THE METHODIST TELUGU CHURCH is situated at the township of Ambarnath, in the District of Thane, state of Maharashtra. This township of Ambarnath is about 60 Kms away from the Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus of city of Mumbai. Ambarnath has been an industrially developed township having Major Industries such as Ordnance Factory Ambarnath, WIMCOLtd., Dharamsee Morarjee Chemicals Limited and Woollen Mills and many other small scale Industries. People from different states of our Country especially from South India and other parts of Maharashtra migrated to this place to earn their livelihood. Our Christian brothers were not exception to this, Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada and Tamil speaking believers too migrated to this township of Ambarnath.
In 1926-27, the Management of WIMCO LTD (Western India Match Company) in which most of the Kannada – Telugu speaking believers were employed, was gracious and generous to allow these believers to hold their worship service along with the other language speaking believers at WIMCO School Hall. Many dedicated people like Mr.D.B.Salve took an active part in nurturing the faith of these believers and thus the congregation grew in numbers. Though the members belonged to different denominations and various languages but worked together as a team in propagating His name. By then Mr.D.B.Salvi was fully trained to take Pastoral Charge and thus he was conducting worship services for all the believers at WIMCO School Hall.
In 1946, it was envisioned to purchase a plot for the construction of a Church building. On 15th May, 1948 the Collector of Thana District was pleased to allot the plot No.33 admeasuring 3,333 Sq.Yards at Re 1/- per Sq.Yard to the District Superintendent of Methodist Church, Bombay.
On 19th January, 1957 the corner stone of the Methodist Church, Ambarnath was laid at the hands of Bishop Mangal Singh, M.A., D.D. the then Resident Bishop of Bombay Episcopal Area. Many of the members toiled in the construction of the Church. Among others, Mr.W. Chhatre, foreman from WIMCO, Late Brothers H.Mark, David Balappa, Devdas Gaddam, Yohan Gaddam, Balmitra Ayyappa, Nathaniel Kathalappa, Samson Chandrappa, Luke Parshappa, Philip Godyal, Thimoty Pulelu, Anand Gonal, H.Shanthraj were the ones who offered ‘Shramdaan’ and carried stones at the construction site. Bro. Luke Silas too was among them. The construction of the Church was finally completed and was dedicated to God’s Glory for His Worship on 15th December, 1957 by the same Bishop Mangal Singh. At the same time two Parsonages named as “INDIANA HOUSE” were also constructed which were allotted to Methodist Marathi Church and Methodist Kannada-Telugu (combined) Church.
The Worship service in Methodist Kannada-Telugu Church was being conducted in both the languages i.e. Kannada & Telugu simultaneously. Ever since the Kannada-Telugu speaking believers were worshipping together as one Church, the following Ministers served this congregation: Late Rev.E.R.Jonah, Late Rev.Barnabas, Late Rev.D.Mallappa, Late Rev.Benjamin, Late Rev.D.Mallappa (second term), Rev.S.Chandravardhan, Rev.Dr.Y.D.Purushotham and Late Rev.B. Manikyappa (Ex-DS in South India Conference). By the Grace of God Almighty and the efforts of these Pastors along with the committed elders of the Church, the Kannada – Telugu Church grew spiritually, numerically and financially. Gradually, from 1975 onwards the new educated generation were getting added up to the strength of the congregation. Thus all the organizations of the Church particularly Sunday School, Methodist Youth fellowship (MYF) and Women's Society of Christian Service (WSCS) were activated and several events were organized for the spiritual nourishment of the believers.
However, the severe problem faced by the Kannada-Telugu Church was of the language. The first generation believers were comfortable with both the languages being from border areas and also their association with both the language speaking people at their respective working places. However, the youths from new generation were either being educated in English medium schools or their respective languages thus the trend of understanding both the languages by the new generation was getting diminished. Moreover, to get a Pastor knowing both the languages posed a severe problem. Due to this genuine language problem, spiritual nourishment of congregation was badly affected though the brotherly love amongst the believers was impeccable. Even Pastors felt that they could not do justice due to dual language problem.
In 1970 when Late Rev.D. Mallappa was the Pastor-in-charge, it was decided to conduct separate Telugu Worship service immediately after Kannada worship service. The hand bills for the inauguration of Telugu worship service, at the hands of Rev.J.N.Harris the then District Superintendent of Bombay District on 4th October,1970 at 11.00 a.m. were printed and distributed to all the members of Kannada-Telugu Church. However, it may not be the will of the God and hence it did not materialize. Resultantly, most of the Telugu speaking members left the Methodist Kannada-Telugu Church and formed Baptist Church and started worshipping at St. Thomas (CNI) Church, New WIMCO Chawl, Ambarnath(W). Some of the other Telugu speaking Members left and joined various Churches like Believers Assembly Group etc. However, Bro.Yohan R.Gaddam, Bro.Thimothy Pulelu and others who were the active members of the official board who decided to continue their membership with Kannada-Telugu Church proclaiming that they would rather die as Methodists than joining other Churches. Thus the banner of Methodist Kannada-Telugu Church was retained even though many of the Telugu speaking believers left and joined other Churches. Thus it continued as usual as Kannada-Telugu Methodist Church, Ambarnath.
Again in 1992, the elders of the Church particularly Telugu speaking believers, initiated discussions and deliberations with all the elders of the Church as to how to solve or overcome the language problem. Due to emotional attachments and binding love amongst the members, even whisper of separation was not acceptable to the congregation. However, keeping in view of the future growth of Church, it was proposed in the Pastorate committee for having separate worship services in their respective languages. In fact, most of the believers right from the elders down to the children were not in favour of separation due to emotional attachment for decades. However, keeping in view of the changed atmosphere and to escalate the spiritual and overall growth of the Church in future, it was unanimously decided to bring the proposal to the Pastorate Committee. Accordingly, the Pastorate Committee acceded to the proposal for holding worship services in their respective languages i.e. Kannada and Telugu and thereby recommended to appropriate Authorities for bifurcation of the Church in holding separate worship services for future betterment of believers and overall growth of congregation.
Consequently, the active Telugu speaking elders of Methodist Kannada-Telugu Church such as Bro.Devputra Gaddam, Bro.B.J.Thimothy, Bro.B.Daniel, Bro.A.Prasad Rao, Bro.J.B.Nathaniel, Bro.B.Raju, Late Bro.John Paul, Late Bro.M.A.Devadas, Late Bro.J.A.Chandrashekar, Late Bro.N.Paul, Bro.K.P.Raju, Late Bro.G.N.Lazarus, Bro.M.Daniel and Bro.Thimothy Benjamin approached Bombay Regional Conference Officials and made the request to grant permission to conduct a separate worship service in Telugu language. The said request was duly considered by the Bombay Regional Conference and Bishop Stanley E.Downes then Presiding Bishop of Bombay Regional Episcopal Area was pleased to grant permission to constitute a separate Pastorate Conference for the Telugu speaking members and to hold worship services in Kannada and Telugu languages separately Vide his letter No.BY/21/BN/710/93 DT.05/03/1993.
Thus in the year 1993, the bifurcation of the Kannada-Telugu Methodist Church into two separate congregations was witnessed under the leadership of Late Rev.B.Manikyappa, Late Rev.J.B.Challa, the District Superintendant Thane, and Bishop Stanley E.Downes, Bishop of the Bombay Regional Episcopal Area of the Methodist Church in India.Sunday the 2nd May, 1993 was a historic day for Methodist Telugu Church, Ambarnath as on this day the first worship service in Telugu language had commenced. Rev.Dr.Y.D.Purushotham was entrusted the responsibility of ministering the Telugu Church with effect from 1st May, 1993. Rev.Dr.Y.D.Purushotham was the first Pastor-in-Charge of Methodist Telugu Church, Ambarnath.
The Methodist Telugu Church was organized into a new Pastorate Conference and Pastorate Committee was installed on 12/09/1993 by Late Rev.J.B.Challa, District Superintendent of Thane District. The XIIIth session of the Bombay Regional Conference held at Lonavala from 10th to 13th March, 1994 recognised the Pastorate of Methodist Telugu Church, Ambarnath and awarded the Certificate which was received by Bro.Devputra Gaddam. It was a great moment of Joy for the Methodist Telugu Church, Ambarnath. At present 5 Congregations are holding Sunday worship services at different timings in the same Church in their respective languages i.e. Telugu, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam.
Rev. Dr.Y.D.Purushotham ministered the Congregation right from 01/05/1993 to 28/02/1995. In the beginning the timings of Sunday worship service was 3.30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Congregation is grateful to Rev.Dr.Y.D.Purushotham for overall efforts he made to enrich the congregation spiritually with his inspiring messages. During his ministerial period, the Congregation grew spiritually, financially and numerically. Whole night prayers organized on last Saturday of every month. The Telugu believers who had left Kannada-Telugu Church due to language problem flocked back to Methodist Telugu Church.
After Rev.Dr.Y.D.Purushotham served for the aforesaid period, Rev.S.Daniel was appointed as Pastor-in-charge to minister the Methodist Telugu Church w.e.f.01/03/1995 as a full time Pastor. He being multi-talented with full of energy and dedication, there was no turning back as far as the growth of Church was concerned. The Church grew spiritually, numerically and financially. Monthly Church Bulletin nomenclatured as "Sangha Deepti" was introduced by him which is being continued till date.Birthday Cards, Felicitating Retired Members were introduced. During the tenure of Rev.S.Daniel, the Church witnessed manifold Blessings. The Sunday worship timings were changed from evening to early mornings i.e.from 6.30 AM to 8.00 AM and it's been continued till date. Ambernath Christian Youth Rally was conducted in 1996, in which around 2 hundred youth attended. Transliterated Songs Book "SING AND PRAISE" was published on the 4th Anniversary. On the occasion of 5th Church Anniversary, Revival meetings from 1-3 May, 1998 were arranged. Rev. Pandu Premkumar of Peace Angles Ministries, Narsipatnam, Andhra Pradesh was the speaker. In 1999, Parsonage was constructed with the generous contributions of themembers, dedicated by Bishop D. K. Agarwal. In the year 2002, Gospel Tour was organized at Hindupur (A.P) (close to Bangalore) from 02/11/2002 to 08/11/2002, with the co-operation of the local C & I.G Mission Church.Gospel was preached at 11 villages surrounding Hindupur and about 9 villages surrounding Penukonda with the co-operation of the local C & I.G Mission Church, and about 9000 tracts were distributed in all aforesaid 20 villages. By God's Grace, Church contributed for the construction of the Sunday School Hall through the Co-ordination Committee in 2004, which was dedicated by the Bishop Dr. Sampath Kumar, then in-charge-Bishop of Bombay Regional Conference.After serving the congregation successfully for about 12 years, Rev.S.Daniel was transferred to Rahator Memorial Methodist Telugu Central Church, Parel, Mumbai.
On transfer of Rev. S.Daniel, Rev. E.Devavaram was appointed as Pastor-in-charge w.e.f.24/06/2007. As he took up the reins of the Church, without altering or withdrawing any of the activities already introduced by former pastors, he continued to strengthen them with added zeal and enthusiasm. With the guidance and advise of dedicated, devoted and experienced elders, Rev.E.Devavaram introduced several spiritual activities which were essentially required for overall growth of the congregation. During his tenure, the entire "Andhra Chraisthva Keerthanalu" Hymnal Book was printed in English script for those who can't read and write Telugu language. Resultantly, all the members particularly youth became very familiar with Telugu songs which helped in praise and worship.
Worship Centre at Badlapur, Thane (Dist) which is about 7k.m. away from Ambarnath was started to facilitate the labourers migrated from Telangana and other places to praise the Lord by attending the Sunday worship service. God willing, in days to come this centre may grow to a full fledged Church as the migration of Telugu people even from Mumbai is ever increasing towards Badlapur .
Rev.E.Devavaram after ministering this Church successfully for a period of 8 years was transferred to minister Vernon Memorial Methodist Telugu Church, Kalyan about 7 K.M. toward Mumbai from Ambarnath. His bond with the members of the Church was indeed very excellent. During his tenure the Church witnessed overall development particularly giving tithe by members to the Church.
On the transfer of Rev E.Devavaram to Vernon Memorial Methodist Telugu Church, Kalyan , Rev.S. Daniel from Rahator Memorial Methodist Telugu Central Church, Parel, Mumbai who earlier ministered this Church was again transferred to minister this Church as a second term. The Congregation was indeed glad to welcome him for his second term at this Church. As on date, as we see the continuous growth of the Church, we really feel it's all God's Grace and therefore greatly indebted to our Lord Jesus Christ for His abundant blessings. The Congregation, therefore, rejoices in the Lord for all His Grace and blessings showered upon this Church for the last 25 glorious years. By the Grace of God and an experienced pastoral care of Rev.S.Daniel and the co-operation of dedicated and devoted elders, women and youth of the Church, this Church has acquired a status of being a great source of encouragement and enlightenment to all the Churches at Ambarnath and its surrounding areas. All Glory to His Name.
For the spiritual growth of congregation as well as the Telugu speaking believers from various Churches established at Ambarnath and surrounding areas, the following Revival meetings have been arranged by the Church:
|May, 1998||Rev. Pandu Premkumar, Narsipatnam, A.P.|
|May, 2007||Rev.Abraham Raju, Hyderabad, A.P.|
|May, 2008||Rev. Prem Kumar, Vishwawani, A.P.|
|May, 2009||Rev.Nirmal Jyothi, Warangal, A.P.|
|May, 2010||Rev.Dr.Elia, Karimnagar, A.P.|
|May, 2011||Rev.K.Jayaraj (FEBA) Ananthpur, A.P.|
|May, 2012||Rev.Dr.Y.D.Purushotham, Bombay Regional Conference|
|May, 2013||Rev.Victor Paul, C.S.I Karimnagar Diocese, A.P.|
|May, 2014||Rev.T.K.Jaikumar, Editor-Atmala Kapari, Vijayawada|
|May, 2015||Gospel Enactment – Rev.Aashirwadam & Group, Vikarabad|
|May, 2016||Bro.Stephen Darala, Life Gate Church, Hyderabad|
|May, 2017||Rev.Dr.E.D.Solomon, SAIACS, Bangalore|
|1||Every year Youth distribute about 5000 Gospel tracts and Bibles (New Testaments) in Hindi and English languages at Bandra fair, Mumbai.|
|2|| Mr.B.D.Francis a youth of our Church was recommended for Theological studies at Jabalpur. He passed his Theological studies and is posted as pastor at Methodist Hindi Church, Kalyan, Thane (Dist)
Mr.Raju A. Jangam was another youth who was recommended for theological studies at ACTC, Hyderabad. He has completed his theological studies and is posted as assistant Pastor at Methodist Telugu Church, Nerul, NaviMumbai.
|3||At present, the Church supports three missionaries i.e one appointed by Bombay Regional Conference, MCI, one missionary of Vishwavani and another of Indian Evangelical Mission.|
|4||At every Christmas eve, Church distributes sarees to the widows and also extends financial help to NGOs such as Orphanages, Old Age Homes etc.|
|5||Every year Church youth conduct BLOOD DONATION camps in the Church premises and the blood so collected is handed over to the reputed blood banks for preservation and further distribution to the needy.|
|6||Every year Church organizes Talent day, retreats, Picnics, Singing Competitions etc.|
|7||Marriage Bureau is being organized by Methodist Men of our Church.|
By the Grace of God, the Church is growing in all the spheres. Lord has been gracious in using elders, Lay preachers, WSCS, Youth and many talented ones such as singers, musicians etc., for His Glory. As on date, the Church has about 450 full members excluding children. As of now, both the congregations i.e. Methodist Kannada Church and Methodist Telugu Church which were worshipping together for decades have emerged as a great witness of unbelievable individual growth spiritually, numerically and financially. All Glory to HIS name. …. "I did the planting, Apollos did the watering, BUT GOD GAVE THE GROWTH" I Corinthians 3:6
The year of 2018 will be a great momentous occasion for the entire Congregation as Methodist Telugu Church, Ambarnath will be celebrating its Glorious 25th Anniversary i.e. Silver Jubilee. It is indeed a memorable occasion to turn back and visualize the hard Labour and dedication of those God fearing and faithful servants of God who were instrumental to carve out an autonomous Telugu Church from erstwhile Kannada-Telugu Church, Ambarnath. Hitherto, God has blessed us and hereafter we hope for His sustained Blessings and guidance. We are indeed greatly indebted to our Lord Jesus Christ who sustained us till the date.
The history of this Church will remain incomplete if we don't remember and pay respectable tributes to all the departed souls who havebeen instrumental in leading and encouraging the congregation to hold separate worship services in Telugu which ultimately led to an establishment of an Independent Methodist Telugu Church, Ambarnath.
Compiled by :
Devputra Devdas Gaddam, B.com, LL.B, DLL&LW Chairman-Committee on Lay Activity