This Church had been built much earlier but the change of ownership from the Methodist Church to the Church of England had taken place on 17 October 1892.
Therefore, this Church celebrated its centenary on 24 October 1992.
As it had been with many outstation parishes Christ Church, Hambantota had also catered to a migrant congregation of public servants rather than to a local Christian community during the pre-independence time.
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Christ Church No.24, Braybrook Street, Hambanthota, Sri Lanka
When the S.P.G extended its migration along the southern coastline of Ceylon, the Rev. J.S. Lyle was made superintending missionary of all the area at present covered by the parishes at Galle (including Bouna Vista), Matara(including Weligama), and Tangalle(including Hambantota). In father Lyle’s Day, services in Tangalle were held in a school room. But when Tangalle was made into a separate and independent parish, the Government of the day donated a block of land and also one-half of the money for the erection of the Church. The other half of the money needed was found by the S.P.G. and the Rev. F.D. Edirisinghe, who had then been appointed first Vicar. It is a well known fact that he used his dowry money as well as the building of what is now Christ Church, Tangalla, which Bishop R.S. Copleston consecrated on 24 June 1876.
The first boy born in the house that then became the Vicarage was the first Vicar’s eldest son, who later became a priest, the Rev. J.S.H Edirisinghe.
The first initiative was the Divya Seva Asramaya(House of Service Divine), on 17 June 1944. The Chapel of the Divya Premaya was dedicated in November and so the anniversary of the Asramaya was shifted to November.
The 25 anniversary of the Asramaya was celebrated in November 1969 with a week-long service inaugurated by Bishop Rt. Rev. Harold De Soysa, who also took part in the dedication of the Chapel.
This Church comes under the parish of St. Luke’s Deniyaya and is also associated with Christ Church, Beverly.
Beverly Church is situated in the Matara District, in the South of Sri Lanka. The congregation of this church is mostly plantation workers. There are about 24 families worshiping in this church. The political awareness, the environment, the educational facilities and health care are in a very bad situation which is unknown to many.
The Diocese of Colombo built this church as an act of kindness to bring consolation to the people who undergo many hardships. The people believe that this church is a gift from God to them.
Prior to the construction of this church, the congregation worshipped at “Maduwatte.” During the Christmas season and the fasting period they have been attending services at Deniyaya St. Luke’s church. They had been using estate lorries for transport.
Due to the above difficulties and hardships the urge to build a church at Beverly became a priority in the minds of the people.
Permission was granted to build a church. From 1986 the task of collecting funds was initiated by Manikavasagam, Daniel and Abraham. Their services are much appreciated.
Since there were not enough funds to start building the church, it stood at a standstill with only the foundation stone being laid. At this point in time Bro. Melvin De Mel came forward with financial help. The congregation is very thankful to him for his act of kindness.
This church was later dedicated by Bishop Kenneth Fernando on 26 January 1994.
Church of Ceylon Southern Province in the Matara District, Deanery of Galle. St. Luke’s Church was consecrated for the poor estate labourers who attended this parish 0n 16.10.1895. This is the only Anglican Church between Galle and Rakwana.
At that time European and English people helped to build this Church for the people of Henford estate Deniyaya. Under the Talawakelle Plantations Limited to work estate people helped to build this Church given by the superintended of estates to promote moral and religious welfare of the Tamil plantation immigrants from South India. They started a school for 42 native agents under 4 European superintendents. Next came the Sinhalese from the Maritime Provinces who have a stronger love of gaining 1841-1843. Thousands of people were employed on the estates. They generally left their homes six months at a time and then soon engendered as much independence as was to be found in the Kandyans. This source of labour became died from southern India stopped forward to fill up the vacancy occasioned by the cessation from labour of the sons of the existence of the Tamil Coolie Mission with which Rowlands was temporarily connected in consequence of the breakdown of Rev. S. Hobbs, the head of the mission. He is very closely connected with the fame that Ceylon acquired as a coffee producing country. One of the Secretaries of the CMS The Rev. W. Knight who had come out to Ceylon for the purpose of inspecting the whole mission Murdoch get at once to touch with Knight and the idea at once occurred to them that the Tamil Catechists might brought over from Tinnevely to minister to the scattered bands of Tamil Christians, and at the same time, to evangelise their fellow countrymen.
TCM extension to Sabaragamuwa in 1900, Ceylon which Became a British possession in 1796 was one of the first fields to wh8ch the fathers of the CMS turned their eyes. It was not until 1817 that the mission was commenced among the Sinhalese and Tamils and the Tamil Cooley Mission was begun in 1855. There were six catechists in the mission field in Sri Lanka.
Murdoch went over to India and saw Tinnaverly Mission. At Peneivilci he addressed a missionary meeting and called for volunteers for the work in Ceylon. Eight responded of whom six were chosen as pioneers of the new venture.
The evangelistic work consists mainly in using opportunities allowed by the courtesy of the planters of speaking for 15-20 minutes to the coolies when they assembled in parade ground at 6.a.m. and again in the evening when the retired to their huts known as lines. Wherever faithful work is done backed by godly life, conversions are not wanting.
I told three years ago in the annual report that a high caste woman in Deniyaya was baptized after 30 years among the Christians while her husband still remained in India. Her husband confessed to Christ lately and was baptized with the name of Stephen on new year’s day by Rev. J.D. Welcome who was in this parish.
Acquiring Church land
This was the chief event of the year towards strengthening our work here was the acquiring of about an acre of land as a free gift from the Henford Estate co. Deniyaya. This land where our church had been built 30 or 40 years ago is attached a small burial ground. This is also the only church we have between Galle and Rakwana, although missionary work started her more than 50 years ago. Nobody thought of buying land for the permanent use of expression of our work. Worship in this church. Rev. J.D Welcome is the first parish priest of this church. This was from 1918-1933. Earlier the Church had visiting priests. This was followed by Rev. W.P. Kumaraswami in 1945. From 1950-55, Rev. A.C. Durairajah worked in this parish. After that in 1961-64 Mr. Sam Jonathan worked as a Catechist. Rev. Isaac Abraham worked here in 1966, Rev. Augustine Philips assisted this chapel from Rakwana. In 1967 Rev. A Chinniah assisted this parish In 1970-1974 Mr. D.G. Asirwatham worked as a catechist. Later Rev. J.D.B.R Daniel was the Vicar.
In 1974 John Isaac worked as a catechist. In 1980 Mr. Alexander worked as a catechist. After that in 1982 Ven. Patrick Fernando worked as a Vicar. Rev. A.C. Coilpillai, Mr. H.P.D Jayewardene was a Catechist in this parish.
In 1989 S.I. Balakumar worked as a priest in this parish. In 1989-1994, Rev. Arthur Joseph. In 1994-1996, Rev. J. Vethamuthu, in 1997-1998, Ven. Patrick Fernando, 1998-2000 Rev. D.K. Balakrishnan, Rev Charles David in 2001. In 2002, Rev. Christie Joseph and in 2004, Rev. Jehan David. At present Rev. R.J. Dharmaraj is working in this parish as Vicar.
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St.Luke’s Church, Handford Estate, Deniyaya, Sri Lanka
The Anglican Church at Matara claims a period of over a century of its Ministry in the South which began with the consecration of St. Thomas’ Church at Nupe, Matara housed in an old Gothic structure which is no more. With the help of energetic and devoted priests such as the late Rev. W.N. Guerney the Church went from strength to strength and the congregation increased tremendously which necessitated a change in size and location.
The establishment of the Churches at Tangalle and Hambantota along with schools such as Christ Church, College, Tangalle helped the educational and evangelistic work undertaken by the Church, and the Denepitiya Medical Mission which celebrated the 69th year of service last year (started work in 1916) is a living monument of the service rendered by the Anglican Mission to the sick and the needy of the community. In order to replace the Old St. Thomas’ Church at Nupe, Matara which no longer could accommodate the expanding congregation at that time, the present Church, namely the Church of the Ascension, Matara was built with the assistance of the congregation spearheaded by the late Rev. J.C. Clive Perera, the Vicar and the Church Wardens at that time and it was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Mark Carpenter Garnier, the Lord Bishop of Colombo on 5 December 1936.
The chapel had been dedicated by the Bishop of Colombo the Rt. Rev. Cecil Douglas Horsely on 30 October, 1940.
In the early 1970’s the congregation of Buona Vista, Unawatuna had to abandon the chapel in which it gathered for worship for well over a century for two main reasons. The first reason being that after the takeover of schools it became a problem to continue worship here as the chapel was located in the midst of school buildings of the Buona Vista Maha Vidyalaya. The second reason for abandoning the church was that it was in a state of disrepair. Bereft of a place of worship the Buona Vista congregation moved further up the hill to the chapel which the Sisters of St. Margaret had used for their private devotion and since then it has become their parish church where they met for regular worship. (Source: The Chapel of the Transfiguration, Buona Vista, The Report of the Standing Committee, 1990-1991, page 16)
After certain alterations were carried out to open it up and make it more spacious, the Bishop of Colombo (Rt. Rev. J.J. Gnanapragasam), on his first visit to Bouna Vista after his consecration, rededicated it as a parish church on (9.8.1987) and re-named it “Church of the Transfiguration.”
(Source: Ceylon Churchman, Vol. 86/4, page 60, July/August 1988, title of article: Re-naming of the Church at Buona Vista)
This church was again re-dedicated on 2 August 2014 by the Bishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Dhiloraj R Canagasabey. Since the church was in need of urgent renovation St. Matthias Church Borelasgamuwa offered to fund the urgently needed renovation. The said ‘renovation related’ to the internal section of the church, comprising of ‘roof works’ , a new ‘look sanctuary’, apart from other repair works. The church was renovated under the leadership and guidance of Ven. Dr. Reinzie Perera, Archdeacon of Galle.