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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.

St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India
Steci logo.png
St Thomas Evangelical Church Of India Emblem
TypeEastern Christian with Evangelical influences
ClassificationSyrian Christianity
OrientationEvangelical Protestant
Reform Orthodox
PolityEpiscopal
PrimateBishop Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Abraham
LanguageMalayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Odia, Gujarathi,
HeadquartersThiruvalla Kerala, India
TerritoryUniversal
PossessionsIndia, North America, Canada, Europe, Great Britain-London & Belfast, Middle East, Singapore
FounderThomas the Apostle
IndependenceApostolic Era
RecognitionIndependent Episcopal Church, 1961
Separated fromMar Thoma Syrian Church (1961)
Members100,000
Official websitehttp://steci.org/

Contents

HistoryEdit

 
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 sacred 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 an evangelistic mission.

Until 1961, the church's history was deeply connected to the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church,and 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 .

SchismEdit

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, at the residence of the Rev. Dr. K.M. Ninan.

The consecration of the bishops – Ordination by PresbytersEdit

Rev. K.N. Oommen, Rev. P. John Varghese, were consecrated as bishopss. 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.

Split of Evangelical churchEdit

In 1971 St Thomas Evangelical Church was split into two. The new faction named themselves as St Thomas Evangelical Fellowship. Later in 1992, a few members of the Fellowship joined back with the Evangelical faction, and later in 2000 another effort for reunion was made, but the two churches decided to remain separate.[1]

Prominent leadersEdit

 
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, Kalliserry
  17. K. A. Abraham
  18. K. K Mathew
  19. K. S. Joseph
  20. A. G. Mathew

BishopsEdit

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

Late bishopsEdit

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

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit