Monday, 21 November 2016

Garrison Wesley Church with a hoary past, Secunderabad

CSI Wesley church, secundrabadTelenganahttp://www.telanganafirst.in
CSI Wesley church interior, secundrabad, Telengana.hyderabadadvisor.com
When the subcontinent was under the East India company rule, the British mercantile trading company poked its nose into the internal matters of many Indian rulers who were busy holding each other 's throat.  This lack of unity among the Indian rulers was in favor of the English. Over a period of time, they grabbed vast lands  from the Rajahs and  Nawobs. To maintain and to improve and safe guard the company's trading activities  and security,  they needed more people from England, This led to the arrival of a large number of people every month from Britain and the development of many cantonments across their land. To meet the spiritual needs of the civilians and military people, numerous churches came up near the civilian lines as well as near the barracks. The British Indian Army had been  stationed  in Secunderabad  since 1798 and there were many soldiers and others who were followers of  Wesleyan Methodist tradition of worship. 

Garrison Wesley Church at Trimulgherry in the Cantonment area, Secunderabad, Telengana state, is one of the oldest English churches in India. The work began in 1853 while EIC was ruling the country. Perhaps  this church has  the oldest foundation in the Telengana region. But the church was completed only  in 1883 when the British Crown was directly running the administration.  The church came up with a view to catering to needs of mainly the British military and its army officers. Unfortunately, this church was not in good shape due to poor maintenance after  India's independence in August, 1947. 

 Until 1878, the church construction work was stalled. It was one
Rev. William Burgess, who came from Madras in 1878 took serious steps to get the church work going. He was assisted by Rev. Charles Walker Posnett who had to move over to Medak oversee the construction of Medak Church. The church did not have a bell on it's own before. The ship from London that was carrying Lillian Burgess and Arthur Burgess, wife and son of Rev William Burgess along with a bell  for the church, sank midway and the bell got lost in the sea.  Even today, the church does not have a bell. This church that has a hoary past was built with lime and mortar. The restoration work was given to a firm in Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu that specializes in heritage structures. For the finishing job, it is said, the company used  fine  concentrates, comprising mixture of eggs, jaggery, herbs, aloe vera leaves (Aloe vera is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe), fine lime powder and lime mortar well  ground with jute.

In order to retain this historical place of Christian worship and its heritage value, it was recently  renovated back to its old grandeur and glory. When the old rafters came off, leaving the structure weak, prompt action had been taken to restore the structure. The restoration work cost rupees one crore. After renovation, the church was rededicated in a ceremony held in December, 2014.
 

The credit goes to then Pastor, The Rev. S. P. Vidyasagar who laid much emphasis on the restoration of the old church instead of building a new one and  the then-Moderator's Commisary, G. Dyvasirvadam who agreed to raise the funds for restoration. This church comes under the aegis of the Protestant Church of South India (CSI) within the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Diocese of Medak. This historical church is the silent reminder of the past glory of the British era.

Tit-Bits:

01. It was in 1878  the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society was formed in Hyderabad by the missionaries led by Henry Little, William Burgess and the Indian Evangelist Benjamin Wesley. They took early efforts towards the spread of the Gospel and helped establish many churches in areas northward of Hyderabad and attracted the new  Christian converts.

02. Rev. Charles Walker Posnett was mainly responsible for constructing the Cathedral at Medak, Telengana  the largest in Asia that can accommodate 5000 people at the same time.
Ref:

 http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> National> Telangana / by Ravi Reddy / Hyderabad – December 21st, 2014