Faith and Practises

The Mar Thoma Church is a unique church. It is not only unique but one of the ancient churches in the world also. The late Metropolitan, Juhanon Mar Thoma calls this church as a “bridge” since it is a church between the East and the West.While holding the heritage of the East; it is influenced by the West in its mission mandate and ecumenical outlook. Abraham Malpan who led the reformation made it sure that church must be Oriental in nature and keep the old traditions of liturgy, which were enriched with all the components of worship, gestures and symbols. And it is also built on the rock of apostolic faith. As a community belongs to this faith and tradition we must know the unique and distinctive characteristics regarding faith and practice. When we recite the prayers (based on the Bible) and participate in the worship a clear understanding of faith and practice of the Mar Thoma Church, to we belongs is an essential pre-requisite for us to participate meaningfully in its life, witness and mission. So the purpose of this article is to give a clear a clear understanding of faith and practice of the MarThoma Church. Church is the body of Christ. Churches are formed on the rock of apostolic
proclamation that was started from Jerusalem. The disciples were commissioned to make disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mtt.28: 18-19). In the 1st centaury itself Christian faith was spread in Antioch, Alexandria and Rome. These churches helped a lot to spread the good news in Asia, Africa and Europe.
MarThoma Church is one of the ancient churches in India based on the rock of apostolic tradition. The church was formed in India in A.D.52 by St. Thomas who came atCrangannore (a place in Kerala) and established seven and half churches in India St Thomas was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ, and our church is also known by the name of that Apostle. The tradition says that Christianity is rooted in India in the 1st centaury itself. The missionary work of the Anglican missionaries made a tremendous impact upon the church in India. While holding and preserving the characters of the Eastern Church traditions, it was built with autonomy, independence and ecumenical outlook. The church bears witness to the fact of the eastern origin of Christianity along with the other “Lesser Eastern Churches” in its liturgy and mode of worship, its ceremonies, rituals and traditions. To understand the meaning of it we should have a deeper understanding of the ancient Eastern Churches.Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople and Rome were the five metropolises dominated the Christian world until the 4th century A.D.The first four were led by the Armenian, Syrian, Alexandrian and Greek churches respectively and the last by the Roman Catholic Church.In the 11th century the first four became divided in to two blocks, the Eastern and Western Churches.The churches in Jerusalem,Antioch,Alexandria and Constantinople are known as Eastern Churches and the last one (Rome)is known as Western Church.During the 16th century the reformation occurred and the Eastern Churches further grouped into the Greater Eastern Churches(The Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches) and Lesser Eastern Churches(Coptic,Armenian,Syrian and Indian Churches)
The years 1830-1889 are very important in the history of the MarThoma Church. While holding the faith and practices of the Eastern Church, it was influenced by the work of the Anglican missionaries. The communion with the Anglican Church led to 2 reformation. Abraham Malpan and the Metropolitans firmly held the conviction that salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ alone as revealed in the Scriptures and continue in the apostolic faith that St. Thomas brought to India. The MarThoma Church declared that it accepts as basis for all the matters of faith &doctrine, the Holy Bible consisting of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.It affirms that salvation is the gift of God, appropriated by faith in Jesus. The Mar Thoma church believes in the Trinity and accepts as its goal and function to be repository of the divine doctrines revealed by Jesus Christ and proclaimed by his apostles. The MarThoma Church also maintains these doctrines in their purity, and promotes the spiritual life of its members through the administration of
sacraments and by the ministry of the Word of God. The MarThoma church also believes
that it is responsible to make disciples of all nations by the proclamation of the Gospel to
the world and through the administration of Holy Baptism in the name of the Triune God.
The MarThoma Church also accepts the Creed formed at
The Councils of Nicea (A.D.325), Constantinople (A.D.381) and Ephesus (A.D.431) and
we follow the true doctrines formed at these three councils. Mar Thoma Church believes
in Apostolic succession beginning with Apostle Thomas. Communion with the Anglican
Church has given missionary zeal to our church. MarThoma Church was also influenced
by the reformed doctrines of the Western churches. So we got a wider ecumenical
outlook. While continuing the apostolic Episcopal tradition and ancient oriental practices
it upheld the inspiration availed from the Western Reformation. Thus the MarThoma
Church combines both evangelical and reformed doctrines with ancient forms of worship
and practices. The MarThoma Church therefore, is neither a Protestant Church of the
Western type nor an Orthodox Church of the Eastern type. Each and every religion is
based on its own doctrines. It does not mean that all the followers of the religion should
know the doctrines in depth. But all of them experience these doctrines through worship
and practices. Worship is the visible expression of faith. Though the worship contains the
basic elements like adoration, praise, prayer of confession etc, it reflects each
community’s traditions and practices. So the worshiping community find happiness not
only in reciting the prayers but following certain practices, gestures and symbols that are
prevalent in the society also. For example as a sign of reverence we may stand up and
show the reverence. Hence worship means not only the expression of faith but it is the
expression of each community’s life and life style, tradition and practices.


Worship is the highest activity of a living community to glorify God. The church
gives primacy to worship for it is through worship that life and witness of the church are
maintained, and the unity is also maintained through worship. Out of the teachings of
Christ the church formulated three important and basic elements, which are essential for
its life and witness. They are: 1) Creed or a body of accepted truths in which the basic
faith of the Church is expressed.2) Code-a body of regulations which became the
guidelines for the life of the church.3) Cult or manner of worship. Our worship is
corporate worship. The very nature of the church constitutes the need for corporate
There are some basic elements in worship. Some people think that only praising
God is important in the worship, but that is not correct. While praise and adoration are
most important in worship penitence and confession before God are also integral to any
true worship along with intercession. Therefore, the issues of politics and economics,
science and technology, of rural and urban societies, of war and peace, of tension and
strife, of injustice and oppression, of racial hatred and communal tensions may find some
expression in our worship. Authentic worship is one that brings joy and sorrows of all 3
humankind to the altar along with the bread and the wine and our offerings. Through
worship the worshippers must be inspired to do the will of God. Madbaha should be a
platform to offer not only ourselves and our blessings but it should be a platform to offer
the whole creation also. And through worship each worshipper must be reminded of his
or her mission. We use certain liturgies for worship. So we will have a detailed study of
the liturgies.

History of the development of the Liturgy
In the early centuries itself, different traditions were formed in the way prayers
were arranged for worship. These worship forms were called liturgies or THAKSA which
is a Syriac word. When we offer the praises and prayers in the liturgy we became the part
of the universal church. We may ask why we want to repeat these prayers every Sunday.
By repeating these prayers a new insight will come to our mind that the church is not
only a gathering of present believers but it contains the believers in the past and the future
also. The church is not limited in this world, it is eternal. The important liturgical
traditions were formed in five regions.1) Alexandria, Egypt 2) Palestine and Syria 3)
Cappadocia and other eastern regions 4) Africa and5) Northern Italy and other places.
East Syrian liturgies come under the second group and which can be divided again into
two groups. They are 1) the Eastern liturgies and 2) Western liturgies with the traditions
of the first three ecumenical synods.
Including the MarThoma Church all other churches in Kerala of the St. Thomas tradition
use West Syrian Order of Worship. West Syrian churches are churches centered in places
like Antioch and Jerusalem in Roman Empire. There was tremendous influence of
Roman Catholicism in the liturgy, doctrines etc. But after the revolt in A.D.1653 (Coonen
Cross) the Malankara Christians, who were freed from the Roman influence, placed
themselves under the jurisdiction of the West Syrian Patriarch of Antioch (Jacobites).
Thus the Syriac Liturgy of Antioch was introduced in India by 1655.This Liturgy is
known as the St.James Liturgy. It comes from the church in Jerusalem and is closely
connected with the 4th century rite of Jerusalem, which was subsequently adapted by the
Church at Antioch sometimes in the 5th century A.D.
There are some special characteristics for this liturgy. This liturgy is apostolic in
origin. They are rich in theological teachings on Trinity, Incarnation, Salvation, the
Eucharist, the Church, Intercession and Eschatology. Since this liturgy maintains the very
mystical character of God, it invites the devotional spirit of the worshippers. Since this
liturgy is ancient, the modern Biblical scholarship has the opinion that much of the
Scripture was originally formed in the liturgical context. So this eastern liturgy is soaked
in Scripture. When the Bible was not available, the liturgy took the role of the Bible.
We follow the St.James Liturgy that is the most ancient and venerable of the
Antiochean group of liturgies. Since it maintains a continuous dialogue between the
celebrant and the worshippers it can be called a people’s liturgy. The liturgy is neither a
text nor simply a set of prayers, but it is an act of congregation, and it maintains a
continuous dialogue between the celebrant and the worshippers. Holy Eucharist is the
main part our liturgy. The prayers are replete with idioms, images and echoes of the Bible
and full of symbolism. These help greatly for engaging the faculties of the body, mind
and soul and invite the faithful to an ever-deepening understanding of the mystery of the
Holy Eucharist. The predominant notes in this liturgy are joy and praise. There is in it a
faithful re-enactment of the drama of divine Redemption. Our liturgy consists of different
gestures of the priest and laity as in the kiss of peace, in the bowing of heads etc. We use 4
separate order of worship for each sacrament. For Holy Qurbana we use St.James liturgy.
Now let us briefly discuss the structure and content of St.James Liturgy.

Structure and content of St.James Liturgy.
Structurally it has two parts:-

  • Thuyaba or the Preparation Service
  • Public celebration of the Holy Qurbana.
  • Thuyaba or Preparation Service

From the name itself it is clear that here the Priest and the worshippers prepare for the
Holy Qurbana. It also has two parts and in the first part the Priest makes prayers in the
Madbaha (it can be done secretly or public). In the second part the Priest wears Kappa
and prepares bread and wine for the Holy Qurbana.

  • Public celebration of the Holy Qurbana.

It also has two parts, the first one starts from “O, Lord Jesus Christ, born of Mary,
baptized by John………..”till the sermon. This part gives importance to reading and
hearing of Word of God. This part is known as Ante Communion or Pre-Anaphora. And
the second part is known as Anaphora; it starts from the kiss of peace and ends with the
fourth (last) blessing. Certain factors are important for worship. They are place of
worship, sanctuary, articles in the sanctuary, etc. The Celebrant also has an unavoidable
part in the worship.

Place of worship
Our places of worship are built in the form of Jerusalem Temple. It is divided in
to Sanctuary (Madbaha) and Haickala (it is the place where people gather for worship)
Our places of worship are built east west with the Sanctuary (Madbaha) to the
east. What is the importance of “east” in the worship? East is the place of the rising suns
that is the symbol of the Risen Christ, the sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2) and His
Second coming. Another thing is that east symbolizes the Garden of Eden that was
situated at the east (Genesis 2:8). The Sanctuary is separated from the rest of the place by
a veil with the sign of a cross. The worship of the Eastern churches symbolizes the
heavenly worship. Madbaha symbolically represents Heaven haickala, the earth and veil
the sky.

Madbaha means place of sacrifice. Holy Qurbana, ordination of deacons and
priests, and consecration of bishops are conducted here.
It is situated at the East of the church. When we gather for worship the worshippers face
to the east where the Madbaha is situated. We have seen the importance of East in our
worship. And again it is believed that the second coming of the Risen Christ will be at the
East (Mathew 24:27).
In the Madbaha we have a consecrated place known as “thronos”(altar), it is the throne of
God that is our Lord is reigning as king on His throne He is offering Himself as a
sacrifice. Hence Thronos is altar. In Isaiah 6:1 and in Revelation 4:5; 7:9-11 we see the
heavenly worship where the Throne of God is in center. So in our worship also “thronos”
is the important place of the Madbaha and it also reminds us the sacrifice of our Lord
Jesus Christ. In the thronos we see different articles like cross, light, incense; chalice and
patenetc and all these symbolize the Heavenly worship. The articles placed on the
thronos including the altar spread must be consecrated before use except the cross. It is
because other things are consecrated with the cross. 5

The Curtain or Veil
The curtain with a cross in the middle hiding the Sanctuary is the symbol of the
sky separating heaven and earth. The Madbaha signifies heaven and the haickala
signifies earth. According to the Eastern churches earthly worship symbolizes the
heavenly worship. So the door of the Madbaha is always made in the shape of the ark.
Veil indicates the sanctity of the Madbaha, the mystical nature of the Holy Qurbana and
the invisibility of God. Veil is drawn from right side to the left. It is found only in the Eastern Churches.

It is an important symbol in the Christian worship. When we dedicate the church,
Thirumeni places the Cross at the center of the thronos. It symbolizes the presence of
God through the crucified and resurrected Christ. In our worship also we use the sign of
the Cross many times. When the celebrant gives the blessing he puts the sign of the cross,
the worshippers, as a sign of accepting the blessing put the sign of the cross. This is also
done at the time of the declaration of the Trinity and also at the time of indication of the
Cross. Since Cross symbolizes peace, love and the new life through the self emptying act
of Christ, we should try to understand meaning, hidden in the sign. When we put the sign
of the cross we remember the salvific act of the Lord, that is Lord Jesus Christ came
down from heaven to earth brought us from left to right The line drawn from the head to
the chest signifies the coming down of the Son from heaven to earth. Then we draw
another line from the left shoulder to the right shoulder, signifying our transference to the
sacred ones on the right hand side from the left hand side through His cross. We draw the
sign of cross with three fingers representing the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Making the sign of the cross is a speechless prayer reminding us of the presence of our
Lord in our hearts, a symbol of receiving the merits of our Lord’s sacrifice and a symbol
our identification with the crucifixion of our Lord. But many of our people do not know
the meaning of the sign of Cross and do not draw the sign of the Cross.
Tableetha (Table-let)
It is placed on the thronos and is consecrated at the time of the consecration of the
church. It is a wooden plank reminding us that the Holy Qurbana is a sacrifice without
blood. This is placed under the “virikkuttu” where paten and chalice are placed on the
thronos. With out this the celebrant is not allowed to conduct the Holy Qurbana. This
reminds us the table Jesus used for the Passover meal. It is known as the portable altar as
it has to be taken with the celebrant whenever he conducts the Qurbana (Achens are
allowed to give Qurbana for the sick and those who are unable to come to church in the
case of emergency)

Chalice, Paten, Kablana and Sosappa
Chalice is the vessel used to keep the wine mixed with water and Paten is the
small plate used to keep the bread at the time of Qurbana. Kablana is a small cloth used
to cover the vessels. Kablana is said to represent the ‘shekinah’(light) above the mercy
seat in the ark of covenant in the Jerusalem temple “As the priests were leaving the
Temple, it was suddenly filled with a cloud shining with the dazzling light of the Lord’s
presence, and they could not go back in to perform their duties”(1Kings 8:10-11).
Sosappa is also a white cloth with beautiful work and it is also used to cover paten and
chalice after the preparation of Qurbana. This reminds us of the light believed to be 6
present above the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, placed in the Holy of Holies of
the Jerusalem temple. This also reminds us of the bright cloud that appeared on the mount
of transfiguration.

Bread and Wine
According to the New Testament tradition it is the leavened bread we use for the
Holy Qurbana. It is circular in shape and is divided in to four parts and again each part in
these four parts is divided in to three. So there are twelve parts in total and in each part
we can see the sign of the cross, which signifies the twelve apostles, united in Christ
We use wine mixed with water for Holy Qurbana. The biblical basis for the mixing of
wine with water is found in John 19:34 “One of the soldiers, however, plunged his spear
in to Jesus’ side, and at once blood and water poured out” Since we have a detailed study
about Holy Qurbana, I am not dealing with it in detail.

Spoon (tharvodo)
It is used to take the Holy Qurbana represents the tong with which the live coal
was given to the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:6-7). There is a small cushion on the right side
of the
Thableetha to wipe the hands of the celebrant after touching the holy body and holy
blood, and is called “Gmurtho.”

Incense is an important factor in our worship. It was used in ancient days to pay
honor and respect. It denotes the offering of a sweet smelling sacrifice to God “ Your life
must be controlled by love, just as Christ loved us and gave his life for us as a sweet
smelling offering and sacrifice that pleases God.”(Ephesians 5:2). Incense always stands
for the invisible presence of God. In the Old Testament times incense was used as a sin
offering, and it is believed that the prayers go up to God with incense. The use of incense
in worship is referred to in several biblical passages. “And another angel came and stood
at the altar with a golden censer and he was given much incense to mingle with the
prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar, before the throne and the smoke of the
incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God”.

Light is the symbol of God’s presence. We use candles in the liturgy as the
continuation of the ancient practice. In the New Testament times lamps were used in the
worship “Many lamps were burning in the upstairs room where we were meeting”,(Acts
20:8; Reve.4:5),especially when they worshiped in the caves and combs.
In our worship we use 12 candles, 6 each on both sides of the thronos. The number 12
represents the 12 disciples. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me
will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life”. Since Jesus is the light of the
world, we, the followers of Christ should walk in light. So light has an important place in
the worship.

There are certain gestures we practice in our worship. The gestures of the priest
and the laity, in the kiss of peace, in the bowing of heads, the reverence paid to the
Eucharistic elements, the signing of the Cross-all these are the part of the liturgical act.
Eastern churches have the practice of standing at the time of worship. Standing was the
normal practice of prayer among the Jews and the early Church followed it. Our worship
starts with “Kauma” (adoration) which is a Syriac word means to stand. We believe that 7
God is present in the worship and when we experience the presence of God we should
stand as a sign of reverence and adoration. The early church was also practiced standing
for prayer with hands raised facing the east It also expresses the joy of Christian in the
resurrection. It also shows the active participation of the laity along with the clergy who
also stand, instead of sitting as passive spectators.
We usually sit at the time of 1st & 2nd Bible readings and sermon. Jewish tradition
says that the disciples of a teacher used to sit and learn at the feet of the teacher (Lk.10:
39). During Lent season we have the gesture of prostration especially at Passion Week.
This gesture reminds us that we are sinners and can’t even stand before the Holy God
(Reve.5:8). Raising hands while praying has also got some meaning. It is an ancient
practice of the Jewish people (Ps 141:2, Ex 17:11). Paul also says about this (1Tim 2:8).
While doing this we are praying for others. This gesture symbolizes one’s intercession

The Kiss of Peace
This is a universal practice in the Eastern liturgies and is a very meaningful
experience. It is of apostolic origin (Rom 16:16; 2Cor 13:12; 1Pet 5:14) and is used in
our liturgy to signify `the fellowship of the Spirit`. There are many things included in this
gesture. It expresses the reverence, the love and reconciliation. It declares that all are
united in Christ “Greet one another with the kiss of Christian love” (1Pet.5: 14). It is not
simply an external act but it is a symbol of unity and reconciliation between persons.
According to the divine command, before offering the sacrifice, one should pray for
forgiveness and be reconciled with others by forgiving one another (Matt.5: 23-24). The
passing down of `peace` from the altar shows that the peace comes from God, and passes
to the worshippers through the symbolic act of giving of hands (kayyasoori).

Reading of the Gospel
Our practice is that the celebrant stands at the middle of the Madbaha during
Gospel reading and faces towards the worshippers. Through the Gospel reading Jesus
talks to the worshippers. Usually only the bishops or priest does gospel reading. The
Word became flesh and dwelt among us. To express this idea the priest stands at the
center of the Madbaha and reads the gospel. As the sign of reverence the crowd stands at
the reading of the Gospel. Epistle reading is by the Lay Leader and at the time of Epistle
reading he stands at the south side of the Madbaha

Washing the hands
The celebrant used to wash his hands after the prayer of confession. It symbolizes
purification from sin. As God is Holy, those who serve Him should be holy. Jewish
tradition also had the practice of washing the feet of the guest by the host when he enters
in to the house (Genesis 18:4; Lk.7: 44)
At the time of the last blessing the celebrant used to raise his hands. This is also
from the Jewish tradition.Lk.24: 50 say that at the time of Jesus’ ascension he lifted up
his hands and blessed the disciples. Likewise at the last blessing the celebrant blesses the
worshippers and sends them for mission. It is an authority given to the Church. 8
The vestments
The vestments used by the priest during the worship have biblical aspect (Exodus
28; 40:13-15). Wearing the vestments shows the preparation of the priests in the presence
of God.
The vestments used in the liturgy have symbolic meanings. The vestments signify
the dignity and righteousness with which the priest is clothed, in order that he may stand
worthily in the presence of God representing the people
Different parts of the vestments are white cassock, kappa (phaino), kuthino, uroro,girdle
(zunnoro), zendo, and phains .
White cassock:-It is a practice from the 2nd century. It symbolizes holiness getting
through the baptism. The Book of Revelation says “those who win victory will be clothed
like this in white, and I will not remove their names from the book of the living”(Reve.3:
5; 7:9)
Kappa: -The vestments that the priests wear during the holy Qurbana and the other
sacraments are known as kappa. It is a sign of glorification for the one who serves God
(Ps.132: 9-10). The priest wears an alb of white linen or cotton called kuthino, which
symbolizes purity and holiness. A broad strip of material worn over the neck and hanging
down in front is called the stole (uroro) which represents the breastplate of justice against
the power of spiritual enemies (Ps.18: 39-40;Eph.6: 14). The girdle signifies divine
strength with which the priest is girded which wears around the waist. When it wears
with the cassock, it signifies the ministry of servant hood and the willingness to serve at
all times (Jn.13: 4,5;Eph.6: 14) A cuff (zendo) is worn over each sleeve of the alb, going
up to the elbow showing that the hands are prepared for action in the service of God. It
signifies the preparation and protection against enemies.

Vestments of the Bishops
Masanapso:  The Bishops of the Marthoma church always wear on their head,
embroidered with thirteen crosses called masanapso (hood). The crosses represent Jesus
Christ and twelve disciples. Mt.27: 29 say that they put a crown of thorns on his head and
mocked him. It is used by the monks (ramban). Since all the Bishops of the Eastern
churches are from the monks, they all wear masanapso. Our Bishops are not from the
married clergy. The bishops usually wear red cassock and the red color denotes
kingship.Mt.27: 28 says that, “they stripped off his clothes and put a scarlet robe on
them.” Here it is clear that the Jews put a scarlet robe on Jesus and the scarlet robe is the
sign of kingship. Since bishops are the followers of Christ’s kingship the bishops also
wear red cassock.
Pastoral staff: It is called Murneetha. It is the sign of a shepherd. Bishops are
considered as the shepherd of the sheep, who follow Jesus, the great shepherd. The staff
is given to the herd the lamb and to drive away the wolves (John 10:21; Heb.13: 20-22;
Ps.23: 1). It is also the symbol of authority.
Sleeba (cross): It shows the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It represents victory. Bishops
use this at the time of blessings and at the time when they bless bread and wine. Kissing
the cross denotes reverence to the cross. In the Eastern Churches there is a practice of
kissing Bishops’ ring as a mark of showing allegiance to the bishop’s authority. 9

The Sacraments
Sacraments have important place in our worship. Sacrament is a means of grace, a
visible sign, used to signify a spiritual truth and blessing. Sacrament assures God’s
blessings and assumes the faith of the participants. Our Achens, at the time of ordination
they are commissioned to preach the word of God and to administer sacraments and rites.
As we know certain symbols are used in the administration of the sacraments. We may
think that how far external actions are necessary to have the grace in the sacrament.
Through symbols connected with the sacraments, we can have lively and intense
relationship with God. We will have deep spiritual experiences when all the senses of our
body get involved and when importance is given to spiritual experience. Evelyn
Underhill says, “Sensible stimulations of the eye, ear or even of taste, touch or smell can
give supra sensible suggestion to us and awaken, nourish and deepen the worship sense.
Any exclusive spirituality which rejects these homely aids, defeats its own end.” Our
emotions cannot be fully expressed in words. Actions and gestures are essential to
express our thoughts and feelings, and to receive the inner experience of penitence and
joy. For example, kneeling down is the expression of our humility, penitence, and
dependence on God’s mercy. Jesus himself used matter for the administration
sacraments. Holy Qurbana was instituted with bread and wine (1Cor.11: 24, 25). So also
the sacrament of Holy Baptism was instituted with water and the sacrament of the Holy
Unction with oil. Thus we find that Jesus himself gave importance to the outward
symbols and actions in the sacraments. It brings the inward spiritual experience also.
There is also a possibility that the sacrament may get degraded and become mechanical
and they become a substitute for the real experience. Hence we have to participate in the
symbolic actions and rituals with the whole heart, submitting ourselves to the working of
the Holy Spirit and continuing in the same spirit in practical life.
Since we have a detailed study of the sacraments, I am not giving a detailed study
of it (please refer the other study book)

Festivals, Feasts and Fasts.
Are there any festivals in the Marthoma Church? This is a question asked by many
of us. But our constitution strictly admonishes us that the festivals, feasts and lent are not
to be removed or altered. These include the observance of the Sundays as per the church
calendar, the different feast days and lent, especially feasts commemorating the important
events in the life of our Lord. These feasts are called MaranayaPerunalukal. For a
Christian, Sunday is the most important day in a week, because it is the day of our Lord.
Since our Lord has resurrected on Sunday, it is regarded as the first day of the week. So
Sunday is separated for worship and witness. Sunday is known as the Day of the Lord. As
a church we must gather together to worship the Lord who came down from heaven to
save us.

During the season of Lent every member of the church is expected to set apart a time
for serious reflection self-examination and renewed commitment with fasting and prayer.
It is a time in which we wait upon the Lord in fellowship and are transformed to fulfill his
will. During Lent some people observe restrictions regarding food, it is good if it
facilitate concentration more importantly leading to a feeling of deep concern for the
hungry and poor and a real sense of self-denial. 10
We observe 50 days as Lent period including the 40 days in which our Lord fasted
and 10 days commemorating his passion and crucifixion. There are some important days
in these 50 days. First Wednesday of this 50 day is known as Ash Wednesday, ash
symbolizes repentance. There is DahanaPerunal (Epiphany) on 6th January, Christ’s
glory revealed to the Gentiles. (Commemorating the day the magi (wise men) from the
East visited the infant Jesus. There are some other events that are also important during
the Lent season. They are Feast of Annunciation, March 25th the Gabriel, the angel
announced about Christ’s birth to Virgin Mary. Then Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday,
Good Friday and Easter are also important days in the Great Lent. During the Great Lent
season the Eastern churches reveal the glory of our Lord through the Gospel readings
starting from the sign that the wedding at Caana where Jesus changes water in to wine till
the resurrection of Jesus.

There is 25 days of Lent from 1st of December to 25th of December, which
includes annunciation to Zechariah, to Virgin Mary and to Joseph. Beside these on the
month of January there is three days of Lent, which reminds us the repentance of Jonah.
On June 13 Days Lent that reminds us about all the Apostles. On August we have 15
days Lent. All these Lent seasons should lead us to repentance and renewal. Eight weeks
before Christmas are separated for sanctification and renewal of the church. There are
two more festivals on 2nd &3rd Sundays of the month of November that are known as
“koodasheatho” (means consecration of the church) and “huedaseatho” (means
reformation or renewal of the church.) Beside these festivals there are some other
festivals, which reminds us about the life and ministry of Mar Stephen, Mar Thoma, Mar
Matthew and John the Baptist (Mar means Holy).
The important feast and festivals observed in the Church are given below (some
of these are mentioned in the above paragraph)
Dahana(Epiphany) celebrated on 6th January, commemorating the day the magi(wise
men) from the East visited the Infant Jesus and his glory was revealed the Gentiles.
Feast of Annunciation:-It is on March 25th, the Day of Gabriel; the angel announced the
news of Christ’s birth to Virgin Mary.
The Great Lent finishes with Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday Good Friday and Easter.
Palm Sunday:-On Palm Sunday Jesus rides in to Jerusalem. So on Palm Sunday we
remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.Mk.11: 1-10
Maundy Thursday:-It is the remembrance of the Passover meal, which is, narrated in
Exodus 12.In the New Testament it denotes the last meal of Jesus Christ with his
disciples (Mk.14) The Holy Qurbana was instituted on this day (1Cor 11 23-26) by our

Good Friday: - This is the day our Lord was crucified. The self-emptying of Jesus for the
remission of our sins (Mk.15)
Easter: It is the day that our Lord has resurrected from the dead (Mk.16)
The Day of Ascension comes 40 days after Easter.
The Day of Pentecost: -The day when the Holy Spirit was poured on the church. 11
The Day of Transfiguration.

The Nicene Creed
This has an important place in the history of the Marthoma Church. It played an
important role in shaping the faith of the church. The importance of the Creed is
mentioned in the constitution also. In the Thubden prayer it is said that we should
remember the councils at Nicea, Constantinople and Ephesus and follow the decisions.
All the early churches acknowledged these three councils and their decisions.
There were many heresies and false teachings among the early Christians and
many interpretations were very common. At this situation the early church fathers felt the
need for a common faith. So they met at Nicea in A.D.325.Nicea was a city in Asia
Minor ruled by Roman Emperor Constantine who accepted Christianity in the 4th century
A.D. and worked for the growth of the religion. Deacon Athanasius of Alexandria
prepared the first draft of the creed. After a lot of discussions and changes the council of
church fathers in A.D.325 at Nicea acknowledged it. This creed mainly states about the
belief of the church. As a church what do we believe? Since the Nicene Creed contains
the basic doctrines of Christian faith, it is regarded as the creed of the Universal Church.
What is the content of the Nicene Creed?
We believe: -Here we see the subject in plural. Church is a society. So the faith of
the whole community is important for the growth of the church. The churches in the East
believe that church is a community of people of God. The next is the elaboration of what
do we believe? We believe in God. The next lines are trying to answer the question, who
is this God? Our God is a God, the Father Almighty. “We believe in one true God the
Father Almighty.” This statement shows a strong and powerful relationship between
Father and children. We are the children of our Loving Father. Then the creed says,
“Maker of heaven and earth and all things visible and invisible.” The Christian faith
affirms that God is the creator of all things. Through the creation God has revealed his
power. And God has revealed as loving Father to the human beings. God is not the
creator only but God, like a loving Father loves and cares his creation also. This is the
uniqueness of our God. So the responsibility of the church is to believe and affirm the
faith in this true God, the Father.
We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ: -Here the church understands incarnated
Jesus Christ in the history. The church explains the relationship between Jesus Christ and
God through the relationship between father and son. The personhood of Jesus is
described here. As God is One Christ is also One. There were many heresies regarding
the divinity of Jesus among the early Christians. So it was the responsibility of the church
to affirm the faith in Jesus Christ. God is revealed in history through Jesus Christ as a part
of the salvific act of Him. Since Jesus has submitted to the will of God he is elevated and
he is worthy to be worshiped. And they believed that Jesus Christ is the Son and they
affirmed the faith in Jesus. Gospels affirm that he is the only begotten Son of God and
this affirmation helped the worshipers to believe in the Son.
The rest of the part explains how Jesus became the One Lord. Jesus Christ is the
Very God of Very God that is in essence both are same, and Son is not the creation he
was with God at the time of creation. If it is so one may ask the question, why did Jesus
call God as Father? It is not because Jesus was not the one among all the creations but
because has the same essence of God, he has the same glory of God the Father.
Incarnation of Jesus was a historic event for the salvation of human kind. He came down
from heaven and became man; Virgin Mary became an instrument for this by the help of 12
the Holy Spirit. Virgin Mary was the representative of the humankind who submitted
herself to the will of God.
The following part explains how Jesus Christ became the Savior of the world
through his incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. And the creed affirms
that all these were historical realities. This is affirmed because for the accomplishment of
his mission and ministry it was a necessity to prove his divinity and humanity as
historical realities. The incarnation of Jesus was an important teaching of the Christian
faith. Philippians 2:6&7 say, “He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that
by force he should try to become equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he
gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant He became like a man and appeared
in human likeness.” For our salvation Jesus came down from heaven, lived among us, as
one of us he was equal to man except for sin and he bore pain, he was tempted and
crucified. He shared all the feelings and pain of all other human beings. The only and
important exception was that he was resurrected from the dead as the first born from the
dead. So the Son of God became the Son of man.
The last part about the Son says that he will come again in glory. The Creed says,
“He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead and of his Kingdom
there will be no end.” There are many references in the New Testament that say about the
second coming of Jesus Christ (Mt.24: 36, 42; 1Thess.4: 16, 17; 2Thess.2: 2; Acts 1:7;
1Pet.1: 8, 9 etc). When we say Christ will come again, we experience the presence of the
living Christ as a comforter, as a guide, as a counselor and as a judge in the last day.
The last part of the Nicene Creed talks about the Holy Spirit, “We believe in the
Holy Spirit”. The first part about this says that the Holy Spirit is a person, “the giver of
life and proceeds from the Father who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped
and glorified”. This shows that Holy Spirit shares the same essence with the Father and
the Son. The Holy Spirit is also be worshipped with the Father and the Son. The Holy
Spirit spoke through the prophets and the apostles. Christian faith affirms the faith in
Trinity. We believe in Triune God, that is, we believe that Holy Spirit is one in the
Godhead and shares the same substance with the Father. The True God is the one reality
that was experienced in three different ways to the believers.
The next part talks about the church, “We believe in one holy, catholic and
apostolic church”. Four qualities are mentioned in the creed about the church, church is
one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
The Church is One: -The church by its very nature has to be one because it is the
undivided body of Christ. So it should not be divided.Eph.4: 5&6 say, “There is one
Lord, one faith, on baptism; there is one God and Father of all mankind, who is Lord of
all, works through all and is in all.” According to Paul there is only one church founded
on Jesus Christ, and the local congregations are only regional expressions of the one
Church. “For God has already placed Jesus Christ as the one and only foundation, and no
other foundation can be laid” (1Cor.3: 11; 1Thess.2: 14; 1Cor.1: 13; 12:13).
The Church is Holy: -Church is holy because it is the body of Christ. The believers are to
be set apart to lead a holy life. As the church is the body of Christ we share the holiness
of Christ and through baptism the Christian believer partakes of the holiness of Christ.
“You were chosen according to the purpose of God the Father and were made a holy
people by his Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and he purified by his blood” (1Pet.1: 2; 2:5-9;
Rom.12: 1-2; John17: 19)
The Church is Catholic: -The word “catholic” means that which is spread
throughout the inhabited world or universal (the word catholic came from a Greek word
‘catholicos’ which means universal). This word can also be used to describe the 13
soundness of faith. That is the church is catholic means that the church has preserved and
transmitted the apostolic faith correctly. Any church can claim catholicity if it holds the
fundamentals of the Christian faith, even though there may be diversity in the doctrines
and practices.
The Church is Apostolic: -The church is apostolic when it is built on the faith
and tradition of the apostles.Eph.2: 20 make it clear, “You too are built upon the
foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, the corner stone being Christ Jesus
himself.” The word apostle means the one who is sent with a mission. The risen Christ
had been sent the disciples to the world for the proclamation of the Gospel. (The Greek
wordapostellein means, “to send out”). So the churches, which are born as a result of the
apostolic preaching, are apostolic in character. The primary characteristic of the church is
that the church has an apostolate or missionary mandate.
As a church we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins and look
forward to the resurrection of the dead and the new life of the world to come. We affirm
one baptism in one’s life. There is a history behind it. At the time of early Christians
because of persecution and tribulations some of them left Christianity and after some
time they repented and wished to come back to Christianity. Some people argued that
they should be baptized again if they want to become the members. This argument came
to the council of Nicea and it discussed the matter and came to the conclusion that if one
is baptized once it should not be repeated. We enter into the church through baptism.
Through baptism we are identified with crucifixion of Jesus. Since Jesus was crucified
only once we believe that baptism is also only once.
The basis of Christian faith is that there is a life after death. Death is not an end in
one’s life. It is not only the present faithful ones but those who led a faithful life and died
also are the members of the church (because they were also identified with the crucifixion
of Christ through baptism). Church is waiting for the second coming of Jesus when the
living and the dead will resurrect, transform and unite in Christ.
The detailed study of the Creed shows that it includes all the basic teaching of
Christian faith. It explains the functions of Trinity and also it expresses power and
character of the Triune God.
The Mar Thoma Church is rich in its heritage. It is sure that the liturgy, which is
filled with prayers and at the same time gestures symbols, has played an important role to
formulate and strengthen the worshipper’s faith. They speak to the heart, mind and
intellect in diverse ways. Through certain practices connected with the worship we can
have lively and intense relationship with God. The practices in the Church add a new
dimension to the faith of the believing community. The faith and practices of the church
cannot easily be separated.
God speaks to us through different means like nature, prophets and finally
through the Son Jesus Christ. Similarly we can also speak to God through prayers,
offerings, and meditations and even through some actions. All these are the expressions
of our deep relationship with our God. But all these become meaningful when we do it
with the whole heart and submitting ourselves to the working of the Holy Spirit and
continuing in the same Spirit in the practical life. There is a possibility to get it degraded
and mechanical and to become a substitute for the real experience. So in order to live by
its meaning, one has to understand and stand in the rich heritage of the church. Hope this
study will enable our worshipping community to worship in truth and spirit. 14

1 Abraham,M.V. New Testament Studies.Thiruvalla: ChristavaSahityaSamithi, 2005.
2 Athyal, JesudasM.andThatamanil, John. Eds. Metropolitan Chrysostom on Mission in
the Market Place. Thiruvalla: CSS,2002
3 Barnabas,Mathews Mar. A Devotional Study of The Holy Qurbana. Thiruvalla:National
Offset Press,1999.
4 The Episcopal Jubilee Institute of Evangelism. At the Master’s Feet:A Study on Faith
and Practices of the Church. Thiruvalla: National Offset Printers, 1996.
5 The Episcopal Jubilee Institute of Evangelism. How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place!
Christian Worship-A Study. Thiruvalla: National Offset Printers, 1995.
6 Joseph,M.J. ed, Gleanings. Madras: Printon, 1994.
7 Kuzhivelil, Mathew V. Faith and Practices in the Mar Thoma Church.Kottayam: The
Ashram Press, 1983.
8 Mar Thoma, Alxander. The Mar Thoma Church-Heritage and Mission.Thiruvalla:
CSS, 1985.
9 Mar ThomaMetropolitan,Juhanon. Christianity in India and a Brief History of the Mar
thoma Syrian Church. Thiruvalla, CSS. 1973.
10 Karinjappally, Koshy Mathew. ed, Roots and Wings.Bangalore: Word Makers
Publishing Pvt.Ltd.2004.
11 Osthathios, Mar Geevarghese. NjangalVishwasikkunnu:NikhyaVishwasa
PramanathinteOruLeghuVyakhyanam-in Malayalam.Thiruvalla: CSS, 2003.
Mariamma James

Chepped-I kept in the Marthoma Church Head Quarters Thiruvalla

Chepped-II kept in the Marthoma Church Head Quarters Thiruvalla: Side 1


Chepped-II kept in the Marthoma Church Head Quarters Thiruvalla: Side 2

There was ecclesiastical connection between the Church in West Asia and the Church in Malabar till 16th century. The Bishops who came from Babylonian Patriarchate were Nestorians. Even now there is a Nestorian Church in Trichur, called the Chaldean Syrian Church. They are connected with the Nestorian Patriarch. Though there were such ecclesiastical connections and ministrations, the Church in Malabar was independent in administration under its own Archdeacons.
The Portuguese started settling in India with the coming of Vasco De Gama in AD 1498. They established their power in the 16th & the 17th centuries. This was also a period, which witnessed far-reaching effects of the missionary adventures of the Roman Catholic Church. At this time, the Portuguese were powerful in the eastern areas and had control of the sea routes. The Roman Catholic Church wanted to use this opportunity to bring the Church in Malabar under the supremacy of Rome. A powerful Archbishop Alexio-de-Menezes arrived in Goa in 1592. He then convened a Synod at Udayamperoor, south of Ernakulam, in the year 1599, called the Synod of Diamper for commandeering obedience to the supreme Bishop of Rome. The representatives sent from various congregations were forced to accept the decrees read out by the Archbishop. Thus the Syrian Christians of Malabar, (the Malankara Church) were made part of the Roman Catholic Church under the Pope. The Malankara Church was under Roman Empire for half a century. But many smarted under the Roman Yoke. Gradually the power of the Portuguese empire declined and the Christians yearned for regaining independence.
They tried to get a prelate from one of the Eastern Churches to lead the people out of this torpid state of affairs. And when their efforts were proved futile, they declared their independence and shook off the Roman supremacy after 54 years of submission, with the ‘Oath of Coonen Cross’ in AD 1653. That was a historic event, which inscribed a new chapter in the history of the Church in Malabar. What they wanted was to remain loyal to their ancient faith and traditions.
Their dream was finally materialized when their Archdeacon, Thomas by name, was duly consecrated with the title ‘Mar Thoma’ in 1665 by Mar Gregorius of Jerusalem who was associated with the Jacobite Patriarchate of Antioch. Thus the Episcopal continuity was restored with Mar Thoma I as the first Indian Metropolitan. Thus began the relation of the Syrian Church with the AntiocheneJacobites. Because of the relationship with the Syrian Church, the Church in Malankara (Malabar) was also known as Syrian Church of Malabar.


The throne used for this consecration in 1655 is still in the possession of the Mar Thoma Church and kept in the Poolatheen, the residence of the Malankara Metropolitan at Tiruvalla. It has been used in the installation of every Mar Thoma Metropolitan, to this day, so that the continuity of the throne of Mar Thoma is ensured.
Thereafter, Ten Bishops with the title of ‘Mar Thoma’ were consecrated who held ecclesiastical authority over the Malankara Church from 1653 to 1843. Of the ten Bishops, four had assumed the title Mar Dionysius.
During the time of Mar Thoma VI, who took the title of Dionysius I, Mar Gregorios, a foreign Bishop consecrated a new Bishop with the title Mar Koorilos. Mar Dionysus raised objections and Mar Koorilos had established his seat at Thozhiyoor, near Kunnamkulam on the British Malabar border. This Church continued as an independent church from that time. This Church maintains cordial relations with the Mar Thoma Church, especially for inter-church consecration of Bishops even on date.
By this time, Malankara Syrian Christians had developed close relations with the missionaries sent from Church Mission Society in London. But soon seeds of misunderstanding were sown and cracks appeared in their relationship. This gap widened and ultimately resulted in their parting of ways. With the converts they gained and with the Syrians who joined them eventually, a branch of the Church of England known as the Diocese of Travancore and Cochin was formed (1879).
But that was not the end. There was a nucleus of people in the church who longed for the removal of unscriptural customs and practices which had crept into the church over the centuries. They envisioned a reformation in the Church in the light of the Gospel of our Lord. There were two outstanding leaders in this group, one was Palakunnathu Abraham Malpan of Maramon (1796-1845) and the other, KaithayilGeevargheseMalpan of Puthuppally (1800-1855). Both were teachers in the Syrian Seminary (established in AD 1813 by Pulikottil Mar Dionysius) and had opportunities to come into close personal contact with the missionaries and to share their insights regarding the Christian life and the nature and functioning of the Church as depicted in the New Testament and to imbibe the ideas of the Western Reformation. The group led by these two was very much concerned about the need of a revival in the Church.

Reformation Movement 
Palakkunnathu Abraham Malpan from Maramon and KaithayilGeevargheseMalpan from Kottayam who spearheaded this movement, never wanted to start a separate Church. They wanted the reformation, staying within the Church. This group gradually became vocal and approached Col. Fraser, the British Resident, with a memorandum in 1836 . But since nothing came of it, Abraham Malpan decided to take action in his own parish of Maramon which was sympathetic towards his ideas of reform. He translated the liturgy of the Holy Qurbana into local language Malayalam from Syriac and also eliminated from it the prayers for the dead and invocation of saints etc. He celebrated Holy Qurbana in his church using the revised St.James liturgy on a Sunday in 1836. This was tantamount to firing the first shot of the reformation. He later on removed from the church the wooden image of a saint reputed to have miraculous powers, and in whose honor an annual festival was held that brought in huge income to the Parish. Both at Maramon and at the Syrian Seminary at Kottayam, and in the neighboring Parishes of Pallom and Kollad, Abraham Malpan popularized Bible teaching and preaching. Abraham Malpan and GeevargheseMalpan had to give up their service in the Seminary, in 1840. Since then Abraham Malpan concentrated his attention on the work of reform, holding Bible classes and prayer meetings and instructing the deacons who were loyal to him.

Most prominent elements in the Reformation were:

  • Return to the gospel message of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ;
  • Cleansing of wrong ways of life, and
  • Taking up responsibility to be witnesses of Jesus Christ to other;
  • All importance be given to the primacy of the Word of God.

Thus the reformation movement was started. It was a return to the purity of the life and practice of the early Church. The emphasis on preaching the word of God led to revival meetings, which were led both by the clergy and laymen. The domination of the clergy as custodians of grace became a thing of the past. Emphasis was given to the sole mediation of Christ, importance of laity and priesthood of all believers. More and more groups were formed for Bible study; and conventions for preaching and hearing the Word of God became common.
Metropolitan Chepat Mar Dionysius was not prepared to accept such changes. So he refused to ordain the deacons who had undergone training with Abraham Malpan. He also excommunicated Abraham Malpan. So Abraham Malpan went to his mother-parish at Maramon. He stood strong in faith and convictions when faced with serious challenges and great difficulties. However the whole parish stood with him. Others who favoured the reforms went to hear his preaching and were strengthed by his exhortations. Some other parishes also decided to adopt the programme of reformation. Abraham Malpan realized that unless he had the support of a bishop who was sympathetic towards his reforms, there was little prospect of the movement gaining ground. So he sent his nephew Deacon Mathew, who was then studying in Madras, to the Patriarch at Mardin in Syria. The Patriarch, being impressed with the character and ability of the deacon, in due course ordained him as priest and consecrated him as Metropolitan, with the name Mathews Mar Athanasius. The new Bishop arrived in Cochin in 1843 with credentials received from the Patriarch.
The new Metropolitan went to Trivandrum and tried to obtain the Royal proclamation declaring him as the Metropolitan of the Malankara Church. Chepat Mar Dionysius opposed this. Mathews Mar Athanasius got the royal proclamation in 1852 declaring him as the Metropolitan of the Malankara Church. Abraham Malpan died at the early age of 49 years in 1845. Having received the Royal proclamation, Mathews Mar Athanasius made himself more active and involved in the cause of reformation. Years later a group led by Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius who was consecrated by the Patriarch of Antioch worked vigorously against him and his attempts to continue reformation. Mathews Mar Athanasius, consecratd his cousin Abraham Malpan’s son, as Thomas Mar Athanasius in 1868. The reformed party had possession of the Syrian Seminary as Mathews Mar Athanasius had been declared as the Malankara Metropolitan. The Partriarch of Antioch himself came to Kerala in 1875. A prolonged litigation followed, as to who was the rightful Malankara Metropolitan. Mathews Mar Athanasius died in 1877 and Thomas Mar Athanasius had to carry the burden of conducting the court cases, for the possession of the Syrian Seminary and Church property. This case was decided in the royal court of appeal in Trivandrum, in 1889. Two judges decreed that Joseph Mar Dionysius was the rightful Metropolitan of the Malankara Church as he expressed allegiance to the Patriarch of Antioch. One Christian Judge gave the verdict in favour of Thomas Mar Athanasius because of his conviction that the Malankara Church has been an independent Church from the beginning. The majority view prevailed and Thomas Mar Athanasius had to leave the Syrian Seminary and the properties there, because he upheld the autonomy of the Church. It was suggested that Thomas Mar Athanasius would be recognized as Malankara Metropolitan, if he agreed that future consecrations of Bishops should be by the Partriarch of Anticoh. He did not agree to this proposal as it was against the autonomy of the Church.
Again, litigation continued for the possession of individual churches. The reform party got only Maramon and Kozhencherry churches by court decision, and the Kottarakara church without contest. Five churches were to be used by the two parties on alternate Sundays. They put up small sheds in other places to hold worship services.
Even though the reform party lost their hereditary and rightful possession, it became the occasion for the people to turn to God and to go forward in faith, trusting in the power of God. This led to a spiritual revival and great joy in spite of difficulties. It was this spiritual fervour which sustained the people. The Maramon Convention (Evangelistic Meeting) was started about this time in the year 1896. The famous Maramon Convention which we have been holding annually for over a century, is a source of great spiritual power and inspiration for innumerable people. The losses were forgotten in the zeal of spiritual fulfillment. The concern for the spread of the Gospel gave momentum to the reformation movement. The successive Metropolitans of the Church also continued in the same spirit, with the help of dedicated clergy whose leadership and sacrificial lives have been deeply appreciated by the people in the Church. 
Post Reformation 
Though the reformists succeeded in introducing the revised order of worship and successfully discontinued many practices, they had to pay a heavy price for achieving the desired result and had to face serious mental and financial strains arising out of the prolonged legal battles. In pursuance of the judgment handed out by the Royal Court of Appeal, Bishops consecrated by the reformists group lost control of the Malankara Church and had to vacate the Syrian Seminary at Kottayam, considered as the headquarters of the Malankara Church.
Our forefathers, however, did not lose heart. On the contrary, the material loss and humiliation suffered by them infused renewed vigour and hope in their minds and gave them the confidence to start rebuilding the Church from scratch, laying their trust in God almighty. There has been a phenomenal expansion of the Church during the last six decades, widening its frontiers to various countries of West Asia, Africa, North America and Western Europe. 
Click For More Details of the Church
The Church has now 1166 parishes including congregations, divided into twelve dioceses. There are 13 Bishops including the Metropolitan and 795 active priests (and 151 retired priests). It has a democratic pattern of administration with a representative assembly (PrathinidhiMandalam), an executive council (Sabha Council) and an Episcopal Synod.
The Church has been active in the field of education and owns Colleges, Higher Secondary Schools, Vocational Higher Secondary School, High Schools, Training School and other educational institutions owned and managed by individual parishes.
The Church has social welfare institutionsdestitute homes and Hospitals. The Mar ThomaTehological Seminary (Estd: in 1926) and other Theological Institutes cater to the theological education of both the clergy and the laity. Further, there are Study Centres, for arranging regular study programmes and to provide opportunities for creative dialogue between church and society on various ethical, moral, social and religious issues. The religious education of children is looked after by the Christian Education Department - the Sunday School Samajam (organized in 1905) and the work among youth is carried on by the Youth Department - theYuvajanaSakhyam (organized in 1933). The Church has a women’s department - the Mar ThomaSuviseshaSevikaSanghom (organized in 1919) which is vigorously active.
THE ECUMENICAL NATURE:The Church actively participates in the programmes of the World Council of Churches, the Christian Conference of Asia, the National Council of Churches and the Kerala Christian Council. It is in full communion with the Anglican Church, The Church of South India and the Church of North India and has cordial relations with the various denominations of the Christian Church. The Church actively co-operates with the C.S.I. and the C.N.I. through CCI (Communion of Churches in India).
The Mar Thoma Church is financially independent and maintains its indigenous nature. Its regular work as well as special projects are almost entirely financed by contributions from its members at home and abroad.
While the history of the Church especially during the last century shows advance and growth in various directions, it will be admitted that there is little room for complacency. In the life of the individual as well as the community, we lag far behind the standard set by our Lord. The Church is in need of renewal in Spirit in order to become more effective and useful instrument in His hands for the extension of His Kingdom. As members of the Church let us therefore surrender ourselves under the mighty hand of God so that He may exalt us and use us for His glory in the years to come.