Pune’s Oldham Memorial Methodist Church to celebrate 150th anniversary
Come September 28, the Oldham Memorial Methodist Church (OMMC) – one of the oldest churches in Pune located in the Camp area – will celebrate its 150th anniversary
Come September 28, the Oldham Memorial Methodist Church (OMMC) – one of the oldest churches in Pune located in the Camp area – will celebrate its 150th anniversary. Founded in 1872 by a missionary from South America, reverend William Taylor, the church began as ‘The Methodist Episcopal Church or M E C’ Poona, with 37 members with reverend D O Fox as the first pastor-in-charge.
The members of the church continued meeting at different locations for two years after which they moved to a hall on East street and continued worshipping there for the next 14 years. While the existing new building was dedicated on June 27, 1971, and the church was renamed ‘Oldham Memorial Methodist Church’, continuing the legacy of renowned Methodist bishop, William F Oldham. Over the years, the church has made immense spiritual and social contribution to the city of Pune.
Associate pastor reverend Jesu A Karunakaran said, “In 1951, the Methodist Episcopal Church was renamed the Oldham Memorial Methodist Church in memory of bishop Oldham after his death in 1937. Also in 1951, an unique tradition was started at the church to mark Easter. This has been an age-old tradition of carrying the wooden cross to Baker’s hill; the congregation gathers around before dawn and when the sun rises, the service ends with benediction.”
“In 1961 when Pune was hit by floods, the church provided financial assistance and six years later, it helped in relief work for those affected by the Koyna earthquake,” Karunakaran said.
Nearly 40 pastors have ministered and served in this church in the 150 years of its existence. The current pastor-in-charge is reverend Dr S Retnamony. “The recent Covid-19 pandemic brought a wave of loss and grief in every home and despite their own tears and sorrow over the loss of loved ones, the congregation came forward to help those who lost an earning member by paying their soaring medical bills and providing monthly rations and food for many families across the city and state. The church was able to provide help and aid to around 250 families during the pandemic,” Retnamony said.