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New lease of life for oldest church in NE

The renovated Christ Church in Panbazar

Guwahati: The oldest church in the Northeast, Christ Church, opened its doors for the faithful on Thursday after 10 months of restoration work.

The resumption of church service was held on Thursday to coincide with the first one held on October 26 in 1844. A dedication ceremony was carried out by Reverend Michael Herenz, Bishop of the Diocese of Northeast India, under the Church of North India. He was assisted by Rev. Angel Daimary and Rev. S.S. Dangu, dean of Guwahati Deanery.

The restoration work was carried out by the Heritage Conservation Society, Assam, at more than Rs 40 lakh.

Secretary of the church, Biswajit Borkakoty, said, "The building was extensively damaged by termites. The choice was between restoring it or replacing it with a new, larger RCC building. The conservation society was consulted and a decision to restore and renovate the building was taken. The work began on February 10. The ceiling has been raised and new floor tiles laid. We have installed a new sound system, air-conditioning, an overhead LCD projector and new furniture."

The cost of renovating and restoring the church was borne by church members and from its savings.

Society secretary Jayanta Sharma said, "Restoring each part was a challenge. The work was undertaken with the detailed design and drawing of conservation architect Ranjib Baruah. The damaged portion was removed and replaced with the same material. The same wood has been used but treated with oils and chemicals to make it termite-proof. Contrary to popular belief, restoration is more economical. It reduces construction and demolition waste and uses less than half the energy required for new construction."

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