After 3 decades, prayers fill Sgr’s St Lukes Church

Srinagar: Prayers were held on Wednesday in the oldest church in the J&K capital. For the first time in over 30 years, the St. Lukes Church saw worshippers standing and praying just days ahead of the Christmas.

The 125-year-old church was restored and will be officially e-inaugurated by Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday.

Pastor Eric from The Church of North India (CNI) led the prayers that was joined by many.

Church official Kennedy David Rajan said: “Actually we were supposed to meet on December 23 and Lt Governor Manoj Sinha was to inaugurate the church officially. But due to the preoccupations of the Lt Governor, it would be e-inaugurated now online from the Secretariat.”

He said, “The Christian community is very happy to see the over a century old church of Srinagar being renovated by the authorities and reopened for the prayers once again for the community.

“A dream come true for the community.”

He, however, added the Christmas Mass and celebrations will not be conducted in the church since it is still under renovation.

“There are still no sitting arrangements,” he said, and added “If the renovation work would have been completed, definitely Christmas prayers would have been held here as before.”

Today’s prayers were held and recorded which would be played during the e-inauguration of the church from the Secretariat by the Lt Governor Manoj Sinha tomorrow, David Rajan said.

The authorities started the renovation work of St. Lukes Church situated at Dalgate under the Jammu and Kashmir Government sponsored “Preservation and Maintenance of Architecture and Heritage” Srinagar Smart City Project Scheme more than a month ago.

The ceiling of the church which was dilapidated for years due to the closure was redesigned with famous Kashmiri “Khatamband” pieces. The structure of the Church was also restored to its original shape.

Till the 1990s the church would hold regular prayers and the annual Christmas mass would draw a huge crowd.

However, with the passage of time and prevailing situation in Kashmir Valley the stone and brick masonry structure fell silent due to closure and absence of worshipers.

The foundation stone erected on the wall of the Church by Dr Earnest and DR Arthur Neve “To The Glory of God” and “As A Witness to Kashmir” was dedicated by The Bishop of Lahore on September 12, 1896. (UNI)

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