India Trip 2019: Visiting the Unitarian Church in Chennai

February 12, 2019
  • Kate Harrison, Cedar Lane member

India has welcomed our hearty band of 22 Cedar Laners in many inspiring and thought-provoking ways during the first week of our travels.

We are thousands of miles from the D.C. area, but we felt truly at home when members of the Unitarian Christian Church in Chennai opened their doors and their hearts to us on February 9. Founded in 1795, the church is the oldest Unitarian- affiliated church outside Western Europe, but it feels like a modern day praise church - Indian style.  

You can’t help but feel that these folks embody beloved community, not only in their way of being with us, but in their commitment to improving literacy in the surrounding community and proving HIV/AIDS education to sex workers.

Women of the church, wearing beautiful bright saris, greeted us with flowers and sugar crystals. We visited on a Friday evening, so did we didn’t attend a regular service. But the Rev. Harrison Kingsley arranged a festive program featuring enthusiastic songs and dances from the children, hymns, and words of friendship. We exchanged gifts and received a special welcome from Rev. Kingsley’s mother. Energy and joy filled the room, and we felt privileged to meet Unitarians who expressed our shared values in a very different way.

I hope some of my fellow explorers will add to this post with their favorite memories of our evening at the Chennai church.