St.Paul's Church , Megnanapuram

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One of the Stateliest churches in the whole of India is St.Paul’s church, Megnanapuram- a village which came under the influence of Rev. RHENIUS at first. In 1830 march 7th (07.03.1830) Rev. RHENIUS changed name of the village “NEDUVILAI” in to ‘ MEGNANAPURAM”(True Wisdom). Rev.JOHN THOMAS who landed here in 1837 took the village to his heart,designed and built the magnificent church which is a ‘must’ for any visitor to tirunelveli.The imposing steeple 192 ft high was added in 1868,the coping stone being fixed by Lord Napier. In a corner of the Church has been buried Rev.JOHN THOMAS.

 

Rev.John Thomas

John Thomas was born in Wales in 1807. He was at the C.M. College, Islington, 1833-35 ; was ordained deacon by the Bishop of London in 1835, and priest in 1836 by the Bishop of Gloucester, and went at once to Tinnevelly, where he was stationed at Mengnanapuram. He was a deeply religious man with several accomplishments and a great power of organization. Like so many of his countrymen he was a skilled musician with an attractive singing voice. He had a good working knowledge of architecture and a remarkable taste in designing and town planning. In course of time he laid out a new village with broad streets, overcame some sanitary difficulties, erected schools and a Church of real magnificence, whose tower was and is a landmark for travelers for many miles. He visted the villages round and did similar things on a smaller scale for them. The story of these great undertakings is written in the C.M.S. Reports of the period. It is also referred to in terms of admiration by Bishops Spencer of Madras and Cotton of Calcutta in their published works. He was a very able, talented and remarkable leader. He died at Megananapuram in 1870 after 34 years’ service. His widow and unmarried daughter survived him and carried on mission work as managers of the Elliot-Tuxford Girls’ school for many years. His other daughter married a C.M.S. missionary Ashton Dibb ; one son followed in his steps as a missionary, Ashton Dibb ; one son followed in his steps as a missionary ; and two others were in the service of the Madras Government. The missionary cause prospered greatly under his able guidance.