The Old Mission Church on RN Mukherjee Road, which has witnessed two World Wars and withstood the Great Cyclone and the Assam earthquake, will usher in its 250th year celebrations with an inaugural service on December 29.
The oldest Protestant church in Bengal was founded by John Zakariah Kiernander in 1770 when the British were establishing their rule in Bengal, but they had no church of their own. The foundation of what is popularly known as Old Church was laid in May 1767 and was “dedicated in the fourth Sunday in advent of 1770”.
Several extensions have been done over the years but the church has retained its original architecture. Though the area outside has turned into a parking and hawker zone, the long corridor with Doric pillars transports one to a different world. The locals also called it Lal Girja for its red brick-stone façade that no longer exists.
Poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt was baptized at the Old Mission Church, which is a Grade I heritage structure, on October 8, 1843.
“As the church celebrates its 250th anniversary it is our prayer that God’s name will continue to be upheld and honoured in this great city. The church has a great heritage and culture and has witnessed the city grow around it,” said Terezena McCrahan, secretary, Old Mission church.
Reverend Probal K Dutta, who is also the chairman of the trustee board of the church, will open the inaugural ceremony delivering God’s word. Dignitaries attending the service will include principals, teachers and students of different schools in the city along with diplomats and members of the church.
“The year-long anniversary celebrations have been planned to include every part of the society. While there will be sports and games for children, the young adults can participate in sword drills and musical evenings. We will also visit homes for the aged and children to share what God has bestowed us with,” said reverend AS Backianathan.
The church has also stood the vagaries of nature. It was not damaged in the Great Cyclone of 1864 which destroyed the Khejuri and Hijli Ports and flooded the western part of the city. The Assam earthquake in 1897 destroyed only one spire of the church, which had to be fully demolished later to prevent any mishap.
Source: Times of India