Abu Dhabi: CSI church opens with prayers for peace, planting a tree

Sounds of prayer 'hallelujah…praise the lord' filled the air as part of a religious ceremony marking the soft opening of the facility


Ashwani Kumar

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Mon 29 Apr 2024, 6:10 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 May 2024, 9:06 AM

Ending a wait of 45 long years, hundreds of members from the Church of South India (CSI) Parish, Abu Dhabi, took part in a prayer service held at their own facility in the capital.

Sounds of prayer “hallelujah…praise the lord” filled the air as choir groups, worshippers, and priests, followed by the bishop, encircled the new 12,000 sq ft church building in Abu Mureikha as part of a religious ceremony marking the soft opening of the facility.

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Rt. Rev. Dr Malayil Sabu Koshy Cherian, the Bishop of Madhya Kerala Diocese of the CSI, led the dedication ceremony and Thanksgiving meeting with a call for peace. Following traditional rituals, he opened the church doors, and worshippers and priests from other emirates, entered the main hall to pray together.

Though the CSI congregation held its first service in April 1979, they have always gathered at St Andrew’s Church for lack of their own building. It is after 45 years that the CSI followers in Abu Dhabi have got their own facility built on a 4.37-acre land in Abu Mureikha, gifted by President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“For the last 45 years, the members of CSI, Abu Dhabi, were longing for a place to worship. God has provided everything for them. I thank the rulers of this country for their willingness to present more than 4 acres of land to construct a Christian church. God has provided, through the rulers, a place to worship. It’s a reflection of the religious tolerance of the rulers,” bishop Dr Cherian said.

‘Historic moment’

Rev. Lalji M. Philip, Vicar of the Parish, said the inauguration of the church is a “historic moment” for the CSI Parish. “This dedication ceremony is a culmination of years of dedication and faith.”

Separately, Bishop Dr Cherian, a representative from the Department of Community Development, and Pujya Swami Brahmaviharidas, head of the BAPS Hindu Mandir, planted an olive tree on the church premises, spreading the message of peace and harmony in the world.

The new building is located opposite the BAPS Hindu temple, which was inaugurated on February 14.

Swami Brahmaviharidas chanted an ancient prayer for peace and noted: “One of the most important commandments of the Christian faith is ‘Love thy neighbours as thyself’. And with neighbours like you, it will be never difficult to love.”

The Dh11 million earth-toned building with elevation representing the wings of angels has been designed by legendary Egyptian architect Maher Lamie, who runs Architectural and Engineering Consultants in Abu Dhabi. The main hall features 10 sacred stories from the Holy Bible beautifully captured in stunning stained glasses.

The Parish has 750 members in Abu Dhabi and about 5,000 across the UAE. Overall, more than 880 worshippers can be accommodated inside the church complex. From May 5 onwards, prayer service will be held at 9.30 am every Sunday. It will be open to people of all faiths and on all days. Apart from this soft opening, a grand inauguration has been planned, the church committee members pointed out.


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