iSurprise Reverend Lakmal Wijeratne

Pastor of the Christian Reformed Church

The Fort is a living monument which gives it richness and depth. It’s a place of historic significance but also very much linked to people’s lives. This heritage gives people identity.
— Reverend Lakmal Wijeratne

A multi-faith community

The Fort is unique. We are strongly tied across faiths. All the places of worship have importance in the community. The neighbourhood is made up of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian residents. Everyone rallies together to support each other in times of difficulty. Non-Christian residents have told me that the church is part of their lives and history. People have taken it in turns to protect the building at different times. When it was suggested that the churches move their congregations outside of the Fort, the residents opposed this and strongly felt they should remain.

Inspiring space

The Fort is where the Christian Reformed Church (formerly known as the Dutch Reformed Church) began in Sri Lanka on the 6th October 1642. In those days the congregation worshipped in four different places including the spice warehouses and gunpowder storeroom near the lighthouse. This Church was built in 1755, primarily for the Dutch administrators. This is our bedrock. Any pastor would want to serve here within his lifetime. When I preach here on a Sunday, it has a special feeling even though we have a small congregation of 85-90. It has been a wonderful privilege to work here.

Meaningful connections

When Dutch visitors come they have a lot of connections to the tombstones and plaques on the walls. Some people sit here and cry - they get a real sense of home and also of the lives of their ancestors. It may have been where their great-great-grandmother was baptised or their great-great-grandfather got married. I have a lot of letters from people expressing how much their visits meant.

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