The History of C.S.I. St.James Church, Ayanavaram is a vivid testimony to the Lord’s gracious leading through these 50 years and more.
Our nation became independent in the year 1947. PANDIT Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister planned for industrial development. Madras being the capital of Tamilnadu with its historical importance became centre of industrial development. In the year 1955, Integral Coach Factory (ICF) was established near Ayanavaram and people who were employed in the Railways, ICF and other offices settled in and around Ayanavaram. Ayanavaram being an old suburb had Hindu temples and Muslim Mosques; but no Church for Christians and therefore Christians had to go to the Churches at Vepery, Purasawalkam and Perambur for worshipping.
In the 1950’s, a few Anglos Indian families were worshiping at a school in Railway Colony and certain others were worshiping in a house in Madurai Pillai Street behind Hotel Noor. Around 1958-59, some old timers like M/s Michael Paulraj, James, Sargunaraj and Ponnusamy had put up a thatched shed on a 10’ by 20’ area and began to worship. They had to overcome the resistance by local people through Police with the help of Police Inspector Mr.Durai Singh Francis. Some of those who participated in such worship are M/s Devadoss Gandhi, Samraj, Eddy Azariah and Thomas J.Rajan.
The vision of the Bishops of the Madras Diocese Rt.Rev,David Chellappa and Lesle Newbigin was to establish Churches in the belt Chennai-Avadi. Accordingly, the Avadi City Mission was formed and the Presbyter of Perambur Wesley Church Rev.H.E.C.Petet was put in charge of the Mission. He made an audio visual presentation about the need for a church at Ayanavaram to the Diocesan authorities and secures the approval.
Further those who were worshiping at the 10’ by 20’ thatched shed approached the Bishop David Chellappa through the good offices of Mr.Robert Moses of Hindustan Bible Institute. Those who were worshiping at two locations in the vicinity welcomed the idea very much.
Rev.H.E.C.Petet and Gnanavedakkan roamed and combed the Ayanavaram area by bicycles and identified three consecutive plots in United India Nagar, Ayanavaram, bought the land in 1959 and put up a nice thatched church of size 40 feet by 60 feet. The church was named as St.JamesChurch. It functioned under the Avadi City Mission. Those of the laymen who supported this venture are M/s Andrew Elisha, Clarence Rupert, M.R.Francis, James, Johnson, S.J.Sargunaraj, C.P.Srinivasan, Wilfred, Selvanayagam, Richard, John Samuel, P.George, T.Edwin and E.J.Victor.