Mar Thoma Syrian Church of India
Sinai Mar Thoma Center
2320 S. Merrick Avenue
Merrick, NY 11566
According to tradition, the Mar Thoma Church was established as a result of the apostolic mission of St. Thomas, the apostle in 52 AD. Church history attests to the continuity of the community of faithful, throughout the long centuries in India. The liturgy and faith practices of the Church were based on the relationship between the Church in Kerala, India, which St. Thomas founded, with the East-Syrian and Persian Churches. This started in the 3rd century and continued up to the 16th century. In the 17th century, the Malabar Church of St. Thomas (as the Church in Kerala was known) renewed her relationship with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch as part of the resistance to forced Latinization by the Portuguese. This process also led to the development of the Kerala Episcopacy, whereby the first Indian Bishop Mar Thoma I was consecrated in Kerala.
The Mar Thoma Church retains her Eastern Orthodoxy. She follows an Orthodox worship form and liturgy, believes in the catholicity of grace, is missionary and evangelistic in approach. She derives Episcopal succession from the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and follows Eastern Reformed Theology. She is independent, autonomous, and indigenous, constitutionally combining democratic values and Episcopal authority. She has been in full communion with the Anglican Church since 1954.
The Mar Thoma Church has been dynamically involved in the socio-cultural settings of North America and Europe for the past 30 years. Fundamentally an immigrant Church, she has contextualized her ministry in her new life situation without compromising the rich ethos and tradition received from her motherland of Kerala, India. Currently, under the rubric of the Diocese, there are 67 parishes and 13 congregations. In order to cater to the ministerial needs of the Diocese, there are 70 clergy as well as functioning organizations for children, youth, women, and evangelistic work. The Diocese is presided over by the Diocesan Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Theodosius Episcopa.
The history of the Mar Thoma Church in the North American and European continent represents the dreams and aspirations of the faithful members of the Church. Commencing as a small prayer group in Queens, New York, in 1972, the first approved parish was recognized in New York in 1976. The churches in North America and United Kingdom have become constituents of the newly formed "Diocese of North America and United Kingdom." The Headquarters has subsequently moved to its current location at 2320 South Merrick Avenue, Merrick, N.Y.