. Niles and Paul Tillich (Boston: Boston university School of Theology, Ph.D. diss., 1969).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.