Malayalam Parish members hold service outside shut doors of church in Pune’s Khadki

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Members of St Paul’s Malayalam Parish gathered outside All Saints’ Church, Khadki, on Sunday for their church service. All Saints’ Church English congregation closed its doors until a significant decision regarding the steep increase in operating expenses contributed by the three congregations – the English congregation, St Paul’s Malayalam parish, and the Marathi parish.

Joseph Eapen, a trustee at St Paul’s Malayalam Parish, claims that blocking access to the church is a violation of the Constitution. Several of the members of this church have been part of it for over 50 years. 

As a result of a complaint from St Paul’s Malayalam Parish, All Saints’ Church English congregation wrote in a letter dated November 13 that the church will be closed till the complaints are resolved, as it is private property.

The Ministry of Defence is responsible for the All Saints’ Church, according to Eapen. In his opinion, the government should not refer to the church as private property when it’s a place for public worship.

As part of the running expenses contributed by each congregation, the church is used for Sunday services for two hours about four times a month. Before the church closed due to the pandemic, Eapen said their congregation contributed roughly Rs 5,550 per month, or Rs 66,000 annually.

The All Saints’ Church had three services each Sunday, the English service in the morning followed by the Malayalam and Marathi services in the afternoon. Separate times were set aside so that services would not overlap.

Chandy Thomas, treasurer of St Paul’s Malayalam Parish, said that the last two Sunday timings were given to the Marathi Parish after their secretary refused to pay the hiked fee.

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