Epiphany Mar Thoma Church New York

Mar Thoma Syrian Church

Ozone Park, New York, USA


103-05, 103 St
Ozone Park New York, USA

The first approved congregation in North America started as the Mar Thoma-Church of South India prayer group. The congregation, the Mar Thoma Church of Greater New York, met for worship service at the All Saints Lutheran church in Jamaica in the borough of Queens in New York City. After conducting worship services briefly at a worship place in Manhattan, the congregation moved in 1974 to a Presbyterian Church near 174th Street in Fort Washington, at the north end of the Manhattan borough of NYC, and it was its abode until the congregation was divided into four parishes.

Owing to the increase in the number of families and commuting difficulties, a geographic division of the parish was called for. In January 1981 the Mar Thoma Church of Greater New York was divided into four separate parishes: Mar Thoma Church of Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island (later christened as Epiphany); Mar Thoma Church of Staten Island; Mar Thoma Church of Manhattan (the Bronx and Yonkers also); and the Mar Thoma Church of New Jersey.

The parish of Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island continued to worship in Fort Washington till June that year, while others found their own worship places. Rev. M.V. Benjamin served them all.

The BQLI parish later conducted a few worship services at locations in 14th St and 31 St in Astoria, Queens, before a team scouting for a permanent worship place, located, with the help of a local Episcopal priest, the Epiphany Episcopal Church, the current facility, which was constructed in 1888 and had long been closed for lack of parishioners. The facility included the church building and basement, an attached basement hall with offices upstairs, and the rectory.

The worship service began in June 1981 led by Rev Benjamin for a couple of months with around 45 families and by the year's end the membership increased to 67 families. Later in the year, the vicar Rev. N.M. Cherian took charge, with Rev. Jacob Thomas as the assistant vicar.

Later in the year an election was conducted at a general body meeting presided over by Rt. Rev. Thomas Thirumeni. A 15-member committee was elected for 1982.

In 1982, the parish was incorporated as "The Epiphany Mar Thoma Church, New York," retaining the original name of the current worship place. The First Parish Day was celebrated in July that year.

As the congregation felt the need for owning a church building, a building committee was formed in 1983 with 31 members. In 1984 a combined meeting of the general body, executive committee and the church building committee presided over by Rt. Rev. Thomas Thirumeni decided to buy the property and facility. It was the second visit of the Thirumeni to the parish that year and it turned out to be his last. Thirumeni passed away later that year. Rev George Mathew, who was taken over as vicar, led the negotiations with the Episcopal Church. Rt. Rev. Joseph Mar Iranaeus visited the parish in December and formally inaugurated the church building and celebrated the rectory warming service. In 1986, a group of families from Long Island sought permission to form a parish which was granted, and the congregation became the Long Island Mar Thoma Church.

As the membership rose, a large facility was sought. A new church building committee consisting of 38 members including the executive committee was formed with then vicar, Rev. T.P. Koshy, as President. In August, Rt Rev Dr Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan blessed the foundation stone. The construction was effected without dislocating the worship service in the old facility. The new church building was dedicated and the first holy communion was celebrated by Rt. Rev. Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan on September 30, 1995.