Mumbai’s Emmanuel Church turns 150, plans year-long celebrations
To celebrate 150 years of the church, the management has decided to hold various events till the end of this yearmumbai Updated: Jan 11, 2019 23:46 IST
What started as a congregation in the slums of Sonapur in the year 1848, eventually formed into the Girgaum Emmanuel Church in 1869. The church — now called the Emmanuel Church — marked its sesquicentennial anniversary on January 10 this year by holding a special prayer service.
To celebrate 150 years of the church, the management has decided to hold various events till the end of this year — a visit by 30 priests, Gospel singing, musical programmes and Bible quiz, among others.
“The celebrations will give people from our congregation, who are spread across the city, a reason to join us,” said Deepak Jadhav, secretary of Emmanuel Church.
The church has 125 parishioners most of whom speak Marathi, while a handful of them also speak Gujarati. It is the first church from the Indian congregation to follow the Church Mission Society (CMS), a British mission. However, the parishioners say that though they still follow Anglican practices, the church now falls under the services of Church of North India.
“The church was formed as a lot of Maharashtrian mill workers, who had accepted Christianity a long time ago, were staying in this area,” said Rajan Shinde, a senior member of the church.
Shinde adds that this is the only church that conducts Gujarati services and is built in the form of a cross.
The Grade-II heritage structure, made with Porbandar stone in Gothic style, underwent conservation in the year 2005 and managed to retain the stain glasses with verses from Bible, which were installed since its inception. The church was built at a cost of ₹50,000 in 1869, and the conservation cost the church ₹10 lakh.
“In the late 19th century, the Bombay’s governor would come from Malabar Hill to this church to pray on his 12-horse chariot. The church was close to the water body then,” said Alka Shinde, treasurer of the church.
Rajan said once an American had visited the church 15 years ago to trace the records of his grandparents. “We have baptism and marriage records in a register right from 1869, which is why this boy came looking for marriage records of his grandparents. We are now planning to conserve these records as a part of the sesquicentennial year,” said Rajan.
The church also has a brass lectern from the late 1800s, the altar, benches and the Bishop’s chair that have been preserved since the church’s inception, and a pulpit which was made in 1895. The church also has an immersion font, used for baptism, which was made in the early 20th century.
However, though the Emmanuel Church was among the oldest church to have a pipe organ to be used for prayer service, it had to be demolished a few years back.
First Published: Jan 11, 2019 23:46 IST