History of Jerusalem Marthoma Syrian Church - Anna Nagar

1. The enlarging population of Marthomites who were living in the congested city of the then Madras city was attracted to Anna Nagar since 1970 which was the largest, well planned and fast developing residential neighbourhood of the city. For corporate parish life these Marthomites formed the Anna Nagar prayer group, which was part of the Madras Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Chetpet. By the early eighties over sixty families were living in Anna Nagar and from 1984 these Marthomites had the benefit of a Holy Communion service once a month celebrated by the priests of the Chetpet parish at the Bain school, Anna Nagar (now C.S.I Jessie Moses Higher secondary school). With the number of Marthomites living in Anna Nagar increasing rapidly the need was felt for having a worship place in the township itself. We looked of our then diocesan Episcopa Rt. Rev. Dr, Joseph Mar Irenaeus (served as vicar of the Chetpet church in the mid 60’s) who in his far sightedness and long vision had acquired in 1980 from the Tamil Nadu Housing Board 5.5 grounds in a prime location at Anna Nagar. In this endeavor the Late Shri. T.A. Samuel put in sustained efforts and assisted the Episcopa considerably. On the request of the prayer group Irenaeus Thirumeni gladly and gracefully granted the permission to build the church.

2. Under advice from the Episcopa, the Anna Nager prayer group constituted a church building committee in 1987 with the Metrropolitan and Irenaeus Thirumeni as patrons and the then vicar of Chetpet church Rev .C.I. George (now Rt. Rev. Geevarghese Mar Athanasius) as president. The foundation stone of the worship place was laid on 13.03.1988. By one of our patrons and the then Diocesan Bishop Rt. Rev. Joseph Mar Irenaeus at a solemn function attended by our members and several dignitaries and guests from other churches in the city. The cost of this project was Rs.25 lakhs. In a span of five years this amount was collected through different means besides the gift from Bishop Irenaeus towards the cost of the land and its development. From 15.01.1992, the Anna Nagar prayer Group was raised to the status of fully fledged parish by which time the shell of the church was completed and Rev. Prasad Mathew was posted as the first Vicar of this infant parish named as “Jerusalam Mar Thoma Syrian Church” Anna Nagar, with a membership of nearly 200 families. The “ KusisuKudasa” of the church was conducted by the Rt. Rev. Joesph Mar Irenaeus on 18.01.1992 and from 19.01.1992 onwards, regular Sunday worship services were conducted while the finishing work of the church was still going on. Work progressed smoothly and the fully completed church was dedicated to the Glory of God on 13.03.1993 (five years after the laying of the foundation stone on 13.03.1988) by the Rt. Rev. Dr.Joseph Mar Irenaeus in the presence of the Madras – Kunnamkulam Diocesan Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr.Geevarghese Mar Theodosius followed by a public meeting attended and addressed by several Bishops of other churches and other dignitaries.

3. Barely after one year after the dedication of the fully completed church, the members of the infant parish felt that it should involve in the activities which help the poor, sick and the less fortunate brothers and sisters. In addition, the parish needed a hall for its use. To achieve this twin objective the two year old parish embarked on its second project of constructing a community welfare centre on to of the existing church. A new building committee was constituted with Rev. K.P. Sabu as President. The cost of the project was around Rs. 25 lakhs, our beloved Thirumeni Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Irenacus helped us to get some loan from ECLOF, which was subsequently repaid by the parish. The parish hall was dedicated by the Metropolitan Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma in January 1996 in the presence of the Diocesan Bishop Rt. Rev. Thomas Mar Timotheos, followed by a public meeting attended by Bishops, Priests of sister churches and our first Vicar. Rev. Prasad Mathew.

4. Our Vicars were staying in rented accommodation since 1992. We approached our beloved Thirumeni Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Irenaeus for us to build a parsonage costing nearly Rs.15 lakhs on top of the parish hall, on one half of the second floor to which he agreed and our new Vicar Rev. Simon Behanan took over as the president of the new construction committee. The parsonage was dedicated by Rt. Rev. Joseph Mar Irenaeus in January 1998, in the presence of the Diocesan Bishop Rt. Rev. Thomas Mar Timotheos and Achens of the Madras Centre. In ten years since the foundation stone laid in 1988, we had a church, a Parish hall and a parsonage, all costing nearly Rs.65 lakhs. Thereafter Irenaeus Thirumeni (now metropolitan of the Mar Thomasabha) through his own strenuous efforts and completed the other half of the second floor and also the third floor. Both these are part of the Mar Thoma Sabha project.