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CHURCHES & SYNAGOGUES OF COLONIAL – CNI Wesleyan Church

CNI Wesleyan Church Kolkata

During 1862, Rev. James Broodbent, a Wesleyan Methodist missionary and the then Chaplain at Fort William, intended to construct a new Chapel in Sudder Street, for the use of the military personnel and the Christian civilians residing in Calcutta and Barrakpur. Along with Mr H.G.Highfield, he tried his best, but could not raise necessary funds from abroad for the construction of the proposed building. Finally, with their determined effort and depending on a mortgage, the construction of the Wesleyan Methodist Church was completed in 1886. Located at 15 Sudder Street, the Wesleyan Methodist Church is now renamed as CNI Wesleyan Church.

Old picture of Sudder Street with CNI Wesleyan Church
Old picture of Sudder Street with CNI Wesleyan Church

The Wesleyan Methodist Church started with two services on Sundays. The morning service was mainly attended by the civilians, while the soldiers and officers from the Fort William used to join the evening services. The Church also organized regular Sunday school, which used to celebrate the anniversary every year with enthusiastic attendance of the children and their parents. The Women’s Fellowship used to organize annual Fetes to raise funds for social services. During the Great War, troops stationed in the Maidan area used to swarm the Church in great numbers and the Women’s Fellowship arranged a rest room for them and treated them with refreshment, soft drinks and smiling cheers. The soldiers, in their turn, patronized the Church till the end of the war. Still today, a small marble plaque on the right wall inside the Church remains as a silent witness of the memory of the happy and the inspiring time of the soldiers and their gratitude towards the Church, during the war.

During the Indo-Pak War of 1971, the Church actively participated to rehabilitate the helpless refugees from the then East Pakistan (now Bangla Desh). This move was mainly initiated by the Rev John Claphan, Rev. John Hastings and Rev Kenyon E.Wright.

In the meantime, in 1970 the Wesleyan Methodist Church annexed the Church of North India. With the mass exodus of the British and the Anglo-Indian community, the number of worshipers has now become very thin. With time, the Church has now decreased its service to only one in the morning. The Holy Communion is served on every first and third Sunday of the month. The Women’s fellowship for Christians meets every first Sunday of the month. They also extend their service in other social activities too. The members regularly visit different Old Age Homes and Children’s Homes and distribute food items and clothes to the poor souls.

CNI Wesleyan Church before renovation
CNI Wesleyan Church before renovation (Image source : https://photonicverses.wordpress.com)
Side view of CNI Wesleyan Church after renovation
Side view of CNI Wesleyan Church after renovation (Image source: http://www.imgrum.org/tag/heritageofkolkata)
CNI Wesleyan Church Entrance
CNI Wesleyan Church Entrance (Image by: Abul Hasan Parvez)
CNI Wesleyan Church inside
CNI Wesleyan Church inside (Image by: Elka Sinha)
Pipe organ of CNI Wesleyan Church
Pipe organ of CNI Wesleyan Church (Image by: Nirmalendu Mayne)
Piano solo by Anne Bedaux of Holland at CNI Wesleyan Church
Piano solo by Anne Bedaux of Holland at CNI Wesleyan Church (Image source: youtube.com)

Location of CNI Wesleyan Church

Location of CNI Wesleyan Church

Dibyendu Banerjee
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.

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