Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha today inaugurated the reopening ceremony of historic St Luke’s Church in Srinagar that has been fully renovated, conserved and opened for the public to offer prayers.
Addressing the gathering through virtual mode, the Lt Governor said that the lost glory of the oldest Church in Srinagar has been restored today.
“Reopening of St Luke’s Church in Srinagar after restoration is a historic occasion to celebrate and imbibe Lord Christ’s message of sacrifice, service, redemption, love and compassion”, observed the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor said that the St Luke’s Church is a unique symbol of J&K’s composite culture, which was built in 1896 on the southwest slope of Shri Shankaracharya Hill.
The Lt Governor congratulated the citizens of J&K, especially the Christian community and all the artisans involved in the renovation and conservation, besides the officials associated with the Smart City program. The restoration and conservation work of St Luke’s Church has been carried out under the ‘Smart City Project’. The up-gradation of the surrounding landscape has also been attended to including access to the Church, lighting and the allied components. The inside of the Church has also been redone with construction of Alter, wooden flooring, seating, window panes, access gate and porch.
India is home to diverse religions and cultures for centuries. But, despite much diversity, we are living in unity without any discrimination, observed the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor urged the people to inculcate the spirit of social harmony and strengthen the values of brotherhood, peace and selfless service.
St. Luke’s message of peace and harmony to all human beings is more relevant today than ever before. Today, while facing the challenges of Covid pandemic, the whole world is realizing that no nation or society can survive in isolation. Our dependence on each other, our connect with each other has increased substantially, the Lt Governor said.
On the occasion, the Lt Governor remembered Dr. Arthur Neve, and threw light on his life. Dr. Arthur served the people of J&K for three decades, by establishing this Church as well as saving many lives as a doctor, he added.
The Lt Governor also extended his warm wishes to the people for the upcoming Christmas festival.
On the eve of Christmas when we remember Jesus Christ, let us also reiterate our strong resolve to follow the path of truth, non-violence and universal brotherhood. Every person should sincerely play their part in promoting harmony in society, the Lt Governor said.
Special prayers were recited to mark the day, while a documentary on the history and restoration of the church was also showcased on the occasion.
The Christian community of Srinagar has expressed happiness at the government’s initiative to renovate and reopen the Church ahead of Christmas.
St Luke’s Church is a single-storey building constructed on a cruciform plan. The Church follows the Gothic Style of Architecture which is distinct from the other important monuments dotted in the landscape of Srinagar. Attached to the porch, there is a bell tower which is three-story in height, mounted by a high pitched CGI roof with dormer gables on each side.
Before the restoration works, the Church was lying in a dilapidated condition, with the structural members suffering major damage. The CGI roofing was completely damaged, the rainwater intrusion from the roof aggravated the decay of important components.
Initially, the structural integrity of the Church was analyzed by experts and the envisaged vision was to restore the Church in its original shape and character keeping intact the Architectural glory of the Church.
Junaid Azim Mattu, Mayor SMC; Athar Aamir Khan, Commissioner, SMC and CEO Srinagar Smart City; besides Chief Priest of St. Luke’s Church, Father Eric, people from all walks of life were present to witness the re-opening of the Church.