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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - (Photo by Ryan Lim/Al Khaleej Today)
The church will be able to accommodate up to 750 followers.
The Church of South India (CSI) Parish Abu Dhabi is set to get a new facility in Abu Mureikha, some 45km away from Abu Dhabi city. The newest symbol of tolerance will be located next to the first Hindu temple near Al Rahba, off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway.
Rev Sojee Vergis John, Vicar of CSI Parish Abu Dhabi, noted that for the past 40 years, their parishioner have been utilising the facility of St Andrew's Church in the city.
"The government has allotted 4.37 acres of land for us. The church will be in Abu Mureikha, where the first BAPS Hindu temple is coming up. It will be built at a cost of Dh9 million, and the money will be raised voluntarily from our well-wishers," Rev John said.
With the main structure measuring around 1,200sqm, the church will be able to accommodate up to 750 followers.
"There will also be a community hall, a library, a recreational centre, parking spaces and more amenities," he added.
Rev John Isaac, clergy secretary of the CSI Central Kerala diocese, said the new facility will be the second church for the followers in the UAE, with the first one in Fujairah.
With construction work taking 10 months, the church is expected to open in the first quarter of 2021.
"The design is almost finalised," he said.
Most Rev Thomas K. Oommen, Moderator of CSI and Bishop of Central Kerala Diocese, will conduct the foundation stone blessing ceremony of the new church building at St Andrew's Church on Friday evening.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, has agreed to serve as the chief guest, and senior officials from the Department of Community Development and General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments are also expected to attend, he added.
The stone-laying, on the other hand, will be held in Abu Mureikha on Saturday morning.
Bishop Oommen expressed his gratitude to the UAE leadership for allotting a land to build the church.
"This is a great initiative by the leadership of this country. We are grateful to have our wishes realised in the 'Year of Tolerance'," he said.
George Mathew, vice-president of the CSI Parish Abu Dhabi, remembered when the parish first had its space at the St Andrew's Centre on April 19, 1979. It served several worshippers who were part of the CSI.
"CSI is the second largest Christian church in India of Anglican and Protestant traditions with four million members worldwide," Mathew said.
In the upcoming ceremony for the new church, five worshippers who has been with CSI for the past 40 years will also be honoured, according to parish general coordinator Cherian Varghese and media coordinator Biju John.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE CHURCH
Location: Abu Mureikha (near Al Rahba, off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed highway)
Total land area: 4.37 acres
Church area: 1,100-1,200sqm
Capacity: 750 people
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