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SABHA HISTORY

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."=Isaiah 41:10

Mar Thoma Church of Greater Seattle is part of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in Kerala, India. Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, traditionally believed to have been founded in the year AD 52 by Saint Thomas- one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ, and known by the name of the Apostle.

The Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, known as Mar Thoma Church, is Apostolic in origin, Universal in nature, Biblical in faith, Evangelical in principle, Ecumenical in outlook, Oriental in worship, democratic in function, and Episcopal in character.

Mar Thoma is Aramaic, and means Saint Thomas. Members of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church are commonly called as Mar Thomiyar, Mar Thomites, or Mar Thoma Syrians. The original liturgical language used by Saint Thomas Christians was the East Syriac language which is a variant of Aramaic.

Arrival of Saint Thomas
Saint Thomas Christians believe that Thomas the Apostle arrived in the Malabar Coast around AD 52. He landed at Muziris (now estimated as Pattanam, near Kochi on the Malabar Coast), after his first mission in the Parthian empire, during the era of King Gondophares It is believed that St. Thomas itinerated for 30 years in Kerala and proceeded

Muziris, near the tip of India, in the Peutinger Table

to the East coast of India from Malankara and died a martyrs' death at a place called Mylapore-Chinnamalai in Tamil Nadu.

First Christians
In early Christian times, 'Nazranis' was not a separate religion, but a sect in the Jewish community. The term was used to denote followers of Jesus of Nazareth. (Acts. 24:5; 28:22). 'Khristianos' (or Christians) was initially used largely to refer non-Jewish people who followed Christ (Acts 11:26). In Kerala, the sect was known as 'Nazraani Margam'. Margam in Malayalam means, 'The Way'. (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:22). Thus, the word Nazraani clearly shows that many who joined them were Jews. But in Kerala, this name was replaced by the word 'Christians' in the 20th century.

The earliest families within the Jewish community to accept the path of Christianity through St. Thomas, later intermarried with the ethnic local community and Brahmins of the 6th century. This led to the upbringing of marginal class or 'sambandham' Brahminic family clans like Pakalomattom, Sankarapuri and Kalli to a different socioeconomic status, they are now widely accepted as the first families who adopted an emigre way of life or 'Christianity' in Kerala

Reformation in Malankara Church

The Reformation movement in the Malankara Syrian Church later resulted in the evolution of an independent indigenous Malankara church under the Mathoma Metropolitan, breaking all the ecclesiastical and temporal control from outside Malankara. In 1898, during the reign of Titus I Mar Thoma the church accepted as its name, Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church or Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar to comprise its order and heritage. The members of this church are known as Mar Thoma Nasrani or Mar Thoma Syrian Nasrani.

Persian crosses

Persian crosses were in churches once attended by Nasranis. Out of five Persian crosses, two are in Kottayam Knanaya Valia Palli. According to

Persian_Cross_at_Kottayam_valiya_pally.png

Persian cross at Kottayam valiya pally

the archaeologists, the earliest one was made in the 7th century. The cross became a symbol of Christianity in the west, during the time of Constantine (272–337). Saint Thomas Christians of Malabar had hardly any contact with other Christians before the arrival of Knanaya people from Persia. Moreover, two of the oldest church buildings that still exist in South India do not have any marking of a Cross on their original structure. So most probably it was during the 7th century that the cross became a symbol of St. Thomas Christians.

Administration

The Mar Thoma Syrian Church has a well-defined constitution and has a democratic pattern of administration. The central administrative setup consists of the Metropolitan, the Episcopal Synod (Consisting of all the Bishops of the Church), the Prathinithi Mandalam (House of Representatives) and the Sabha Council (Executive body of the house of representatives / Mandalam), and the Vaideeka Selection Committee (to select candidates for the ordained ministry of the church).The Central Administration of the Church is backed by the Dioceses

Diocese Name

Mar Thoma Bishop Houses and Diocesan centers

Headquarters

Niranam–Maramon

Poolatheen Aramana

Tiruvalla

Chengannur–Mavelikara

Olivet Aramana

Chengannur

Adoor

Hermon Aramana

Adoor

Kottarakkara–Punalur

Oorshalem Aramana

Kottarakara

Thiruvananthapuram–Kollam

Mar Thoma Kendram

Mannanthala, Trivandrum

Kottayam–Kochi

Bethel Aramana

Manganam, Kottayam

Ranny–Nilackel

Mar Thoma Centre

Ranni

Kunnamkulam–Malabar

Mar Thoma Centre

Kozhikode

Chennai–Bangalore

Mar Thoma Bhavan

Chennai

Mumbai

Mar Thoma Centre

Mumbai

Delhi

Mar Thoma Centre

New Delhi

North America–Europe

Sinai Mar Thoma Center

New York

Malaysia–Singapore–Australia–New Zealand

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OUR VISION

  • To be the repository of the divine doctrines revealed by Jesus Christ and proclaimed by His Apostle.

  • To maintain these doctrines in their purity.

  • To promote the spiritual life of its members through the administration of sacraments and by the ministry of the WORD.

  • The Church affirms that the people of God are sent all over to the world and they partake in the soteriological mission of God, to unite everything in Jesus Christ through the ministry of reconciliation begun in Jesus Christ. 

OUR COMMUNITY

It is believed that St.Thomas organized 7 Christian communities for the use of Christians, and ordained presbyters from four leading families.

The seven churches were:

  • Cranganore (Malankara)

  • Chavakad (Palur)

  • Parur near Alwaye

  • Gokamangalam

  • Niranam

  • Nilakkal (Chayal)

  • Quilon (Kalyan)

WHAT WE DO

   The Church is blessed and enriched by the leadership of Metropolitan, Episcopas, ordained Clergy and deacons. Metropolitan is the Supreme head of the Church. The Laity has full participation in the Priestly ministry, given through the Church, by Christ. They are called to profess and practice Christian truths and teachings in their daily life and avocations. The laity shall take active part in the life and ministry of the Church and co-operate in the general administration of the Church.

   The Church believes in Jesus Christ, the God incarnate for the redemption of humankind, and in the Triune God revealed by him, who himself is one among the Trinity. The Church cherishes its Oriental heritage and Episcopacy as a gift of God. The Church accepts Holy Bible as the basis for all matters of faith and doctrine, and the Nicene Creed formulated in accordance with the Holy Scripture. The Church is regarded as a ’bridge’ church in the Ecumenical world.

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