Good vs evil: Two groups fight over Saddar’s St Andrew’s Church

Published: November 25, 2011
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St Andrew’s Church was built in 1868 by a Scottish mission. It merged with the Church of Pakistan in 1970 when Protestant churches across the country united. PHOTO: FILE

St Andrew’s Church was built in 1868 by a Scottish mission. It merged with the Church of Pakistan in 1970 when Protestant churches across the country united. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: A fight has erupted over the land around St Andrew’s Church whose prime real estate is located in Saddar. One group backed by an MPA claims that a bishop wants to construct shops. The bishop has turned around and accused the MPA of plotting to sell the land and to pocket the proceeds.

The plot, measuring 13,723 square yards, is located opposite Jehangir Masjid and thus there is ample space around the church for anyone to develop.

The church was built in 1868 by a Scottish mission. It merged with the Church of Pakistan in 1970 when Protestant churches across the country united. Four denominations came together: Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian (Scottish) from four dioceses.

On Wednesday, the president of St Andrews Church Youth Fellowship, Henry Kamran, its general secretary Junaid Ian, and others met MPA Saleem Khurshid Khokhar. The MPA is the chairman of the Sindh Assembly’s standing committee on minorities affairs.

They said, according to a press release, from the MPA, Rt Rev Sadiq Daniel, who is the Bishop of the Karachi Diocese for the Church of Pakistan, wants to take over the land. They said he had publicly revealed and announced at their Diocesan Council on October 11 and 12 at the Holy Trinity Cathedral that he would be building shops in and around St Andrews Church.

The delegation told Khokhar that the open land around the church had been regularly used for the Annual Karachi Convention where prayer services were conducted, but for the last few years it was discontinued. They said the bishop did this deliberately so that he could work towards commercialising the land. This claim was backed by Alberdeen, the secretary of the church, who told The Express Tribune that the community was sure that the bishop deliberately discontinued the annual prayer convention to show that the land was not being used.

Another member Griffin Naz pitched in to say that their religion forbids any commercial activity inside God’s house. “We fear that if they bring outsiders inside the boundaries of the church it may result in the desecration of our place of worship,” he said. “Even if it is a housing complex or society they would play music, throw garbage etc. which would undermine the sanctity of the sacred place.”

The delegation was assured by the MPA that the government would not allow any construction on church land.

This is not the first time MPA Khokhar has taken up this case. He referred it to a watchdog committee in April. The Sindh Assembly’s standing committee that keeps an eye on the Board of Revenue took it to task over shops and markets that sprung up on the land after the paperwork was changed. The committee said that the land records had been changed under political influence.

For his part, however, Bishop Daniel did not deny his plans for development on the land. But he claimed that MPA Khokhar and his supporters were scheming to take control of the land and later sell it off.

“If I take the land, whatever money is made will go to the council and will thus be used for the community only,” he told The Express Tribune. “But if these people get control they will sell it and divide the money amongst themselves.” He alleged that the MPA has contacts in the government and could forge documents to show that the property is independent.

Bishop Daniel argues that as the chairman of the Karachi Diocese for the Church of Pakistan, he has the authority over the land and that he is doing nothing illegal.

To counter the bishop’s claims, church secretary Alberdeen argued that when the churches merged it was made clear that they were only uniting but their properties would remain in the name of the original owners. He provided a copy of the agreement signed by all eight Protestant bishops of Pakistan on October 30, 2004. It says that no bishop or diocesan authority can challenge the status and legality of the property holders. Clause B of the agreement said that the Bishop of Karachi has all administrative powers.

To add to the confusion, the person who has the power of attorney for the Presbyterian Church, lives in England.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Giligan
    Nov 25, 2011 - 3:14PM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5h6e_J-8IQ
    Can u please ask the Bishop to.explain this.In this he clearly states tht he is giving up he idea of commercializing the church premises and this meeting dates back about an year ago.
    Then y is he .. at it again…can he please leave this church alone.

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  • H.D'Cruz
    Nov 25, 2011 - 4:41PM

    The nest thing he may do is to sell Trinity Church Compound and the karachi Grammar school which comes under his jurisdication. But the question is where is the money going .in his pocket or in other church projects. Is there proper a proper audit and accountability with transparancy

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  • Giligan
    Nov 25, 2011 - 7:54PM

    Bro..the people are ready to donate funds for a good cause such as building schools nd hospitals ..but he dsnt want those funds.. he wants to lease the place to sum Builders..nd god knows wat they might do with the place..nd the money my friend is gonna go everywher but the diocese treasury.and he Bought a brand new SUV costing around 60lakhs..if he had.. such money y dint he put it to sum good cause..

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  • Giligan
    Nov 25, 2011 - 7:56PM

    The 60lakhs..Shud’v gone..in sum church project..He alrdy had a Toyota costing around 20lakhs..

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 25, 2011 - 7:58PM

    Its a prime location and its a Saddar karachi man old Queens town.Recommend

  • Simon
    Nov 25, 2011 - 9:24PM

    The church councils are a source of pilferage, properties have been sold, and the community has never had benefits. Most of the Christian’s in Pakistan form part of the lower strata nothing is done for them. However the clergy many being from the lower strata has ammased wealth. Cheats cloaked by God’s word.

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  • Asif Mall
    Nov 26, 2011 - 4:41AM

    Bishop Ijaz Inayat & Rev Sadiq Daniel of the Karachi Diocese for the Church of Pakistan, wants to take over the land.

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  • Andrew
    Nov 26, 2011 - 11:26AM

    The bishop is gave 3 months time for sold this land for commercialization, shops. the action commette is organized by ST.Andrew’s Church parish for protest again the commercialization. the bishop openly said in front of our commette that do what ever you can against my plan for sold this land.

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  • roni
    Nov 26, 2011 - 11:55AM

    it is not a property of bishop satiq daneil ,

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  • samson
    Nov 28, 2011 - 7:52PM

    @roni:
    yes we argreed with you its house of God

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  • Giligan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:16PM

    Brothers i thnk.. wel shud all doo sumthin… nd show solidarity to the church before this catastrophe happens

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  • Ishaq Anslam
    Nov 30, 2011 - 1:08PM

    Request to All Believers:
    Kindly come forward to protect this Church property and show to evil the power of almighty God by prayers and unity.

    Recommend

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