Proposal to convert MM Church to cathedral draws criticism – The New Indian Express

Express press service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The 116-year-old Mateer Memorial Church, located in the heart of the capital, is once again in the spotlight. Because a section of the Church of South India (CSI) plans to convert it into a cathedral, drawing criticism from parishioners. Banners proclaiming “Do not convert MM Church into a cathedral” were placed at prominent positions on the church’s granite-paved wall. But after the TNIE lens took pictures, they were taken down on Sunday night.

The MM Church, situated on over 16.50 acres in the LMS complex, is one of the most significant landmarks in Thiruvananthapuram. Inaugurated on December 1, 1906, it is one of the oldest of its kind in southern India. The 60-year-old South Kerala Diocese (SKD) currently has 630 churches. In 2009, under the then Bishop of Thiruvananthapuram, JW Gladston, there was a movement to convert the MM Church into a Cathedral. Facing strong opposition, the proposal was canceled. Now, the 14-member church committee have unanimously passed a resolution and handed it over to outgoing Bishop A Dharmaraj Rasalam, who they say is keen to change the status of the church.

Premchand Johnson, a church committee member, told TNIE that the motive of the CSI Bishop is to sabotage the prevailing democratic setup in the MM church. at the back, which has 160 parish families. There is a movement to have a shopping complex built between the land belonging to the Wills Inn and the CSI Cathedral. So their scheme is to bring the parishioners from the cathedral to the MM church and turn it into a cathedral. Our church has a long heritage. It was started by foreign missionaries and that tradition cannot be revoked,” said Premchand Johnson, the great-grandson of the late Rev. J Lazarus who had held many positions in the MM church.

The church cemetery, which houses several thousand buried bodies, including that of the famous actor Sathyan, recently saw the construction of 130 family vaults. MM Church also generates considerable revenue by renting out its parsonage complex to commercial enterprises. A levy of 20% of church income, including offerings from parishioners, is paid to the Diocese of South Kerala. Dharmaraj Rasalam who is also the moderator of CSI said he was unable to speak on the matter as he was away in Bengaluru for a meeting. Tense moments reigned Sunday evening when some of the parishioners, under the impulse of the high authorities of the CSI, withdrew the banner erected against the movement to convert the church into a cathedral.

Meanwhile, TT Praveen, administrative secretary of the Diocese of South Kerala, has denied the allegations raised by members of the Church committee. Speaking on the phone from Bengaluru, he said parishioners were not allowed to put up banners on the premises of MM Church. “MM Church is owned by SKD and we have not denied parishioners the right to worship. There are 24 dioceses under CSI and all but the MM church have been converted to cathedrals. We have no plans to build a shopping complex. Although the church committee paid a 20% levy, it did not pay the 50% share of the proceedings of the various establishments. They create baseless allegations and try to create fake news in the media,” Praveen said.

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