Vijayawada

Founder of AELC Frederick Heyer rememberd

GUNTUR: Gospel Day, commemorating the 175th anniversary of the establishment of Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church (AELC) was celebrated with much fervour here at St. Mathews West Parish on Monday.

It was on this day, in the year 1842, that John Christian Frederick Heyer, an American missionary, arrived in Guntur. In the months to follow, Rev Heyer would go on to start The American Evangelical Lutheran Mission which has been later called as The Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Among the many protestant missionaries that have contributed to education, religion and social work in India, Rev. Heyer stands tall for his singular effort in pioneering the mission work in coastal region of the state and in making Guntur as the head quarters of the missionary work.

Born in 1793 at Germany, Rev Heyer had served as a missionary in USA till the year 1841, when his wife passed away.

Leaving his five children behind, he set sail from Boston on October 15, 1841 and reached India an year later. In Chennai, then Madras, he was learning Telugu from a Brahmin teacher.

As he was looking for a place to start his mission, Rev Heyer reached Nellore on May 23, came to Ongole and arrived in Bapatla. The arrival of an American missionary who was resting on a palanquin was reported to then collector Henry Stokes and on the latter invitation, Rev Heyer came to Guntur on July 31, 1842. Since then, that day is celebrated as the Gospel Day, marking the birth of AELC.

Impressed with the efforts of Rev Heyer, Mr. Stokes asked him to manage an Anglo-Vernacular school. The school would later to be upgraded as second grade college by L.B Wolf, who was the founder principal and renamed as American Evangelical Lutheran Mission (AELM) college.

Boon to tribal people

In the later years, Rev Heyer with the assistance from Collector Stokes would go on start schools in Gurazala, Rajahmundry. The schools which he had set up in the backward Palnadu region, were to herald a revolution among the poor tribals.

Gaddam Elia, a retired head master from Bapatla said that the pioneering work of missionaries stemmed from the deep obedience to the call of Jesus Christ to preach the gospel and care for the well being of the poor and needy.

Director, Seva Bharath, Chiranjeevi was the chief guest. Bishop Pardesi Babu, the president of AELC, was present.


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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 12:13:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/founder-of-aelc-frederick-heyer-rememberd/article19398528.ece

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