CSI St. Matthew's Church East Tambaram

Church of South India - CSI

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India


IAF Road
East Tambaram
Chennai Tamil Nadu, India


Sunday @ 7.00 A.M (English) and 8.30 A.M (Tamil)

Protestant Christianity came to Chennai nearly three hundred years ago and spread to many parts of Tamil Nadu, it took a long time before the Good News was preached in the outskirts of the city such as Tambaram, Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur and Arakkonam. Two missionary bodies were responsible for the spread of Christianity in these regions: the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (WMM) and the Church of Scotland Mission (CSM). Rev. John Anderson of the CSM arrived in 1837 and founded schools and a native congregation in Chennai. The first Methodist missionary to India was James Lynch. He came to Chennai in 1817 and preached his first sermon on March 2, 1817, in Georgetown (known then as Black Town). Lynch built churches at Royapettai (1819) and Broadway (1822). With Royapettai as their headquarters the Wesleyan Methodist missionaries extended their work to Mylapore, Guindy, St. Thomas’ Mount and Poonamallee. About 60 years after the arrival of James Lynch, the Methodists missionaries took the gospel to villages and began to preach in Tamil to all classes of people. In the 1870’s the seeds of the Good News began to sprout well among the outcaste people who had lived under cruel oppression for centuries. Today Tambaram is a thriving center of Christian presence, a center of higher learning, and a rapidly developing and sprawling urban conglomerate with modern facilities, trade and exploding population. In 1901 the population was just 900. It has grown to 133,667 in 2001 with an additional daily floating population of 100,000 people. However, in the 1930’s it was just a “little village in the wilderness” surrounded by a collection of small villages, rice fields and irrigation tanks. Tambaram evolved into a town because of certain major developments. The Beach-Tambaram electric railway terminal was completed in 1931; and a railway colony was coming up. Tambaram became a Panchayat in 1936 comprising of the following five adjacent villages: Irumbuliyur, Selaiyur, Kadapperi, Pulikuradu and Tambaram itself. The Madras Christian College moved into the present spacious location in 1937, after one hundred years of service in Georgetown. The Air Force Station was established in 1942. Tambaram became a Municipality in 1964 and today it is a Selection Grade Municipality. The Gospel came to Tambaram via Vandalur from St. Thomas Mount! In 1895 the St. Thomas Mount Circuit had as its stations the nearby Saidapet and the distant villages such as Vandalur, Thaiyur, Varatharajapuram and Erumaiyur. A most interesting event occurred in Tambaram in 1929. The Methodist mission report had this to say about evangelistic work in Tambaram: “Our workers have spent not less than two nights a month out in Tambaram, taking their food in their hands. They have preached and sung the Gospel till after midnight. As a result about 30 people were being prepared for baptism. In spite of the distance and the want of a local agent to follow up the work, we have held on so far, and before long hope to hoist the flag of the Gospel in Tambaram to the glory of our Saviour King”. The minister Rev. William Gnanananda and the gospel team came from Vandalur. Rev Gnanananda finally baptized 11 of them on 21st December 1929 ‘under unexpectedly formidable opposition’.

The first congregation of Tambaram was established on 21st December 1929 when the Rev. William Gnanananda baptized 11 members belonging to three families. When the Church of south India was formed on Sept 27, 1947, the church building in West Tambaram was in 1952 by the fireless efforts of the presbyter-in-charge, Rev.Petit. The Rt. Rev. A. M. Hollis, first Bishop of the Diocese of Madras, laid the foundation stone for a permanent building of our Church of Jesus the Lord at West Tambaram on 16th January 1954. The inscription on the foundation stone is the well-known motto of the CSI: “That they all may be one”. The Church was dedicated for service by the Bishop on 13th April 1954 as Rev. Thomas R. Foulger declared open the new building. The inscription on the dedication plaque reads: “Worship the Lord in the beauty of Holiness”.