St. Thomas, the Apostle of Jesus Christ is believed to have landed in AD 52 in Cranganore near Cochin, which was at that time an important seaport on the Malabar Coast, having trade connections with the Middle East in those days. Through the ministry of the Word and the many miracles which tradition attributes to him, he brought many high caste Hindus to the Christian faith. It is believed that he organized 7 Christian communities for the use of these Christians, and ordained presbyters from four leading families. The history of this ancient Church during 4th to 15th centuries reveals the fact that it was in friendly relations with the Church in Persia. There is a tradition that a group of 400 immigrants from Persia arrived in Malabar in AD 345 under the leadership of a merchant named Thomas of Cana, known as Knaye Thommen. Mention is made also of another immigration from Persia in the year AD 825 under the leadership of a Persian merchant named Marwan Sabriso with two Bishops named Mar Sapro and Mar Prodh. They landed in Quilon. King Cheraman Perumal gave them land and extended to them special privileges, inscribed on two sets of Copper Plates (in Malayalam “Chepped”). Three of these are still in the Old Seminary in Kottayam and two are at the Mar Thoma Church Head Quarters, Tiruvalla. 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.
After the 15th century this church came under the influence of many foreign colonizers – Portuguese, Dutch, and English. The Mar Thoma Church is a reformed section of the ancient church established by St. Thomas in AD 52. The Mar Thoma Church is an indigenous church with ‘Eastern Tradition’. The Eastern Christianity refers collectively to the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the eastern region of Roman Empire, illustratively - Greece, Russia, Armenia, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, India, etc. The Mar Thoma Church is an Eastern Reformed Church (we are not a protestant church). Being rooted in the Bible, the Church maintains its Episcopal heritage and value oriented democratic form of administration.
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.
The Church identifies its goal and function as: to be the repository of the divine doctrines revealed by Jesus Christ and proclaimed by His Apostles; to maintain these doctrines in their purity; to promote the spiritual life of its members through the administration of the 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 mission of God, to unite everything in Jesus Christ through the ministry of reconciliation begun in Jesus Christ. 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 is at present blessed by the able leadership of ten Bishops and is headed by Most Rev. Dr. Theodosius Mar Thoma Metropolitan who is the 22nd Malankara Metropolitan to occupy the Holy Apostolic Throne of St. Thomas. The Church is served by 1184 clergy through thirteen dioceses to 1.6 million people (aprox).The headquarters is located at Thiruvalla, Kerala in India and has over a million adherents spread worldwide.
The Mar Thoma Church Logo consists of a shield with the motto ‘Lighted to Lighten’, a Cross with a wheel in the center, a hand lamp and a lotus.