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Heritage Church

The quaint structure of the original Church of the Epiphany building dates back to 1862. Its architecture and design are reminiscent of the small chapels of the Victorian era.

Built in the erstwhile Gurgaon Cantonment, the Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Calcutta in 1866. For this he had travelled in a ‘tonga’ (a horse driven carriage) all the way from Lahore, 500 km away. In fact, on the same trip he also travelled by tonga to Hissar (another 155 km) to consecrate the Church there as well.

Early Jurisdiction

The Church of the Epiphany was originally built to cater to the spiritual needs of the few British civil and military officers who were posted in Gurgaon at the time. It was maintained by the Government of India until 1942. This place was an outer line of defence for Delhi – the capital of the declining Mughal empire – which the British had annexed after the Second Sikh War in 1856.

Due to economic measures prompted by the Second World War, the Church was subsequently handed over to the care of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and the Cambridge Mission at Delhi.

At the time this Church was under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Lahore. It later came under the control of the Archdeaconry of Delhi, which eventually became the Anglican Diocese of Delhi. On 29th November 1970, the Anglican Church, along with six other churches, combined to form the Church of North India (CNI). Thus, the Epiphany Church of Gurgaon became part of the CNI’s Diocese of Delhi.

Although it was originally an Anglican Church, it now began to embrace members from other denominations as well, including those belonging to the Presbyterian, Methodist and various Baptist Missions. Today, former British Methodists constitute the largest section of the congregation.

Early Doctrinal Care

It was only in 1873 that the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) sent their Catechist (a teacher of Christian religious principles) to Gurgaon. Very soon, the Zenana Missions (a women’s outreach programme established during British rule) sent women workers to minister in the exclusive women’s quarters, which were known as ‘zenana’. The SPG was active and established centres in Karnal, Rohtak and Rewari. The Industrial School for Boys founded in Faridabad was shifted to Gurgaon in 1896. It was christened as the St. Crispin’s School after the patron saint of the trader crafts, and that name remains to this day.

Early Worship Services

Two devoted churchgoers in the 1890s and early 1900s were J. M. Drummond, the Deputy Commissioner, and Dr. Barron, the Civil Surgeon. However, it was the fervour of the former that dictated the frequency of the services. Invariably, the Church service was often an evensong between 6:30 to 7:30 pm, and attended by an average of 12 people. It appears that no offering or collection was taken.

Holy Communion was celebrated whenever a visiting priest officiated. In fact, in 1893 it was Rev’d G.A. Lefroy, who later became the Bishop of Lahore, whose program seems to have been the celebration of the Communion in a morning English service, where collection was taken. This was then followed later in the day with an Urdu service for evensong.

In March 1896, Dr. Barron left Gurgaon and the regular matins and evensong services also ceased. They did commence again when King was the Deputy Commissioner (DC), but he only stayed for a short while. Then they began again when Lt. Col. A Elliott was the Deputy Commissioner in January 1917. Regular services were held until April 1919, when the DC must have changed.

After 1928 the services in English and the vernacular were also held in the Church. From April 1919 to May 1951 only intermittent records are available. For example, there is a single entry of Rev’d O. A. Finch who held a dual charge. Rev’d W. T. Williams has made many notings of the history of the Church. He came in 1922 as the Principal of the Industrial Training School and was the Pastor from 1932 to 1945.

The Vicar of the Church was also the Principal of the Industrial Training School, later called St. Crispin’s School. The Church and the School were possibly bifurcated in 1970s. With this division the parsonage was lost. Thereafter, except for the few years with Rev’d Bhatti, we shared a pastor with St. John’s Church at Mehrauli.

The first general body meeting of the parish was held on 6th March 1913. At this meeting it was resolved to pay Rs. 25/- to the Diocese, as what we now call an ‘assessment’.

The visiting priests were from the Cambridge Mission at Delhi and were famous luminaries of the country. They included Rt. Rev’d G .A. Burton (Bishop of Calcutta), Canon S. S. Allnutt (St. Stephen’s College), Deshbandhu Rev’d C. F. Andrews (St. Stephen’s College), Prof. N.G. Leather (St. Stephen’s College) and Bishop Christopher Robinson.

The first recorded baptism was of Cecil Harold Bhattacharjee on 9th June 1893. His parents were Rajindra and Indira Bhattacharjee.

In the bazaar there was a mission chapel where services were held on a regular basis. Unfortunately, there is no record of these services in Urdu and Hindustani, except for those occasions when the visiting priest mentions it. The attendance was in the range of 20 people. Strangely, confirmation was done by the English priest. In later years services were also held in English. This chapel was an unconsecrated building which became the Gurgaon Health Centre in 1930, under the auspices of the Red Cross.

The East Window of the Church

In February 1913, Rev’d Lefroy mentions that the light in the east window was an eyesore. In March 1913 the DC, King undertook to have something done about it. This was accepted in 1914, and in 1916 it was decided to have a new Church window, which was ultimately installed by Easter, 1938. This mention of the East Window is a probable reference to the beautiful stained glass window which adorns the backdrop of the altar. It had cost Rs. 50/- at that time. Rai Sahib Pran Nath noted that to keep it from fading it should be given a coat of varnish every other year.

Conservation Project, 2021

Please do check out this short documentary (11 mins, 25 seconds) from the Liberal Arts Preview Channel on YouTube, about the conservation of our original 19th century church building.

Source:, © Liberal Arts Productions

Art & Cultural Event to Promote Heritage of Gurugram (13th May 2023)

The Church of the Epiphany is one of oldest buildings in Gurugram and the KalaGram – Society for Fine Art Initiatives in Gurugram organised this event on May 13th, 2023, in association with Church of the Epiphany. The program was an initiative by the District Administration and Municipal Corporation of Gurugram.

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