History of Pentecostalism in India

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20th century[edit]

Robert F. Cook and the Church of God[edit]

Robert F. Cook served as the prime missionary responsible for the establishment of the Pentecostal movement in India. thuvayoor The Pentecostal movement experienced a great explosion in growth with the arrival of a number of foreign missionaries. Most significant among them was Robert F. Cook, from the U.S. He arrived in North India and established a few mission posts there. However, due to the lack of support, he was unable to develop his works in a significant manner. Cook relocated his headquarters to Mulakuzha. The headquarters of the Church of God in India remains there now. Until 1921, he was stationed in Bangalore. However, in 1920, he became acquainted with Kalloor Chacko, of Thrikkannamangal, Kottarakara, and was convinced by him to relocate to Thrikkannamangal. In January 1921, he headquartered his work in a rented home adjacent to Chacko's and began his work in Kerala. He registered his churches under the name, Malankara Full Gospel Church of God. By 1922, he released the works in Bangalore to fellow workers and permanently moved to Thrikkannamangal.

The Pentecostal Mission[edit]

The Pentecostal Mission (TPM), formerly known as Ceylon Pentecostal Mission (CPM), is a Pentecostal denomination which originated in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. The international headquarters is now situated in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. Ceylon Pentecostal Mission was founded by Hindu convert Ramankutty, later known as Pastor Paul in 1923. Pastor Paul was born to Hindu parents in the district of Trichur in Kerala. While in Sri Lanka, at the age of 18, he became a Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ. Later, he felt a strong call from the Lord for his life and began to preach and share the gospel in various parts of India and Sri Lanka. In the initial stages, he had worked with other evangelists. Pastor Paul served as the founder chief pastor of this church.

This organization stands out among the Pentecostal churches because of its exclusivist teachings and organization structure. Some of the distinctives are that full-time workers were expected to practice an ascetic life-style including celibacy, obedience to the elder pastors, communal living (including disposal of private possessions) in faith homes. Today the church is known by different names in different countries, but all stand under the name of “The Pentecostal Mission”. It now has churches in over 65 countries.

Indian Pentecostal Church of God[edit]

K.E. Abraham, a pastor that had worked closely with Cook for a number of years, decided that he no longer wanted the mission work taking place in India to receive foreign funds. With that as his main reason, he split from Cook and established this Church in 1924. KE Abraham was one of the pioneers of IPC. There were many other men of God who were used by Lord for the establishment of this largest Pentecostal Denomination in India.

Sharon Fellowship[edit]

In 1953, Sharon Fellowship Church was founded by Pastor P.J. Tomas; Pastor Thadathil; George Koshy and ten other members which included two highly respected women.

Pastor P.J. Thomas was born on 15 April 1914, the son of Pastor P.V. John. He was saved in 1936. He studied at Serampore University and earned a Diploma in Theology. Following his marriage to Aleyamma Thomas (Keezhvaipur, Mallappally), he left for Australia for higher studies and then to America. He attended Wheaton College (Illinois) and got a master's degree in Comparative Religion and taught there for a short time before returning to India in 1952.

He purchased the present Sharon property in March 1953 and with the completion of the Sharon Hall, he founded Sharon Bible School and later formed Sharon Fellowship Church. He died on 24 March 1998.

Pastor P.J. Thomas, a great visionary, who laid the foundation stone of Sharon Fellowship Church based on the Word of God. He and his fellow-workers have strong compassion for the neglected, marginalized, the poor and the needy.

Sis. Aleyamma Thomas was instrumental in starting the first Women's Training Centre in India at Thiruvalla, Kerala, which is now known as Sharon Women's Bible College.. Now it has more than 2050 local churches India; another 34 churches internationally and several proudly associated Bible Schools and Seminaries.

Rev. Dr. T.G. Koshy succeeded Rev. Tomas as the president of this organization in 1998 when Rev. Thomas went on to be with the Lord. In January 2015, due to ill health, Rev. Dr. T.G. Koshy, a renowned man of God, handed over the presidency to Rev. John Thomas. Meanwhile, Rev. Dr. Koshy in his capacity as Senior General Minister will concentrate on mentorship and spiritual encouragement for FTS; and for the ministries of both Rev. John Thomas and his son Pastor P.J. Thomas, one of the founder members of Sharon Fellowship Church.

Assemblies Of God In India[edit]

The Assemblies originated from the Pentecostal revival of the early 20th century. This revival led to the founding of the Assemblies of God in the United States in 1914. Through foreign missionary work and establishing relationships with other Pentecostal churches, the Assemblies of God expanded into a worldwide movement. The Assemblies of God of India is a Pentecostal Christian denomination in India and a member of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship. The Assemblies of God in India has 8,000 member churches[1] and operates an Assembly of God College in Bangalore.[2] The Assemblies OF God established First church in Kerala on 1914, The Assemblies of God has grown rapidly throughout India. With early works established in Calcutta, as well as in Kerala, the church has continues its growth. The district of Kerala has now been divided into two in order to better handle the growth. The church has also established a number of reputable Bible Schools throughout India. Robert F. Cook served as the prime missionary responsible for the establishment of the Pentecostal movement in India. Though a number of missionaries came before him and though the Pentecostal experience took place in India independent of foreign missionary work, Cook was the one that first established works that began to spread into neighboring areas. He came to India in October 1913. In 1914, he established a church in Thuvayoor, Kerala. However, three years later, on 31 August 1917, his wife, Anna, died. The following year, he met and married Bertha Frank.

21st century[edit]

The Church of God in India, the Assemblies of God, the Indian Pentecostal Church of God, Sharon Fellowship and The Pentecostal Mission (formerly Ceylon Pentecostal Mission) are some of the largest of the myriad Pentecostal organizations in India. There are numerous other groups that are either independent or affiliated to the above-mentioned mainline Pentecostal groups. With strong support from churches and charities in the United States, Europe and Australia, these groups have been able to build solid organizations with presence in almost every state of India. Many of these groups are more charismatic in theology and often do not conform to the foundational teachings accepted by the mainline Pentecostal churches.

See also[edit]