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Bengaluru's Memorial Church that Served in Worst Indian Famine Turns 200

Image credits: Facebook/Memorial Church Page.

Image credits: Facebook/Memorial Church Page.

The Memorial Church has been under the Church of South India’s Karnataka Central Diocese since India’s independence.

The Great Famine of 1876-1878 was one of the worst in Indian history. It is estimated that somewhere between 5 to 9 million people were killed because of this famine.

However, during those difficult times, there were also institutions and people that had come forward to help the poor and needy. One of these institutions was Bengaluru's Memorial Church which turned 200 in December this year.

The Times of India, the bicentenary of the Memorial Church has been marked by the Department of Posts, Karnataka Circle. It has released a special cover with the church's image on December 12. The red building still has furniture from the colonial time. The windows and roof are recent as they were renovated in 1986.

Speaking about the current situation to the daily, the present presbyter of the Memorial Church Rev J Paul Dhanasegaran said that once the Covid-19 crisis gets over, the bicentenary of the church will be celebrated by organising a grand event. He also informed that around 270 families are the members of this church presently.

The Memorial Church has been under the Church of South India's Karnataka Central Diocese since India's independence.

The 200-year-old church is situated in Bengaluru's Bharathinagar area. Missionaries Stephen Laidler and Andrew Forbes from the London Missionary Society built a chapel in 1820 for the British Service Personnel. However, with the passage of time, local worshippers also started visiting the chapel at Infantry Road.

When the Great Famine of 1876-1878 hit the region, locals were provided with food and shelter by a missionary named Benjamin Rice from the present location. The street was named Memorial Street after the name of the church which was called Memorial Church in the memory of the harvest.

The foundation of the present building which is now recognised as the Memorial Church was laid post-famine in 1878 on December 12. This church’s foundation was laid by the largest Methodist denomination in the United States called Methodist Episcopal.

The Infantry Road chapel was moved to the church building in Bharathinagar when it was purchased from Methodist Episcopal in 1916.

In the memory of a soldier killed in World War II, a brass plaque is also placed in the church.

The city of Bengaluru has some of the oldest churches of the country like St. Mark's Cathedral, Holy Trinity Church, St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Church and others. These include both Protestants and Roman Catholic churches.