Christian Indian Leader’s Church Chosen to Compete in Partners in Preservation Contest

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Rector Winnie Varghese is from Kerala and runs one of New York’s most well known churches.

I’m proud of my heritage and I’m grateful that I continue to have opportunities to draw from Indian culture and experience as I minister and share my faith,” Varghese said.

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, led by Rector Winnie Varghese, who has family roots in Kerala, is one of 40 New York landmarks chosen from more than 500 competitors to compete for a portion of $3 million in grant money marked for historic preservation projects through Partners in Preservation. The landmarks are competing in an online voting contest, and grant money will be awarded based on votes gathered and support demonstrated for each facility.

Varghese was born in the United States but returned to India as a young child. Her first language was Malayalam. As the Rector (Priest) at the Episcopalian (Anglican) St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, which has a long history of marrying Christian faith with social justice, Varghese has drawn on the rich history of advancement in Kerala and publicly praised the area’s high rates of literacy in interviews with the American press. She is an elected member of the Episcopal Church USA’s national Executive Committee and is a board member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.

“I’m proud of my heritage and I’m grateful that I continue to have opportunities to draw from Indian culture and experience as I minister and share my faith,” Varghese said. “It is an honor to be chosen for this competition, and I’m so grateful to allies in India and the United States for supporting us with their online votes every day.”

Earlier this year Varghese visited Mumbai and Bengaluru as part of team made up of leaders from the Church of North India, the Church of England’s Diocese of Derby in England and the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of New York. The team was convened to understand how specific cultural, political and social issues affect each diocese. In recent years she also presented at a conference for Christians working with people living with HIV/AIDS in Chennai, which explored a Christian perspective on sexual minorities.

Under Varghese’s leadership in recent years, the St. Mark’s congregation has experienced rapid growth. The church is the oldest site of continuous worship in New York. A long line of notable architects have contributed to the church’s design, including James Renwick, Jr., the famed architect of the “Castle” in the Smithsonian Institute and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. If successful in the contest, St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery plans to use the grant funds to restore the circa 1858 cast iron portico that serves as the church’s entry way. The cast iron in the portico is attributed to James Bogardus, noted early proponent and innovator of cast iron construction.

Voters anywhere in the world interested in supporting St. Mark’s can cast votes each day through May 21, by visiting or h ttps:// St. Mark’s Facebook page can be found at The top three votes winners automatically receive grant funds, plus an additional number of finalists will receive some funds.

About St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery
St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is located in New York City’s East Village, at the intersection of 10th Street and Second Avenue. The property has been the site of continuous Christian worship for more than three-and-a-half-centuries and is the second-oldest church building in Manhattan. The church’s buildings and burial grounds were designated a New York City Landmark in 1966, and the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Erin White
Camino Public Relations
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