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CSI church Ananthanadarkudy,
known as AN Kudy is one of the oldest churches in Asia and also the oldest Protestant
churches in South India. It was built during the British reign. This church
comes under the Church of South India (CSI), Kanyakumari Diocese, Tamilnadu, India.

Rev. William Tobias Ringeltaube:

Rev. William Tobias
Ringeltaube, the first Protestant missionary in the far south of India, was
born on 8th August 1770. He was the first child of Gottlieb
Ringeltaube, Vicar of Scheidelwitz near Brzeg, in Silesia, Germany. After
training in various missions in the London missionary society,
He left England in Feb 1804 for India and arrived in Tranquebar on the 4th
of December 1804, along with two other missionaries Cran and Des Granges. He
spent some days there and learned the Tamil language. During this time, he accepted
the invitation of Mr. Maharasan Vedamanickam
(the pioneer Protestant Christian in Travancore) and came to a small
village Mylaudy, in Kanyakumari district, Tamilnadu on 25 April 1806. Here he
started his mission and laid the foundation for a church in Mylaudy in May
1809. This was the first Protestant Church of South Travancore. The arrival of
Rev. William Tobias Ringeltaube, the first L.M.S. Missionary at Mylaudy,
revolutionized the social, educational, and economic scenarios of South

Rev. William Tobias Ringeltaube in Ananthanadarkudy:

During the eighteenth-century
ancestors of Ananthanadarkudy village were idol worshippers. As a result of
this, they built a temple for the Hindu goddess called “Amman” in the center of
the village. Mr. Butananthan Nadar was the trustee and the ritual leader of the
temple. One day as the temple festival was being processed under his guidance, there was a ritual chatter going on. During that time Rev. W T
Ringeltaube happened to pass by the way riding a horse from Puliyoorkurichi to Ammandivilai through the village of AN Kudy. As it was a long journey He
stepped down from the horse for a nap. All of a sudden wonder happened. All the
slogans and the ritual chatters of the temple festival stopped eventually. Stunned
by the things that happened, the temple priest and other elders of the village went
to Rev. W T Ringeltaube and asked him the reason. For
the first time gospel was proclaimed there, and he said to the villagers that “Jesus
Christ was the only one who came to redeem mankind” Using this opportunity
Ringeltaube preached about Christ. After hearing this, the whole villagers
including the temple priest accepted Jesus Christ as their savior and became
Christians. The head priest of the Amman temple Mr. Bootananthan Nadar was
baptized and renamed as Mr. Vedamanickam.

Construction of the first church in Ananthanadarkudy:

With the effort and
help of Ringeltaube, the villagers built a small hut made up of palm leaves, where
they started to worship God and that was the first church in AN kudy which was
dedicated on the 1st of January 1813 by Rev. William Tobias Ringeltaube. The
land on which the Church was built was donated by Mr. Butananthan Nadar the
temple priest who was later known as Vedamanickam. After Rev. W T Ringeltaube
left India, the church was looked after by Mr. Vedamanickam Desikar for two
years and later the church was supervised by Mead, Neal, Malt, Lewis, Duthie,
Lee, and Allen, who were all foreign missionaries. The front portion of the
church was completed and dedicated by Rev. Allen in 1896. After Allen, Mr. Parabarathtadimai
was appointed as the first Indian Tamil evangelist of the church. According to
the advisory council of the Travancore churches, Ananthanadarkudy Church was
inaugurated as a pastorate church on March 5, 1914. Rev. V. Arulanandam was
appointed as the first reverend of the pastorate church. In 4-1-1954
enhancement work started and the present church was constructed on 7-11-1961.
Till today the appearance of the church remains the same.

Growth of the church:

Today there are
more than six hundred families on the rolls. What was once a jungle of cashew
trees, has been transformed into a garden of graft mangoes and coconuts. What
was then the outskirts of a tiny village has now become the center of a
flourishing town. There is a tall terraced portico, a spacious vestry, and a store
room in the back. The large doors and windows and the tall pillars of the
terrace, together with the elevated location, give a majestic appearance to
the Church. Originally the roof was thatched with coconut leaves. In around 1961,
the present roofing was built. It was of soil roof tile over closely placed
rafters arranged in Malabar style. The acoustic arrangements of the Church are
excellent. The building is electrified and the original chandeliers were fixed.
These added the beauty of the evening service. As in honour of the first presbyter
of the church Rev. V. Arulanandam, we established two churches near Ananthanadarkudy
village by his name. The church on the south side of the village had been named Arulpuram, whereas the church on the north side was named Anandapuram, now These two churches are under the control of CSI Kanyakumari diocese.

Mission field:

On behalf of the
church, 30 cents of land for the mission field was purchased on 9- 4-1997 at the Mellur
village in Yercaud Hills. In 20-11-1998 new church was dedicated by Rt. Rev.
Dr. M.I Kesari, former bishop of Kanyakumari diocese. so far, we have sent 32
missionaries to various parts of India on behalf of our church. All these prove
that though this was meant for a place of worship for Christians, non-Christians also helped and encouraged the efforts thus appreciating the
all-round uplifting influence that is bound to result through Christian
Missionary enterprise in the lives of everyone irrespective of one’s religion. The
Church has had a completely democratic constitution since 1860 and has ever since
elected its own Pastors who have been eminent preachers. 

CSI church
Ananthanadarkudy pastorate church was established by Rev. William Tobias
Ringeltaube. The church has been fulfilling the aims and objectives of
extending the kingdom of God. The existence of the church gave a broad way for
flourishing Christianity and also enlightened various parts of South India. 

Sources: Church Magazine and Church Day Report

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