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History of The Parish

A Brief History of Mar Thoma Church Melbourne Parish

The early beginning and growth of the Mar Thoma Congregation in Melbourne may be viewed in the context of several Episcopal visits to Australia from 1970. A home group of the Mar Thoma people was formed after the visit of Bishop Thomas Mar Athanasious in 1980. Initially, the homegroup met once a year and then it became twice yearly on a regular basis in various homes for Bible study and fellowship. Later we moved to a church hall in Vermont and started conducting Divine Services.

From the visits of Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan in 1981, Bishop Philipose Mar Crysostom in 1982, Bishop Zacharias Mar Theophilos in 1983 and Bishop Joseph Mar Ireneous in 1984, an idea of the size of the Mar Thoma community in Melbourne became clear to the Episcopal synod and Australia was included as part of the diocese of Malaysia and Singapore.

The idea of forming a Mar Thoma congregation started to crystallise during the visit of Bishop Zacharias Mar Theophilos in 1991. The arrangement was made with the Anglican diocese for the appointment of a Mar Thoma priest based in Sydney to provide pastoral care to the Mar Thoma members in Sydney and Melbourne.

Rev: Dr Abraham Kuruvilla was appointed as the first vicar who came to Sydney in 1992. Holy Communion service was conducted in Melbourne once in two months.

Rev: K S Mathew arrived in 1995 and the frequency of worship service was increased to monthly. Rev: Thomas Philip from Malaysia was appointed as the Assistant Vicar of the Melbourne Congregation and this arrangement enabled Services to be held twice a month initially and thrice monthly soon after.

The growth of the Congregation led to the moving of services from Deep Creek Anglican Church in Templestowe to Christ Church Mitcham in 1995. The idea of forming a parish of the Mar Thoma Church was expressed by Rt Rev Thomas Mar Themotheos during his visit in 1996 and the Melbourne Congregation was approved by the Episcopal Synod as a Parish in 1997. In March 1998 Mar Thoma Syrian Church Australia was incorporated as a legal entity in Victoria.

The following priests served in Melbourne Parish from 1992.

Rev Dr Abraham Kuruvilla 1992-1995

Rev K S Mathew 1995-1997

Rev Sabu Philip 1997-2002

Rev Varghese Philip 2002-2005

Rev K M Mathew 2005-2008

Rev Boby Philip 2008-2011

Rev Jacob John May 2011-August 2011

Rev C Thomas 2012-2015

Rev K J Philip 2015 -2018

Rev Abraham C Mathew 2018-2022

Rev. Shoji Varghese 2022 - Current

The present church property previously known as College Church was purchased from the Uniting Church of Australia in March 2008. The College Church congregation of the Presbyterian Church started in 1891. In 1895 they purchased the site of the present building and built this church. The exterior of the Church now is almost exactly as it was when it was built in 1897.

The consecration of the church building was conducted on 8th March 2008 by the then Diocesan Bishop, Rt Rev Dr Geevarghese Mar Theodosius. It is a privilege for us to own such a historic and culturally significant church which is a landmark building in one of Melbourne’s premier boulevards.

We started as a congregation with 32 families in 1991. When we became a parish in 1997, the membership was 50 families. Our membership at present is about 300 families including individual members with a total membership of 925 including children. 41 families residing in the Melbourne South area who were part of our church have formed a separate parish in 2012 called Emmanuel Mar Thoma Church.

As a Christian community, the evangelical commitment is central to our faith. The Edavaka Mission (Karunya) have supported and worked with a large number of mission programs over the past 20 years. These missions include the supporting theological studies amongst first-generation believers, educating underprivileged children and assistance programs for the disabled and mentally challenged.

Melbourne Mar Thoma Development Fund

The ‘Melbourne Mar Thoma Development Fund’ was constituted in August 2012. The fund aims to purchase land or building for setting up a centre involving facilities for retreat and home for the elderly, like a Nursing Home/Aged care which are for members of the Mar Thoma Church, Melbourne. It is now time for us to do something about it and members are requested to partake in the collective vision of our church.