St. Thomas Evangelical Church

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St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India
FounderThomas the Apostle
IndependenceApostolic Era
RecognitionIndependent Episcopal Church, 1961
PrimateC. V. Mathew
PolityHistorical episcopate
HeadquartersThiruvalla Kerala India
TerritoryUniversal
PossessionsIndia, North America, Canada, Europe, Great Britain-London & Belfast, Middle East, Singapore
LanguageMalayalam,hindi,english,tamil,odisha
Members100000
Websitehttp://steci.org/

St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India (STECI) is an evangelical, episcopal denomination based in Kerala, India. It derives from a schism in the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in 1961, and traces its ancestry before then back almost 2,000 years. STECI holds that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God. Adherents believe that all that is necessary for salvation and living in righteousness is given in the Bible. The church is engaged in active evangelism. The headquarters of this church is at Tiruvalla, a town in the state of Kerala which is in the Southwestern part of South India.

History[edit]

Saint Thomas Christian's - Divisions- History

The St. Thomas Evangelical Church is one of several groups of Saint Thomas Christians tracing their origins to St. Thomas the Apostle who, according to Holy Tradition, came to India in AD 52. While STECI is considered to be an episcopal church, it is at the same time deeply influenced by Evangelicalism. Early leaders include Bishop Dr K N Oommen, Bishop P John Varghese, Rev P C Zacheriah, and Rev Dr T C George. K.N. Daniel was a prominent evangelical leader. Rev P I Mathai (Plavunkal Achen), Rev K O John, Rev C M Varghese, Rev P. T. Chandapillai, Rev P.T.Thomas, Mr.N.I Thomas Neduvelil Ranny, Rev K.C Paily and Rev P.A Jacob helped the church to focus on Evangelistic Mission.

Until 1961, the church's history was deeply connected to the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, which evolved from South Indian Christianity's contact with Evangelical British missionaries during British colonial times. The missionaries facilitated the translation of the Bible into Malayalam in 1811. This was the first vernacular Bible in Kerala. Further changes introduced by the influence of missionaries led to a schism within the Thomas Christians and led to the formation of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church.

Schism[edit]

Internal struggles with reformation ideas between progressive and traditionalist groups in the Mar Thoma Syrian Church led to a further schism. The progressive faction formed a new denomination, the St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India on 26 January 1961 further reducing the church's human baggage (traditions) picked up along its journey through history (Mark 7:8-9). On 22 October 1961, the name "Saint Thomas Evangelical Church of India" was chosen at a prayer gathering, (for the purpose of choosing a name), in Alleppey, Kerala, South India, at the residence of the Rev. Dr. K.M. Ninan.

The consecration of the bishops – Ordination by Presbyters[edit]

Rev. K.N. Oommen, Rev. P. John Varghese, were consecrated as Bishops. The Bishops were consecrated by a presbyteral laying-on-of-hands. A church tradition of the native Malankara Sabha (1 Timothy 4:14), thus discontinuing the Apostolic Succession in its traditional understanding and demurring from High Church Theology. A reformed church was thus born.

Prominent leaders[edit]

clergy in 1961

The prominent leaders of the new church were:

  1. K. N. Daniel
  2. Bishop K. N. Oommen
  3. Bishop P. John Varughese
  4. Bishop P. S. Varughese
  5. Rev. P. I. Mathai (Plavunkal Achen)
  6. Rev. T. C. George
  7. Rev P.A.Jacob
  8. Rev. K. O. John
  9. Rev. A. C. Mathew
  10. Rev. K. M. Ninan
  11. Rev K. C. Paily
  12. Rev. P. T. Thomas
  13. Rev. C. M. Varghese
  14. Rev. P. C. Zachariah
  15. K. Abraham
  16. Mathai John
  17. K. A. Abraham
  18. K. S. Joseph
  19. A. G. Mathew

Bishops[edit]

  • Bishop Most Rev Dr C V Mathew (Presiding Bishop of the Church)
  • Bishop Rt Rev Dr Thomas Abraham
  • Bishop Dr T C Cherian
  • Bishop Dr M K Koshy
  • Bishop Rt Rev A I Alexander

Late bishops[edit]

  • Bishop K. N. Oommen
  • Bishop P. John Varughese
  • Bishop P. S. Varughese

References[edit]

External links[edit]