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Oldest Telugu Christian congregation to celebrate 210 years today

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The oldest surviving Telugu Christian congregation that observes its services from the London Mission Memorial Church, located on the Main Road in the Old Town area of the city, will be celebrating the 210 years of its formation on Sunday.

It was the first Telugu congregation in the Madras Presidency, which included the Telugu speaking areas under the Nizam’s domain, said Dyvasirvadam, Bishop of Coastal Andhra Diocese and Moderator of Church of South India (CSI).

The congregation was started by Augustus Des Granges and George Crann from London Mission Services, when they initiated the first Telugu service on July 18, 1805.

According to historian and member of INTACH, Edward Paul, both the Anglican missionaries arrived in 1805 and started the congregation from a rented house in the Old Town area. Later, they purchased about 10 acres from the East India Company to establish a mission house to run a school and asylum.

Mission house

The mission house was completed in 1806 then at a cost of Rs. 3,000, which included the cost of the land, said Mr. Edward Paul. It was in this mission house that the first Telugu Sunday worship service was started on February 12, 1809, by Augustus in association with a native convert scholar Anand Rayar. It was also in this mission house that the work for the translation of the first Telugu bible was started by Augustus and Anand Rayar and in memory of Rayar, the bell in the present church is named as ‘Ananda Sunadam’, said Bishop Dyvasirvadam.

The present LMM church, which was then called as London Mission Services Church, was built in 1836. And till date, it continues to operate from the same premises.

Though in 1911, London Mission Services, left Visakhapatnam for Kadapa, by handing over the mission house the other churches under its control to the Canadian Baptist Mission (CBM), LMS church continued as a separate entity by renaming the church as London Mission Memorial Church and it still continues by that name under the CSI, said Bishop Dyvasirvadam.

According to the Bishop the church produced many stalwarts such as Rev Pulipaka Jagganadham, Hilda Mary Lazarus and Rev Purushottam Chowdary.