April 07, 2007

Church and the city

Holy Week provides time for reflection.
And our thoughts need not be merely personal.
It is Good Friday. And what comes to my mind this afternoon is - how our local churches are evolving.
'Power House' is a different kind of church. It has two spaces. One on the Velachery-Taramani Link Road. And the other is a hall rented out at the posh Abhirami Mall in Pursawalkam for movies and entertainment.
The services at 'Power House', I am told, really swing. Swing to some great music and, in between is time for preaching and reflection.
Pastor Jeyakaran Immanuel goes out of his way to entertain lots of IT professionals.
In a way, I might say that this is a new church that reaches out to a neighbourhood whose character is of the modern times.
One dominated by youths working in the IT/BPO industries.
Close to Bangalore's Airport, Father Adolf Washington is using the Internet to get closer to the flock of his parish. He has weekend online chat sessions with the youth. He posts the time table of the religious services on the Net. And he welcomes people to book online, Holy Mass offerings, and pay when they come to church.
Recently, retired urban planner Anantha Ranjana Doss, who was with the CMDA till recently, invited me over to a meeting of pastors of city churches.
Here was an attempt to find ways in which pastors could go beyond the religious services and the social welfare projects of their church and play an active role in their neighbourhood.
Since I am keen about local politics, I chose to talk about how the congregation could be enlightened about ward elections, role of councillors and how local issues could be addressed.
Dr. Paul Appaswamy who teaches at the Madras School of Economics was also a panelist. And he said that the concept of a 'parish' has almost vanished.
We no longer stick to the church of our neighbourhood to attend Holy Mass. Nor do we demonstrate a huge loyalty to it in other ways.
So then, what role would modern-day shepherds play in such changing communities, Paul asked.Perhaps you can reflect on this and share your comments on my blog!

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