St.Thomas Church celebrates 150th anniversary
Ootacamund: The legendary St.Thomas Church in Ooty, one among the handful of British-styled churches in the hill town, celebrated its sesquicentennial on Sunday. The heritage structure stands tall near the Ooty Main Bus Stand on the Ooty-Nanajanadu Road.
According to the Timothy Ravinder, bishop of Coimbatore diocese (CSI), the foundation stone for the church was laid in 1867.
Frederick Price, who recorded the history of Ootacamund, writes in his book, “In 1865, the government strongly opposed the proposed enlargement of the St.Stephen’s Church and advocated the erection of a new church.”
And thus born the St. Thomas Church. The foundation stone was laid on May 1, 1867 by lieutenant general Dowker.
“And the site proposed, which had been selected after much consideration, was the Cranley Hall property, for the purchase of which, Rs 12,000 was sanctioned,” according to Price. ‘There was a special service on the occasion, which was conducted by Rev.Dr.Pope.”
The construction of St. Thomas Church was completed on October 20, 1870 at a cost of about Rs 63,050, according to Price.
To commemorate the 150th year of the church, which is attached to the Coimbatore diocese, a special congregation was conducted by Bishop Ravinder. “The celebration is in a bid to encourage the missionary and the ministry for their contribution to the common good and to the public,” he said. According to him, it took nearly three years to complete the church. The first worship was conducted in 1871.
The gothic-style church has a congregation of about 300 people, reported The Times of India.
Interestingly, the church houses a famous graveyard, which is also considered one of the tourist spots. The grave of J Josiah Goodwin, stenographer of Swami Vivekananda, is located within the campus of the church, among others of British high commission officials.
Goodwin passed away due to typhoid on June 2, 1898, at Ootacamund.