Thursday, March 24, 2005
NORTH INDIAN CHURCH FOUNDED BY THE BRITISH CELEBRATES ANNIVERSARY
Hindus, Sikhs, Political Candidates, Pay Their Respects
By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
LUDHIANA, INDIA (ANS)
-- "Whenever the British Empire invaded other countries and conquered them around the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries they built large Churches for the spiritual encouragement of their military forces and gave all honor and glory to the living God of Israel. 'They that honor Me, I will honor them,'(1 Samuel 2:30), " says Rev Isaac Newton Johnson, Founder and President, Voice of Christians Evangelical Church, in a recent article. (Pictured: Rev Isaac Newton Johnson has been preaching in a nearly-150 year old church founded by the British for more than a year following his ordination. He is seen here being honored in SungKwang Presbyterian Church, Seoul, South Korea in June 2004. Credit: Voice of Christians Ministries).
Writing on the occasion of the 148th Anniversary of St. Luke’s Church, Jalandhar Cantonment, North India, celebrated on January 16, 2005, Johnson says: "This was the basic secret of expansion of British regime around the world in the span of 200 years of their militarism and colonialism while they exported coal, cricket and Christianity to the world. They ruled the world with the iron fist and there is a common saying that the sun never set on the British Empire."
He says during the expansion of British Empire in India in the previous two centuries, whenever they established any cantonment in India, they built up large military Churches and cemeteries, which were meant entirely for Army officers and soldiers.
Johnson says that St. Luke’s Church at Jalandhar Cantonment in Panjab State of North India was one of the churches built by British Government during 1856. This Church was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Thomas, Bishop of Madras on January 16, 1857 by the authority of the Right Reverend Daniel, Lord Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India on the application of Reverend Richard Painting, M.A., Chaplain Minister officiating at Jalandhar Cantonment, according to church records.
The church celebrated its 148th anniversary on Sunday, January 16, 2005 with much enthusiasm and praise, Johnson said.
"Our Hindu and Sikh brethren also visited the Church and paid their obeisance at the altar. I have been privileged to deliver the key message from the Holy Bible titled 'Christian Heritage' on this occasion," Johnson told ASSIST News Service.
Johnson said: "As St. Luke’s Church was exclusively built for British Army officers and soldiers in India, the local Indian congregation was not allowed to worship in the Church. The British Infantry graveyard was also earmarked near the Church, where hundreds of graves of British soldiers are found who died in the military action in India during British Regime in the last two centuries. This is the largest and oldest Church in Panjab state of North India, which houses many of the historical monuments, war plaques and commemorative (memorabilia) and so many memorial stones engraved in the walls of the Church who had laid their lives for the cause of British Empire during British Rule in India. This Church is an impressive example of neo-gothic architecture and the largest ecclesiastical building surrounded by huge lawns."
St. Luke’s Church was an Army Church, and its Priest-in-charge and Chaplain had also been an Army Officer with the rank of Captain. All the expenses for its maintenance were made by the State “32-Ecclesiastical” and it was managed by the Ecclesiastical Department of the government during the British Rule in India up to August, 1947, Johnson said.
"The charge of St. Luke’s Church was given to the local Indian congregation at Jalandhar Cantonment in 1947 during the partition of India, when British government quit India and this Church came under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Diocese of Amritsar, Anglican Church of India (CIPBC) in North India," he said.
"I have been the first non-Anglican evangelical preacher who was brought in by Late Right Rev Babu Masih, Bishop of Anglican Diocese of Amritsar, Anglican Church of India in Septebmer, 2002 at Jalandhar Cantonment for the spiritual ignition of the diocese. He was handicapped due to an accident, which he met in 1998 and could not walk since then. He was in search of a young born again evangelical Panjabi preacher who could lead the diocese in the years to come. He met me in a prayer meeting in April, 2002 at Jalandhar, where I was one of the speakers," Johnson explained. (Pictured: Bishop Babu Masih presents a Bible to Rev. Isaac Newton Johnson after Johnson's ordination ceremony. Credit: Voice of Christians Ministries).
Johnson completed his two-year of Bachelor of Divinity degree in April, 2002 and the late Bishop Babu Masih proposed his ordination as Priest in his diocese, which Johnson says he accepted prayerfully.
"He gave me the Book of Common Prayer to study and to implement it in the worship service. It is a sacred, beautiful book of English Christian literature ever written, containing holy sacraments and rites to implement with time bound occasional messages to be delivered in the mainline Churches," Johnson said.
"He (also) taught me Anglican rites (though I was strongly backed by the Pentecostal experience) and ordained me as Deacon on September 29, 2002 in St. Luke’s Church, Jalandhar Cantonment and appointed me Spokesman of the diocese. Subsequently he ordained me as full Anglican Priest on March 1, 2003 and appointed me as Priest-in-Charge of the whole Anglican Diocese of Amritsar. My ordination ceremony as Deacon can be viewed at www.voiceofchristiansministries.org/archive11.html
, "Johnson said.
When Bishop Babu Masih died on November 30, 2003 after his brief illness, Johnson was given the charge of St. Luke’s Church to conduct worship services and Rev (Deacon) Sunil Kumar (aged 34), son of Late Bishop Babu Masih was appointed his assistant (resident priest) by the diocese and to look after the Church property.
"He has so nicely worked under my supervision and maintained the Church property in such a orderly manner that today I can claim that this is the only 148 year-old magnificent former British Military Church left behind in North India depicting the might and majesty of the British Empire." (Pictured: Rev Isaac Newton Johnson speaking from the lower pulpit made of pure brass and in the background (Rev) Deacon Sunil Kumar sitting on the altar).
Johnson said that Rev (Deacon) Sunil Kumar was ordained as full Anglican priest on December 19, 2004 by the Most Rt. Rev Samuel P Prakash, Metropolitan, Anglican Church of India, and was given the charge of this Church, keeping in view the longstanding services of his late father and Johnson's teacher (Guru) Late Bishop Babu Masih of the Anglican Church of India.
"People of different faiths also come in this historical Church to pay their obeisance and seek blessings," Johnson said.
According to Johnson, last year during the parliamentary election in India, Mr. Gurjit Singh Rana, a Congress Party candidate from Jalandhar constituency, attended Easter worship services in April, 2004 and paid his respect at the altar, seeking blessings.