How it all began

St. Andrew's Church, popularly known as THE KIRK,was built and dedicated in the year 1821 for Christian Worship for the members of the Church of Scotland resident in Madras (now Chennai). The members were mostly Scotsmen from the British Army stationed in Madras and hence the Church came to be popularly known by its Scottish name KIRK.

Consequent to a petition made by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to the British Parliament in 1812, The Board of Directors of the East India Company resolved to add the Church of Scotland Ministers to the body of their Chaplains in India. Dr. John Alan was appointed as the first Chaplain to the Scottish community in Madras. He arrived in 1813 to begin his work. By virtue of the power delegated to him by the General Assembly, Dr. Alan chose the following gentlemen to be the first Elders of the Kirk Session: Robert Fullerton, David Hill, Darlymple and Taggart. Robert Fullerton was a member of the Council, David Hill was a Secretary to the Government, Darlymple and Taggart were both merchants. These men were ordained to the office of Elder on 1st September 1815 and the Madras Kirk Session was constituted in 1816.

Dr. John Alan constituted a Church of Scotland Congregation in the city, for which a Church was built and opened for worship as St. Andrew's Church on 25th February 1821. Legal status was granted to it by the Kirk Session Act XXIII of 1899 and ratified by the Indian Parliament after Independence and gazetted by the Government of India on 1-5-1969.

The buildings and lands of the Church at Egmore have been in possession of the Church since 1815. The buildings and the site were maintained by the Ecclesiastical Department of the Government of India until 31st March 1948. With the winding up of the Ecclesiastical Department, the Government of India decided to transfer the title to the Church authorities on condition that they took charge of the maintenance. The Church authorities have been maintaining the buildings and the site since 1949.

Through its centuries' old existence, not only has the Church building stood out as an edifice of the grandeur of old British architecture, but the Congregation also has stood out in its zeal to obey God's great command and great Commission. The organizational structure, its freedom and autonomy in administration and its freedom in worship have greatly contributed towards this and enabled the growth of the Church and its readiness in responding to the various calls of service in the mission for Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The Kirk Session is therefore committed to protecting and perpetuating its Presbyterian tradition, the structure, the property, the institutional forms, the freedom and autonomy of governance and the freedom of worship of this Church. The Kirk Session has a responsibility to hold this heritage in 'trust' for the members, people around us and those who would come after us generation after generation.

Church government and Presbyterianism

As a Presbyterian church, it is governed by elders and ministers (collectively called presbyters). The chairperson of the Kirk Session is known as the 'Moderator', the moderator is normally the parish minister. The Moderator does not enjoy any special powers or privileges and is in no sense the leader or official spokesperson of the Kirk.

The control and management of St. Andrew's Church (The Kirk) including finance, property and all other matters are by the KIRK SESSION which is the duly constituted authority.

The KIRK SESSION is a body of duly Dedicated / Ordained and commissioned Elders and is a statutory body recognized as an ecclesiastical and legal entity by the parliament, vide Kirk Session Act XXIII of 1899 which has also been ratified by the Indian Parliament after independence and gazetted by the Government of India on 01-05-1969.

The Session functions as an Ecclesiastical Court and also as a body called to direct the whole lifestyle of the congregation.

Full responsibility of the spiritual and temporal welfare of the church and the congregation is taken by the Kirk Session along with the Presbyter

The Kirk Session has three office bearers, the Chairman (the Presbyter), the Secretary and the Treasure. All the members of the Session are equals with only the Presbyter being treated as first among equals.

The various activities of the church are managed by different sub-committees appointed and as delegated by the Kirk Session for specific period of time and specific works. Each Committee has its office bearers and other members who are fully dedicated to the task they have accepted for the benefit of the underprivileged and for the glory of God.

The church office has two sections - the Administrative and the Accounts managed by one Administrator, one Cashier, two Senior Assistants and two Assistants. In addition outdoor and maintenance works are managed by one Supervisor and four Gardeners.

Each Project also has its own office staff to take care of their office and field work.

The Church has a total number of 68 staff members employed for Church work and Projects works.


The St. Andrew's Church's governing system is Presbyterian. That means that no one person or group within the Church has more influence or say than any other.

The Church does not have one person who acts as the head of faith, as that role is the Lord God's. Its supreme rule of faith and life is through the teachings of the Bible.

Organisation Chart

List of Presbyters

Presbyter-in-Charge Period
John Allen - 1814-1822
Alexander Webster - 1822-1829
George James Lawrie - 1824-1839
Mathew Bowie - 1832-1847
Robert K. Hamilton - 1840-1856
James R. Macfarlane - 1849-1858
OR -
Stewart Wright - 1859-1871
OR - 1859-1863
OR - 1868-1871
Alexander Walker - 1859-1871
OR - 1871-1879
Augustus C. Bell - 1860-1870
OR - 1866-1867
William A. Liston - 1866-1879
OR - 1866-1868
OR - 1879-1881
James Folice - 1874
OR - 1887-1889
James P. Lang - 1875-1878
William F. Archibard - 1878-1885
OR - 1896-1898
OR - 1889-1890
James N. Ogilvie - 1885-1887
- 1890-1893
- 1898-1900
- 1901-1903
OR - 1878-1904
Robert H. Stevenson - 1900-1901
- 1905-1907
- 1908-1910
OR - 1889-1906
John Heron - 1906-1907
OR - 1910-1911
OR - 1893-1896
James G. Philip - 1904
James D. Mitchell - 1905
OR - 1907-1908
William Thomson - 1910-1913
Neil Meldram - 1913-1916
David H. Gillan - 1916-1919
John H.H. Mc Neil - 1919-1920
James D. Mitchell - 1920-1922
D.F. Mackenzie - 1922-1923
J. Wright - 1923-1926
G.E. Dodd - 1926-1928
R.E. Lee - 1928-1930
J.W. Ingram - 1930-1931
R.E. Lee - 1931-1933
G.M.D. Short - 1933
R. Mc Lean - 1933-1935
J.W. Ingram - 1935-1938
D.T.H. Mc Lellan - 1938-1940
G.M.D. Short - 1941-1942
L. Mal Edward - 1942-1943
J.C.P. Sterling - 1943-1944
A.J. Mac Donald - 1944-1948
D.A. Mc Rury - 1946
R.A. Trotter - 1947-1948
R.A. Baigrie - 1948-1957
G.H. Henderson - 1957-1958
R.L. Manson - 1959-1968
J. Goodridge - 1968-1972
M. Mackenzie - 1972-1978
Peter Millar - 1978-1983
David Singh - 1983-1988
Leonard B. Samuel - 1988-1993
M. Dravyam - 1994-1999
T. Devaputhiran - 1999-2004
Prince Chellappa - 2004-2006
Peter Francis - 2007-2015
Isaac Johnson - 2016 -

Historical Events

Date Event


Dr. John Alan was appointed as the first Chaplain to the Scottish community in Madras.

1815 September 1st

Elders were ordained to the office.


The Madras Kirk Session was constituted

1818 April 06th

Foundation stone of the Church laid

1821 February 25th

The Kirk was Consecrated for God's Glory


The Church Bell rang for the first time.


A small school (Madras Christian College) was started in the Church Hall by Rev. George James Lawrie and Rev Mathew Bourie

1877 January 01st

The High School bloomed to a College
By Rev. William Miller


Evening Services were started
(After installation of lamps lit by kerosene)


Pipe Organ became part of worship and praise.
(A small organ was used before this pipe organ)

1899 September 27th

Legal status was granted to the Kirk Session by the Parliament vide Kirk Session Act XXIII of 1899


Started to use Individual communion cups

1909 October 10th

Stone pulpit was first started to use.

1921 February 27th (Sunday)

Centenary Celebration (1921 February 25th )

1948 March 31st

British Ecclesiastical Handed over the Church to the Session


Church was electrified

1969 May 01st

Indian Government Ratified The Kirk Session Act in the Indian Parliament. and it was gazetted by the Government of India on 1-5-1969.


Starting of Kirk Youth Fellowship

1971 February 25th

150th Anniversary Celebration
(Candle light service)

1972 April

Village Project started

1973 May

Riber Memorial Day Care Centre started

1983 June 01st

First Indian Pastor Appointed - Rev David Singh

1988 April 23rd

Foundation stone of Riber Memorial Day Care Centre Project laid - Sri K C Pant - Hon. Minister for Defence & Opened by - Mrs. Clara Clerk.

1988 April 23rd

Foundation Stone of ASHA Project laid - Sri. P Chidambaram - Hon. Minister State for Home - dedicated by Rt. Rev. Dr. Sundar Clark.

1988 July

Starting of Andrew's Kirk Child Development Centre


The 99 years perpetual lease agreement signed with Defence Department - Handing & Taking Over.

1989 January 22nd

Riber Memorial Day Care Centre Project building was dedicated. By Rt. Rev. R S Thanaraj - Asst. Bishop Madras Diocese

1989 February

Starting of Community Development Project

1990 June

Starting of Day Care Centre at Balaramapuram - Leprosy Colony

1991 July

ASHA Project building was dedicated.

1996 February

Restoration of Church building Completed

1996 February 25th

175th Anniversary Celebration.

1997 January

Open Air Meeting by Bro. Augustine Jebakumar.

1997 February 25th

175 Years Commemorative Stamp Released (Closure of year long celebration)

1998 February 22nd

Foundation stone of Kosapur Church laid- Rev. Dravyam

2000 July 17th

The Intercessory Prayer Ministry was inaugurated as the first new project of the Millennium

2002 March 17th

Thirupalaivanam Church was Dedicated - Rev. Devaputhiran

2002 December 22nd

Kosapur Church was Dedicated - Rev. Devaputhiran

2003 January 25th & 26th

1st Church Annual Camp at S U Camp, Mahaballiburam.
Theme: "Freedom in Christ"
- Pastors and elders of Kirk.

2003 February

1st Church Annual Retreat
Theme: "Learning to pray effectively"
- Mr Rajkumar Ramachandran
2004 January 24th & 25th 2nd Church Annual Camp at St. Thomas Mount.
Theme : "So Great a Salvation"
- Mr S W Chandrasekar
2004 September 2nd Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme : "Sharing the Gospel"
- Mr Rajkumar Ramachandran
2005 January Christian Counselling Centre was rededicated by Women's Fellowship
2005 January 29th & 30th 3rd Church Annual Camp at St.Thomas Mount.
Theme : "Abundant Life & Eternal Life
- Mr. Rajkumar Ramachandran
2005 September10th & 11th 3rd Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme: "Being the Church in the World Today & What all can affect Church and Mission"
- Mr. C B Samuel & Mr. Silas Balraj
2006 January 13th - 15th 4th Church Annual Camp at The Kirk.
Theme : "Obedient Discipleship"
- Rev. John Wood
2006 January Beginning of Master Restoration Plan
2006 May 28th Guest House - 'Kirk Villa' was dedicated
2006 September 16th &17th 4th Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme : "We cannot but Tell"
- Mr. Christopher Arulanand & Mr Thanga Bose.
2006 December 10th Website - 'thekirk.net' was dedicated
2006 December 17th 'Manse' renovated and rededicated
2007 January 13th -15th 5th Church Annual Camp at The Kirk.
Theme : "Present your bodies a living sacrifice"
- Mr.RajkumarRamachandran
2007 September 02nd Commencement of 7 O'clock Service
2007 September 29th &30th 5th Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme : "Return to Holiness"
- Rev Dr. Chris Gnanakan.
2008 January 11th - 13th 6th Church Annual Camp at CRENIEO, Muttukadu.
Theme : "Spiritual Maturity"
- Rev John Wood.
2008 September 27th & 28th 6th Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme : "The Radical Church"
- Dr. Prabhu Singh.
2008 October 05th Second gate (Exit Gate) was dedicated
2009 January 16th - 18th 7th Church Annual Camp at The Kirk.
Theme :"I will build My Church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it"
- Mr. C B Samuel & Rev C A Benjamin
2009 August 15th & 16th 7th Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme:"Reconstruction of your past to recharge your future
-Rev Vasudevan.
2010 January 14th & 15th 8th Church Annual Camp at CRENIEO, Muttukadu.
Theme : "Grow, Glow & Go"
- Rev David Singh & Mr Silas Balraj.
2010 February Digital Sound System was dedicated
2010 August 14th & 15th 8th Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme: "Mission".
- Rev Dr. Jayakumar
2010 August 21st Thirupallaivanam Clinic was dedicated - Rev Peter Francis
2011 January 15th & 16th 9th Church Annual Camp at Karigiri.
Theme: "Being Ambassadors of the Kingdom"
- Mr PKD Lee & Mr Valentine Davidar
2011 August 13th & 14th 9th Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme: "Reaching the Friend of Other Faiths"
- Rev Sudhakar Mondithoka
2011 December 24th Commencingof out door video projection - CCTV
2011 December 31st Yamaha Grand Piano was dedicated
2012 January 14th & 15th 10thChurch Annual Camp at St. Thomas Mount.
Theme : "Christian Life- Controlled and Empowered by the Holy Spirit"
- Dr Rajkumar Ramachandran and Rev Dr Brian Wintle
2012 August 18th & 19th 10th Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme: "How to present the Gospel to the Hindus"
- Mr Dr Rajkumar Ramachandran
2012 September 22nd Avvurivakkam Church was Dedicated - Rev Peter Francis
2013 January 14 & 15 11th Church Camp at Joe Beach, ECR.
Theme : "Chosen to be fruitful"
2013 August 17th & 18th 11th Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme: "Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom"
- Mr Vimal Kumar
2013 September Live web casting of 9am Service Started.
2014 December 7th Karanodai Clinic was Dedicated - Rev Isaac Johnson
2014January 14th & 15th 12th Church Camp at St. Thomas Mount.
Theme : "True Spirituality"
-Dr Prabhu Singh and Dr Paul Cornelius
2014 June Commencement of Hindi Fellowship
2014 August 16th & 17th 12th Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme: "How to be with the Lord"
- Prof C Bala Singh
2015 January 14th & 15th 13th Church Camp at Joe Beach, ECR.
Theme : "Turning setbacks into springboards"
- Dr.Brian Wintle & Rev C B Samuel
2015 August 14,15 & 16th 13th Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
- Dr Prabhu Singh
2016 January 15th & 16th 14th Church Camp at Joe Beach, ECR.
Theme : "Me and My House"
- Grp Capt. Don Lazarus & Anita Lazarus
- Rev P John Wesley & Mercy Wesley
2016 August 14th &15th 14th Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme: "The Great Commission"
- Dr Augustine Asir
2017 January 13th & 14th 15th Church Annual Camp at Joe Beach, ECR.
Theme: "Foundations"
- Rev Paul Asveen & Rev Ashish Raichur
2017 August 12th &13th 15th Church Annual Retreat at the Kirk.
Theme: "Understanding Islam, engaging with her followers"
2018 January 26th, 27th & 28th 16th Church Annual Camp at Yelagiri.
Theme: "Are You Ready?"
- Mr Rampert Ratnaiah & Mr Thomas George
2018 April 6th Bicentenary Celebration
Thanksgiving Service Commerating The Laying of the Foundation Stone
April 6th 1818 - 2018


ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH: "The Best Designed Church in Chennai"

Sten Nilson in his book, European Architecture in India 1750-1850 writes, "From an artistic point of view, St .Andrew's is undoubtedly the best designed church in Chennai". He further writes," The building was set in a large compound surrounded by a wall but with facades visible from various directions. The facade on the chancel side has striking ornamentation; on the pediment two enormous lions flank national emblems, and beneath them the writing on the frieze reads: AUSPICIO REGIS ET SENATUS ANGLIAE.


Unique Architecture - on 150 wells stand 16 pillars and an annular arch... All to edify the glory

The order is Iconic, after a Roman pattern with elaborate ornamentation. Details such as coffered ceiling in the portico, the acanthus fillings in the capitals and the fret ornaments on the frieze are particularly striking. The interior is magnificient. The columns supporting the dome stand on a chequered black and white floor.

This is not just a description of the Church yesterday, but also of today. This valuable legacy has fallen into our hands. Fortunately it has fallen into hands of love and care so that with much effort, great sacrifice and a good deal of thinking and work, we have been able to fully repair and redecorate it.

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