St. Stephen’s Church, Marawila stands tall | Sunday Observer

St. Stephen’s Church, Marawila stands tall

28 February, 2021

His resurrection in stained glass above the altar confirms his presence every minute of the day to eternity. The feel of his presence is experienced by his disciples who are willing to spend time spiritually, whether day or night. Jesus is there as He promised. He lives in every heart.

Consecrated in 1870 and handed over to the Diocese of Colombo by then Bishop Claughton, and known as St. Stephen’s Church of the Chilaw District long before being demarcated to Marawila by the then government of Ceylon, this quaint church with its imposing dome atop is one of the oldest churches in the country.

This beautiful little abode of Jesus, stands tall and strong in spirituality. Not a church of resplendent glory but a calm recall of Lord Jesus. It has much to do with the great vision, for the church remains as a glow over Marawila and may help us find hints of the world that speaks of hope through heaven and great things to be achieved.

Thus, the Church of St. Stephen’s came into existence, the construction of which was a challenge at that time. People then had not built large buildings in less privileged Asian countries such as Ceylon, or around the world. They built the church on the basis of the idea as a church for God in heaven.

Originally, the syntheses probably had to be by a third element, but when put together, it made sense.

The symbol of Christ’s resurrection and victory, surviving and emphasising the Gospel when read from the pulpit and heard, the glory of God becomes more tangible.

Nestled among the lush greenery, ascending towards the eastern sky at dawn, is this magnificent but small abode of God.

St. Stephen’s Church stands upright even though for a small Anglican community in Chilaw.

Down the years, the church has nurtured among its simple community, an Archdeacon from the clergy; intellectuals and professionals; the first Sri Lankan (Ceylon) Envoy to the United Nations, a Foreign Minister, doctors, lawyers, those from the Corporate sector; a postgraduate from Oxford University, authors as well as housemaids to sustain their loved ones.

Together, they have lived and worshipped like one family which is the strength of the church upon the resonate voice of God on man.

Jesus Christ, the Shepherd

As one enters the church, it is the figure of Jesus that comes in contact at eye-level on stained glass done in myriads of colour, meticulously put together as homage to the gentle Shepherd who carries the staff in his left hand. It is great art work considering the time it was created over a century ago and still sits well. Here, Jesus gives the impression of the Risen Lord. Either way, Jesus protects us all, his chosen flock.

The font

Primary and original, the fountain-head for baptismal, the font is as old as the church itself. Erected in fine timber with the baptismal well inlaid deep in transparent crystal of a green hue with no cracks or damage whatsoever, holds the holy water for Christian babies as their lives are dedicated to God by their parents. It is a spiritual journey as the years move on and as they grow up in the spirit of God.

The cemetery

In the graveyard the spirits of the deceased rest in peace under the watchful eyes of angels built in marble that guard the graves. Some of them hold generations in their family vaults. A few of the marble statues are classic with clear-cut features and worth a colossal sum as they are priceless today.

No one dare steal them because they are protected by the unseen hand as Jesus abides over them.

The vicar of St. Stepen’s Church is Rev. Fr. Harold Paul.