Standing tall in the heart of Cleveland Town is the stately 158-year-old St. John’s Church. Built in 1853 as a garrison church, it is fondly called the ‘Sigappu Koil’ which means the ‘Red Church’.

Certainly not the grandest, St John’s is, however, the oldest among the many historic churches in Fraser Town. In its vicinity is the prestigious St. John’s School that started as a school for Anglo Indians and now has nearly 3,000 students.

This heritage church boasts of a huge steeple clock. But its most celebrated possession is the century-year-old pipe organ which is the oldest working one in Bangalore. An organ repairer from Britain has been asked to help restore the instrument to its original grandeur.

A cenotaph bearing the names of the people who died in World War 1 has been erected in front of the church. A remembrance day is held every year on November 11 to honour war martyrs. On that day, people from the Defence, working and retired, who are members of the parish, arrive in their military uniforms with the military band in attendance.

“People refer to this church as the caring church. This is because our congregation cares for the poor and the needy,” said Rev. Mrs. Nirmala Vasantha Kumar, Presbyter-in-charge of the church. The church offers various fellowships for its members, conducts workshops and counselling and runs a free hostel and two old age homes.

“The church is like a family. My parents were married there and my baptism and confirmation was and my schooling was in this church. It is very close to my heart,” said a member of the church. This monument is an important landmark in the city and the church administration has decided to apply for a heritage tag.

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CultureJanuary 13, 2011