KOLKATA – The number of disciples of the Lord are growing in the bustling city of Kolkata and they are demanding bigger churches to worship in. The Church of North India (CNI) has come to their rescue by building two new churches for the city’s Christians to perform routine religious acts. While the new Emanuel Church (capacity 1,000) is coming up at Kestopur, off Baguiati, in the north-east, the other, the Church of Epiphany, with identical capacity, is coming up at Thakurpukur, south of the city.
“We noticed an increase in the congregation in the new localities that are being developed with the expansion of the metropolitan city. This is the first time in the past 100 years that we will build two big churches in the city. People of the community will benefit to a great extent,” exclaimed Rev P.S.P. Raju, Bishop of the Calcutta diocese of the CNI and also chairman of Calcutta Diocese Trust Association Private, the body controlling all the properties owned by the CNI in Calcutta. The association has undertaken the construction of the new churches.
It is reported that the Roman Catholic Church, too, is planning to construct a new church in Picnic Garden area. Father Patrick Rodrigues, an official in the Archbishop’s House of the Roman Catholics, said more people have moved to the southern part of the city, which has prompted them to build a big church at Picnic Garden.
At present, there are about 22 churches under the CNI and 20 under the Roman Catholic Church in Kolkata and in the adjoining districts, sources in the two denominations said.
Bishop Raju said that over the years, the CNI had constructed a few small churches in the districts, mostly in the remote rural belts. “The ones we had built in the districts were small churches. The ones coming up at Kestopur and Thakurpukur are full-fledged churches and are par with any of the big churches in the city,” he said.
Though, the new structures may not be grand replicas of St Paul’s Cathedral or St John’s Church, near Raj Bhavan, yet, they will definitely have some similarity with these two landmarks. For example, the towers and the belfry will be similar.
While the Emanuel Church at Kestopur is expected to be ready to receive the disciples in September 2004, the Church of Epiphany at Thakurpukur will be completed next year, CNI officials disclosed.
Over Rs 52 lacs was earmarked initially by the CNI for the construction of the two churches — the bulk of the amount being generated by utilizing the existing resources of the church. With Christian communities of the two localities chipping in, Rs 25 lacs is earmarked for being spent on the Thakurpukur church while Rs 27 lacs has been earmarked for the Kestopur church.