|The manual pipe organ at GEL Church, Ranchi, which was shifted in August to Rajgangpur, Odisha. Telegraph picture
Here’s a musical prelude to Yuletide.
Come Christmas, the portals of the 158-year-old Gossner Evangelical Lutheran (GEL) Church on Ranchi Main Road will resonate with the melody of a new electronically operated pipe organ, a gift from the faithful of Germany.
“The new, technologically sophisticated pipe organ is being donated to us by the German Lutherans. It is likely to arrive by December first week. We expect to complete its installation and trial runs at the GEL Church within 10 days of its arrival so that it is fully operational around Christmas,” Nelson Lakra, moderator, GEL Church, told The Telegraph.
The electronic organ will replace the grand manually operated one.
The manual 8ft tall and 5ft wide organ, donated by German Lutherans in early 2007, can produce more than 56 notes with the help of 142 keys, of which 112 are played by both hands and 30 keys simultaneously by both feet.
Christmas being the season of giving, the manual organ has already gone to the church at Rajgangpur, Odisha.
“Since we will be gifted with a new electronically operated organ, we decided to give the grand old organ to Rajgangpur church, which doesn’t have one. Its sonorous notes will regale the faithful there on Sundays, special occasions and Christmas,” Lakra said.
At GEL Church, the place where the new organ will be installed is being spruced up.
The GEL moderator also said that they had started early preparations to commemorate 100 years of the autonomy of the GEL Church that falls in 2019.
“A series of meetings are also scheduled in Germany from October 10 to 27 in which a three-member team that I’m heading will take part,” Lakra added.
In the aftermath of the World War I, the then British government in India had ordered deportation of all German missionaries from India. Then, GEL Church was restructured and given to local people, becoming fully self-governing on July 10, 1919. “Beginning 1919, GEL Church learnt to become self-reliant by opening up a number of schools, educational institutions and healthcare facilities to generate income and fund its activities,” said Lakra.
Right now, the church runs a theological college, Bible school, four colleges, two teacher training colleges, one technical and agricultural training centre, four secondary schools, a hospital, a printing press, a dispensary and an HRD centre.
But the roots of the GEL Church — one of the oldest in the country — can be traced back to Germany in the early 1840s.
In 1844, Johannes Evangelical Gossner Missionary Organisation, Germany, sent four missionaries Emil Satz, August Brandt, Fredrick Basch and Theodore Yankey to India. The quartet reached Calcutta in 1845 and planned to go to Burma, now called Myanmar. But a chance meeting with some persons in Ranchi led them here. The first baptism in GEL Church, Ranchi, was done next year.