The regular worship service of the St Thomas Evangelical Church of India in Philadelphia began in November 1987 at the Fellowship hall of St Paul’s Reformed Episcopal Church in Oreland, Pennsylvania. Rev. M.V. Abraham & family, Rev. Dr. Paul. J. Pathickal & family, Mr. John Mathew & family, Mr. Cherian Daniel & family, and Mr. Sam Pathickal were present. On April 15, 1988 the Church became a Non- Profit Corporation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and on December 24, 1988 the honorable Sabha Council officially recognized it as a Parish of the St Thomas Evangelical Church of India.
Before the congregation was recognized as a Parish, members of the St Thomas Evangelical Church of India, Rev. M.V. Abraham and Rev. Dr. Paul Pathickal with their families used to get together for prayer in the 70’s, occasionally joined by Mr. P. L. Thankachan and his Family. Worship services were conducted using the Book of the Common Prayer of the St Thomas Evangelical Church of India in which Rev T. C. George (1979) and Rev P. M. Samuel (1981) and Bishop Rt. Rev T.C. Cherian (1981, 1985) participated.
From 1985 onward, regular prayer meetings were being conducted in the homes of our members. From the very beginning members have been interested in the mission work in India. So, we started to support Dondi Mission Field in 1985. The Lord added members and the Church continued its growth from four families to 14 in 1987, to 32 families and over 100 members in 2001.The congregation had worship service every Sunday at St Paul’s Reformed Episcopal Church. Members of the parish are grateful to St Paul’s Reformed Episcopal Church for their kindness in allowing us to use their facility without any reservation.
As the Church continued its growth we realized that we needed a church building of our own. We began praying and looking for a building. As a result in March 2001 we signed an agreement to purchase a building located at 9039 Eastview St., Philadelphia PA 19152.In July of 2001 we moved into our new facility and conducted our first worship service there. The dedication service was held on August 25, 2001, by our Bishop Rt. Rev. T. C. Cherian. We thank all those who prayed with us and contributed sacrificially to the purchase of our church.
Rev. M. V. Abraham retired as the Vicar effective December 31, 2004. His valuable and effective leadership since the inception of the parish was commendable. Then Rev. Sunny C. John, who came to USA on study leave from the faculty of Jubilee Memorial Bible College, Chennai, was our Vicar from January 1, 2005 to May 31, 2007. Rev. Biju Thomas, a graduate of JMBC served as our Vicar from June 1, 2007 to May 31, 2010. Rev. Dr. Abraham Chacko, a long time faculty of JMBC is the Vicar of our Parish from June 1, 2010.
On Sundays, we have our Sunday school at 9:20AM and Worship Service at 10:20AM. The Holy Communion service along with Birthday and Wedding Anniversary thanksgiving services are conducted twice a month, every second Sunday in English and fourth Sunday in Malayalam. Cottage Prayer Meetings are conducted on Saturday evenings, Men’s Fellowship on Tuesdays, Bible Study on Thursdays, Women’s fellowship on Saturday mornings, the Sevini Samajam meets once every month, Youth’s Union meets once every month and the Couples fellowship meet once every three months.
At present, our Parish and its wings support the STECI Mission Fields in Jaipur, Gujarat, Andegarh, Dondi, two student scholarships at JMBC, Dondi Children’s Home (supported by Sevini Samajam), Amla Mission Field of Youth Board (supported by Youth’s Union), Gurgaon Mission Field of Sunday School Board (supported by Sunday School). Vacation Bible School, Nursing Home visits, door-to-door distribution of Christian literature, Food and Clothes Drive are part of the Parish community outreach ministries. Under the leadership of our Parish Mission team, we were part of the two medical Mission trips to JMBC and the surrounding villages in Chennai.
Today we have over 70 families and 150 communicant members. We are grateful to the Lord for helping us to grow together in strength both physically and spiritually. We are certain that He who has begun a good work in us will continue it till the day of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master.