Wow. It’s hard to come up with adjective to describe today. So, WOW! We were picked up at our hotel by Pastor Kalyan. As we drove through the streets, Pastor Kerkow noticed a large crowd gathered and we all wondered what was happening. It turned out to be the people waiting for the dedication of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church! Pastor Kalyan stopped the car and we walked past people lining the road for about one hundred yards, who were all singing Christian hymns and tossing flower petals to honor their guests. The emotions all this joy brought were nearly overwhelming! All these people had gathered on a weekday morning to be a part of this dedication. It’s estimated that about six hundred people were in attendance.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Rajahmundry is a beautiful new building, with ornate wood carving under the altar rail and on the outside doors and Christian symbolism in nearly every aspect of the construction. Pastor Kalyan and his wife hand painted the stained glass behind the altar themselves.
The dedication service was wonderful with so many in attendance. Pastors G.J. Ananda Raju (president of the Rajahmundry district) and Kalyan Gollapalli (pastor of Good Shepherd), as well as Pastors Solomon Mamidi (president of the Hyderabad district) and Pradeep Lingala (pastor and seminary instructor) participated in the service.
Following the dedication service, we had a break for a few hours. Pastor Ananda and his wife, Florence, took us into their home and provided a fantastic homemade meal. We were so grateful for their love and generosity! Later in the afternoon, we came back to the church for the ordinations of six new pastors in the district!
Pastors G.J. Ananda Raju, Solomon Mamidi, Kalyan Gollapalli, Pradeep Lingala all participated in the service. The men who were ordained have studied for about eleven years each to become pastors. The oldest of the men, Watson, walked about thirty-five miles in order to catch a bus for seminary classes and to attend this service. Watson was ordained today at the age of 74!
We are truly blessed to have these six new pastors serving congregations in this rapidly-expanding church body. We can’t wait for the next few days to see how God is showering even more blessings here in India!
-Rev. Paul Fries