Thursday, November 1, 2018

Anderson Church, Parry's Corner, Chennai

Anderson Church, Parry's Corner, Chennai
Anderson Church is one of the oldest churches in Parry's Corner area of Chennai, the capital of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The original structure was built in 1845 by Anderson as an educational institution. The church is named after Anderson, a Scottish missionary who founded the mission of the Free Church of Scotland at Madras, India. Anderson Church is a working church with hourly prayer and daily services and follows Protestant sect of Christianity.

The church also celebrates Harvest festival every year during the month of November. In modern times, it is under the dominion of Diocese of Madras of the Church of South India. It is one of the most prominent landmarks of Parry's Corner. This church is a fine example for the heritage sites of Chennai city belonging to the British period.

The church was named after John Anderson (1805–1855), a Scottish missionary who founded the mission of the Free Church of Scotland at Madras, India. He is believed to have established an educational institution in the name of General Assembly School in 1835 at Egmore. It was moved to George Town area in Chennai by 1838 and later went on to become the Free Church of Scotland's central shrine in Chennai in 1845. The Madras Christian College was started at this campus in 1867, initially as a school and later became a college in 1876.
The College was later moved to Tambaram in 1937 and only the Church operates from the campus. The Chapel was originally called College Chapel, but later came to be known as Anderson Church, after the death of Anderson. Surprisingly, the name of Anderson, an educationist, is associated more with the church than with the school he founded.
The church has an exterior with brick walls, stained glass windows and Chisholm styled dome. The altar houses conventional Methodist images and a prayer hall for the devotees. The plaques of Anderson and Jesus Christ are housed in glass chambers in standing posture on the walls facing the devotees. The college hall, which would go on to become the assembly hall of the church, is plastered with shingles. The church is declared a landmark heritage building by the Tamil Nadu Chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). 

It was also on the Phase I list of Heritage buildings in Chennai under the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA). The church, along with its towering steeple, remained a landmark of the Madras Christian College for many decades. Even today, the towering steeple is a landmark of George Town area/Parrys corner. The church is very small and hardly crowded. The interior of the church is very beautiful and it is one of the very few well maintained churches of Chennai city.

Worship Practices
The priests in the church were originally only English, but during modern times, Tamil people were also allowed. In modern times, the Church is administered by the Diocese of Madras of the Church of South India. Mass is performed in the church from Monday to Friday on 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sundays. The festival of the church is celebrated during the Christmas times for eight days, starting with flag hoisting on 24 December and ending with a feast and religious lectures on 2 January. The 150th anniversary of the church was celebrated on 3 March 2009 when special prayers and lectures were delivered.
The Church is located at about 200 meters from Parrys Corner Bus Stop, 800 meters from Chennai Beach Railway Station, 600 meters from Mannady Metro Station, 2 Kms from Chennai Central Railway Station, 5 Kms from Egmore Railway Station, 12 Kms from Koyambedu Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus and 20 Kms from Chennai Airport. The Church is located very close to the Chennai Central Railway Station. You can proceed on foot to the church from the station. From other parts of the city, you can take a Cabs, Auto Rickshaw, Bus, Local Trains and Metro Trains to reach the Church.