Thirty years on, prayers fill 125-year-old St Luke's Church in Kashmir

Prayers were held on Wednesday in the oldest church in Srinagar for the first time in over 30 years, with the St. Luke's Church seeing worshippers standing and praying just days ahead of Christmas

Dec 22, 2021
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125-year-old St Luke's Church in Kashmir

Prayers were held on Wednesday in the oldest church in Srinagar for the first time in over 30 years, with the St. Luke's Church seeing worshippers standing and praying just days ahead of Christmas. The 125-year-old church was restored and will be officially virtually inaugurated by Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday in a historic occasion for the small Christian community in the Muslim-majority union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Pastor Eric from The Church of North India (CNI) led the prayers. Church official Kennedy David Rajan 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.

The authorities started the renovation work of St. Luke's 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 remained dilapidated for years, 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 large crowds. However, with the passage of time and the three-decade long insurgency in Kashmir Valley, the stone and brick masonry structure fell silent due to closure and the 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 news agency said.(SAM)

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