“On White-Monday we set the workmen to pull down the parts of the building at St. Thomas’ Mount, necessary to be removed, in order to form a place of worship; and by the liberality of the public, we hope to be able to complete the work in a decent and respectable manner. We have to be thankful for the kind assistance of Mr. John Law, architect, for the efficient directions and advice which he has given, by which much expense and trouble will be avoided. The building is now in progress; foundations at each end are new and the walls are rising…. The chapel is not intended to be large; it is plain and neat”. The Gothic order was preferred, because it admitted strength, and gave an appearance which otherwise could not be obtained. – Extract of a letter from Mr. Carver, Missionary, dated 30th June 1829
The building is covered in and will be finished in a few months. It is a neat specimen of the Gothic order, and much admired by everyone who has seen it. – Extract of a letter from Mr. Carver, Missionary dated 30th September 1829.
The annual report for 1829 records, ”… the erection and opening of the new Gothic Chapel at St. Thomas’ mount, for which neat, new pulpit Bible was presented.”
The chapel was opened for divine service in 1829. At a later stage, the nave was widened. Ever since, hundreds of missionaries, ministers and preachers, both foreign and Indian, have served the St. Thomas Mount Church with great devotion and zeal, and we must remember them in thankfulness to God. Growth of the Church occurred steadily and over a period of 50 years the Gospel was taken to the villages and preaching was carried out in Tamil. The Church witnessed group conversions and they occurred in villages around Thiruvallur, Ikkadu, Madhuranthakam and later in Nageri. By 1880, the English congregation numbered approximately 100 with about 25 communicants. The members of the congregation themselves took English Sunday School classes for about 35 children. The Tamil services were held on two mornings and four evenings every week. In course of time, since there was a felt need for a separate Church to cater to the ever growing Tamil congregation, the Tamil Wesley Church got dedicated in 1935.
Soon after, the number of worshippers at Mount Wesley Church greatly dwindled and was threatened with closure. Presbyters felt it was not worthwhile to keep the Church open for the sake of just four or five families. So after the independence and the closure of the Government Ecclesiastical Department in 1949, there was a move to stop worship in the Church and to turn the building into either a Parish Hall or a School. The then steward of the Church, Mr. Whitebread, and Rev. John Millns called at the house of Mr. E.W.W. King at 12 o’ clock in the night, and challenged him to get fifty signatures by the next evening from members attending this Church, to say that they wanted it to continue as a place of worship. So the next day Mr. and Mrs. King went from door to door getting signatures from people and by evening they had more than fifty signatures. So it was that significant moment in 1949, Mr. and Mrs. King were made steward of the Church and this responsibility they held till November 1974. For many years they fed 80 poor children every mid-day and were always generous in their giving, especially in thanks giving when their business prospered and in 1974 they left for England.
Early 1950, a large verandah was built on one side to serve for the school that was at that time being run and for various church activities. In 1952, the six Wesley cottages were also put up on the northern edge of the compound through the efforts of Rev. John Millns and his friends.
After Mr.E.W.W. King and Mrs. Olga King left for the United Kingdom, Rev. Peter Cochran, the then presbyter of the Church found it too cumbersome to handle both Mount Wesley Church and Egmore Wesley Church. He roped in Ms. J.R.Thangayya and Sr. Macqueen to assist him at Mount Wesley Church. It was at that time Mr. Lawrence was made the campus manager to handle the affairs at the Church premises. He was given a place to stay at the campus from where he served meritoriously till 1991.
During the 150th Anniversary of the Church, Bishop Sundar Clarke spoke of the great experience on the Mount of Transfiguration and also about the distraught father and his epileptic son who were ministered unto at the foot of the mount. That was the challenge to the church, to provide a caring ministry to the community around. This was the trigger for the Wesley Hall being built under the guidance of Rev. Christopher Solomon and Sis. Christine M. Macqueen and now it houses the Sunday school hall of the church.
Over the years, the church has been spiritually maturing and as an established body, takes forward the word of God through the extended units of the church viz. the Prayer fellowship, the Women’s Fellowship, the Men’s Fellowship, the Youth Fellowship and the Sunday school of our Church.
With the ever growing congregation and activities of the church, there was a desperate need to renovate and expand the church. There was a deep stirring in the hearts of people for such a move. Impetus was given to the entire project by Rev. Leonard Baskar Samuel and under his guidance; a dedicated team of young people in the council got its acts together in redoing the entire church, retaining the central portion of the old church. The entire process of planning, fund raising and completion of the project took just eight months between April 2008 and December 2008.
Let us praise and thank God for all that He has done through His children through the years !