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About Wesley

The history of any English speaking Pastorate in Bangalore,cannot be separated from the days when the Christian Church existed only among the British soldiers and civilians resident in India with their dependants. The Wesley English Church, formerly known as the St.John’s Hill Church, was one among the two main English speaking Churches founded by the former Wesleyan Mission on the 31st July 1888. The first English Church founded by the Mission, was the East Parade Church in 1865, also known then as the Cantonment or Wesleyan Chapel.

When the first Wesleyan Missionaries Rev. Elijah Hoole and Rev. James Mowat arrived in Bangalore in 1821, a greater part of their time and strength was given to ministering among the English residents or Eurasians. Thus their primary purpose of ministering to the larger Indian Community appeared to be diverted for a while. Though the English work received an early start, the obstacles faced by these pioneers were many. Rev. Hoole’s appointment in Bangalore was short lived. Due to the breakdown of health of several Wesleyan Missionaries, elsewhere in the country, Mr. Hoole was transferred to Madras in 1822 and Mr. Mowat to Nagapattinam. This news came as a great disappointment to Rev. Hoole whose earnest desire was to lay a firm foundation for missionary labour in the neighbourhood of Bangalore. Thus the Bangalore work was “unoccupied” for three and a half years.

It is therefore not surprising that even in 1874, the English work in Bangalore was comparatively small. However,this work had a direct bearing upon the English speaking population of the erstwhile Province and an indirect influence on the larger Indian Community. Bangalore alone had the unique distinction of having full time pastors of the Wesleyan Mission devoting their entire time to promote the work among the European population. Elsewhere in the country, this work was carried on, by the Wesleyan Missionaries as part of their ordinary work.

Perhaps no where else in Karnataka was the Church affected so strongly as the English speaking Churches in Bangalore during the two World Wars, and in the political changes that swept the country later. Despite the removal of the British Garrison troops, after Independence, the presence of a huge English-speaking and non-military population in Bangalore has continued to keep the Churches alive.

Closely following the Independence of India was the historic Church union, and the inauguration of the Church of South India, on the 27th September 1947. Whatever may have been the mingled feelings of joy and sadness experienced then, mention must be made of the significant contribution of the Methodist Mission in the making of this history.Perhaps what is least known is that this “City on the hill”,the St. John’s Hill Church has also added its own luster to the first glow of this historic Church Union. As we celebrate the 123 years of our beloved Wesley English Church, the Wesley family lifts its heart with one accord in praise and thanks giving, to the Almighty, who has guided the destiny of this Church. We look upon this unostentatious structure, with its simple unadorned beauty that enshrines within its folds, memories of birth and death, “the noise and transition of life”, we are irresistibly drawn into the labyrinths of history, and as one great writer has aptly expressed – “Here in the Church, ‘before’ and ‘after’ are folded together”.

Here then, is an enlightening experience of the ‘before’.

SEPTEMBER 1888 HARVEST FIELDS FOUNDIN G OF THE WESLEY EN GLISH CHURCH BAN GALORE . STONE LAYIN G.

The foundation stones of the new Chapel, St. John’s Hill, were laid on July 31st 1888. Though Sunday, Monday and Wednesday were wet monsoonish days, the Tuesday of the ceremony was clear and pleasant in answer to the prayer of the Church. The bamboo scaffolding, from which the stones were suspended, was gaily decorated with Casurina, Palm and Acacia leaves. A large congregation gathered. The Rev. J. Hudson, B.A., presided and the Rev.W. L. King, B.A., B.D., of the American Methodist Mission and the Rev. W.H.G Herre of the Lutheran Mission, gave
suitable addresses in the open air. The four stones were laid by Mrs. Haigh, Mrs. Fitzgerald, Mrs. M. W. Walker and Mrs. Drummond. The whole meeting was a great success being in this respect at one with all the previous meeting in connection with the extension scheme. It was announced that of the total expenditure at St. John’s Hill (English) of Rs.18,000/-, Rs.14,633/- had been received or promised and that Rs.3,367/- remained to be raised.

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