Madras:Anderson Church at Parrys turns 150

Anderson Church at Parrys turns 150

Daniel P George | TNN 

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Chennai: The Church of South India’s Anderson Church at Parrys turned 150 on Tuesday, March 3. The following Sunday, a special thanksgiving service was held, presided over by Rt Rev V Devasahayam, the Bishop-in-Madras of the Church of South India.
It was on February 22, 1837 that Reverend John Anderson arrived in Madras as the first missionary of the Church of Scotland.

He established The General Assembly’s School in a rented house on the east side of Armenian Street with the headmaster and 59 boys from the St Andrew’s School forming the core (the institution in 1877 became the Madras Christian College and School and shifted to George Town).

In March 1855, Anderson died. Four years later, the Anderson Church was constructed, with Reverend P Rajagopaul, the first convert of Anderson, becoming the first minister of the church. Surprisingly, the name of Anderson, an educationist, is associated more with the church than with the school he founded.

For decades, the church remained a landmark of the Madras Christian College on the Esplanade until the college was shifted to new premises in Tambaram (1937).

Currently, the church is the only building of the institution that remains in Parrys. At the thanksgiving, Reverend J Jacqulin Jothi of the church said: “At this moment we are grateful to John Anderson and remember his yeoman service to the society. He taught us the joy of giving and we pledge to rededicate ourselves to serving society and the downtrodden.’’

Echoing a similar sentiment was E Martin Caleb, secretary of the church. “It is a proud moment for the entire congregation as we celebrate 150 years and remember John Anderson for his selfless service,’’ he said.

“I live in Anna Nagar. On the way to Anderson Church, there are eight CSI churches but I prefer to go to my parent church, Anderson,’’ Samuel Vijayakumar, church treasurer.

On Sunday, a special prayer was also held at the grave where Anderson and his wife lie buried – at the Old London Mission Cemetery on Thana Street.

The CSI Anderson Church is listed as a landmark heritage building by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Tamil Nadu chapter, and Chennai Heritage.

daniel.george@timesgroup.com

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