Kashmir’s Oldest Church Built In 1896 To Reopen For Christmas

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SRINGAR— Returning from a day of singing Christmas carols at homes and churches in Srinagar, a small group of Christians thronged near the gate of St. Luke’s Church on a cold Monday evening this month as the sun set, feeling excited and curious.

Many among them were not even born at the time when St. Luke’s was shuttered more than three decades ago. Now the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department is leading an effort to renovate the church and restore its former glory, hoping the church will become a landmark for tourists to visit as well as provide local Christians, less than 1% of the population, a house of worship.

The carolers walked inside the Gothic sanctuary for the first time, surrounded by construction materials, and sang hymns and prayed for the construction workers renovating the church.

“God has given us a chance to come here,” said Rev. Eric, the priest in charge at the nearby All Saints Church, who led the first prayers in St. Luke’s for over 30 years. “May God bless those who worked to revive the church,” those gathered chanted.

A group of Christians in the community came to sing carols amid the ongoing construction at St. Luke’s Church after more than 30 years of silence in its sanctuary. They are hoping to hold a prayer service in the church on Christmas Day. Photo by Syed Shahriyar.

“We Christians are very few here, but we have schools and also hospitals that serve people and have been serving since 150 years,” said Rev. Eric. “It’s like a dream come true for the Christian community in Kashmir.”

Read it all at Religion Unplugged.