ST.THOMAS ORTHODOX CHURCH OF INDIA, OKLAHOMA
TWO DECADES OF GROWTH IN A TIME-LINE(1981 TO 2006)
This is an earnest attempt to recreate the history of the Church from 1981 to this Silver Jubilee year, 2006, solely based on the available Church documents. If we omitted some names or events, it was not on purpose, so please forgive us.
1981: A small group of Malankara Orthodox Church members gathered at Mr. George Malipurathu’s house on Oct. 3, 1981, as a prayer meeting lead by Rev. Fr. Koshy P John, Lousiana. A name for the Church was adopted as “St. Thomas Orthodox Church of Oklahoma.” Initially, the Congregation has 7-8 members and prayer meetings were conducted once a month. Rev. Fr. Koshy P. John and Rev. Fr. M. T. Philip conducted prayer meetings and services. The first visit to OKC by an Orthodox Bishop was in 1981 by H. G. Geevarghese Mar Osthathiose of the Niranam Diocese. The founding members are David Alunkal, K.M.Simon, Joy Philipose, T.S. Joykutty, Chandy Daniel, T.A. Thomas, George Malipurathu, and Thomas Kalayilparampil.
1982: American Diocesan Bishop, H.G. Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios, visited the Congregation in December and appointed Koshy Achan and Philip Achan to do services at least 4 Sundays per year, from 1983. Visit by Dn. John Kunnathusseril, Dallas during this year. Amy Malipurathu and Stacy Simon were baptized by Makariose Thirumeni during Dec. 1982.
1983: Sunday Services increased to 4 to 6 per year. Rev. Fr. C.O.Varghese, Houston, visited the congregation. Rev. Fr. M.T. Philip conducted prayer meetings and services.
1984: Diocesan Metropolitan recognized the Congregation as a Parish of the American Diocese, under the name of “St. Thomas Malankara Orthodox Church, Oklahoma,” and appointed Rev. Fr. Cherian M. Kunnel as the Vicar, in March 1984. The Sunday services were conducted at P.C. Methodist Church Chapel, OKC. The new Parish elected Thomas Kalayilparampil as trustee and Joy Philipose as Secretary, and worship services began on every Sunday. Monthly prayer meetings started. The Church is incorporated with the Secretary of State, Oklahoma, in June 1984. Sunday School started with Kochukoshy Yohannan as the Headmaster. Birthday/Charity Fund inaugurated by Fr. C.O. Varghese. A Church Building Committee was formed with Thomas Kalayilparampil as Convener. Holy Protection Orthodox Monastery members visited during Perunal, August 24-25. IRS 501(c3) status filed for Church as a Charitable Organization.
1985: H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas, Idukki Diocese visited our Parish. Church picnic started.
1986: Marthamariam Samajam started under the guidance of late Mr. T.K. Itty, Kalayilparampil. Youth League, Christmas Caroling to homes, and English Service on second Sundays initiated. In August, the then Catholicate designate, H.G. Mathews Mar Coorilose visited the Holy Protection Monastery and our Parish. Sunday School Anniversary was conducted during Coorilose Thirumeni’s visit and the Best Student ever rolling trophy in memory of late Baby Kalayilparampil, awarded to Sujith Zachariah, the first time. H. G. Yuhanon Mar Severiose, Cochin Diocese, and Issac Ramban, Pathanapuram Dayara visited us. Rev. Fr. P. V. Varghese (Clery Achan), Kottayam, Rev. Fr. John Geevarghese, Arkansas, and Rev. Fr. C.O. Varghese visited us during the year. New idea of church cleaning by members.
1987: Diocesan Bishop Mar Makariose visited in August to make decisions on the Church finance accounts.
1988: Contract was signed to acquire property at 708 N Rockwell, owned by Ruth Lake, for $40,000, as the site for our future church. John B Seilas negotiated the deal. A historic milestone begins here.
1989: On Jan. 26, 1989, the property deal for 708 N Rockwell was closed and we acquired the small buildings and the property. H. G. Thomas Mar Athanasius of Chengannur Diocese visited the new worship place at the property. Members pledged 4% of their net income for the Building Fund/General Body of April 16, 1989. New phone service installed at Church in Sept.
1990: IRS granted tax exemption status for our Church. Visit by priests: Very Rev. Kurian Thottupuram, Chicago, and Rev. Fr. M. T. Joseph, Kerala, visited during this year.
1991: H. G. Geevarghese Mar Ivaniose, Kottayam diocese, visited in April. Temporary Sunday worship at the Episcopal Church, Yukon. Building contractor, A.J. Savatsky, Weatherford, and Project consultant, Augustine Moses, Stillwater, were selected to build the new Church. Foundation stone for the future Church was laid by Diocesan bishop, Dr. Thomas Mar Makariose, at 620 N. Rockwell on December 14th.
1992: On March 21, Barnabas Thirumeni came to the United States as the assistant of H.H. the Catholicose in the administration of the diocese of America. In July 1992, the new church construction was completed. On July 19, Father Cherian M. Kunnel (Vicar) offered the Holy Quarbana at the new church. In September H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas visited Oklahoma. On September 20, 1992, Father Koshy P. John was appointed as the new vicar and Father Cherian M. Kunnel as the assistant Vicar of the parish. On Nov.
20- 21, the newly built Church was dedicated and consecrated by the Diocesan Bishop in the presence of all previous Vicars and Church members. A banquet followed.
1993: Mrs. Mariamma Philipose was appointed as new Sunday School headmistress. Rev. Fr Mary Offer, Dallas visited Oklahoma. In April Fr. Cherian was transferred to Dallas.
1994: We hosted the Southern Region Sunday School. Teacher’s conference at our church on April 30. Priests, teachers and students from Houston, Dallas and Lousiana participated. Holy Qurbana started on 4 Sundays each month, officiated by Koshy Achan and John Achan, Arkansas. Thomas Kalayilparampil appointed as the Youth Director. All our youth, students and parents attended the Southern Region Family conference at St. Thomas Houston. First youth member, Freddy Simon, was elected to the Church Managing Committee.
1995: H. G. Kuriakose Mar Coorilose, Sultan Bathery Diocese, visited our members with Rev. Fr. C.O. Varghese of Houston. Monthly prayer meetings at member’s homes on Saturday nights. Rev. Fr. M.M. Zachariah, Colorado, visited our Church.
1996: Rev. Fr. John Geevarghese, Arkansas, took charge as the new Vicar. Rev. Fr. Mathew Vaidyan, Kerala, visited this year. Thomas Kalayilparampil attended the Malankara Association in Pathanamthitta as our delegate.
1997: New church sign was erected in memory of late Lali Mathen, donated by Mr. K.V. Mathen of Little Rock, Arkansas, in January. Rev. Fr. T.U. Jacob was appointed as vicar in April. Rev. Fr. T.P. Elias, Mulanthuruthy, visited the Church, during Perunal and Convention.
1998: Parking lot extended to the North. Rev. Fr. John Mathew(Revi Achen), Theological Seminary, visited the Church and MGOCSM youth group.
1999: Diocesan Bishop, Barnabas Thirumeni’s visit in July during Perunal and Rev. Dr.. M.C. Cherian (now Bishop, H.G. Zachariah Mar Theophilos, Malabar Diocese), was the Convention speaker this year.
2000: New Youth leadership for the Church. Jose Joykutty and Lloyd Daniel were elected as trustee and secretary respectively. It was a turning point in our Church history. Church History was written and submitted for the American Diocesan Directory to Rev. Dr. C.O. Varghese. Rev. Dr. O. Thomas, Theological Seminary, visited for the fund raising of the ‘Smrithi’ project. Church subscription rate is revised to be $300 minimum per family for a year.
2001: Rev. Fr. Mammen Mathew, Houston visited this year. He is the Youth Co-ordinator for the Southern Region.
2002: Rev. Fr. T.U.Jacob and John B. Seilas attended the Malankara Association in March, as our delegates. Perunal and Convention during July 5-7, and Rev. Fr. K.I. Chacko, Denton was the main speaker. Rev. Fr. Bijesh Philip, Nagpur Seminary conducted the memorial service for late, T.K. Itty, Kalayilparampil, in July.
2003: Barnabas Thirumeni came to Oklahoma and visited all the church members
2004: Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios visited our Church on June 26th. Fr. T. U. Jacob was transferred to Seattle, Washington in July and Rev. Fr. Cherian M. Kunnel. Was appointed as the new Vicar. Thomas Kalayilparampil was appointed as new Sunday School Headmaster, with Tom Zachariah as the assistant.
2005: Barnabas Thirumeni visited during Perunal and OVBS, Sunday School. anniversary. New account for Sunday School funds initiated. Rev. Fr. Mammen Mathew and Rev. Fr. John Geevarghese conducted services during June and July. General Body decided to build a Fellowship Hall to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the church, and selected Thomas Kalayilparampil, George Malipurathu and Mathews K. Mathew as an exploratory committee. Silver Jubilee Celebrations Committee formed with 12 members with Thomas Kalayilparampil as convener.
2006: General Body invited our new Catholicose and the Diocesan Bishops for the Silver Jubilee Celebrations on July 4-5, as well as State and City elected officials. H.H. Baselius Marthoma Didimos I laid the foundation stone for the Jubilee Memorial Fellowship Hall. It was decided to host a public meeting with the Governor and the Mayor. A grand banquet at the church premises followed the meeting. Several sub-committees were formed. A commemorative souvenir published, and Tom Zachariah was the Chief Editor. MGOCSM sponsored a T-Shirt sale as a fundraiser in connection with the Jubilee. Church web-site was launched, and new sound system was installed at the church. This year was also our Vicar’s Silver Jubilee year of his priesthood.
This is a very brief history of our Church for the last 25 years, as compiled by the Souvenir Committee.