Most Rev. Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan, the then Diocesan Bishop, visited Bhilai and a meeting was held on 26th October, 1956 and the possibilities of forming a congregation were discussed. Our dream was fulfilled when for the first time, Rev. John Varghese from Sihora Ashram conducted a Malayalam Holy Communion Service on 18th November, 1956 at Mennonite Church, Durg.
A visionary decision of Government of India and USSR, on 2nd Feb. 1955, to make an integrated steel plant in Bhilai is the cause of our being in this place today. There was a great strategy of our Almighty behind it; the proof is that, today we complete a long period of five decades as a congregation, in this blessed land. Let us recollect our past through some glimpses of memorable experiences.
From 1955 onwards, people from the smallest state of our country, Kerala, started migrating to a place of unknown language and culture, carrying with them only an iron trunk box, filled with sentiments and full of curiosity about the unknown future. Within the limited facilities and according to the need of that era, our elders managed their lives and adapted to their circumstances. In those days of hardship, the unlimited love and belief in our Lord, kept them from dejection and they went on growing day by day spiritually and materially. Their lack of fluency in the regional language, forced them to examine possibilities of worship in their own mother tongue.
Most Rev. Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan, the then Diocesan Bishop, visited Bhilai and a meeting was held on 26th October, 1956 and the possibilities of forming a congregation were discussed. Our dream was fulfilled when for the first time, Rev. John Varghese from Sihora Ashram conducted a Malayalam Holy Communion Service on 18th November, 1956 at Mennonite Church, Durg. From then on, there was no turning back. From time to time our very respected priests celebrated Holy Communion services at different places. Classrooms at Camp-ll, Sector - 1 High School and other buildings were used for worship.
Sihora Ashram was the source of inspiration in days of our infancy. Rev. John Varghese, Rev. M.P. Mathew, Rev. K.T.Thomas from Sihora Ashram helped us immensely. Rev. Dr. C.G.Samuel from Mahasamund and other Achens from Sihora Ashram visited us every alternate month. From March 1959, the frequency of worship increased and there were two services in a month, which became four from 1961. A Church building committee, consisting of 21 members was formed on 18th May ,1960 and a three member team was also formed to approach Bhilai Steel Plant authorities, to allot a plot in Bhilai Township. Our efforts were fruitful and a kalpana was sent by Rt. Rev. Thomas Mar Athanesius in Dec. 1962 to recognise Bhilai congregation as a Parish. By December 1958 there were 1 34 families who joined our worship, and 61 families took membership, which rapidly grew to 370 families by 1971. As we started increasing in strength, the available space for worship was felt insufficient and necessity for a permanent place of worship with better facilities were felt strongly.
A genuine demand for a fulltime vicar was considered, and Rev. P.S.Philip was posted in May 1963 whose efforts took our parish to new heights. In the year 1964 we purchased a plot at Kohka, to construct our Church building and meanwhile the BSP management allotted us a plot in September 1965, where we are standing at this very moment. Parishioners met the challenge of contributing one month's salary to the building fund. The building committee was re-formed consisting of 38 members.
Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Marthoma Metropolitan, the then Diocesan Episcopa laid down the foundation stone of our Church building on 26th Jan.1966. Rev. K.V.John, Rev. P.V.Philip, Rev. Mathew Varghese, Rev. Joseph Abraham guided us for a span of short term. Construction of the Church building and the parsonage were taken up simultaneously. At the time of Very Rev. N.M.Cherian, the work was in full swing. Rev. T.K.George inaugurated the parsonage. Finally, we completed the Church building with the facilities of balcony, guest room and other requirements. Under the able guidance of Rev. P.V.George the dedication ceremony of the newly built church building was held on 20th Nov.1971, by The Most Rev. Dr. Alexander Marthoma Metropolitan. A souvenir was also released on the occasion.
The infanthood of the Parish was over. Walking in a path filled with grace, day by day, our Almighty Lord showered abundant blessings on us. The infrastructure was also developed according to the needs. We constructed a building at Kohka under the direction of Rev. M.Varghese, which was used as medical mission centre. The people of the surroundings were very much benefited with this unit. Presently the building is being used by UCO Bank. Multipurpose hall on the first floor of the Church building was constructed under the guidance of Rev. T.P. Koshy and dedication was held on 7th Sept. 1988, by Rt. Rev. Joseph Mar Irenaeus Suffragan Metropolitan, the then Diocesan Bishop. The Multipurpose hall is being used to run nursery classes and Sunday school presently. During those days the congregation was blessed by the able leadership of Rev. M.V. Benjamin, Rev. Dr. C.M.Varghese, Rev. M.P.Yohannan, Rev. Dr.K. A.Abraham, Very Rev. Abraham Samuel, Rev. T.C. Thomas, and Rev. Jolly Thomas.
A strong demand for a Parish hall came up from the parishioners and was accepted as a genuine need by Rev. George K.John. The foundation stone was laid on 3rd Feb. 1998, and dedication was held on 27th Feb.2000, by the then Diocesan Bishop. Rt. Rev. Thomas MarThimotheos Episcopa. With the full cooperation of the Edavaka members and well wishers of the Church, the construction of Parish hall, side room, kitchen and store with other facilities were completed within the scheduled time, which benefits people without any discrimination of caste, creed or religion. 53rd East India Youth conference was conducted in our church premises, utilising our infrastructure, in the year 2003 during the tenure of Rev. Chacko Thomas. Under the guidance of Rev. Sunny Thomas the Jubilee celebration programmes were planned and the Jubilee year inaugural function was held on 20th Nov. 2005 by Rt. Rev.Joseph Mar Barnabas Episcopa the Diocesan Bishop. Stone blessing ceremony of the Hostel project "Jubilee Block" was also held on this occasion. The Golden Jubilee celebration started with a chain prayer. Jubilee block project reached up to roof casting stage, held on 13th Oct.2006. Each organization of the Parish is involved with the Jubilee Year celebrations through their programmes. Sing song inter church competition, Bible quiz, conferences, Mission tour were the main activities during the Jubilee year. Fellowship meeting at Charalkunnu, Kerala, for our ex- members and Vicars was very much appreciated and it has been decided to hold this meeting every alternate year at Kerala. A Souvenir is also being released on the occasion of the Jubilee year closing ceremony on 18th Nov.2006. Jubilee Committee, Souvenir Committee, Construction Com�mittee and other Sub Committees functioned at their best, with the coordination of other organisa�tions of the parish.
Infact we feel proud that we were blessed from time to time by the guidance of our Metropolitans and other Bishops. The changes in our Diocesan status helps us to get more interacted with new leaderships. We were nurtured by Bombay-Delhi and Madras-Culcutta Diocese and presently Bhilai Parish is managed by Delhi Diocese, guided by Rt. Rev.Joseph Mar Barnabas Episcopa as the Diocesan Bishop. It is a matter of immense pride for we Bhilaians that Rt. Rev. Issac Mar Philoxenos Episcopa served as our Assistant Vicar. Rev.Thomas John, Rev.Thomas C.Ommen, Rev.M.Jacob, Rev.Thomas David were a few among the Assistant Vicars of our Parish. Very Rev. N. M. Cherian and Very Rev. Abraham Samuel served Bhilai Parish as our Edavaka Vicars. Among the new generation Rev. Sushil C. Cherian & Rev. Abey T. Mammen of our Parish are working for the Lord's Ministry.
Rev. Kuruvilla Philip, a very sincere and dedicated servant of the Lord, joined as our Edavaka Vicar since May 2006,whose dedicated service, motivates to uphold the highest ethical standards. Our Achen is going to celebrate his silver jubilee in the Lord's ministry, in April 2007. I am confident that under his leadership we can move towards fulfilling our social and spiritual obligations, a road on which there are many more miles to walk.
Every Sunday the Holy Communion service starts from 8.00 am at our Church. Prayer group wise participation has been introduced to involve all the people in worship. Apart from the seniors, a good number of children and youths are actively participating in the worship. Separate Holy Communion services are being held at Industrial area and Durg, once in a month. Church activities are growing day by day. Sector wise prayer meetings are being conducted every day. To honour our seniors we present shawls to the members on completion of their 70th year, during the function of Edavaka Dinam. Student�s dedication service, Family conferences, Conventions, Christmas and Watch night programmes are conducted every year. A Parish herald is circulated quarterly for the timely information�s. The Edavaka Mission, a registered body of Voluntary Evangelistic Association at the local as well as central level, is very much conscious about its responsibilities. Sevika Sangam is extending their support in all respects for the smooth running of church activities. Sunday schools are conducted at Church, Risali, Hudco and Industrial area and give religious guidance to our children. Vacation Bible School is organised every year with the help of able leaders for the spiritual growth of our children.
Youth league is functioning actively. Bhilai Mar Thoma Choir, with their modern musical instruments, helps to make the Service a melodious one. The ethical values of the community are kept alive through the efforts of the Senior Citizen's forum. A Development Committee was formed on 31st January 2002, and accords high priority to social services. For the children of our neighborhood, Pre-Nursery and Nursery classes were started in 1999 by our Sevika Sangam, which is under Edavaka's management since 2005 governed by a school committee. Under certain circumstances the Nandini Parish merged with Bhilai in the year 1993. At present we have 265 subscribing families.
Now we are in the newly formed state Chhattisgarh which is highly rich in natural resources. It is a young state with tremendous potential for growth. The journey of 50 years at a glance is filled with blessings and achievements in all respects. But we have seen many natural calamities and disasters like flood, earthquake, tsunami, and also faced many manmade problems like war, terrorism etc. Through all our hardship The Almighty Lord gave His support and strength to face the problems. Today our people are spread in every nook and corner of the world, who are leading a committed and God fearing life. Our effective participation with a team spirit brought us today to this stage of prosperity. We believe in building friendly relations with fellow Christians as well as with other communities. Our members were the core strength to achieve this sustained growth and with this tradition, I am sure that we can also grow here and achieve greater heights of success.
" Surely He is ready to save those who honour Him and His saving presence will remain in our land." Psalm 85:9
May God make us all useful in His vineyard