City Faith – St. George Church, Kemari

The construction on Karachi port took place in 1850s. Most of the stone structures that you see in Kemari these days were part of the developments that took place at that time. Some of them were used as Karachi Port offices – Mules Mansion for instance – and some were used for housing custom officers and port staff.

If you make a stop immediately after crossing Jackson market, along the railway line, you will see few multi-story stone structures, still used for staff housing. They are simple structures but just looking at them in plain sight without any wires dangling or encroachments creeping on them is a rare luxury in present day Karachi. There on this intersection you will also find a beautiful church hidden in a thicket of Eucalyptus, Neem and Mango trees. The church is called St. George which along with nearby Sacred Church was built for christian members of the staff at port.

I drive to St. George on a Sunday morning. Johnson, one of the caretakers shows us around. I am hoping to attend Sunday church service but he tells me that it has been delayed on account of Mother’s day. He shows me flowers curated on each bench. People of the community still show up for morning prayers. I sit on the bench which look ancient but still in good condition. Johnson tells me that the benches and windows are in original condition but the wooden roof fell off many years ago and was replaced with concrete roof. I probe Johnson and others on exact date of construction but no one can put an exact date. We walk around the church to find foundation stone, plaque or something which could give us an idea but we don’t find any. But does it matter? It matters that the church survives and serves. Nearby sacred church was vandalized in 1992 in wake of Babri Mosque incident but luckily St. George was spared. It has proven to be an isolated incident and thank God for it. Johnson introduces us to his daughter who is working at Karachi Grammar School and knows Karachi very well. I sense an opportunity to find out more about Kemari and we talk about stone structures and Mules Mansion and everything ancient. We figure that She knows The Karachi Walla anonymously and it makes things easier.

Before saying goodbye I check with Johnson if church bells are operational and if one could go up all the way. He tells me that the staircase had broken some years back. The church has quite a few trees which keeps the place cool on very warm days.

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Categories: City Faith

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