When my Uncle, Mr. Eric Lal handed me a rather old Souvenir the other day, I was curious about its contents. A cursory glance of the cover established that it was a Souvenir of the Lodhi Colony Church of Christ The King, New Delhi announces a, “Grand Fete on the fifth of December 1959 at the YWCA Grounds. The Fete timing was given as 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and it was to be Inaugurated by Shri A.M. Thomas ( The then Union Deputy Minister for Food).
Turning to the inner pages of the souvenir, I came across a message by the then Bishop Rt. Revd. Frederick Willis, a person about whom I have heard praises from my father and uncles. I have been told that he was a most selfless and dedicated evangelist that the Church of North India Diocese of Delhi has ever known! The Bishop’s Message reads, “ I sincerely hope that the Grand Fete on December 5 in aid of the Building Fund of the Church of Christ the King, Lodhi Colony will be a great success. It is nearly two years since the foundation stone was laid, February 2nd. 1958, a day which I shall not easily forget, nor all those responsible for the arrangements. The accident on the railway line on Friday, January 31; the unexpected delay of the train on which I was travelling back from Rewari with the Revd. K.G. Sharp to Delhi Cantt. on Sunday afternoon, February 2; and the loss of the ignition key of my car at Delhi Cantt., all seemed to point to this-The Bishop was fated not to lay that foundation stone. The fact, however, was that he did lay it.
It is nearly a year since the work of the building of the Church of Christ the King was begun; but alas! the site was then found to be altogether unsuitable, and had to be abandoned. this was a very great disappointment, especially to all who had been working so hard and for so long to have a church in Lodhi Colony. some might be tempted to say that it seems we are fated not to have a church in that area; but difficulties arise to be overcome. We have had to abandon one site; but we have now secured another. Again the delay will mean inevitably that our building will cost more; but this means that we must put forth greater efforts and raise more money. This is just what is being attempted through this Grand Fete….
27th. November, 1959 Frederick, Delhi
It seemed as if the words had leapt across all those years and I could feel as if I was in the presence of Bishop Willis! Next I came across a message from my Grandfather, Revd. Moti Lal, someone I never met, but have known through the descriptions of my father, uncles and other acquaintances to have been a Presbyter with exceptional qualities found in few today. Incidentally I came to know that my Grandfather, Revd. Moti Lal had been one of the important founders of the Church in Lodhi Colony. A write up in the same Souvenir titled: Lodhi Colony Church of Christ The King-A Short History reads: “In the year 1943, when Lodhi colony was being laid out and buildings thereon were being constructed, a few Christians had already moved into the nearby Aliganj quarters and for the sake of those Christians, services were started by Rev.Moti Lal, the then Parish Priest of St. Michael’s Church, Jangpura, New Delhi at the residence of Mr. John Prem Dass. Sunday Services were started as early as in 1942 and two or three families present at those early services still continue to be active members of the church. With the construction and allotment of quarters to Govt. servants in Lodhi Colony, Sewa Nagar, I.N.A. colony, Prem Nagar and the nearby Vinay Nagar, the small congregation which met in 1942 has increased in numbers abundantly and we have nearly 200 worshipers now.
At one time when there were too many South Indians in the Colony who could not follow Hindustani, Services were held in English as well. Later Rev. Moti Lal was transferred to St.Stephens’s Church, Fatehpuri, Delhi during which the Rev. Jiwan Singh looked after the congregation very ably. After some years, Rev. Moti Lal was re-posted to Jangpura and thus the Lodhi Colony Church continues to have him as its Vicar once again.
One can go on reading the history of the church and the descriptions of a wonderful person who was my Grandfather for such were the people who served others as my grandfather Revd. Moti Lal and the Rt. Revd. Bishop Frederick Willis.May we see some more people of their calibre working in the churches today! What marked my grandfather apart from others today was that although he had written a number of articles in the souvenir, including a history of the church in Lodhi Colony was that he didn't mention his name at the bottom of the articles. This was an indication of his selflessness and the fact that he didn't run after self-glorification. As a mark of his greatness I would like to quote a few words written by him in one of the articles in the souvenir,"May God Bless you all, and bring you all to the life eternal!"
(Please also check out my article on Evangelism in North India on the link:http://rodrickwrites.blogspot.in/2013/04/the-spirit-of-evangelism.html)
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