Sundarganj Mennonite Church (Dhamtari, Chhattisgarh State, India)
After their arrival in India the first missionaries of this group, Bishop Jacob A. Ressler and Dr. and Mrs. Page, chose Sundarganj, at the edge of Dhamtari, as the site for their work, and in the autumn of 1899 they struck their tents under mango trees in a lovely grove. Soon the famine of 1899-1900 was upon them. Famine subjects began to pour into Dhamtari and surrounding villages and the missionaries were requested to open a famine relief center. The government officials arranged with the missionaries to give people work on the mission premises where the construction of buildings had been started, the government furnishing the funds and the mission furnishing the material. Thus the first evangelistic opportunity was with the thousands of famine sufferers among whom were nearly a thousand orphans. During 1901-1902 Jacob and Mrs. Burkhard and Mahlon C. and Mrs. Lapp arrived, and the work could be organized into orphanage work, medical work, industrial and rehabilitation work, and evangelism through education and special Bible teaching. A number of families who remained in or near Dhamtari after the famine relief became Christian converts and were baptized and received into church fellowship, and many orphans were under special instruction for baptism. This resulted in a very rapid growth of the Christian membership.
Sundarganj became the headquarters of the American Mennonite (MC) Mission. At this station were located the treasurer, the Christian Academy, a large staff of missionaries and Christian teachers, and evangelistic workers.
Shantipur Leper Homes, Rudri, and Balodgahan stations were the natural outgrowth of the work established at Sundarganj. From the lepers fed in separate kitchens near Sundarganj a leper asylum was established near Dhamtari which afterward developed into the Shantipur Leper Homes. The shifting of the orphan girls to a home separate from the boys gave rise to the mission station of Rudri. To meet the need for Christian community expansion, especially on the land, the village of Balodgahan was bought in 1906. In 1957 the membership was 589, with D. A. Sonwani and J. H. Flisher serving as ministers in charge.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 657. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Lapp, George J. "Sundarganj Mennonite Church (Dhamtari, Chhattisgarh State, India)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 26 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/sundarganj_mennonite_church.
APA style: Lapp, George J. (1959). Sundarganj Mennonite Church (Dhamtari, Chhattisgarh State, India). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/sundarganj_mennonite_church.