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St. Andrew's Church, Bangalore

A Congregation in God's Mission


The St. Andrew's Church belongs to the Presbyterian background from the Church of Scotland, nurtured by the Calvinistic division of the early Protestant Church formed after the reformation period. It is primarily and in totally so, because of the fact that the early worshippers responsible for bringing up such a Church were mostly 19th century Scottish regiment soldiers and a few Scot civilians whose faith in the Presbyterian background was the basis for establishing the same in Bangalore. The 'bread of leaven' for the Church was a small prayer group which met every Sunday for worship in a house near the Cantonment area, later on renting out a tent under the leadership of a perhaps less sophisticated Chaplain that time. Private civilians, army officers, soldiers and their family members with Rev. S. Wright at the forefront, in the year 1860, approached the Scottish Church authorities to grant permission to build a Church of their own on the site he bought for the same with their individual contributions. This Church was to be on the Scottish assent, the foundation was laid on 22nd November 1864, and has turned into the beautiful monumental structure of St. Andrew's Church seen today, completed and dedicated to the Glory of God in the month of November 1866, within a period of two years on an overall expenditure of about Rs. 45,000/- including the land. The original congregation members were outright foreigners comprising mainly regiment soldiers and officers, their marching around the Church every Sunday, occupying central pews in an orderly army manner. The worshipping thus was passed on as hearsay to the latter members who had no chance of witnessing such a religious parade on each Sunday. Remaining seats on the aisles were sparsely occupied by 'Outsiders' perhaps mostly nationals who did gradually, as the years grew by, attempt to worship together and become members of the Church. Above all, to start with, it was a Westernised Church with Scottish Customs, classical Scottish square dancing, western music, celebrating St. Andrew's Day, Burns' right and so on. It was generally known as St. Andrew's "Kirk". Because of the frequent Regimental transfers and the Scots in civilian positions returning to their homeland after their turn of office, the congregation in the beginning was of a floating nature. Subsequently members of the other non-Conformist denominations and children of converts also found a spiritual home in the "Kirk". Since the services were conducted in English, educated and more advanced group of Indians also gradually started worshipping in this Church. It was Rev. Alex Walker, who started the Kirk Session of Elders - governing body for St. Andrew's Church on the 4th April 1869, with the ordination of the first four elders - all foreign military officials on this day. There are many brass plaques on the walls inside the Church that are in memory of those soldiers and people who have gone before us during the Wars, their reading is very interesting when related to history.

After the complete independence of the Indian Church by the formation of the Church of South India (CSI) in the year 1947, as the influx of regimental soldiers receded with permanent transfers and so on, the congregation members worshipping in the Church were eager to find their identify with the Indian main stream of the post independence Churches by affiliating themselves with the Church of South India. Accordingly, as recorded in the minutes dated 1st February 1959 of the Kirk Session of St. Andrew's Church, it is found that Bishop Sargant of Mysore visited the Kirk Session in December 1956 and had a dialogue with the members regarding the merger of the Church with the CSI, with the assurance that there would be no change in the form of worship and traditions and eventually St. Andrew's Church joined the CSI in September 1959. Rev. P.J. Child, the presbyter, then known as the 'moderator' of the Church, was in charge of the congregation. Subsequent to this, during the tenure of Rev. R.W. Rentoul in the year 1963, the first Pastorate Committee was constituted with six members by election from the total strength of 113 communicant members of the Church, at a nominal agreement of one Pastorate Committee for every 20 communicant members plus one nominated member. Four elders of the Kirk Session who had been ordained for life, remained as life founder members of the Pastorate Committee. Thus the administrative committee of the Church, until then known as the 'Kirk Session of St. Andrew's Church' shed it's western nomenclature, to be renamed to function as the "Pastorate Committee of St. Andrew's Church", and the Church gradually became one of the Churches of the Karnataka Central Diocese with a Bishop as her head for all administrative hierarchy - different from the Presbyterian discipline, relieved formally from the Colonial and Continental Committee of the Church of Scotland, which was governing four such St. Andrew's Churches in India at Calcutta, Bombay (Mumbai), Madras(Chenai) and including that in Bangalore.

Rev. Robert W. Rentoul, the Presbyter-in-charge of the Church had played a prominent role in shaping the destiny of the Church. Several revival activities were under taken during this period, as a Bible study group, regular choir practice, reorganization of Sunday School, the first election t the Pastorate Committee, geographical allocation of duties of P.C. members were given district wise. Youth fellowship, women's fellowship, conspicuous changes in the order of worship, etc.. The period had also seen a radical change in the worship bifurcating the services into Kannada and English with the introduction of worship in local language at the instance of a letter from their bishop Rt. Rev. Sargent, of course with the firm declaration by the Pastorate Committee that " irrespective of their languages, all who worship here should be members of one congregation of St. Andrew's with provisions to safeguard the interest of the English speaking minority."

On a later occasion in the year 1967, over a clarification of the same issue, recorded thus in one of its minutes:

" It reaffirms its belief expressed at the start of the services in Kannada in Nov. 1965 that we should remain one Pastorate with the same minister and Pastorate Committee for the whole pastorate and that we should act as one congregation in all things. The provisions of worship in two languages separately did not mean that we, were two congregations in any respect other than for the purpose of statistics and representations. The election would thus be held jointly, with all voters, voting for all candidates".

The Church had to experience a decline in the membership in the year 1966 due to the transfer of permanent members on account of their leaving the secular positions held in society - mostly foreign nationals . Such a decline did not last long as members from different language groups started gradually enrolling in with a present admixture of multilingual representing a cross section of the whole country, speaking different languages like English, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayam, Gujarathi etc.

Rev. R. W. Rentoul, the dominant presbyter in the late sixties, before his decision to leave the parish, in a letter to Secretary of the Pastorate Committee expressed his feelings that it was both ready and able to take an Indianized minister. He, having been the last foreign presbyter left Bangalore by April 1969. Then the mantle fell on the Indian minister Rev. G. Heri from 1975 onwards. Rev. Benjamin Dorairaj succeeded Rev. S. A. Salins from 1981 onwards and the present presbyter, Rev. S. Vasantha Kumar took over charge from Rev. Benjamin Dorairaj in the year 1987. Such has been the clerical lineology of St. Andrew's in the past, 125 years , witnessing a smooth change over from reigns of the Colonial and Continental committee of the Church of Scotland to the Diocesan council of the Central Diocese of Karnataka under the banner of CSI.

A giving Church , it has been so bountifully blessed with the Grace of God both in membership and finance, over the past few decades. The corporate society at large, in the Church has been elite, affluent, influential, educated and cosmopolitan in outlook, deserving its rank to be 'A' grade in all walks of lofe at all times since its inception, with the only change conspicuous to peruse , that a congregation of western origin has remolded itself into a multilingual Indian Church over a period of time retaining its identity as one congregation on the whole. Really a marvelous change over without sacrificing the ideals it stood for from the beginning! There had been no change in the denominational affiliation since 25 years : its beliefs, practices and traditions remain unaltered even today . The attitude of the members towards the religion has been based on a deep-rooted tradition, personal commitment and to a lesser extent on out-reach work, in the earlier days . the Church had a school started in the year 1876 mostly for non-nationals and had to be closed down subsequently due to insufficient response and encouragement. However the seed sown thus remained dormant for nearly hundred years to experience a stupendous growth later when St. Andrew's School was re-established this time for the under-privileged children in a slum area in the year 1977.

A new awakening about its mission to the poor and down-trodden has dawned in the annals has started responding to this mission rhythmically. The renaissance of social activity or the outreach work of the Church bloomed into execution with the formation of a registered Socio-economic Development Society in the year 1976 under the thoughtful initiation and leadership of the then Presbyter-in-Charge Rev. S. A. Salins who steered the Pastorate Committee into such a course of benevolent action and involvement for the Church to have a sincere concern for the poor and the downtrodden-underprivileged otherwise to have such an educational facility in a slum area.

The prime objective of the Society is to serve the poor in the slum and to improve their socio-economic conditions. The Siddapura Slum where 1000 families live in small one-room huts was chosen as the centre for Church's out-reach work, taken up with the three specific objectives of imparting education, providing and atmosphere of better health and thereby making the congregation members of the Church feel their individual participation in the struggles of the poor.

When St. Mark's Cathedral was engulfed and damaged by fire in the year 1923, it was St. Andrew's Church which afforded accommodation for that congregation to worship in, till St. Mark's was rebuilt in the year 1927. The Church is even today open to all denominations, with ecumenical outlook and faith, allowing other Churches , organisations to have their worship, revival meetings, conventions, etc. without any dissent. The Pastors who have been "ministering unto us" with their broad outlook and approach for a greater fellowship, have been responsible for such an interaction and their approach is always upheld by the successivg Pastorate Committees in putting these ideals into practice. Other social Christian organisations like Friends Missionary Prayer Band, Public Sector Christian Employees Associations, Basel Mission Association, Evangelical Union etc., have their regular fellowship meetings in the Church or Parish Hall. Even Syrian Orthodox Jacobites worshipped in this Church in 1958 for a whole year, and Christian organisations like TAFTEE, VBS, EFICOR, FEBA, Back to the Bible, etc. have established affiliations with this Church. Bible learning through TAFTEE, and certificate courses are conducted during the week.

The Church did not grow with the tradition of evangelising or proselytizing, although it conducts conventions and religious discourses especially during the Holy Week. The evangelical work of the Church is practice oriented believing in outreach work rather than in mere preaching. The Pastorate Committee has been generous in extending donations towards building of new Churches, anatha ashrams, Bible Societies, Theological and Medical Institutions and so, thus paving a way for indirect but active involvement with evangelical work carried out by these various Christian organizations. Youth fellowship, women fellowship, and Sunday School, so well organised in the Church, aim at cross-culture evangelism by interaction with their counter-parts in other Churches and social organisations and the results are very encouraging.

The Parish has been quite lively throughout the years by the active participation of members in the regular worship, festive occasions like harvest, Christmas, Easter, St. Andrew's Day ( celebrated on 30th November every year), etc. as a real witness to the society around. The Church has been a giving Church reciprocal enough to the blessings it has been receiving from God above. Evangelism through music has been one of the prime concerns of St. Andrew's Church right from its inception. The Bangalore Musical Association (BMA) carved out of cross-cultural congregation members like Protestants, Roman Catholics, Foreigners, etc. took its birth in St. Andrew's Church and was nurtured with regular choir practices in the Church premises at least twice a week, with no less a person than the Late Mr. J.T. William Joseph, the Church Organist, as the BMA's choir director. A magnificent pipe organ installed in the year 1881 adds grandeur to the sacred music in every worship and a gifted Church choir has been evangelical throughout its musical performances.

Some of the events that took place down the year at St. Andrew's Church:

Year Event

1864 November 22 Foundation stone is laid for the Church

1866 November 18 St. Andrew's Church building dedicated to worship and the first sermon preached by Rev. Stewart Wright

1869 April Rev. Alex Walker started KIRK SESSION of elders-governing body

1881 May Pipe Organ installed

1893 Tower Clock installed

Details of Events for the period 1894 to 1958 were not given in the 125th Year Souvenir.

1959 September Affiliation with CSI (Church of South India), Rev. P.J. Child as Presbyter and Rev. Sargent as Bishop.

1962 Introduction of CSI Liturgy

1963 March Rev. R.W. Rentoul joined to serve as Presbyter for six years

1963 April Common Cup for Communion introduced

1963 April National Flag bought for Church use

1963 June Formation of the 1st Pastorate Committee after its first election

1963 September Sunday Evening Services started Fellowship coffee arranges after each morning Sunday worship

1965 March Separate worship in Kannada introduced; Late Rev. G. Puttaraj delivered the first sermon in Kannada.

1967 July First Joint Service of Kannada and English, to be continued every 1st Sunday of the Month.

1969 March Rev. G. Hari the first Indian Minister took charge

1969 October Harvest Festival introduced

1977 February Socio Economic Development Society established and St. Andrew's School in the slum started.

1978 August Transfer of the Church property to CSI Trust

1981 May Pipe Organ centenary celebrated

1982 March Church repainted to restore the original shade - Brick Red

1983 Sunday School in Kannada started

1985 November Tricentenary celebration of Bach & Handel , a music festival conducted by the Church Choir

1988 July New gate in the old architectural design was installed and dedicated as a gift from Basel Mission Christian Association

1988 November Dawn of 125th year in the life and Ministry of the Church with the theme "Congregation in Mission" on St. Andrew's Day festival celebrated on 27th November.

1989 February Tower Clock repaired and put back in action with a special rededication worship service. The Clock was repaired at Madras by M/s. P. ORR & Sons. The Clock was manufactured by M/s. Gillette & Johnson (Cryodon) Ltd., of the United Kingdom, and was installed in 1892.

Names of Pastors Laboured and Laburing in the Vineyard of St. Andrew's Church

(November 22, 1864 till October 1996)

Rev. Stewart Wright (1864-1866), Rev. W.A. Liston (1868, 1874-79), Rev. Alexander Walker (1868-71, 1872, 1874-77), Rev.A.Clifford Bell (1871-74), Rev. James Jollie (1879-81, 1884-87), Rev. John D. Morrison (1881-84), Rev. James N. Ogilvie (1887-90, 92-93, 94, 95-98), Rev. Robert H. Stevenson (1890-92, 93-94, 1901, 1904), Rev. T. Scott (1899), Rev. John Heron (1899-1901, 1904-07, 1913-14), Rev. A.W. Mackenzie (1906-07), Rev. J.D. Mitchell (1908-11), Rev. J.G. Philip (1911), Rev. J.H.H. Macniel (1920-23), Rev. D.F. Mackenzie (1923-25, 1928-30), Rev. G.C. Macpherson (1925-26), Rev. G.M.D. Short (1926-28, 1931-35), Rev. S.W. Cameron (1930-31), Rev. Dr. A. Moffat (1933), Rev. K. Mackintosh (1935-36), Rev. J.W. Ingram (1935-36), Rev. James. P. Reid (1936-39), Rev. L.Mac Edward (1939-40), Rev. R.W. Matheson (1942-46), Rev. G. Buchanan (1946-47), Rev. A.J. Mac Donald (1947), Rev. Brady (1947), Rev. R.E. Lec ( 1947-1949), Rev. Lewi J. Thomas (1950-55), Rev. Dr. A. Mc Leish (1955-58), Rev. Dr. Henry Sedlo (1955-58, 1959), Rev. P.J. Child (1959), Rev. W. Park Rankin (1960-61), Rev. Dr. Arangadan (Associate Presbyter) (1960), Rev. David Mackie (1961-63), Rev. Appavoo (Associate Presbyter) (1963), Rev. R.W.Rentoul (1963-69), Rev. Wisheart (Associate Presbyter) (1969), Rev. J. Mullins (1969-71), Rev. David Harris (Associate Presbyter) (1971), Rev. R.G. Heri (1969-75), Rev. Roy Pape (Associate Presbyter) (1975), Rev. S.A. Salins (1975-81), Rev. Dr. Wehmeier (Associate Presbyter) (1975), Rev. Dr. K.C. Abraham (1975-76), Rev. Benjamin Dorairaj (1981-87), Rev. Dr. Christopher Doraisingh (Associate Presbyter) (1987), Rev. S. Vasanthakumar (1987- ), Rev. Dr. H.S. Wilson (Associate Presbyter) (1987), Rev. Dr. Samson Prabhakar (Associate Presbyter) (1993), Rev. Jessie Ranjan (Presbyter-in-Charge) (1993- as on date ), Rt. Rev. Ananda Rao Samuel (Associate Presbyter) (1993-94), Rev. Manohar Chandra Prasad (Associate Presbyter) (1994-95), Rev. Alwin Maben (Assistant Presbyter) (1995-1996)

Names of Sextons served & serving with St. Andrew's Church during the last 25 years

Mr. John, Mr. Govindaraj, Mr. Peter, Mr. Venkatappa, Mr. Balappa


The Pipe Organ at St. Andrew's Church, Bangalore

Bangalore, one of the finest cities in the world, has many beautiful things. The climate is wonderful, the layout of the roads, the beautiful parks, the warehouses, the houses old and new, the lovely flowers and trees. Here, in this beautiful city, lies a beautiful Church on Cubbon Road, St. Andrew's Church, formerly known as the Scots Kirk, with its Clock Tower seen many miles around Bangalore. When you enter the Church, you come face to face with a very large and beautiful stained glass window and on its right you will find a beautiful pipe-organ with its decorated pipes. Any organist who sits at the console will agree with me that it will be considered to be one of the finest instruments in the country. Having had the privilege of playing on many different kinds of organs, this instrument can be termed as a "Gentle Little Monster". The two manual Pedal Organ has seven stops on the Great Organ, five stops on the Swell Organ and one Bourdon Stop for the Pedal Organ. The fine tonal quality of this organ is superb and when one hears the full organ, its grandeur is remarkable. Organs at a very high volume can tend to be rough, but this "Little Monster" maintains a very pleasant tone. The Tracker-Action System, is amazingly smooth. Many renowned organists have given several recitals in the past and this speaks of its worth. The pipes, the casing and other parts of the organ still remain original and intact even after 100 years of regular use. Installed in 1881, one can still wonder at its existence. I consider it a great privilege and honour to be at the console of this great instrument and I thank God for giving me this opportunity, My sincere thanks do to the Pastor and his committee for the constant care taken to maintain the organ. The other Great Organs in Bangalore were erected at St.Mark's Church and St. Patrick's Church (this one is totally destroyed).

(This article on the Pipe Organ is by the Late J.T.Willam Joseph, Organist and Choir Director, St. Andrew's Church, Bangalore. "JT" passed away earlier this year 1996).


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Thought for the Day:" The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts (plans) of His heart to all generations. " Holy Bible: Isaiah 40:8

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