A Reformed Eastern Syrian Christian Orthodox Church of Southern India 

Historical Timeline

52 AD St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ, lands on the Malabar Coast (Southwestern coast) of India in 52 AD and establishes seven churches.
345 AD  Arrival of the first batch of Syrian Immigrants, under the leadership of Thomas of Cana in 345 AD. Another group arrived in 825 AD.
1498 AD The Portuguese arrival in India in 1498 and growth of Roman Catholic influence over the church. In 1599 the Malabar Christians were brought under Catholic hierarchy.
1665 AD Rebellion against Roman domination and severing of ties with the Roman Church (Crooked Cross Oath - 1653). The first Indian Bishop (Mar Thoma I) was consecrated in 1665.
1836 AD

Reformation starts (1836) and the Mar Thoma Church continues in the Malankara tradition with reforms.

1841 AD British colonization of India and the arrival of western missionaries. The four Gospels translated into Malayalam in 1811, New Testament in 1829 and the entire bible in 1841.
  Worldwide following of about 900,000 members in over 1000 parishes.
  Member of the World Council of Churches (WCC) since its inception
1972 AD First congregation formed in North America in 1972 and first approved congregation in New York in 1975
1988 AD Diocese formed in 1988, first resident bishop and diocesan center in 1993
1997 AD Diocese is a member of the National Council of Churches, USA since 1997.
1981 AD Formation of St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church, New York in January 1981.
History and tradition together provide much materials to believe in the St. Thomas tradition of founding the Indian Church in A.D. 52. In course of time the infant Church that took roots in the Kerala soil had registered tremendous growth in the various parts of the Southern State of India. But following the martyrdom of its Apostle St. Thomas the growth, development and mission of this Church got shrouded in mystery.

The Mar Thoma Church forms part of the ancient Syrian Church of Malabar. Being a Church resorted to the fundamental principles of the Reformation Movement for its reformatory efforts it has been widely acknowledged that it is a reformed Church. Here we recognize an amicable blending of two characteristic tracts, namely, the eastern Church features and reformation ideals. This nature of the Church points to its uniqueness when compared to other Churches. Thus the Church finds its place among that family of the Lesser Eastern Churches. But this position and status of the Church never hinder the Church from entering into friendly contest with the Protestant Churches and other Christian denominations. The autonomous nature of the Church has been well guarded by its democratic constitution. Therefore, all sorts of policy making, operational and administrative functions are all governed by the rules and regulations stipulated and adopted by the concerned elected bodies of the Church. As the Church is essentially indigenous it is self governing, self supporting and self-propagating. It is not the product of the missionary activities of a foreign Church. As has been noted, the ancient Syrian Church came into being as a result of the strenuous missionary endeavors of the St. Thomas the Apostle. It is against this background the church claims its uninterrupted link with the Syrian Church. Besides, the Church also affirms its belief that it constitutes an essential part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. So in conformity with the faith of the Christian Church it believes in Jesus Christ and in the Triune God and accepts the Holy Bible as the basis for all matters of doctrine and faith and Nicene Creed.

( this is a portion of the article "The Mar Thoma Church - An Historical Sketch" written by Rev. Dr. T. P. Abraham. ) 

St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church, New York
This church was formed in 1981 as one of the four parishes into which the Mar Thoma Congregation of Greater New York was divided. The new parish started with 63 families. The dedication service of the new parish was held at the Synod Hall on 110 Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan on January 25, 1981 and was led by the Episcopal Bishop of New York. Worship services continued at the Synod Hall from 1981 to 1990 by courtesy of the Episcopal Church. The church was incorporated under the Religious Corporations Law of New York in 1983.  The church moved into newly purchased facility in Yonkers in March 1990. Presently the parish has a full time Vicar and about 220 families organized into ten prayer groups.  

Seven parish organizations provide spiritual and support ministries to the members. The parish is a member of the Yonkers Council of Churches. The church Sunday School and Youth Organizations take part in suitable community outreach programs and local initiatives in the City of Yonkers.

Mar Thoma Church in the USA – Beginnings:
Immigrants from Kerala into the USA were few prior to 1970. Large numbers of immigrants from Kerala reached these shores in the 1970s after qualified professional nurses began to be admitted. In the New York area members started gathering occasionally in 1971 for prayer and fellowship. The first Mar Thoma congregation was formed in Queens, New York in April 1972. Later a joint congregation of members of the Mar Thoma Church and the Church of South India (CSI) was formed in Manhattan, New York and the Queens congregation was discontinued. The joint congregation was dissolved in May 1975. Student clergy provided part-time services.

Diocese of North America & Europe
The ‘Mar Thoma Congregation of Greater New York’ was formed in May 1975, the first to gain formal approval (February 1976) with full time Vicar sent from India. The place of worship was the Fort Washington Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Congregations formed in some other cities also gained the approved status soon after. The Greater New York congregation was divided into four on geographical basis in 1980. As the congregations continued to grow, the larger ones were raised to the status of parishes.

 Conciliar relations with the Episcopal Church in the USA were solidified in 1980 through an agreement allowing inter-communion. A further agreement was entered into with the Episcopal Church in 1982 under which local oversight over the Mar Thoma clergy and congregations was placed with the Episcopal Bishop of the area concerned; the Bishop generally paid annual visits to the Mar Thoma congregations. Relations with the Episcopal Church were coordinated by the Asiamerica Ministry of that church. The Bishop-in-charge from the parent church visited the congregations periodically.

 A Zonal Council and Zonal Assembly were formed for all parishes and congregations in North America in 1982; the first meeting of the Council was held in Philadelphia in August 1982. This was the foundation for a future diocese.

 The Diocese of North America and Europe was formed as a full-fledged diocese of the church in 1988. A resident bishop took charge of the diocese in 1993 with residence in Newtown, PA. In 1998 the bishop moved to Sinai Mar Thoma Center, the new Diocesan Center built on Long Island in Merrick, NY.  The diocese has now about 40 priests including two youth chaplains and 67 parishes and congregations. The Sunday School, Youth League, Parish Mission (Edavaka Mission) and Women’s Fellowship (Sevika Sanghom) are some of the organizations of the diocese.

The diocese was received as member into the communion of the National Council of Churches, USA in November 1997.

The Mar Thoma Messenger is the official publication of the diocese.

For more information on the Mar Thoma Church, please visit www.marthomanae.com or www.marthomasyrianchurch.org