The old Church building in all its resplendent glory
The Church of The Epiphany has a long history going back to the late 19th. century. The architecture, reminiscent the British architecture of the nineteenth century is distinct and unique. Owing to the constraints of space because of a growing congregation, it was decided to build a new church adjacent to the old one.
The Church was built in the Gurgaon Cantonment as opposed to the village by the Government in 1862. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Calcutta in 1866. It was a place of worship for the few British Civil and Military officers stationed in the town of Gurgaon. The Church was maintained by the Government continuously till 1942 when it was handed over to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and the Cambridge Mission both in Delhi. The Church in Gurgaon initially part of the Diocese of Lahore was transferred to the Archdeaconry of Delhi which became the Anglican Diocese of Delhi. The Epiphany Church of Gurgaon became part of the Diocese of Delhi after the formation of Church of North India on November 29, 1970. Although it is an Anglican Church, it has among its members those belonging to the Presbyterian, Methodist and various Baptist Missions.
The Old Church Building decorated for Christmas
The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel sent their first Catechist to Gurgaon in 1873 and soon after the Zenana Mission sent women workers to minister in the Zenanas. The frequency of services in the 1890s. and the early 1900s. was dependent on the fervour of the Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon. Two ardent church goers were Mr. J.M. Drummond and Dr.Barron, the Civil at that time. The service was usually evensong at any time between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.. On an average 12 persons would attend church. It appears that at that time no collection was taken.
There was Holy Communion whenever a visiting Presbyter turned up. In 1893, Revd. G.A.Lefroy who later on became the Bishop of Lahore used to conduct Mass at the church. His program for the day included celebration of the Communion in the morning. The service was in English and collection was taken. Later in the day there would be Evensong in Urdu.
The names of some of the visiting priests from the Cambridge Mission, Delhi included Rt.Revd.Purton, later Bishop of Calcutta, Cannon S.S.Allnut-St.Stephen’s College, Revd. C.F. Andrews, Professor N.G.Leather, St.Stephen’s college, and Rt. Revd. Bishop Christopher Robinson. The first recorded baptism was that of Cecil Harold Bhattacharjee on June 9, 1893. His parents were Rajindra and Indira Bhattacharjee.
In March 1896, Dr. Barron left Gurgaon and regular Matins and Evensong ceased. They recommenced when King was the Deputy Commissioner briefly and then when Lt.Col. A Elliot joined as DC. in January 1917. Regular services took place till April 1919 when the DC left. From April 1919 to May 1951 there are only intermittent records of the services conducted in the Church. There is only a single entry in the records about Rev.O.A. Finch who held a dual charge. Rev. W.T.Williams has made a number of notes in the Church records. He came in 1922 as the Principal of the Industrial Training School and also served as Pastor from 1932 to 1945. It also became a trend that the Presbyter of the Church was also the Principal of the Industrial training Institute later renamed as the St.Crispin’s School till 1970. After this the Church and the School began to have different heads. Revd. Moti Lal ( my grandfather) was the Principal of the St.Crispin’s School as well as the Presbyter In Charge of the Epiphany Church from 1960 to 1966.
The New Church Building
By the early 2000s. the church had become too small to accommodate the growing number of Parishioners so planning for the new church building took place. The far-sightedness of some of the parishioners of the church bore fruit with the consecration of the new Church Building in on Tuesday, the 6th. of January 2009 on the occasion of Epiphany Day by the Rt.Revd.Bishop Sunil K. Singh. The vision of the elder members of the church thirty to forty years back, coupled by the vision of the Rt. Revd. Bishop Sunil K. Singh (who was the Presbyter In Charge of the Church of the Epiphany) finally came to fruition by the Grace of the Almighty Lord. It was a solemn and emotional moment for the congregation and all those who had worked unstintingly for it. Revd. Suresh Kumar, The then Secretary, Diocese of Delhi, and Mr.V.K. Samuel, the then Treasurer, Diocese of Delhi Graced the occasion. Some of the Pastors who had served in the Church and were present on the occasion were, Revd. Baldev Sandhu, and Revd. Prabhakar Mahlan (presently the Secretary of the Diocese of Delhi). Revd.Sudhir Rumalshah, who had served the church as Deacon was also present. Also present were Presbyters from various Churches of the C.N.I. Diocese of Delhi. Providing a list would be difficult! I remember, particularly Colonel Sen who was an important member of the building committee, but is no more with us.
Colonel Sen and Shirin Sen, Stalwarts of the Church
The day started with the cutting of the ribbon and unveiling of the foundation stone by the Rt. Revd. Bishop Sunil K. Singh. This was followed by a worship service which included the Sanctification of the Altar, and the entire new building. A confirmation service also took place on that day. At the end there was a fellowship dinner for all those who were present. It was a red letter day for the members of the congregation of the Epiphnay Church of Gurgaon who rose to the challenge of building the church and contributed wholeheartedly to the noble cause!
A prayer before the Palm Sunday Procession
The vision for constructing a new Church was seen by the members of the Congregation thirty to forty years ago. This vision was then taken up by the Rt.Revd. Bishop Sunil K.Singh who was the then the Presbyter In Charge of the Church. On 6th. January, 1998, the then Bishop,Rt. Revd. Karam Masih blessed the land on which the new Church Building was to be constructed and thereafter there was no turning back! The successful completion of the new Church building is a testimony to the support of the Diocese of Delhi, the Congregation, which were generous with its contributions, the guidance of our Bishop, who was the then Presbyter In Charge, and the stalwarts of the building committee, Mr. Scott, Col. Datta, Mr.S.S. Hughes Mr. D.D. Lal and Mr.Sunil Massey. (I will always remember Colonel Ranjit Sen who was on the building committee for such a long time. He left us for his heavenly abode at the end of the year 2011.)
A Procession made up of Candidates for Confirmation
Today The Church of The Epiphany has a Parish which is growing. There are more than one hundred and fifty families and more than seven hundred individuals who form part of the Parish.
The Congregation attending Sunday Mass
Today the Church of the Epiphany Gurgaon has an active parish which participates in different out reach programmes. The Annual Spiritual Convention takes place in the month of August every year. The Annual Garden Fete which takes place in the month of November is an event which everyone looks forward to every year.There are separate services in English and Hindi on Sundays. The parish has produced two priests and one principal who have done the church proud! The Presbyter In Charge is Revd. Sunil Ghazan, and he is doing a wonderful job in looking after the flock of the church whether it be in terms of giving Spiritual guidance or overlooking the multiple programs taking place. He is also conducting Mass at the sister church at Sohna called The Sadhu Sundersingh Church.