St George's Church in Northern Town, Bistupur, has come a long way promoting unity in diversity.
Established in 1916, the oldest church in East Singhbhum is now gearing up for its year-long centenary celebrations - from July 17 to April 25, 2017 - to underscore the message of peace and harmony.
"The centenary is themed Our 100-year journey in Christ with unity. Most of the programmes will be for everyone, irrespective of their faith and belief," said parish priest Reverend Deepak Anil Jojo.
St George's Church comes under Chotanagpur diocese of Church of North India (CNI), having its headquarters in Ranchi, and has a membership base of over 2,000. It is the headquarters of the Jamshedpur pastorate, which looks after functioning of CNI churches in Sonari, Kitadih, Tuiladungri, Mango, Rahargora, Shankerpur (Parsudih), Sitaramdera, Bagunhatu and Birsanagar.
That the church is taking the unity theme seriously is evident from the first event of its centenary celebrations: an 800m peace rally on July 17 morning. "It is open for all, irrespective of religion, caste, creed and denomination. The rally will begin at 7.30am and wend its way through Office Road and Straight Mile Road, and take a detour towards B-Road before culminating at the church, where a Holy Communion will be held," said Reverend Jojo.
In August, a youth football will be organised at Loyola Ground. "We will finalise the itinerary based on the number of teams. Again, it will be open to people of every faith. The only condition is that they should not have played professional (league) football," said the reverend.
A mega blood donation camp is on the church calendar in the last week of August followed by a workshop for children on the topic Ethical crisis. A marathon, Run for Peace, will be held in the first week of October. "We will finalise routes in consultation with the district administration and police department," said Reverend Jojo.
A mega youth festival for Christians of different denominations (like Catholics, GEL, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterians) has been planned for end-October while a "revival programme" for women has been scheduled in November.
St George's Church, an Anglican church, has also earmarked funds for its own renovation. "The church is already a heritage structure and we will not alter the architecture. We will only repair leaks and cracks. The building is made of rocks and does not require paintwork," the reverend said.
The church has set aside Rs 60 lakh for construction of a community hall with modern audiovisual and acoustic facilities and a capacity of 1,000. "It will be suited for conference and meetings, and can be used by any church or Christian social groups," the reverend added.
There are two more decades-old churches in Bistupur - the Beldih Baptist Church, established in 1923, near Beldih Triangle in Northern Town and St Mary's Church, established in 1926.
In Ranchi, St Paul's Cathedral at Bahu Bazar, also an Anglican church, was consecrated in 1873. The Gothic cathedral has certain unique architectural features. It has no iron rods and is held up by sandstone pillars. Its wooden beams have never been replaced since it was built.