About our parish
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.
2013 was the Silver Jubilee Year of the St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India, Philadelphia Parish. From its humble beginning in 1987 as a small prayer group, comprised of four families and a bachelor, the parish has come a long way. Our Almighty God protected us and showered His blessings and mercies upon us during these years, both individually and corporately. In its 25th year, the parish decided to celebrate the silver jubilee year to remember and celebrate Gods’ profound love and faithfulness it experienced over these years. The Silver Jubilee celebrations were inaugurated by the Presiding Bishop of STECI, Most Rev. Dr. C.V. Mathew on July 20, 2013. The inaugural meeting was attended by several presbyters from the sister parishes of STECI and also from neighboring churches located in Philadelphia. During the inaugural event, many founding members reflected on the journey of the parish during the past 25 years and how God was faithful to them in His provisions. During the inaugural event, various parish wings performed songs and skits that showcased Gods love and faithfulness. As part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, we organized a one day family workshop, a bus trip to Lancaster, PA; Music Fest and published a Souvenir to commemorate the Silver Jubilee year. The culmination of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations was held on July 13, 2014 with our Diocesan Bishop, Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Abraham where we honored the senior members age 70 and above of the parish were honored for their services and leadership over the years.
God in His infinite mercy enabled us to purchase a new church building in the suburb of Philadelphia in 2015. Our Presiding Bishop, Most Rev. Dr. C.V. Mathew dedicated the church building at 785 W Street Road in Warminster on July 4, 2015. As a parish, we are grateful to our friends and family who contributed generously for the purchase of our new church. We also extend a heartfelt thanks to all parish members, church building committee, executive committee and the Board of Trustees for their hard work and dedication.
Our Worship Services and Sunday school classes are conducted on Sundays from 9 am to 12:45 pm. First and third Sundays, we are able to conduct worship services in English and in Malayalam. The Holy Communion Service along with Birthday/Wedding Anniversary thanksgiving prayers are conducted twice a month, every second Sunday in English and fourth Sunday in Malayalam. Weekly programs such as Cottage Prayer Meetings are conducted on Saturday evenings, Men’s Fellowship on Tuesdays and Bible Study on Thursdays is held in the Parsonage. In addition to weekly programs, Women’s and Youth fellowship meet once a month and a monthly fasting prayer is conducted every second Saturday in the church.
At present, our Parish and its wings support the STECI Mission Fields in Illithode, Gujarat, student scholarships at JMBC, Dondi Children’s Home (supported by Sevini Samajam) and Amla Mission Field of Youth Board (supported by Youth’s Union). Vacation Bible School, Nursing Home visits, door-to-door distribution of Christian literature and Food Drive are some of the community outreach ministries of the parish. Under the leadership of our Parish Mission team, members have participated over the years in the medical mission trips to various parts of India.
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 served as our Vicar from January 1, 2005 to May 31, 2007, Rev. Biju Thomas from June 1, 2007 to May 31, 2010, Rev. Dr. Abraham Chacko from June 1, 2010 to May 31, 2013, Rev. Johnson Daniel from June 1, 2014 to May 14, 2017 and presently, Rev. George Joseph serving the members from June 19, 2017.
Today, we have over 57 families and over 150 communicant members participate in regular activities of the parish. 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.