St. Mary's Church, Kopay
St. Mary's Church, Kopay
Date of Consecration
1852 - 08 - 14
Jaffna Archdeaconry
Revd. N. J. Gnanakaruniyan

The CMS was formed on 12 April 1799: three years after the surrender of Colombo to the British Crown; and Ceylon was one of the first fields to which the CMS sent their missionaries. Four men and two women arrived at the Point De Galle on 29 June 1818. Soon afterwards, one of them the Rev. Joseph Knight arrived in Jaffna in November 1818 and commenced evangelistic work at Nellore. Thereafter, Nellore became the mission station for the CMS missionaries to do evangelistic work in places such as Nellore, Chundikuli, Kopay, Kokuvil, Pallai, Uduthurai, Vanni and Vavuniya.

In 1847, the first Bishop of Colombo, the Rt. Rev. Dr. James Chapman visited Jaffna. His Lordship held two confirmation services. They were the first ever held in Jaffna. One was at St. John’s Church, Chundikuli in English and the other was at Nellore in Tamil.

In 1949, Kopay was adopted as a separate Mission District. Of the Christians previously were members of Nellore Church seven belonged to Kopay and these formed the members of the new Church there.

When it was decided to form Kopay into a separate mission station, it was found necessary to build a new Church.  The GA of the Province Mr. P.A. Dyke, kindly gave a piece of land of about 5 acres belonging to him as a site for the new Church and a residence for the missionary. The foundation stone of the new Church was laid on the Society’s Jubilee day, 1 November 1849 and another source says it was on 9 May 1850.The Rev. Robert Pargiter, who came to Ceylon in 1844 under the Weslyan Missionary Society and joined the CMS the following year and was ordained in 1847, was then in charge of the station, had soon to leave it to take Chundikuli station.

The inconvenience of holding services in a temporary Church necessitated the laying of the foundation stone of a new Church. The completed building was pronounced and publicly opened for worship on 9 January 1852, costing a bout 400 pounds. The money was raised by the Ceylonese, friends from England and the parent committee in England.

On the opening Day, 9 January 1852, despite the very wet weather, several people turned up from villagers quite distant from Kopay.

In 1853, The Kpoay Training Institute for Catechists, readers and teachers was opened. In September 1863, an important step was taken by the CMS towards the establishment of the native Church.

The Head Catechist Mr. John Hensman was ordained Deacon by the second Bishop of Colombo, Rt. Rev. Dr. Piers Calverly Claughton and was made a priest two years later. He was one of the first pupils of the Nellore English Seminary. After his ordination he was posted to Kopay. He was thus the first Tamil clergyman to be placed in charge of a CMS congregation.

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Contact Details

Postal Address
Holy Trinity Church, Kokuvil

bishop of colombo rt revd dushantha rodrigo


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