The Mar Thoma Church has a well defined constitution, the first four parts of which lay down explicitly its basic teachings. Belief in the Trinity, Salvation through Jesus Christ, the Bible as the foundation for all theological teachings, Nicean Creed, Sacraments of Holy Baptism & Holy Communion, the exhortation to preach the Word of God everywhere in the world, the declaration that the Mar Thoma Church is part of the One Catholic and Apostolic Church, the orders of Priests and Bishops-these are the basic concepts which form the backdrop of its constitution.
From the point of Administration the Church has three levels viz.
- Central administrative setup embracing the entire Church
Central administrative setup embracing the entire Church
The central administrative set up consists of the Metropolitan, the Episcopal Synod, the Prathinithi Mandalam [സഭ പ്രതിനിധി മണ്ഡലം ] (Legislative Assembly) and the Sabha Council (Executive body of the Mandalam).
His Grace the Metropolitan is the supremo of the Church and the other Bishops are to assist him. With the assistance of the Episcopal Synod and the Sabha Council, he forms the Dioceses. The Bishops obtain their powers from the Metropolitan. He is the president of the Episcopal Synod, the Sabha Prathinidi Mandalam and the Sabha Council. He is also an ex-officio trustee of the Church.
Consisting of all the Bishops of the Church, the Episcopal Synod helps the Metropolitan in general administration. The Synod approves the decisions of the Prathinidhi Mandalam and the Diocesan assemblies. Preparation & publishing of the liturgy is also done by the Synod, in addition to transfer and posting of clergy.
This is the house of representatives, the apex body of the Church, consisting of the Metropolitan, all other Bishops, Vicars General, representatives of clergy and parishes, representatives of the recognised Institutions of the Church, representatives of those who have become members of the Church as a result of the missionary work of the Church and persons nominated by the Metropolitan. 65% of the membership is from laity and 35% from among the clergy. The lay representatives are elected by parishes and other institutions. The clergy members are chosen according to seniority. The tenure of a Mandalam is 3 years.
The Mandalam elects the Sabha Secretary, Lay Trustee & Treasurer and Clergy Trustee. The Mandalam decides all spiritual and temporal affairs of the Church. The annual report, accounts and budget are scrutinised and passed by the Mandalam. The decision of the Mandalam are circulated in all parishes by the Metropolitan, with the approval of the Synod. Though generally the Mandalam meets once a year, in exigencies special Mandalam can be convened.
Sabha Council is the Executive Committee of the Mandalam. The Metropolitan is the President of the Sabha Council, all Bishops, the Senior Vicar General, the Trustees and Secretary are ex-officio members of the Council. The other members are elected from Dioceses by the Mandalam Members for three years. The council has the power to implement the decisions of the Mandalam which are approved by the Synod and confirmed by the Metropolitan. The Sabha Council is also an advisory body to the Metropolitan. Click to view the Sabha Council Members
The Sabha Office
Sabha Office, the Central Secretariat of the Church, functions directly under the control of the Sabha Secretary, who is the secretary of the Sabha Prathinidhi Mandalam and Sabha Council gives bureaucratic support to the executive bodies of the Church. It executes the decisions of the Synod, Prathinidhi Mandalam, Sabha Council, various committees etc, and coordinates with the Dioceses, Organizations and Parishes. It also liaisons with Government and Semi Government organizations & local bodies. The Sabha Secretary is the Chief Executive Officer of the Sabha Office, and he is responsible for implementation of all policy decisions, with the close co-operation of the Lay Trustee and the Clergy Trustee.
Sabha Office has Three Departments
- Administrative Department: This wing, under the supervision of the Administrative and Personnel Manager takes care of General correspondence to parishes and Clergies, follow up and conduct of Synod, Sabha Council, Prathinidhi Mandalam meetings, and other Sub-committees and their Recommendations, and correspondence with Parishes, Dioceses and Clergies.
- Finance Department: The Finance Department, under the Supervision of the Finance Manager, attends to the Accounts and Financial statements. Funds and their investments, Bank accounts, collection of cheques, payments etc along with the Properties and Buildings of the Church, their maintenance, taxes etc.
- Computer Department: This wing, under the supervision of the Systems Manager, takes care of the administration with respect to the Software developments in the Sabha Office, which uses a computerised Software for the Administration and the Finance of the Church. Also this Official Website of the Church is being maintained by this wing, with regular updations and innovative ideas to link the Church with the Technological front and better means of Communications.