Tuesday, July 16, 2013

'Shanthi Cathedral'History of 150 years

150 years has sped by since the dedication of the Balmatta Shanthi Church on the 11th day of December 1862. The members of the Shanthi Church thank God for fulfilling the needs to celebrate the post centenary golden jubilee in a befitting manner.
There were 706 members in the Shanthi Church when it was inaugurated. Rev. H. Hauff was the pastor of the Shanthi Church from 1837- 1862 and the missionaries from foreign countries were looking into the entire management of the Church. From 1862 to 1908, the entire management and the administration work was done by German missionaries. From the year 1908, Rev. Thimothy Furtado took charge of the Shanthi Church as the first Indian pastor.
The Baptism register of the Balmatta Shanthi Church was found from 1st January, 1860. There is no record of the Baptism Register prior to this. The Family Register was maintained and the first family was Abraham and Sarah .The first wedding was registered and it was Jeremiah and Magdalene, who got married on 13th February, 1861. Earlier to this there is no record of any weddings. The Death Register was maintained. The first record was of a child named Conrod on 18th February, 1861 and the parents of that child were Nahum and Beatrice , From the years 1834 to 1861 there is no record in the Death Register, During the past hundred years, 7132 people were baptized in Shanthi Church , adults as well as children. The number of people who got married were 1699 and 3494 had died in the past hundred years. Many people went away from Shanthi Church for different reasons. They went to Mumbai, Poona, Bangalore, Madras, Persia, Nilagiri and so on. The number exceeded 3000.
Till 1866, there was no proper administration set up. The Basel Mission Association wanted to have a systematic administration in different Churches located in different districts in India. This was approved by the Association. Thus in 1866, April 23rd , there was a special committee which was held in Shanthi Church. The foundation for this administration was done by Rev. Joseph John Huns and Rev Theodore Elar, who had visited all the places where the Basel missionaries had started their mission and had been working in India. Rev. J. Huber a representative from Basel Association from the general conference had come. He was the chairperson of this meeting. There were altogether 10 missionaries and 138 members from Mangalore who attended this meeting
The following decision was taken after this session. “the following members who have attended this meeting and affixed their signature who gathered at Shanthi Church under the chairmanship of Rev. Huber will be the members of the Branch of Basel German Evangelical union called the Mangalore Branch which will include Kannada Kodagu, Malayalam , Nilagiri and south Maharashtra. This branch will be included in Basel German Evangelical Union and will abide by all rules and regulation of the main office”
After the above meeting, another meeting was held in the same premises, i.e, Shanthi Church under the chairmanship of Rev. J. Huber. They wanted to have a committee to perform the duties of the administration; there were 9 missionaries and 128 members present. The following decision was taken at the meeting:
In 1866 April 23, the Mangalore Committee which includes Kannada Kodagu, Malayalam, Nilagiri, South Maharashtra Districts. which comes under the Basel German Evangelical union had taken a decision that according to the Act, 34 to 42 to nominat the following as elders which were I) Jacob Brigal, Herman Anand Rao Kaundinya, G. Flest, Gotheleb Frideres, J. Burkhart, Kasper Stoles, F. Gigler, Karl Reum, Bengnas Grater, Thomas Degal, Fredrick Muller II)Samuel Aiman, Samuel Sona, Nahob Thomas and Andreya Karmbarha. The above were given the right to perform the service in the name of the Basel Committee, to perform duties independently and give judgement and suggestions to the particular elders of the different places. The above conditions and resolutions were signed by both foreign and Indian members and also by the Chairperson Rev. J. Huber
Both the documents were written in the Balmatta Elders Committee meeting, The first Elders Committee was on 24th April,1866, and subsequently during 1899 to1890, The Elders Committee meeting details were written in the German language
As the years passed, more and more people became Christians and started residing in and around Mangalore. More people from the Billava community followed Christianity. Meanwhile in 1870, missionaries from the Brahma Samaj came to Mangalore and started preaching their religion and thereby some Billava people joined them. In 1865, the Basel Mission Committee thought of opening a tile factory in Jeppu, Mangalore. More people from the Christian community started working in the tile factory and worship was conducted in the premises. As the number of Christians increased, they found the necessity of a Church. Thus in 1883, the Kanthi Church was built and Rev. Sebastian Furtado was the first pastor. A separate committee was formed with pastor and elders in that particular Church.
Later on, the Basel Mission started another tile factory in Kudroli, in the year 1865. More people started working in that factory and they built a Church in Kudroli for the worship of people who were working in the tile factory. The Church was dedicated in May 20th ,1888, and was named Vishranthi Church. More people joined the tile factories and started their career in those places, and become members of Jeppu and Kudroli. Rev. Yarad Soans was the first pastor of that Church. A separate committee was formed with the pastor and elders in the Kudroli Vishranthi Church.
In a village called Belma, which is situated around 6 miles away from Mangalore, the first school was started by the Basel Mission. Many people from different sects became Christians including some Roman Catholics. In 1847, the Basel Mission purchased a lot of land for agriculture, and for the benefit of the Christians in those areas, a Church was built and was dedicated on 16th March,1902, known as “Bethanya” A catechist was appointed to that Church and the Church was under the Balmatta Church.
little Balmattha peace Church 1854
A school was started in Mercara Hill, for the benefit of the children of Mercara Hill, Maroli and Nanthoor. Worship was held in the school premises. More and more people started attending the worship and Rev. Mark Salins was appointed for both Balmatta and Mercara Hill, who looked after the administration along with the pastors and elders till 1956.
As the population increased people were in need of houses. Many people went to far off places in Mangalore in search of houses. Christians were scattered in Jeppina Mogaru, Bappal and such other places in Mangalore. It was decided to start a school in Jeppina Mogaru (now Gorigudda) and worship was held in the school premises. In 1955 the people of that area requested for a pastor. Accordingly, Rev. A. V. Huns was in charge of that area. The Elders of Balmatta agreed that Jeppina Mogaru should have a different sector for them with the pastor and elders. Mercara hill was also considered in this meeting. A letter was sent through the D.C.B. to the Church Council in 1956. It was considered by them on 11th of January,1957.Two different places were allowed to have worship in the school premises and they were Jeppina Mogaru(now Gorigudda) and Mercara Hill. The congregation of the Balmatta Church was divided.
Balmatta – 2200; Mercara Hill-900; Jeppina Mogaru-600.
The congregation of both the places thought of building a new Church and the pastors and the elders started raising funds from the local people for the construction of the Churches. Meanwhile the regional council, the members of the trust and the home board also came forward for this noble cause. On 15-11-1959, the Mercara Hill Church was dedicated with the name Sushanthi. The Church was much bigger than the place, where the congregation worshiped in the school premises.
In Jeppina Mogaru (now Gorigudda) a Church was built and dedicated on 30th October 1960,with the name “Hebich Memorial Church”.
The pastors Rev. E. J. Maben and Rev. D. S. Amanna had put in a lot of efforts along with the elders and the congregation, and it was very much appreciated by every one.
The first missionary who preached the gospel and started Christianity in Malabar, Dakshina Kannada and the Coastal Area of the West of India was Rev. Samuel Hebich. A Church dedicated in the name of this great person is an honour to us.
The spiritual life of the people in Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu, Malabar and the Southern part of the Maharashtra region had many Churches and the pattern of the worship in these places should be similar to others. The Basel Mission thought of this and did the following:
In 1851, the Inspector of the Basel Mission, Mr Joseph John Huns visited all the Churches, observed the worship in different places, and come to a conclusion that a similar type of worship book should be followed in all the Churches, and a committee was formed to do the needful. Accordingly, the committee worked out on a uniform pattern of a book and sent a copy to the Home Board for recommendation in the year 1858. The book was printed and circulated to all the Churches coming under the Basel Mission, from that year onwards, all the people were coming regularly to the Church. There was regular worship and people also participated in the Holy Communion and it was much appreciated. This continued till the First World War in 1914-1918.
In 1841, the printing press came into existence and many books and literature was published on spiritual themes. Both the Kannada & Tulu bibles were printed. A book containing 68 songs was printed for worship and also for family prayer in each house. For the benefit of children, a book was printed with questions and answers regarding the bible stories. A story book on the Old Testament and the New Testament was prepared for the benefit of children. A Prayer Book for families and Rathnamala was also printed.
The Christian families practised Christianity in a very strong and enthusiastic way and their neighbours who were non-Christians could not tempt them to go back to their earlier religion. The Christian faith brought everyone into one bond. But some who were not strong in Christian faith lost their faith and went back to other religions. But these were very few in number.
The children and the youth of the Christian families, when their parents were working in Commonwealth Tile Factory, Hosiery or the Printing Press and so on had the facility of attending the Sunday School Classes and the Bible Classes. There are several journals where the details of these activities are written. The Balmatta Seminary had some very good teachers and preachers, who gave some detailed messages and sermons to the Christians in different places. Prayer Meetings were conducted in various Churches. Some good preachers were invited to the Churches and some prayer halls. Various programs were conducted to increase the faith and unity among the Christians.
Sadu Sunder Singh, Dr G. S. Eddie, Dr Stanly Johnes, Sri Bhakthi Siongh, Pastor W. Malliys, Dr G. T. Simonds, Sri Augustine Salins, Rev. Royee, E. Davis, and the Asst. Moderator, Rt Rev. A. G. Jebraj, Rev. J. Melins, and many other conducted Prayer Meetings in various Churches.
Bible Classes for the children of different Churches:
During this century for about 75 years, the Primary and Elementary Schools had Bible study in their usual syllabus. Later on the Education Dept. made a rule that no religious classes be conducted at the schools. So the teaching in the school level stopped. Later on, more importance was given to Sunday School Classes. In 1943, the pastor of Balmatta; Rev. Chadok Ammanna and Sri O. S. Anchan took the leadership to start Bible exams in the Primary and Higher Primary Level, children of the Sunday school. In the initial stage 50 children took part in the Bible exams. There were prizes for children who wrote the exams. Later on the Church Board at the district level took up the initiative and included children of Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu. Examinations for Bible Classes were conducted once a year. More and more children appeared for the Bible Examinations.
The teaching of Bible classes continued at a very good level. A sum of Rs.250/- was given as prize-amount and it helped the children in their other studies. A part of it was given by the District Church Board and another part by Mr Israel Jivothama from Balmatta. His efforts are very much appreciated. Many people also joined to teach the Bible Classes for the Sunday School children. Some students appeared for the ‘Peter-Kater’ exam which was held from Madras, and won certificates and cash amounts.
Church and the Evangelical Work:
The Church has been doing Evangelical work from the beginning. The Early Missionaries used to encourage people in spreading the faith of Christianity. Some people, used to go to Subramanya, Dharmasthala and so on to spread the teachings of Christianity at their own cost. On the Resurrection Day, Easter Sunday and on other important days people used to go to nearby places and preach the teachings of Christ or distribute pamphlets to the crowds.
The people of Balmatta, Jeppina Mogaru and Mercara Hill used to visit the Christian families on Trinity Sundays, and gather money for the missionary work. The people used to save money called Pai-Patti and hand it over to the missionaries towards their salary. In addition, donations were received for the benefit of Hospitals, National Missionary Society and the Leprosy Ward.
The family life of the Christian was always an example for others. But sometimes they would fall a prey to evil ways and go away from the teachings of Christianity, so some caution was given and even punishment was accorded to those culprits.
For about half a century, both Missionaries from abroad and home town, some elders and pastors were given good respect in the society and people used be obedient to them.
As years passed the number of Christians in the Churches increased in great number. After the First World War, the missionaries went back to their respective countries, and some of the factories were in charge of Indians. People wanted to become more and more independent and the attitude of the people went on changing. People lacked in faith, and were not abiding by the rules of the Church, and their family life also changed.
As rightly said by Prophet Neheniah regarding repentance, to his people, which is written in the Book of Neheniah, Chapter 1 – Verses 6-9 “Listen carefully to what I say look down, and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you; yes, I and my people have committed the horrible sin of not obeying the commandments you gave us, through your servant Moses. Oh please remember what you told Moses! You said. “If you sin, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to me and obey my laws, even though you are exiled to the fortherst corners of the universe, I will bring you back to Jerusalem. for Jerusalem is the place in which I have chosen to live”.
In the book of Lamentations, Chapter 3 verses 22 to 23 it is written as follows:
“Great is his faithfulness; his loving kindness begins afresh each day; my soul claims the Lord, as my inheritance; therefore I will hope in him.
The Economy of the Church:
The home board had from the beginning of their service in India said that all the Churches should be self-sufficient. So they started giving proper guidance and also helped some of the units to start their work. In Balmatta and Mercara Hill, the Mission started giving land to the Christians thereby they could have a house of their own and a garden for their livelihood. Accordingly, some Christians built houses and for about 50 to 60 years they had used the land, but later on as the family increased or the family left the station in search of jobs outside Mangalore, these houses were sold off. This was a very sad thing.
The Missionaries started different types of factories where the Christians could get jobs and support their families. The Printing Press, the Yarn Factory, the Tile Factory the Mechanical Workshop were started. For the women, the Missionaries started the stitching class, cutting and embroidery and lace classes, so that it would be help support the family financially.
Ever since the Basel Mission started functioning in India, they gave importance for the people in need, who were down-trodden. The first orphanage was started in Nireshwolaya then later on it was shifted to Balmatta. Later on after some years, two orphanages were started in Mulki and Udupi and the children at Mangalore were shifted to that place. The widows who were not able to meet the family needs were given houses. A fund called the ‘Poor Fund’ started functioning for the poor and also for old men and women who were not able to earn their living. People started donations for the Fund either in cash or kind. Many people benefited from these funds. In Jail Road, Mangalore, a Sick House was constructed for people who were sick and not able to tend to their livelihood. A Leprosy Home started functioning in Maroli-Grama, and many houses were built and medicines were given free of cost for the sick people. Later on the leprosy home was shifted to Chovayoor at Calicut. And the entire unit was transferred to that place.
The Basel Mission took up the responsibility of Church activities and financial help. Even the education of children in the school and the expenditure was borne by them. Later on, they encouraged the local people to raise funds for their noble causes, and encouraged the people. Many aids and funds were started in Balmatta Church for this purpose.
Presently many people have taken up rented houses in and around Mangalore. They are employed in several places; some are in private companies, some in government jobs. Some are working as teachers in schools. Some are working in Industries. Those who are not highly educated are doing carpentry, smithy and some are working in Hosiery, Printing Press and so on, and some are working on daily wages as coolies. Some are working in the photography field and some in motor car garages. Some people have gone in search of jobs to Mumbai, Persia, Arabia and some far-off places. They are sending money for their family expenditure. Some children who have finished their High School studies are still dependent on their parents. If a Technical School is started in Mangalore at least some children will be benefited.
 Report of Shanthi Church, Balmatta, from 1862 to 1962 An Extract of the Kannada report from Centenary souvenir written By Rev I.A. Soans


  1. Thanks for the detailed information !

  2. Details history of our church, it is a hand book for our future generation. Very well narrated