BENGALURU: All Saints’ Church, one of the oldest churches in Bengaluru, will be crossing the 150 year mark next year. The church, also known as the ‘Garden Church of Garden City’, is located on Hosur Road, and was founded in 1870 by Rev ST Pettigrew, who is known as ‘the man with a mission’.
Samuel Thomas Pettigrew, a missionary from London, came to India as part of the East India Company in the year 1855 after being ordained to priesthood in 1849. He had been the Chaplain of St Mark’s Cathedral from 1863 to 1867 and 1869 to 1872.
During the British period, in the late 19th century, junior ranked officials in the British military, European pensioners and the poor in the area were not able to ‘fit in’ at St Mark’s Cathedral, which had a majority of high-ranked officials. While there were other churches at the time, such as The East Parade Church and the St Andrew’s Church, to cater to spiritual needs, Richmond Town was home to many poor colonies that needed a church of their own. It was during this time that Pettigrew decided to build a church for them along with an orphanage. He was not only a former Chaplain of St Mark’s Cathedral, but also a warden at Bishop Cotton Boys’ School, located on Residency Road.
The scheme to build this church, however, was decided five years before laying its foundation, and the cost was estimated to be Rs 10,000. While small amounts of money were collected initially and put in a bank, the interest had dried out. With not enough material and men, Pettigrew had drawn a plan for the church that was then rejected by the Church Building Society of Madras, saying that the building was too small for an orphanage.
A plan was later drawn by an accomplished government architect, Mr Chisholm, who had to give three plans to finally get it accepted by the building society. Other members of the church had helped with the construction of the wall, and the roof that the Bishop at the time, Bishop Milman, found the entire plan on the ecclesiastical property to be a fitting one. The committee finally pushed the plan through, and it was all set for implementation.
Pettigrew struggled enormously in the financial aspects as he was in-charge of collecting money for the construction, and the plans were put to a halt several times. With funds received from other churches and parishioners, the foundation stone was finally laid in 1969. Gifts from well-wishers were also received; several from the principal of Cooper’s Hill Cottage, such as the altar and vestments for it. The church, now a Church of South India (CSI) church, started out as a protestant church/ Lutheran church with Rev GU Pope being the first Chaplain, from 1871 to 1882. The first year had its services conducted without a stable source of funding, but later, the government gave an annual honorarium to the priest to conduct services. The boarders of the school formed the choir.
According to the records of the church, the land, from the corner of a parade ground at Richmond Road junction and Hosur Lashkar Road, was allotted for the church by the then Mysore Maharaja, Chamaraja. The land was initially given only for the construction of the church in the centre, but had extended to accommodate the orphanage in the corner. The now six acres of land, was expanded with the help of two generals in the Division.
Till this day, the church continues to showcase the valuable gifts and donations made to the church since it was founded, starting from the church rails, the lectern and remembrance vase, the alms dish and the wafer box.The church currently holds two services every Sunday in English, and continues to receive its former members, who have migrated to other countries and come down to the city for a visit.
From 150 families to 500 families as members
Currently having around 500 families as members, the church started out with 150 families. Harinath, the secretary, who has been a member of the church for 18 years says, “The church became a CSI church only in the last 60 years, but we continue to follow the Anglican style of worship since it was founded.”