CHATSWORTH BAPTIST CHURCH CHURCH HISTORY
From 1960 onwards, a large number of members from the North Street Church left to settle in Chatsworth. Chatsworth is an Indian township with thousands of houses and tens of thousands of people.
The first church service was held inside a VW kombi owned by the SABMS (South African Baptist Mission Society), which was parked outside the home of the Mr. A. Andrew (senior of Chatsworth, Unit Two). Due to the vehicle not being able to accommodate the number of persons attending the service, the decision was made to relocate to the home of Mr. Benjamin Abraham who kindly afforded the church congregation the use of his home. The ever increasing number of members brought about a further challenge regarding congestion. The church leadership at that time decided to erect a wooden structure outside the home of Mr. Benjamin Abraham, which they used as a place to worship to this great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. To God Be The Glory.
A fellowship was formed in Chatsworth in 1965, and on the 11th of December 1965, branch status was granted with the help of Rev. and Mrs. T. D. Pass. Other helpers were Miss. J. Morck and Miss. J. Forgus (Missionaries belonging to SABMS).
The then leadership of the church was as follows: Mr. A. Andrew (junior) was the Elder for a short period, and was succeeded by Mr. R. Jayakaram. Treasurer Mr. Benjamin and secretary being Mr. D. Sunnasy.
The closure of The Tamil Baptist Church in Argyle Rd, Durban resulted in the members of the said church residing in Chatsworth, joining the Chatsworth fellowship.
The church site in Chatsworth, Unit One belonged to the SABMS. Up until 1966, it was a grassy slope giving no indication of what was to emerge from it. Negotiation between NIBA (Natal Indian Baptist Association) and SABMS representative, Rev. T. D. Pass resulted in the transfer of the church site to NIBA. The SABMS had a broader and more realistic plan for the churches future. SABMS took the responsibility of facing the cost of erecting a church building to the value of R7200-00, and thereafter engaged in a sale agreement with NIBA, for NIBA to purchase the building for the sum of R3500-00.
This proposal was gracefully accepted by the Executive Committee of NIBA on 6th August 1966. As various stages of the building were reached, problems not envisaged earlier, appeared and the cost soared to R14000-00. The SABMS, however, were faithful to their original decision of transferring the property to NIBA for the sum of R3500-00, payable over a period of seven years at an interest rate of 7%. This decision was taken on 5th August 1967, and NIBA expressed its profound thanks to SABMS.Many were seen to bow in silent prayer in gratitude to God’s providence.
On 20th August 1967, nine people had the opportunity of walking through the waters of baptism conducted by Rev. R. Ellaya. Eight of the baptismal candidates were from non-christian background. Some of them made the decision to follow Jesus Christ after being delivered from demonic possession after being prayed for. They experienced new joy.
A decision was taken by the members of the church to build the pews, and complete the flooring of their new church building. Many men, women and children toiled to prepare the church for its official opening. Mr. D. Sunnasy and family, together with many church members undertook the manufacturing of the pews. In addition, the Sunnasy family built and sponsored the pulpit.
On 3rd September 1967, Rev. T. D. Pass of the SABMS laid the Foundation Stone. Nearly 400 Christians witnessed this happy ceremony.
The day of the official opening arrived. The honour was given to the newly inducted President of the Baptist Union of South Africa and Principal of the Baptist theological College, Rev. Dr. J. N. Jonsson for the official opening of the new church building. On 21st October 1967, the doors of the Chatsworth Church were opened. The opportunity was given to the Mayor of Durban, Mrs. Margaret Maytom to be the first person to enter the church at its official opening. The Vice-President of NIBA, Mr. M. Rangiah presided. The Mayor congratulated the Association and encouraged the people of Chatsworth to use the church building to its full advantage. Dr. Jonsson delivered a stunning message in regard to the Power of Jesus solving man’s problems. Congratulatory messages were delivered by Rev. W. T. Edmunds, Missionary Director of SABMS; Rev. D. McPherson, Chairman of the Indian Work Committee of SABMS; Dr. H. Robertson, Superintendent of the Baptist Jubilee Hospital in the Transvaal; Rev. R. Mclewan of SAGM and Rev. T. D. Pass of SABMS.
Miss J. Morck presented a brief history of the Chatsworth Work since 1932.
It was a great day of celebration, triumph and gratitude. To God Be The Glory.
An evangelistic meeting was held from the day following the official opening. Much success followed the hard work put in by dedicated workers into the growing of this said church.
The Executive Committee of the Association saw the need for a resident full-time worker in Durban, which resulted in the transfer of Rev. R. Ellaya from Pietermaritzburg. His date of commencement was 1st July 1968. An impressive Induction Service was held at Chatsworth Church on 14th July 1968. The working committee that served under the leadership of Rev. R. Ellaya was Mr. Robert Sookraj, Mr. a. Andrew (senior), Mr. A. Andrew (junior), Mr. Benjamin, Mr. Raj Andrew, Mr. Victor Randhram, Mr. Bobby Rajah and Mr. Tony Muckram. Rev. R. Ellaya served the church for 17yrs.