His Grace the Most Rev. Dr. Abraham Mar Thoma Metropolitan
Abraham Mar Thoma was known all over India for his burning passion for evangelism, for his zeal for spreading the Gospel through the length and breadth of India. He received theological training in India and Canada. It was during this time that the Mar Thoma Church became well known in the Western World. He was consecrated Bishop in the year 1917 and he worked relentlessly as Suffragan Metropolitan for the spiritual strengthening of the Church and for its witness. He was installed Metropolitan in 1944 when Titus II Metropolitan passed away. He was born in an illustrious Orthodox family but his father passed away when he was very young and he was brought up in his mother’s house at Eraviperoor, a home which cherished the blessings of the reformation. Thus from his early days he was inspired by evangelistic activities. Even as a student in High School at Kottayam and in Madras Christain College, he was a spiritual leader among his fellow-students.
He strongly believed that evangelism was the responsibility of every member of the Church and not of the clergy alone. He emphasized that every man and woman was called to be witness of Jesus Christ, irrespective of his/her secular occupation. It was this conviction that led him to organize groups of men and to give them specialised training in personal evangelism. Thus the Voluntary Evangelists Association was established in 1924 as a voluntary lay movement of the Church. The women of the Church also were encouraged to take their part in fulfilling the mission of the Church. He encouraged the formation of the Mar Thoma Suvisesha Sevika Sangam, which is the women’s auxiliary of the evangelistic work in the Church.
One of the greatest aims was to find proper individuals for both the ordained ministry of the Church and for lay activities. It was through his influence that many educated people came forward to join the ministry of the church, when they could find lucrative employment elsewhere. After finding suitable young men, he arranged for their higher education and theological studies. He organized special summer schools for ordinary people engaged in secular jobs for Bible study and training. The Vanithamandiram, for training women workers also was developed with his active encouragement. The call that he gave to young men and women to go and live in the villages of India in different language areas resulted in establishment of Ashrams in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and in places till the borders of Tibet. His help was sought by Christian friends all over India to lead evangelistic conventions. Such assignments took him from Kanyakumari in the south to Kashmir in the north. He was a friend of missionaries in India and all of them looked up to him for inspiration and guidance. The Tiruppathur Ashram and the Kodaikanal Ashram established by members of other Churches, regarded him as their friend, guide and philosopher. He was President of the Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association and the National Missionary Society. Even though he was suffering from acute diabetes for many years, he went on working with the motto: “it is far better to burn out than to rust out”. The Abraham Mar Thoma Bible Institute established for the training of voluntary evangelists in the Church was named after him. Though he was Metropolitan only for four years, his long ministry as Bishop strengthened the Church in all its missionary enterprises. He was called to eternal home in 1947.