CNI's jurisdiction covers all states of the Indian Union with the exception of the four states in the south (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu) and has approximately 1,250,000 members in 3,000 pastorates.
Ecumenical discussions with a view to a unified church was initiated by the Australian Churches of Christ Mission, Australian Methodist Church, the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church and United Church of Northern India during a round table meeting in Lucknow in 1929.
A negotiation committee was set up in 1951 using the plan of Church Union that resulted from the earlier consultations as its basis. The committee was composed of representatives from the Baptist Churches in Northern India, the Church of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, the Methodist Church (British and Australia Conferences), the Methodist Church in Southern Asia and the United Church of Northern India. . In 1957, the Church of the Brethren in India and the Disciples of Christ denominations joined in the negotiations as well.
A new negotiation committee was set up in 1961 with representatives from all the abovementioned denominations. In 1965, a finalised plan of Church Union, known as the "White Paper", was made. The union was formalised on 29 November 1970 when all the negotiating churches were united as the Church of North India with the exception of the Methodist Church in Southern Asia which decided not to join the union.
In 1994 at a synod in Etah, a decision was made by some members of the then dioceses of Agra and Lucknow to withdraw from the CNI and revive the United Church of Northern India of which they belonged prior to the union.
The liturgy of the CNI is of particular interest, as it combines many traditions, including that of the Methodists and such smaller churches as the Church of the Brethren and the Disciples of Christ. Provision is given for diverse liturgical practices and understandings of the divine revelation.
The polity of the CNI brings together the Episcopacy, the Presbytery and the Laity in an effort to reflect the polity of the Churches that entered into union. The Epsicopacy of the CNI is both historical as well as constitutional, there are 26 diocese, each under the supervision of a bishop. The main administrative and legislative body is the Synod, which meets once every three years to elect a presiding bishop, called a Moderator, and an Executive Committee. The Moderator acts as the head of the church.
Social involvement is a major emphasis in the CNI. There are synodal boards in charge of various ministries: Secondary, Higher, Technical and Theological Education, Health Services , Social Services , Rural Development, Literature and Media. There is also a synodal Programme Office which seeks to protect and promote peace, justice, harmony and dignity of life.
The CNI currently operates 65 hospitals, nine nursing schools, 250 educational institutions and three technical schools. Some of the oldest and well-respected educational institutions in India like Bishop's College and the Scottish Church College both in Calcutta, St. Paul's School, Darjeeling and St. Stephen's College in Delhi are affiliated to or administered by the CNI.
The CNI participates in many ecumenical bodies as a reflection of its commitment towards church unity. Domestically it participates in a joint council with the Church of South India and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church known as the Communion of Churches in India. It is also a member of the National Council of Churches in India. Regionally, the CNI participates in the Christian Conference of Asia and on an international level it is a member of the World Council of Churches, the Council for World Mission, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, World Methodist Council and in full communion with the Anglican Communion. The CNI is also in partnership with many other domestic, regional and international Christian agencies.