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May 13, 2011

Church in Abbottabad, Pakistan Seeks Prayer

Abbottabad(Via Frontier News) St. Luke's Church, Abbottabad is a treat for the eyes. It is a Gothic Victorian structure, a popular landmark, standing tall, right in the heart of the town; thus, adds grace to the tranquility of the town.


The Garrison city of Abbottabad lies in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas. It is a small, but most valuable city in the entire mountainous belt of Harripur, Hazara in the North of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Province under the pastoral and Episcopal care of the Diocese of Peshawar, Church of Pakistan. In addition the famous Silk Route journey starts from Abbottabad, as it is situated on the cross-roads towards all the hill stations/cities in the region, including Kashmir leading to China.


Abbottabad is a hill station, known for its pleasant weather, quality educational institutions and friendly people. But now the city is notoriously famous all over the world for the wrong reasons. Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed by the American elite forces in the neighborhood of the "Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul." The location is only two kilometers from St. Luke's Church.


Abbottabad city is named after its founder, Sir Abbot, a Captain in the British Army in the nineteenth century. In fact, wherever the East India Company went (read invaded), their first priority used to be to build Cantonments, which was followed by the construction of the Churches, that is why most of the old Churches are located in the Cantonment areas.


St. Luke's Church, Abbottabad is an excellent example of the "labor of love‟ by the East India Company engineers and local builders. And together they built this state of the art building.


The total construction cost of this huge Victorian structure was huge as well, i.e. 15,000 Indian rupees. Nevertheless, 10,000 rupees were raised by the employees of the Company. The remaining 5,000 rupees were donated by a British philanthropist.


Eventually, the construction work started in 1830, both, European technology and local methods/material was used & applied. They used large carved stones, and glued them together with limestone powder mixed with mud and pulses, plus pieces of sack were used to provide extra reinforcement. Pulses were also used by the great Mughals to construct monumental/mega structures. This material takes time to dry-up, unlike cement. Perhaps that‟s why it took 17 – 20 years to complete this project. The wood for construction and for the Church‟s furniture was obtained from the local „Pine Tree Forest‟, which has always been an expensive commodity.


The Church has seating capacity for 250 – 300 people. One of the gates of the Church is named after Queen Victoria; the locals say that Her Majesty also paid a visit to the Church, but one cannot find the evidence in the Church‟s records.


Although, the casual worship services at the St. Luke‟s Church started in 1850, but the formal Consecration and Inauguration Ceremony was held on October 18, 1864, by the blessed hands of The Rt. Honorable The Most Revd. George Edward Lynch Cotton, D.D., Lord Bishop of Calcutta, and Metropolitan of India. He was also authorized to supervise Anglican work in all of India, Ceylon, Burma, Mauritius and Australasia.


In those days, there were no blacktop metallic roads, and the only traditional means of transport were donkeys and horses, especially for the rugged mountainous regions. The Bishop somehow crossed the challenging Himalayan terrain via Kashmir, but it took him six long months to reach Abbottabad.


The formal consecration ceremony was held on St. Luke's Day, and for this reason it was named the "St. Luke‟s Church‟, and it has always been an Anglican Church.


In the year 1970, the Anglican Church was merged into the Church of Pakistan, hence the St. Luke's Church, Abbottabad became part of the "Church of Pakistan‟, run by the Diocese of Lahore.


In 1980, the Diocese of Peshawar was formed, and now it is an integral part of the Diocese. The Rt. Revd. Humphrey S. Peters, Bishop of Peshawar is the chief patron of the Church, whereas, the Revd. Riaz Mubarik is the Priest In-charge. At the moment, the Church has one hundred families as its permanent members, and the number of congregation is increasing gradually. Needless to add that St. Luke‟s Abbottabad is one of the thriving parishes of the Diocese of Peshawar.


Every Sunday, two main services are held at the Church, one for the locals in Urdu, and the English Service is held for the ex-patriots who are working for the earthquake victims of 2005, in Mansehra district (17 miles from Abbottabad).


The two main buildings, the Church and the Vicarage, are surrounded by huge beautiful gardens. Total area of the premises is 38 Canals, and it is rather an uphill task to keep it maintained, but the Peshawar Diocese, with the cooperation of the local Christian community has been carrying on the job successfully.


The huge gardens are also utilized for religious Seminars and Conventions, and the local congregation uses those gardens for wedding parties and receptions as well. Recently one of the grounds has been developed for sports by the Priest in-charge, which promotes healthy habits among the Youth.


In the year 2005, the Church building was partially damaged during the unforgettable earthquake in the region. The Peshawar Diocese with the help of its friends and partners renovated the Church on priority basis, as it is a National heritage and a vivid expression of the Body of Christ‟s presence right in the middle of the city. It stands as a symbol of hope, unity, joy, and also reminds the Inter-faith harmony in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.


Do keep the Abbottabad Christian Community specially the St. Luke's Parish, Abbottabad in your prayers.


The Bishop of Peshawar, the Rt. Rev. Humphrey Peters visited the Diocese of Texas in February. To learn more, visit or contact them at or