G.E.L. ROAD, RANCHI, JHARKHAND, INDIA.
Gossener Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The 1855 Gothic style monumental building of the Gossener Evangelical Lutheran Church, the earliest to be constructed in the city of Ranchi, remains an important bulwark of Protestant Christianity since it first introduced the religion in this once lesser known province of British India.
Built by four German missionaries, on grounds provided for by a local king, to sow Lutheran seeds among the harassed and neglected tribal population – an objective it achieved after five frustrating years of missionary work among a people who knew nothing of Christ or his teachings and under a constant fear of persecution by powerful landlords opposed to the new religion – its most striking feature is its embodiment of three noted names associated with Protestantism.
That of the Gossener Mission Society (Berlin) established by the German Catholic turned Lutheran priest and free thinker, Johannes Gossner, who aimed at ordaining artisans and farmers to spread the gospels in the spirit of Paul the Apostle, Evangelism and Lutheranism.
Many a time in its long history, the church has sailed troubled waters. It had a frustrating slow start, lost a part of its congregation and missionaries to later established Angelical associations, survived looting and bombardment during the Great Indian Mutiny of 1857, and in recent times suffered loss of property and land when a large portion of its holdings was acquired by the Government.
Its lowest ebb was a period of economic deprivation which gave birth to a tradition of offering a bowl of rice at the altar – started by its indigenous congregational members to support its existence instead of accepting financial aid from Angelical sources.
Presently, the historic landmark serves as the main headquarter of the faith with over 1600 parishes, five dioceses and several institutions under its banner. Its affairs has been overseen by a local administration from 1919 after the original German missionaries were expelled in the wake of the world wars.
The church gates are open on Sundays for mass and visitors interested in exploring the premise.