The new building of the Chennai Unitarian Christian Church was opened on 25 January amid scenes of joyful celebration. Warm messages of greeting and fellowship were received by the church from its Unitarian friends across the globe. The ceremony was attended by Rev Carleywell Lyngdoh, Executive Secretary of the Indian Council of Unitarian Churches, representatives from Unitarian churches in Meghalaya, Hyderabad, Assam, and Erode, and Jon Bagust and Mike West from the Edinburgh Unitarian church.
Contributions to the funding of the new building came from Chennai’s partner churches in Glasgow and Edinburgh, from congregations and friends across the United Kingdom, from Unitarian Universalists in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe and from fellow Unitarian friends in Meghalaya. In the UK some 29 Unitarian churches and 4 district associations responded to the appeal launched in 2006, and a large number of Unitarian individuals and friends contributed, either directly, or through their churches.
It was clear that the appeal funds sent to the Chennai congregation for the new building (a total of £27,100) had been put to exceptionally good use. The building programme had been managed very capably indeed and the result was a beautiful modern church and first floor hall with many fine features.
On opening the new church Edinburgh Unitarian Jon Bagust reflected on the worst monsoon weather in living memory in December 2005 which had accelerated the deterioration of their 200 year old building and led to the launch of an appeal in 2006. He noted that the Chennai church might be the loneliest on the planet, but that it had an abundance of well wishers across the globe who admired the Chennai church for its outreach work in the Chennai community and its support for the children at the night school in the rural village Ammanambakkam. He quoted the words of the Tamil poet Tiru Valluvar, who said “There is nothing more glorious than to persist in the advance of the community” Jon expressed his special admiration for the speedy and successful way in which the Rev Harrison Kingsley had organised and managed the rebuilding of their church.
The Chennai church expressed their deep gratitude to all those who had given donations, and also thanked personally the builders, masons, carpenters and other tradesmen who attended the opening ceremony. Their visitors were splendidly entertained by a programme of Indian dance and song followed by a celebratory meal.