Monday, June 16, 2014

Cornerstone of church

Embedded into the side wall of the Emmanuel Methodist Church is this plaque, declaring that the corner stone was laid on 17th December 1878. The normal visitor would miss it, for it is not along a regular path. The security guard on duty however insisted that it had to be seen and so it was.

What the stone - acknowledged elsewhere by the church as its foundation stone - does not say is the story of how the church started off as a gleam in the eye of William Taylor. Taylor had arrived in India in 1870, after having toured a great number of countries over the previous seven years. He did not come to Madras with the intent of starting a Methodist Church. But he sensed that his approach as an Evangelist was not enough to overcome the lethargy of the local clergy and so decided to set up the Episcopal Church. Such energy was not unusual for Taylor. He had definite views on how churches in Asia and Africa should become self-sustaining and must be treated on par with the churches of the USA. This attitude put him in conflict with the Methodist mission board, who would rather have those recognized as missions, rather than churches. 

The church was renovated at the turn of the millennium. Though originally planned as minor repairs to the roofing, the effort grew to a complete renovation, replacing the original wooden trusses and expanding the seating capacity. It was probably at this time that The corner stone was actually moved around the corner!

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