Indian Pentecostal Church of God
|The Indian Pentecostal Church of God|
Logo of the Indian Pentecostal Church of God
|Region||India and Worldwide|
|Founder||Pastor K E Abraham and several others|
|Origin||Started in July 1924, as ‘Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha’
Registered on 9 December 1935 as "The Indian Pentecostal Church of God" at Eluru
The Indian Pentecostal Church of God (IPC) is the largest indigenous Pentecostal denomination in India. The Christian movement in India was pioneered by the disciple of Jesus Christ, Thomas the Apostle, who traveled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, traveling as far as India. According to tradition, the Apostle reached Muziris, India in 52 AD and baptized several people. The origins of the Indian Pentecostal Church of God can be traced back to the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement in India to the early 20th century and the church has been growing ever since. The great revival of the twentieth century broke out in Central Travancore among the traditional Christian churches. As a result of the movement of the Holy Spirit, several congregations and prayer fellowships evolved under various independent leaderships in Malankara.
The chief architect and the founder of IPC was Pastor K.E.Abraham, a charismatic speaker and writer. Pastor K.E. Abraham received the baptism in the Holy Spirit in 1923. Apostle P. M. Samuel, Pastor T. G. Oommen, Pastor K.C.Cherian, Pastor P.T.Chacko, Pastor K.C.Oommen, Pastor P.T. Mathew, Pastor V.V. Thomas, Pastor T.K Mathew and many others were also filled with the Holy Spirit in Nineteen Twenties. Gradually a fellowship was formed by these independent leaders and the first united Convention was held at Ranny in 1925 April. These fathers of faith, In 1935 registered ‘The Indian Pentecostal Church of God’ as a Religious Society at Eluru, Andhra Pradesh. The First President was Apostle P.M.Samuel. Presently, IPC has over 7000 congregations around the world. Its Administrative headquarters is at Hebronpuram, Kumbanadu, Kerala, India.
The local churches belonging to this movement are spread across India as well as countries outside India such USA, UAE, UK and Australia. Also more than 75% of the local churches are located in the South Indian state - Kerala. The local churches under IPC are by origin, administration and its practices truly indigenous and are led by local ministers and leaders. The current executives are Rev. Jacob John (General President), Rev. Dr. Baby Varghese (General Vice-President)and Rev. Sam George (General Secretary).
The members of Indian Pentecostal Church are usually not permitted to wear ornaments, and there is no exchange of rings during a wedding. The members of this organization refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and from visiting theatres. About 70% of its members are from Kerala and nearly 90% of the General Council members are Malayalees. The worship services of mainstream IPC churches are usually held in Malayalam and 100% of all the sermons delivered during General Convention are either in Malayalam or translated to Malayalam.
One of their prominent beliefs which separates them from other Christian denomination is the requirement of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. While IPC churches acknowledges the importance of Baptism through immersion as the foremost step in salvation, they believe that Baptism in immersion and Baptism in the Holy Spirit are two separate events. Fasting Prayers and Tarrying meeting are usually held for members who are not baptized in the Holy Spirit encouraging them to do so. Speaking in unknown tongues is considered as initial evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Members of this church are encouraged to speak in tongues during worship services. The sermons are often interrupted by utterance of tongues.
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Statement of Faith
1. The Holy Scriptures as the revealed will of God, the all sufficient rule for faith and practice. The Holy Bible consisting of sixty-six (66) books including the Old and New Testament, is the inspired Word of God, a revelation from God to Man, concerning the will of God in all things necessary to our faith, conduct and salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:15-17).
2. In one God, eternally existing in three persons, namely the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-11; Matthew 28:19; Mark 12:29).
3. That Jesus Christ is the only Begotten Son of the Father, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of virgin Mary (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 3:16-17)., that Jesus Christ died at the cross, and was buried and raised from the dead; that He ascended to heaven and is today at the right hand of the Father as our intercessor.
4. In the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceed from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and Son together is worshipped and glorified (John 14:16-17).
5. That man was created in the image and likeness of God, but fell by voluntary transgression and his only hope of redemption and salvation is in Jesus Christ; that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, that repentance is commanded of God for all, and is necessary for forgiveness of sin; that salvation, new birth and justification are wrought by the grace of God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the renewing work of the Holy Ghost (Genesis 1:26-31; 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-21; 6:23; 10:13; Titus 2:11, 3:5-7).
6. The inward evidence of salvation, new birth and justification to the believer is the direct witness of the Spirit, and the outward evidence to all men is a life of righteousness and holiness (Romans 8:16; 12:1-2).
7. In the ordinance of water baptism by immersion, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, for all who repent and believe Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Matthew 28:19; Acts 10:47; Romans 6:4).
8. All believers are entitled to and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ; that the full consummation of the Baptism of the believers in the Holy Spirit is evidenced by the initial sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit give utterances and by the subsequent manifestation of the gifts and fruits of the Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-6; 1:8; 2:4; 2:38; 10:44-46; 11:14-16; 15:7-9; 19:2-6; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31).
9. The Lord's Supper consisting of the elements of bread and the fruit of the wine, is a memorial of His sufferings and death and a prophecy of His second coming, and will be enjoined by all believers, "until He comes" (Luke 22:17-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16,17; 11:23-32).
10. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement and is the privilege of all believers, and the anointing of the sick with oil for healing and the laying on of hands (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8: 16-17; Mark 16:18-20; James 5:14-16).
11. The Church is the body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit, with divine appointments for the fulfillment of His great commission; and that a divinely called and scripturally ordained ministry have the twofold purposes of evangelization of the world and the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23; 2:19-22; Hebrews 12:23; Mark 16:15-20; Ephesians 4:11-13).
12. In the pre-millennial second coming of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of those who are asleep in Christ, and the rapture of those who are alive and remain in the coming of the Lord, is eminent and is the blessed hope of the Church (Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Titus 2:13).
13. In the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven, the salvation of all Israel, and the millennial reign of Christ on this earth is the scriptural promise and the world’s hope (Romans 11:25-27; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Revelation 19:11-16; 20:1-7).
14. That the devil and his angle, the beast and the false prophet, and whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into everlasting punishment into the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone (Revelation 19:20; 20:10-15).
15. In His promise and look for new heavens and a new earth wherein the righteous will dwell (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).
The Statement of Faith articulates both an evangelical and Pentecostal doctrinal position with Wesleyan influences. The following is a summary of the Statement of Faith:
- The Church believes that the Holy Bible consisting of sixty-six books including the Old and the New Testament, is the inspired Word of God, a revelation from God to Man, concerning the will of God in all things necessary to our faith, conduct and salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith.
- It believes in one God, eternally existing in three persons (Trinity), namely the God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
- It believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary. It also believes in Christ's Death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.
- It believes that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but fell by voluntary transgression and his only hope of redemption and salvationis in Jesus Christ; that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, that repentance is commanded of God for all, and is necessary for forgiveness of sin; that salvation, new birth and justification are wrought by the grace of God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the renewing work of the Holy Ghost.
- It believes in the ordinance of believer's baptism by immersion, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, for all who repent and believe Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
- It believes that all believers are entitled to and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ; that the full consummation of the Baptism of the believers in the Holy Spirit is evidenced by the initial sign of speaking in tongues and subsequent manifestation of the Spiritual gifts and Fruit of the Holy Spirit.
- It believes that the Lord's Supper, consisting of the elements of bread and the fruit of the wine, is a memorial of His sufferings and death
- It believes that the deliverance from sickness is provided for all in Christ's atonement and is the privilege of all believers, and the anointing of the sick with oil for healing and the laying on of hands.
- It believes in the pre-millennial Second Coming of Christ
- It believes in the promise of new heavens and a new earth wherein the righteous will dwell.
Origins (Early 20th Century)
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The history of IPC is more or less related mainly to the person Pastor. K E Abraham who was a Kerala Brethren during the period of native revival movement in Travancore. Born on March I, 1899 to Godly parents of Jacobite faith at Mulakuzha, young Abraham was saved at the age of seven in 1906 and was baptized in water on February 27, 1916 by Mahakavi K.V. Simon. As a young man Brother Abraham ministered among the youth and many young people were saved. As a minister of the Gospel he had built a small place of worship adjacent to his house at Mulakuzha in 1920. Those who were saved through his ministry were baptized by him. The missionaries from the west also came at the same time to South India for the propagation of the Pentecostal doctrine. Many native people accepted it. In 22 June 1923, Abraham also received the gift of the Spirit (speaking in tongue) and became a Pentecostal believer at the house of C. Manasseh at Paraniyam at Neyyattinkara. Once he accepted the Pentecostal faith, the separatists did not accept him. Since he was rejected from his own people, he was praying to God for a way to continue in ministry and worship.
During the time of rejection and separation from his own people, he wrote a book, Baptism of the Holy Spirit which made a way for him to be known; it opened many ways to preach and to propagate the Pentecostal message. The first Pentecostal church was formed by his ministry in Mulakuzha, followed by churches in Ranni, Pandalam, Elanthoor and Vettiyar. Following that, more churches were established and subsequently in 13 April 1924 a monthly gathering was started with all these churches, which is still continuing among all the IPC churches in different places. These independent movement churches were given a name in July 1924 ‘Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha’ (The South India Pentecostal Church of God). Even when Abraham and colleagues formed these independent churches, they were in cooperation with Rev. Robert F. Cook who headed "Thennindia Poorna Suvishesha Daivasabha" and Mary Chapman the assemblies of God missionary.
There was a dispute on a ‘land registration’ with Assemblies of God, which caused Abraham to disconnect his relationship with the AG church for a while, at least until the return of Rev. Robert F. Cook from America. When Cook returned Pastor K.E Abraham along with Rev. Cook formed a new organization called Malankara Pentecost Daivasabha by merging the "Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha" (K E Abraham) and "Thennindia Poorna Suvishesha Daivasabha" (Robert F. Cook). These churches had affiliation from Assemblies God as an independent denomination. However, Malankara Pentecosthu Daivasabha was a native movement under the leadership of Cook and K E Abraham. The joint venture helped the church grow faster and many accepted the new faith.
Even though Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha and Thennindia Poorna Suvishesha Daivasabha merged, the churches that were under the jurisdiction of Abraham kept an independent nature; it is evident as one goes through Pastor Abraham’s biography. Even though the two organizations merged there was a separate meeting of the Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha held at the house of Abraham in 9 April 1927.
In 1929, the Malankara Pentecost Daivasabha completely separated from the fellowship of AG due to their restriction concerning the ministerial areas for the work of the missionaries. It was not acceptable to Abraham and other native ministers; therefore, they encouraged Cook to detach Malankara Pentecost Daivasabha from AG fellowship. Cook, who was also aware of the future of Pentecostal movement, decided to detach from AG mission and thought of giving more opening to the native ministers for ministry and administration.
The unity between Cook and Abraham did not last longer because Abraham decided to separate from Cook in January 1930. There are two reasons Abraham indicted for the decision behind separation, first, the freedom of local churches and second, the assumption that an apostolic faith life will not be possible by being with Cook. The diplomatic thought of apostolic life was the influence of Pastor Paul who came and preached in South India. Pastor Paul is the founder of Ceylon Pentecostal Mission, which is today known as ‘The Pentecostal Mission’. Some of the believers from Kumbanad tried to unite Rev. Cook and Abraham, but it did not work out.
Abraham accepted the same name that was given to the independent churches in 1924 as ‘Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha’. After the separation from Cook, Pastor P M Samuel joined Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha with the seventeen churches that he had established. The churches also grew in number in the ministry of native ministers. Since Abraham and his colleagues were challenged by the life and faith of Pastor Paul, they also decided to follow "the Apostolic Faith life".
The Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha came in cooperation with the "Ceylon Pentecostal Mission" in 1930 and the fellowship and ministry together existed until 1933, but Abraham had to leave the fellowship due to some doctrinal differences and differences regarding baptism. When Abraham, Alwin and Paul failed to settle the issue after many written discussions, Abraham took a decision to separate from Ceylon Pentecostal Mission in 1933. It was the Ceylon Pentecostal Mission chief Pastor Paul who ordained K E Abraham in 1933 as Pastor.
The era of expansion and renaming(1933-1950)
By 1933 the ministry of Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha expanded outside Kerala state, therefore, the ministers requested the leaders of the church to establish a council. The first minister’s council was formed in 5 June 1933. There were 16 members selected in the council and they were 1. Pastor P.M. Samuel (President) Faith Home, Thogur, Tanjore Dist. Missionary 2. Pastor K.C. Cherian (Vice - President) Faith Home, Kankanady, South Kanara. Missionary 3. Pastor K.E. Abraham Faith Home, Kumbanad, Travancore Missionary 4. Pastor T. Kochukunju Faith Home, Trivandrum, Travancore. Missionary 5. Pastor K.C. Oommen Faith Home, Kumbanad, Travancore. Missionary 6. Pastor P.T. Mathew Poovathur, Kumbanad, Travancore. Missionary 7. Pastor V.V. Thomas Faith Home, Ranni West, Travancore. Missionary 8. Pastor P.O. Thomas Salem, Ranni East, Travancore. Missionary 9. Pastor T.G. Oommen Ayroor, Kozhencherry, Travancore. Missionary 10. Pastor P.T. Varghese Faith Home, Kunnamkulam, Cochin State. Missionary 11. Pastor K. M. Zachariah Punnakadu, Kozhencherry, Travancore. Missionary 12. Evang. T.V. Issac Kunnamkulam, Cochin State. Teacher 13. Evang. P.M. Thomas B.A. Kalpathi, Palghat, Malabar Gospel Work.Missionary 14. Evang. E.K. John 'Bethel', Kottarakkara, Travancore. Missionary 15. Evang. M. Simon Faith Home, Calicut, Malabar, Missionary 16. Evang. P.T. Chacko B.D., (Secretary) Kumbanad, Travancore, Missionary
Pastor P M Samuel was selected as the first president of this independent church and the council was registered in Aranmula. The head office of the church was in Kumbanad, Kerala. Since the work of the Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha reached far beyond South India, the name was changed to India Pentecosthu Daivasabha (Indian Pentecostal Church of God). The church registered in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh under the Societies Act XXI of 1860 on 9 December 1935. K E Abraham started a bible school at his house, which was unnamed until 1932 and then given the name India Bible College & Seminary (Commonly known as IBC or Hebron Bible College). IBC is an institution that has trained more than 14,000 church leaders, pastors, missionaries, evangelists and students belonging to various denominations for over 83 years.
The church since 1950s
Thereafter, the IPC made a remarkable progress in founding churches and taking the gospel to different parts of Kerala as well as other states of India. By 1950, IPC was the leading Pentecostal denomination in South Kerala. However, the period from 1953-1966 was also marked as the period when church split also referred to as ‘the Dark Age’ of IPC. The split among IPC leaders caused many to leave the denomination. The division briefly affected the growth of the church and it is written that Pastor Abraham had contemplated leaving the organization. However, God enabled him to stay and lead the church for many successful years. After the 1970s the church formed a national council for the smooth expansion of the church. Today, with more than a 7500 congregations, IPC has churches in all the major continents of the earth. The native leaders’ vision and hard work can be primarily attributed to the growth of the IPC.
Pastor P. M. Samuel from Andhra Pradesh was chosen as the first president, K. C. Cherian as the vice president, and P. T. Chacko as the secretary. Pastor P M Samuel was followed by Pastor K E Abraham, Pastor T. G Oommen, Pastor P L Paramjyothi, Pastor V. T Joseph, Pastor K.M Joseph, Pastor K.G. Koshy, Pastor T S Abraham and Rev. Dr. K C John. The current executive committee consists of Rev. Jacob John as General President, Rev. Dr. Baby Varghese as General Vice-President and Rev. Sam George as General Secretary.
There are many auxiliary ministries associated with IPC such as Bible Colleges & schools, Pentecostal Young People Association (PYPA), Fellowship of Women - Indian Pentecostal Women's Association, Sunday School and Christian publications, magazines and journals. All these auxiliary ministries have contributed to the growth of Pentecost entirely. PYPA is one of the leading auxiliary ministries and a grooming ground for new leaders and preachers for the church. Many talented ministers and believers have emerged and continue to emerge from the folds of PYPA. The Sunday school association also has been carrying a systematic ministry for years. The Sunday School consists of 14 grades and the people that faithfully complete the 14th class are awarded a Diploma in Theology from IPC Sunday School Association.
First General Convention of IPC was held at Kalakkattu Purayidam near Ittyappara Ranni from Wednesday 1 April to Sunday 5 April 1925.
The famous Kumbanad convention is an annual Pentecostal convention that is held by the Indian Pentecostal Church of God at Hebronpuram, Kumbanad. It is one of the oldest and the second largest Pentecostal conventions in India. The largest Pentecostal convention in India is International Convention of The Pentecostal Mission (TPM) which is held in March of every year in Irumbuliyur, Chennai. The Hebron convention is usually held in January and 90th Kumbanad Convention was held from 19 Jan – 26 Jan 2014.
- "Home page of Indian Pentecostal Church of God". IPC Home. Accessed 4 January 2014.
- A. E. Medlycott, (1905) "India and the Apostle Thomas"; Gorgias Press LLC; ISBN 1-59333-180-0.
- Thomas Puthiakunnel, (1973) "Jewish colonies of India paved the way for St. Thomas", The Saint Thomas Christian Encyclopedia of India, ed. George Menachery, Vol. II.
- Bergunder, Michael (2008). The South Indian pentecostal movement in the twentieth century. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.
- Synan, Vinson (1997). The Holiness-Pentecostal tradition: Charismatic movements in the twentieth century. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.
- Burgess, Stanley (2001). "Pentecostalism in India: an overview" (PDF). Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 4 (1): 85–98.
- "IPC General Council" , Official Website of the Indian Pentecostal Church of God
- "Statement of Faith" Indian Pentecostal Church of God. Accessed 6 January 2014.
- "Statement of Faith" Indian Pentecostal Church of God, Kerala.Accessed 6 January 2014.
- Baptism with the Holy Spirit
- "Pentecostal Young Peoples' Association". Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- "IPC Sunday School, Maharshtra Region". Retrieved 5 January 2014.