Calls to brotherhood, to peace, to selfless service
Jammu Tawi / Srinagar, December 23: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday inaugurated the reopening ceremony of the historic St Luke’s Church in Srinagar which has been completely renovated, preserved and opened to the public for offering prayers. The church has remained closed for the past three decades after violent unrest erupted in Kashmir in 1990.
Addressing the rally in virtual mode, the lieutenant governor said that the lost glory of Srinagar’s oldest church has been restored today.
“The reopening of St. Luke’s Church in Srinagar after its restoration is a historic opportunity to celebrate and imbue the Lord Christ’s message of sacrifice, service, redemption, love and compassion,” observed the lieutenant governor.
The Lieutenant Governor said St. Luke’s Church is a unique symbol of the J&K composite culture, which was built in 1896 on the southwest slope of Shri Shankaracharya Hill.
The Lieutenant Governor congratulated the citizens of J&K, in particular the Christian community and all the artisans involved in the renovation and conservation, as well as the officials associated with the Smart City program. The restoration and conservation works of Saint-Luc church were carried out within the framework of the “Smart City Project”. The enhancement of the surrounding landscape has also been taken into account, including access to the church, lighting and related elements. The interior of the church has also been redone with the construction of Alter, parquet, seats, windows, access door and porch.
India has been home to various religions and cultures for centuries. But, despite great diversity, we live in unity without any discrimination, observed the Lieutenant Governor.
The Lieutenant Governor urged the people to instill the spirit of social harmony and to strengthen the values of brotherhood, peace and selfless service.
Saint Luke’s message of peace and harmony to all human beings is more relevant today than ever. Today, in the face of the challenges of the Covid pandemic, the whole world realizes that no nation or society can survive in isolation. Our dependence on each other, we connect to each other has increased dramatically, said the lieutenant governor.
On this occasion, the Lieutenant Governor remembered Dr. Arthur Neve and shed light on his life. Dr Arthur has served the people of J&K for three decades, establishing this church and saving many lives as a doctor, he added.
The Lieutenant Governor also sent his warmest wishes to the people for the upcoming Christmas festival.
On Christmas Eve, when we remember Jesus Christ, let us also reiterate our firm resolve to follow the path of truth, non-violence and universal brotherhood. Each person should sincerely play their part in promoting harmony in society, said the lieutenant governor.
Special prayers were recited to mark the day, while a documentary on the history and restoration of the church was also shown on the occasion.
The Christian community of Srinagar expressed its joy at the government’s initiative to renovate and reopen the church before Christmas.
The Saint-Luc church is a single storey building built on a cruciform plan. The church follows the Gothic architectural style that stands out from other important monuments dotted around the landscape of Srinagar. Attached to the porch is a three-story steeple, topped by a steeply pitched CGI roof with dormers on either side.
Before the restoration work, the church lay in a state of disrepair, with structural elements suffering significant damage. CGI’s roof was completely damaged, the intrusion of rainwater from the roof aggravated the degradation of important elements.
Initially, the structural integrity of the church was analyzed by experts and the envisioned vision was to restore the church to its original form and character while keeping the architectural glory of the church intact.
Junaid Azim Mattu, SMC mayor; Athar Aamir Khan, Commissioner, SMC and CEO of Srinagar Smart City; Besides the chief priest of St. Luke’s Church, Father Eric, people from all walks of life were present to witness the reopening of the church.