East Parade Malayalam Pastorate is so closely associated with the Church where it is located now, that it has taken its very name from the Church. But it was neither known by that name in the beginning, nor was it associated with that Church in the first twelve years of its existence. It started as CSI Malayalam Congregation, Bangalore and had varied locations in the city, for worship services in its early years. Its humble beginning is marked by the worship service held for the first time in Malayalam in this city according to the CSI order of service, with just 14 worshippers lead by Rev. V.T.Kurian. That worship service took place not in any Church but in Haigh Memorial hall situated behind the present day Unity Buildings .
The onward Journey
Apart from the Haigh Memorial Hall, the congregation had utilized the Hudson Church also for their services in the beginning. It was however the St. Marks Cathedral that opened its doors for the Malayalam services on a regular basis for the first time in the city.
The arrangement with St. Marks Cathedral had several conditions attached to it such as:
The entire offertory received during the worship services were to be handed over to the Cathedral.
Only Episcopally ordained ministers were to conduct Holy Communion Services in the Cathedral.
The Congregation obtained the recognition of the local Diocese viz The Mysore Diocese of CSI on the 29 th of Oct, 1953.
The congregation also obtained the services of a pastor (Rev. M.K.George) from Madhya Kerala Diocese.
Till then it was Rev. V.T. Kurian who was ministering to the needs of the Congregation in addition to his own duties as a faculty member of the UTC. The arrangement with the St. Marks Cathedral was totally inadequate for a growing congregation.
By 1957 the total Strength including children had reached 250. Hence the Congregation was exploring other possibilities for conducting their services. It was at that time that Dr.D.R.Sedlo Presbyter of St. Andrew’s Kirk on Cubbon Road came to the aid of Malayalam Congregation.
Permission was granted to use all facilities at St. Andrew’s Kirk for the Worship Services and all other activities of the Malayalam congregation. The congregation moved to the St. Andrew’s Kirk in July 1958. Search for a permanent home St. Andrew’s Kirk however did not prove to be a permanent home for the Malayalam Congregation. They were once again on the look out for a permanent place that they could call their home. During the tenure of Rev. P.O.Varghese, while they were still worshipping at St. Andrew’s, a delegation of congregation members consisting of M/s H.E.Philips, T.C.Chacko, George Cheriyan, P.N.Ninan, C. Chandy (member and City 2 Commissioner of Police) and Miss. Sosamma John met Bishop N.C. Sargant, the Diocesan Bishop and presented their case for allocating a convenient Church for the use of Malayalam Congregation.
They were successful in their effort as the Bishop could immediately identify East Parade Church for the purpose as it was a Military Church under his charge. They could also obtain a promise from the Bishop to allot the church to the Malayalam Congregation.
The Malayalam Congregation could however move to the East parade Church only after complete repainting and extensive repairs were carried out to the Church furniture. This was due to the fact, that though the church was a stately building with 95 years of history behind it, it had fallen to bad days after British soldiers had withdrawn from Bangalore cantonment consequent to the granting of Independence to India in 1947.
Malayalam Congregation had to incur considerable expenditure in this effort, exhausting all their reserves of over a decade of existence. Finally they had their first service in East Parade Church on 3rd September 1961. This was a combined service of both Tamil and Malayalam congregations as suggested by Bishop Sargent.
About the East Parade Church*
A brief word on East Parade Church would appear relevant here. East Parade Church derives its name from its location on the East side of the extensive Parade ground which in those days covered the entire area from Cubbon Park to the present day Dickenson Road. It will be interesting to note that the prestigious Mahatma Gandhi Road was known as ‘The South Parade’ in the pre Independence period, indicating the primacy the Parade ground had during the British regime. The Church was built by Wesleyan Methodist missionaries for the use of British soldiers stationed in Bangalore Cantonment, following Wesleyan traditions of worship. The Church was built in 1865 and was the earliest Church built by them in the Mysore District. A clear inscription on one of the built up stones of the church shows a date 6 th – Oct -1863 which is presumably the date the foundation was laid. One of the annual reports of the Wesleyan mission (1903) reports as under about the East Parade Church:- “The lofty, roomy building is capable of accommodating 700 people. It is looked upon as the Cathedral of Methodism in the Province.” The Church building has a number of unique features. The massive Corinthian columns, all eight in number, stand as sentinels at the entrance of the Church. These columns lend the whole structure its character. Another welcome feature of the building is that unlike other large Churches in Bangalore it has no columns or pillars inside the Church, obstructing the view of the altar. The East parade Church continues to serve two large pastorates viz East parade Tamil and East Parade Malayalam, of the Karnataka Central Diocese of CSI to this day. Members of the two pastorates are ever grateful to the Lord Almighty for His wonderful provisions in preserving and reserving this wonderful Church for their use. The two pastorates had together carried out extensive.renovation to the Church recently and rededicated it for Devine Services on 26-2-2006. There are many more things the two 3 Pastorates can together do in East Parade for the glory of God. Let us pray and hope that God will continue to bestow on the two Pastorates necessary wisdom for this Purpose.
Milestones on our way
After adopting East Parade Church as our home, the congregation has made steady steps on the way of progress. Some of the mile stones we have encountered on that path are mentioned here.
Centenary celebrations of the East Parade Church
Immediately after entering the East Parade Church the Centenary of the Church was becoming due. Along with the Tamil congregation we participated fully in these celebrations.
A home for the presbyter
After the congregation found its home base the immediate priority was to find a home for the pastor. Fortunately the East Parade compound had sufficient space to construct a parsonage of moderate size. Permission was soon obtained from the concerned authorities for the construction. On 6th Oct 1967, the foundation for the Parsonage was laid by Bishop Sargant. Once the foundation was laid, the congregation went full steam ahead and completed the construction in good time. The parsonage was dedicated by Rev.V.T.Kurian on 7th April 1968. .Rev. P.M.Koshy was the first Presbyter who moved into the newly built parsonage. The Parsonage was built with the resources generated by the Malayalam Congregation. More than a decade after the dedication of the Parsonage the Diocese took a decision to build the first floor to our parsonage for the use of the Tamil Pastorate. Simultaneously a little expansion to our own parsonage was also carried out, adding the front verandah and the office room.
125th anniversary of East Parade Church
The 125th anniversary of the Church was celebrated jointly by the two congregations under the leadership of Rev. Vincent Rajkumar, Presbyter Tamil Pastorate and Rev. P. U. Paulose, Presbyter Malayalam Pastorate in the year 1990.
The formation of EMPACS Charitable Society
The formation of EMPACS (Eastparade Malayalam PAstorate Charitable Society) as a serving arm of the Pastorate in 1992 is one of the most significant steps taken by the Pastorate during its entire history. This step marks the transformation of the Pastorate from merely being a Worshiping community into a Caring community. It also means the pastorate has found its mission in a more meaningful way treating the second part of the Great Commandment given by our Lord Jesus Christ in his summary of the law and the prophets as equal to the first .God wanted both these parts to be given equal importance. When God decides to do something he first provides the persons for that purpose. Rev.Thomas K Oommen was the man chosen by God to form EMPACS as part of the Malayalam Pastorate .He was also provided with a young and enthusiastic Pastorate Secretary viz.Mr George Varghese just for a one year term(1992-93).The two of them together could find sufficient members in the Pastorate who shared their enthusiasm for doing something for the vulnerable sections of our society .The bye-laws and the Constitution were soon drawn up and approved by the promoters. The Secretary lost no time in getting the Society registered by the Registrar of Societies, Government of Karnataka. He also managed to get the Society registered with the Income Tax authorities under clauses12A and 80Gof the Income Tax Act. The first six months of the Society found phenomenal progress in its activities .A convenient compound was identified with the required built in accommodation in Anthony Layout in Lingarajpuram which was leased out in favour of the Society. The space available on the property was adequate for running an old age home and a Centre for Brain Injured Children. The Centre for Brain Injured Children was a boon for many such children in the near-by slum environment, who were left to their fate, often tied to a cot or a pillar when their parents went out to earn a living. Over the years the Society has been able to procure land from the BDA and build its own accommodation for the School for Brain Injured Children named ASHRAYA. They have also built up another school for normal children with special emphasis on economically backward children, in the Byppanahalli area. The Society is now looking to expand their activities .It may be relevant to mention here.
Formation of Senior Christian Fellowship
Rev. Christopher Kurien had a very short tenure of just one year as Presbyter in charge of the Pastorate (1997-98). But during that one year he was able to take several initiatives for the benefit of the Pastorate. Failure to mention them will amount to ingratitude .Three of these initiatives are mentioned below:-
( i .) For the first time in its history a regular office for the Pastorate was established with dedicated staff for that purpose.
(ii.) Senior Christian Fellowship to cater to the spiritual and mental needs of the older members of the church (above 60 years) was started.
(iii.) Golden Jubilee Celebrations of this Pastorate was launched although bulk of the year long celebrations took place under the over view of Rev.L E Sahanam.
Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Pastorate
The formation of the Malayalam Congregation as already mentioned took place in 1949.It was therefore decided to have an year long golden jubilee celebrations during 1998-99.A special committee was formed for this purpose under the chairmanship of the presbyter in charge. All the organs of the pastorate were actively involved in the celebrations. Some of the salient events that took place as part of the celebrations are mentioned below:- 1. The celebrations were launched in a public meeting held in our church at 2 pm on palm Sunday 1998.The participants included Rev. Victor Joshua, Diocesan Secretary, Rev Dr M J Joseph, Director ECC, Rev M P Yohannan, Vicar Primrose Church and Rev Abraham Marat, Vicar of Orthodox Church Hosur Road .During the meeting the surviving founding members of the Congregation namely Mr. T C Chacko, Mrs Sosamma John and Mr. C John Varghese were honoured. 2. A Workshop was held for the members of the Pastorate (85 members attended) between 12th and 14th of June 1998 at St Marks Parish Hall with Mr. Paul Siromony and Dr Daniel Chetty of the senate of Serampur University as facilitators. The workshop among other things could formulate a mission statement for the Pastorate and draw up an action plan for the future. 3. The Golden Jubilee Committee invited Justice V R Krishna Iyer to address the Pastorate giving an external view on the mission of the church. Justice Krishna Iyer commenced his address stating that what he was going to present was not an external view as he considered himself as an insider .He lauded the good work done by Christian Institutions and emphasized the fact that,” Such good works were possible not because people happened to be good but because they were motivated by a spiritual power to serve the needy with immense zeal and in a spirit of sacrifice.” 4. Another event that attracted a lot of attention during the Golden Jubilee was the Gana Mela by K J Jesudas and party held on 22/8/98 at the St Joseph’s playground.Mr M K Oommen was the person mostly responsible for this event. 5. The annual spiritual Convention of the Pastorate was conducted in an enhanced way with six days of convention led by Rev.Valsan Thampu of St Stephen’s College, Delhi. 6. The Senior Christian Fellowship of the church organized a one day seminar at the church with the youth fellowship on family relationships to which several prominent speakers were invited. 7. The final valedictory meeting of the Golden Jubilee year was held in our church on April 1999 with a large gathering including a number of former presbyters in charge .The chief guests included Justice Saldhana, Mr. Philipose Mathai, Secretary Government of Karnataka, Mr P S.S Thomas .Secretary Government of Karnataka and Rt. Rev. Vasanth Kumar the Diocesan Bishop. The Golden Jubilee committee consisted of the following persons:- Rev. L.E.Sahanam Chairman K.P.Luke Vydhian General Convenor O.Mathai Treasurer Rev. Dr. George Oommen Convenor Souvenir P.N.Abraham Convenor Events 6 Samuel Johnson Convenor Projects Moncy John Convenor Outreach And John Idicula Convenor Fund Raising The little sapling that sprouted on Palm Sunday 1949 has grown in all sense of the word in the last sixty years with as many as four congregations flourishing in different parts of the city today as off-shoots of the mother plant, which by itself is over 500 families strong. But growth is not only to be measured by numbers and size alone but also by the values it promotes in the environs it is placed .Sixtieth Anniversary of the Pastorate is therefore an occasion for introspection and self-evaluation. We should ask ourselves how far we have been true to the Mission statement adopted by us during the Workshop held in June 1998.All that has been achieved so far are due to the sheer Grace of God. We can not claim any credit or merit for ourselves. Let us rededicate ourselves whole heartedly to carry out the mission assigned to us by the Lord