This profile was last updated in 2003
Activities and Schedule
Immanuel Mar Thoma has a weekly 10 a.m. Sunday Qurbana (mass). During the first and third weeks of the month, services are in Malayalam; during the second and fourth weeks, services are in English. In months with a fifth Sunday, the Youth League and Sunday School lead the service. There is a 9 a.m. Sunday School for children aged up to 18.
Youth Fellowship (ages 18-27); youth mentoring; small group Bible studies; Vacation Bible School; caroling parties; community service and outreach.
Wednesday night youth Bible study; Youth League sports tournaments; city-wide ecumenical Indian Christmas celebration.
Yearly nationwide family conference.
Nearly all the members are Malayali, either themselves immigrants from Kerala, India or children of immigrants. The congregation is very young and many families have small children. Most members come from a Marthomite background although some have joined the church by marriage. Marrying outside the Mar Thoma church is not uncommon and is not strongly discouraged, if the spouse is also Christian. Most intermarriages involve people from other Indian Protestant or Orthodox churches, although there are several interethnic marriages. Members from other ethnic or religious communities are made very welcome and are frequently lay leaders in the congregation.
Immanuel Mar Thoma Church is a very large and modern structure, built by the community in 1995. The sanctuary is part of a multi-phase project situated on a large plot of land in southwest Houston; the parsonage for the Achen (Vicar) has already been built, as well as basketball courts, and other planned buildings include an auditorium and a fellowship hall. Sunday School currently meets in the main sanctuary, but separate classrooms are being planned.
The first large wave of Christian immigrants from India came when immigration laws were changed in 1965. Four Mar Thoma families in Houston, normally attending local Protestant churches, began meeting together on holidays to celebrate in their own language and tradition. As the community grew, they began to hold Bible studies and regular Malayalam-language prayer meetings. By the early 1970s the Houston Mar Thoma community was large enough to petition the North American diocese to provide them with a priest, and Trinity Mar Thoma Church was founded. Initially the church rented other church buildings for meetings; by 1980 they were meeting in a school cafeteria, and within a few years a separate building was built in south Houston. In the early 1990’s the church had grown to over 300 families and the building was overcrowded; due to this overcrowding and to some differing views over social and political issues, the church split and many younger families (about one-third of the congregation) founded Immanuel Mar Thoma at its Stafford location.