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The Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar
yohanMalankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church is one of the oldest groups of praticising Christians in the world. Believed to be followers of one of the original disciples of Jesus Christ - St. Thomas (also called Didimus or Thomas, the doubter). It is widely believed that the Apostle St. Thomas came to Muziris on the south west coast of India in AD 52 and laid the foundations of Christianity in this part of the world.

Today, the headquarters is located at SCS Campus, Thiruvalla, Kerala, India and has over a million adherents spread worldwide. The goal and function adopted by the church is:
  • 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
  • To make disciples of all nations by the proclamation of the Gospel to all the world, and through the administration of Holy Baptism in the name of True God

The Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church (officially the Malankara Mar Thoma Suryani Sabha) also known as the Mar Thoma Church is a Christian denomination based in the state of Kerala in southwestern India. It has an entirely different identity when compared with other Churches in India. Most Christian churches around the world are divided into Western or Eastern traditions. Eastern churches are again divided into two: the Eastern Orthodox and the Eastern Oriental. Mar Thoma Church is an Eastern Oriental Church. It adheres to the Syriac tradition and bases its teachings in accordance with Biblical teachings. It is one of the Saint Thomas Christian churches tracing its origins to the missionary activity of Thomas the Apostle. The Mar Thoma Church defines itself as "Apostolic in origin, Catholic in nature, Biblical in faith, Evangelical in principle, Ecumenical in outlook, Oriental in worship, Democratic in function, Episcopal in character and is a Reformed Church.

Until the beginning of 20th century Marthomites lived in a few districts of Central Travancore and Kunnamkulam in Kerala. Since that time it has spread with the 20th-century Indian diaspora to North America, Europe, the Middle East, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and currently has around one million members worldwide.Their mother tongue is Malayalam, the language of Kerala. Malankara is the ancient name of the land between the Mala(mountain) and the Kara(land) on the south-western side of Indian Peninsula. It was between Gokarnam and Kanyakumari the southern point of India. Kerala, the present south-western state of India is only a part of Malankara. It is also thought to be a cognate of this name Maliankara, a place near Muziris, where Thomas the Apostle first landed in Kerala. Mar Thoma or Marthoma is Aramaic, means Saint Thomas. Members of this church are often referred to as Marthomites. Syrian Church. The original liturgical language used in Malankara Church was Aramaic and Hebrew. Later this was replaced by Syriac. In 1898 the church decided to continue its old name Malankara Marthoma Church with the addition of Syriac in it.

Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church has a well defined constitution and has a democratic pattern of administration. There is an ‘Episcopal Synod’, a Grand Assembly known as ‘Marthoma Suryani Sabha Prathinidhi Mandalam’ (House of Representatives), a council to aid the Metropolitan in administrative matters and a Vaideeka Selection Committee, to select candidates for the ministry of the Church. Each diocese has its own council and an assembly. The assembly members are elected by the individual parishes, and the council members, by the Assembly. All members of a parish are members of Edavaka Sangham (General Body) and they also have the right to elect their representatives to the Diocesan Assembly and Prathinidhi Mandalam, (Church Parliament). The title of the head of the Church is “Marthoma” and is addressed as “Marthoma Metropolitan”. He is installed from among the duly consecrated bishops (episcopas) of the Church, the choice being ordinarily that of the senior most among them. The present “Marthoma Metropolitan” is the Most Reverend Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma who resides at Poolatheen at Church Headquarters in Tiruvalla, Kerala. If the Metropolitan is personally satisfied that he has difficulty to continue to perform the duties appertaining to his office, he may, relinquish the powers and responsibilities as the Metropolitan. Then he becomes the Senior Mar Thoma Metropolitan and is addressed as “Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan”. The present “Marthoma Valiya Metropolitan” is the Most Reverend Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Valiya Metropolitan. To assist the Metropolitan there are episcopas, the senior most among them is called Suffragan Metropolitan. The present members of the Episcopal Synod are:
  • The Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Valiya Metropolitan.
  • The Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan
  • The Rt. Rev. Dr. Zacharias Mar Theophilus Suffragan Metropolitan.
  • The Rt. Rev. Geevarghese Mar Athanasius Episcopa.
  • The Rt. Rev. Dr. Geevarhese Mar Theodosius Episcopa.
  • The Rt. Rev. Dr. Euyakim Mar Coorilos Episcopa.
  • The Rt. Rev. Joseph Mar Barnabas Episcopa.
  • The Rt. Rev. Thomas Mar Timotheos Episcopa.
  • The Rt. Rev. Dr. Isaac Mar Philoxenos Episcopa.
  • The Rt. Rev. Dr. Abraham Mar Paulos Episcopa.
  • The Rt. Rev. Dr. Mathews Mar Makarios Episcopa
  • The Rt. Rev. Gregorios Mar Stephanos Episcopa
  • The Rt Rev. Dr. Thomas Mar Titus Episcopa
Clergy – ministers ‘’Semmasan’’ (Deacons): The Sabha Prathinidhi Mandalam elects a Vaideeka Selection board to select candidates for the ministry of the Church.

Kassessa(Clergy): Persons receiving ordination as ministers shall be duly ordained deacons. They all have had their theological training at the Mar Thoma Theological Seminary, Kottayam, Kerala.

Vicars general: From among the clergy who have completed 25 years of service in the ordained ministry and not less than sixty years of age are selected and ordained as vicars general. In the absence of the diocesan bishop, they may be appointed as head of the diocese.

Administrative divisions
For administrative purpose, the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church is divided into 12 dioceses w.e.f. January 1, 2010, headed by a Metropolitan or by an Episcopa. They are:
  • Diocese of Adoor
  • Diocese of Malaysia-Australia-Singapore
  • Diocese of Chengannur-Mavelikara
  • Diocese of Niranam-Maramon
  • Diocese of Ranny-Nilackel
  • Diocese of Thiruvananthapuram-Kollam
  • Diocese of Kottayam- Kochi
  • Diocese of Chennai- Bangalore
  • Diocese of Kunnamkulam- Malabar
  • Diocese of Delhi
  • Diocese of Mumbai
  • Diocese of North America-Europe
Logo of Mar Thoma Church
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