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Standing tall on The Mall

Standing tall on The Mall

On The Mall in Rawalpindi, St. Paul’s Church stands tall opposite the military headquarters commonly known as General Headquarters (GHQ).

Being one of the oldest churches in the area, the first brick of the church was laid in 1876 by Reverend G.J. Chree BD but the first church bell rang on January 1, 1908 to summon people for the formal start of the church services for the Scottish army men in the British Army’s Northern Command - the last outpost of the British Empire.

The church was constructed by the Church of Scotland, but after partition of the Indian subcontinent, it was handed over to the Presbyterian Church run by the American missionaries.

Until 1942, British pastors reigned supreme. However, the first native Reverend Peter was appointed as assistant pastor. Now, it is being run by Reverend Dr Samuel Titus as pastor in-charge.

The beautiful building of the church takes one back to the pre-partition era and tells the citizens of the construction standard of the by-gone era.

The main prayer hall can accommodate more than 800 people. However, the wooden ceiling of the church needs to be fumigated to save it from termites. Although, the church was renovated in the recent past, it still needs funds for its upkeep.

The glass windows on both two sides of the main hall have been painted with the images of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary.

The plaque on the window says: “It was donated for the memory of the officers and men of the Ist battalion of Scottish highlanders, who were killed and died of wounds or the disease in the Bazaar Valley and Mohmands expeditions North West Frontier in 1908.”

Reverend Dr Samuel Titus told Dawn that it was traditional to donate windows or other items in the memory of people who played a significant role in their fields.

He also showed a bible stand made of brass which had been installed in memory of William Bayleg Clements who was an army school master and also an organist at St. Paul’s Church during 1912-18. He died of enteric fever in Murree on May 30, 1918.

The church furniture includes an altar, lectern, pulpit and other materials carved from wood. The baptismal font is also installed in the main hall used for baptism of children.

“For the last 108 years, the church has been providing baptism services. Many British had been baptised in this church till 1947,” Dr Samuel Titus said.

Talking about the outer grey paint, he said the church had recently been renovated but he admitted that the original red brick colour should be restored.

He said government’s attention to the improvement of the church’s condition was direly needed.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2015

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