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Brief History
The Origin and growth of the Mar Thoma Parish Melbourne can be summarized as the The Early Beginnings, .Developments from 1980-1990, Developments from 1990-1997: Formation of the Mar Thoma Congregation and The formation of Mar Thoma Parish in 1997 and further growth
1. Early Beginnings
Australia was not a favorite destination of non-Europeans till late 60's due to certain govt. policies. UN pressure and acute shortage of skilled people led to the relaxation of these policies. The new situation facilitated the migration of people from Asian and other countries to Australia. A few Marthomites were among the early migrants. The number of settlers increased with time during the period after 1970.They joined the local churches for Worship and pastoral needs.
2. Developments from 1980-1990
The early beginning and growth of the Mar Thoma Congregation may be viewed in the context of several Episcopal visits to Australia from 1980-1996.Bishop Thomas Mar Athanasius Suffragan Metropolitan's visit to Melbourne in May 1980 for a WCC meeting and the celebration of a Holy Communion Service at St. Andrews Anglican Church, Glen Waverly was a morale boost to the Mar Thoma Community having a strength of about 10 families. The Visits of His Grace Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan in March 1981,Bishop Philipose Mar Chrysostom in December 1982,Zacharias Mar Theophilose in April 1984 and Bishop Joseph Mar Irenaeus in 1984 paved the way for the formation of a Mar Thoma Congregation in Melbourne. The Small Mar Thoma Community organized themselves as a prayer group and occasionally met at the member's homes. As the number of members increased the prayer group met at the Vermont Uniting Church Hall and started divine services. As the number increased, towards the end of 1989 the community moved to St. Philips Anglican Church, East Don caster for services.
3. Developments after 1990
The Visit of Bishop Zacharias Mar Theophilose to Canberra for the 7thGeneral Assembly of WCC in February 1991 and his stay at Melbourne helped to crystallize the idea of forming a Mar Thoma Congregation. A General Meeting of the Mar Thoma Members was convened and a resolution to form a congregation was passed. During this visit Thirumeni also finalized an arrangement with the Anglican Diocese of Sydney for the appointment of a Mar Thoma Achen to be based in Sydney to provide pastoral care to the Mar Thoma Members in Sydney and Melbourne. Rev. Dr. Abraham Kuruvilla was appointed and he arrived in January 1992 Rev. Abraham Kuruvilla visited Melbourne once in two months to provide pastoral care and conduct services for the Mar Thoma Congregation in Melbourne. After Rev Abraham Kuruvilla Rev. K. S. Mathew was appointed. The frequency of services in Melbourne was then increased from bi-monthly to monthly. However the absence of a resident Achen in Melbourne affected the growth of the Congregation. This problem was partly overcome by the appointment of Rev. Thomas Philips from Malaysia, as the assistant vicar of the Melbourne Congregation in Sept 1994, who came here to pursue a Masters Degree with a scholarship from the Uniting Church. This arrangement helped to increase the frequency of the services and to the organization of other church activities like Sunday School and Parish camp. The growth of the Congregation led to the moving of the services from the The Deep Creek Anglican Church to Christ church (Anglican ) Mitcham. Delighted by the rapid growth of the Congregation the Dio. Bishop Rt. Rev. Thomas Mar Timotheos during his visit in December 1996 exhorted the Congregation to grow to the status of a Parish.
4. Melbourne Parish 1997-2008
In 1997 Nov.l the Melbourne Congregation was approved by the Episcopal Synod as a Parish of the Mar Thoma Church under the Diocese of Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. Subsequently in March 1998 the Melbourne parish was incorporated as a legal entity as per the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 of the State of Victoria. The Melbourne Parish is now called The Mar Thoma Syrian Church Australia
Rev. Sabu Philip was appointed as the first resident Vicar of the Melbourne Mar Thoma Parish in 1997. Rev Sabu Philip who came on a student Visa pursued his post graduate studies and his Doctoral research in Theology in the Melbourne College of Divinity. He ministered to the Parish along with his family till April 2002.
By this time the number of families has grown to 83 and activities have increased from Sunday Worship, Sunday School, Family Camp and Youth Camp to Women's Group (Sevika Sanghom), Youth Group, Choir,
Zonal Prayer Meetings and the Mission work of the Parish, namely Karunya.
Rev. Varghese Philip was appointed as the Vicar from May 2002. Along with the family he served the Parish till April 2005. The number of families increased to 100 in 2005. The purchase of a house at Mill Park to be used as Vicarage( Parsonage) in 2004 December was a remarkable development.
Rev. K. M. Mathew was appointed Vicar in May 2005. Along with the family he served the Parish till April 2008.
The Lord blessed us immensely during Achens service. It was during Achens service we purchased the Parkville uniting Church which was the major highlight in the history of Marthoma Syrian Church. Mathew Achen and committee members were very dedicated in their effort to purchase the church. The personal interest of Dr. Billy and his wife Heather also was a contributing factor in purchasing this property.. The consecration of the church was conducted by our diocesan bishop Rt Rev. Dr Geevarghese Mar Theodosious Thirumeni on 8th March 2008. We are indeed very proud to say that this is the FIRST our OWN Marthoma Church in Australia.
Strength of the Parish is around 160 families with a total of 550 members.
Rev Boby Philip took charge from May 2008 with family. We are indeed blessed to have achen as our Vicar.
We have regular Worships services in English and Malayalam, Monthly Prayer Meetings in all the Three Zones & Frankston, Sunday School, Youth Meetings, Women's Group, Choir, Youth Camp, Family Camp and Pastoral Visits catering to the spiritual growth of our Parish.
Through the Mission Arm 'Karunya', the Parish has always strove to fulfill its obligation to the local community and the needy community at large by working closely with local charitable organizations, in particular with TEAR Australia.
With this I like to conclude that the Lord God Almighty continue to bless us and sustain us in our new Church and as we move forward, be a glowing light in the City of Melbourne