The History of C.S.I. St.James Church, Ayanavaram is a vivid testimony to the Lord’s gracious leading through these 50 years and more.
Our nation became independent in the year 1947. PANDIT Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister planned for industrial development. Madras being the capital of Tamilnadu with its historical importance became centre of industrial development. In the year 1955, Integral Coach Factory (ICF) was established near Ayanavaram and people who were employed in the Railways, ICF and other offices settled in and around Ayanavaram. Ayanavaram being an old suburb had Hindu temples and Muslim Mosques; but no Church for Christians and therefore Christians had to go to the Churches at Vepery, Purasawalkam and Perambur for worshipping.
In the 1950’s, a few Anglos Indian families were worshiping at a school in Railway Colony and certain others were worshiping in a house in Madurai Pillai Street behind Hotel Noor.
Around 1958-59, some old timers like M/s Michael Paulraj, James, Sargunaraj and Ponnusamy had put up a thatched shed on a 10’ by 20’ area and began to worship. They had to overcome the resistance by local people through Police with the help of Police Inspector Mr.Durai Singh Francis. Some of those who participated in such worship are M/s Devadoss Gandhi, Samraj, Eddy Azariah and Thomas J.Rajan.
The vision of the Bishops of the Madras Diocese Rt.Rev,David Chellappa and Lesle Newbigin was to establish Churches in the belt Chennai-Avadi. Accordingly, the Avadi City Mission was formed and the Presbyter of Perambur Wesley Church Rev.H.E.C.Petet was put in charge of the Mission. He made an audio visual presentation about the need for a church at Ayanavaram to the Diocesan authorities and secures the approval.
Further those who were worshiping at the 10’ by 20’ thatched shed approached the Bishop David Chellappa through the good offices of Mr.Robert Moses of Hindustan Bible Institute. Those who were worshiping at two locations in the vicinity welcomed the idea very much.
Rev.H.E.C.Petet and Gnanavedakkan roamed and combed the Ayanavaram area by bicycles and identified three consecutive plots in United India Nagar, Ayanavaram, bought the land in 1959 and put up a nice thatched church of size 40 feet by 60 feet. The church was named as St.JamesChurch. It functioned under the Avadi City Mission. Those of the laymen who supported this venture are M/s Andrew Elisha, Clarence Rupert, M.R.Francis, James, Johnson, S.J.Sargunaraj, C.P.Srinivasan, Wilfred, Selvanayagam, Richard, John Samuel, P.George, T.Edwin and E.J.Victor.
Very soon, the church cam directly under the Diocese of Madras and Rev.Y.Rajaratnam, H.E.C.Pettet and Gnanavedakkan conducted the services. Those who were hitherto worshipping at the Railway Colony merged themselves with this new church bringing their furniture and organ etc.
As days passed by, the Pastorate Committee decided to put up a pucca building with a nice elevation and Bell tower using the trusses and cement sheets. On 09.12.1961, Rt.Rev.David Chellappa laid the foundation stone for the church building. The church building was expeditiously completed and dedicated on 20.03.1962 by Mr.Rajabhushanam.
The church grew by leaps and bounds and soon needed a bigger place. It was decided in 1974 to extend the church when Rev.Fredrick Stanley was the Presbyter, Mr.Clarence Rupert was the Secretary and Mr.D.Chelladurai was the Treasurer. Divine services were conducted at Sri.Arangaiah Naidu Middle School Hall obtained with the help of Mr.D.Chelladurai. The services of Late.Mr.S.J.Sargunaraj in this expansion are laudable. Rev.Fredric Stanley, Mr.S.J.Sargunaraj, C.P.Srinivasan and C.Joshi did the liaised with some Railway officers and bought Steel Truss boiler tubes and tube lights for the church expansion. Rt.Rev.Lesley Newbigin dedicated the expanded church.
When the church celebrated it’s Silver Jubilee in 1984, Presbyter Rev.Wesley Brown, Secretary Mr.S.J.Sargunaraj and Treasurer Mr.S.N.Kulasekaran organized a grand function under the Chairmanship of Rt.Rev.Sundar Clarke, the Bishop in Madras by the grace of God.
Mr.S.J.Sargunaraj who toiled the served this church from 1959 to 1984 in the capacity of Secretary and Treasurer passed away in 1984. A stone tablet in his memory was erected in the church front wall in 1986 by Rev.Wesley Brown, C.P.Srinivasan, Secretary and Mr.Edwin Masillamani, Treasurer.
Realising the need for a Parish Hall, Rev.Prince Chellappa, Presbyter-in-charge, Mr.A.Stephen Bakiyanathan, Secretary, Mr.Stephen Durairaj, Treasurer and the Pastorate Committee planned and the foundation stone for the Church’s Parish Hall was laid on 23.04.1988. On 05.05.1991, Rev.Prince Chellappa, Presbyter-in-charge, Mr.C.P.Srinivasan, Secretary, Mr.E.David Prabhukumar and the Pastorate Committee completed the Parish Hall and had it opened by Rt.Rev.M.Azhariah, the Bishop in Madras.
CLOSED CIRCUIT TV:
Novel method of closed circuit TV was introduced during the period of Rev.T.J.David (1992-1997). This was to help members who worship in the outer portion of the church to take part actively in the service. It was introduced for the first time in our church.
PURCHASE OF ADDITIONAL LAND FOR CHURCH:
It was decided to buy the building and land abutting the church on the western side and all base works for the purchase were undertaken in 2004 by Rev.B.Francis Rajadoss, Presbyter-in-charge, Mr.E.David Prabhukumar, Secretary, and Mr.A.Stephen Bakiyanathan, Treasurer. The sale deed for the purchase was executed in the period 2005-2007 when Rev.B.Francis Rajadoss, Mr.Malcom Ramesh Johnson and Mr.T.Gideon Devanesan were Presbyter-in-charge, Secretary and Treasurer respectively.
In the Golden Jubilee year 2010, all celebrations were well organized by the team consisting of Rev.I.Samuel Prabhakar, Presbyter-in-charge, Mr.E.David Prabhukumar, Secretary, Mr.A.Stephen Bakiyanathan, Treasurer and the Pastorate Committee. On 20.10.2010, the Golden Jubilee day of the church was celebrated ceremoniously under the Chairmanship of Rt.Rev.Dr.V.Devasahayam, Bishop in Madras. In commemoration, a beautiful Souvenir brought out under the efforts of a Team led by Mr.Edwin Masillamani was released by the Bishop on that day for His Glory.
NEW CHURCH BUILDING PROJECT:
On 30.01.2009, by the grace of our Lord, the foundation stone was laid by Rt.Rev.Dr.V.Devasahayam, the Bishop in Madras for a new church building at the same place where the existing church is located.
During the period 2010-2012, the building structures on the western side of the church were demolished and the site was readied for the construction of the new church. The team consisting of Rev.I.Samuel Prabhakar, Presbyter-in-charge, M/s Balasingh Immanuel, Chandrabose, Secretaries, Mr.E.David Prabhukumar, Treasurer along with the Pastorate Committee and the Building Committee led by Mr.S.N.Kulasekaran, Convener, involved themselves in doing all the spadework for starting the new church building works like planning, fund raising, demolishing the old buildings etc. Soon after Rev.B.Charles Prabhakaran took over as the Presbyter in June 2012, the construction works of the church progressed at jet-speed. A first floor building over the Parish Hall and and a second floor roofing above that were got ready for conducting all services and activities of the church during the demolishing and construction phases.
Fund raising efforts and other works were given a dynamic thrust by the new Pastorate Committee that took over in early 2013 with Mr.R.Nehemiah as Secretary and Mrs.H.Julia Rani as Treasurer under the Chairmanship of Rev.B.Charles Prabhakaran, Presbyter-in-charge. A Music Festival was organized as a fund raising scheme at the Ewart’s School in 2013.
The demolishing works were completed and the construction works started in full swing in February 2013. A number of innovative fund raising schemes were conceived by Rev.B.Charles Prabhakaran, Presbyter-in-charge and were launched one by one. God’s grace is with us on every effort. The Congregation willingly and happily came forward to do everything they can to augment the finances without any hitches. It is the Lord’s doing.
The construction works are progressing at a fast pace and the building is emerging as an elegant structure to His Name’s Glory.
DEDICATION OF THE NEWLY CONSTRUCTED CHURCH:
God willing, the Church is to be dedicated on 22nd December 2013 by our beloved Bishop Rt.Rev.Dr.V.Devasahayam. The rosters of the names of Presbyters, Office bearers of the Pastorate Committees of the Church and also the histories of various ministries of the Church are given separately.
Welcome to All. This is the recorded video footage of the new church dedication service held on Sunday, 22nd December 2013.