Mar Thoma Suvishesha Sevika Sanghom
Ph: +91 469 2630434(O)
The women in the Mar Thoma church also shared the spiritual power generated by the Reformation. The Mar Thoma Suvisesha Sevika Sanghom the women’s wing, was inaugurated during the Maramon Convention in the year 1919, under the leadership of Abraham Mar Thoma Suffragan Metropolitan., who gave the Sanghom continued support and inspiration.
Every women of the Mar Thoma Church above the age of 18 years is a member of the Sevika sanghom. The Sevika Sanghom has branches in all parishes of the Mar Thoma Church both in India and abroad. Each branch elects from among its members a committee including office bearers. The Vicar of the parish is the President of the branch Sevika Sanghom, who gives guidence and support to the activities. . A few branches are grouped together to form a centre and a few centres together constitute a Diocese. The Sevika Sanghom follows the pattern of the Mar Thoma Church in the organizational matters.The organization owes much to the self sacrificing and indefatigable work of Mrs. Kandamma Varghese as organising Secretary for over 20 years travelling far and wide, organising branches in parishes, doing evangelistic work among Christians and non-Christians. She also served as General Secretary for a few years. Dr. Mrs. Annamma George served as organising Secretary for 14 years and organised centres and centre meetings. Her theological insights and vision have taken the women of the Sevika Sanghom to a higher level of thinking in the social and religious sphere.
The need for empowering and educating women workers was realised early. The Vanitha Mandiram, the Bible school run by the Sevika Sanghom was established in 1925 at the headquarters of the Sanghom. The Mandiram has trained many women as evangelists since its inception. Miss kellaway, an Australian Missionary came with the help of C.M.S and served as the Principal of the Vanitha Mandiram to train the workers. She worked for 20 years. Before she returned to Australia. Her distinguished services, deep Christian devotion and labour of love are remembered with deep gratitude. The library attached to the Vanitha mandiram is dedicated as a memorial to Miss. Kellaway.
The next Principal of the Vanitha Mandiram was Miss. Mariam samuel. Her experience as a teacher in the Baker Memorial School, kottayam and as an Evangelist in the villages of Bengal has enriched her service. After her retirement, she stayed at the Vishranti Bhavan, the home for the retired workers of the sevika sanghom, till her death at the age of 95 years.
Miss. Susy David, who had theological training in Jabalpur and Chicago carried on the torch until her demise in 1998. Miss. Saramma Eapen who is a theological graduate and a full time Sevika Sanghom worker , is the present Principal. The Vanitha Mandiram remained as a Bible school all these years. The sevika sanghom is in the process of establishing a study and research centre by the name “Kandamma Memorial Study Centre for women’s studies”.
Along with evangelism, the work of bringing relief to the needy was also taken up. Naturally the concern for the Orphans became one of the top priorities. A home called Salem Bhavan was opened in 1923. Kottooreth Sosamma , who was the first President of the Sevika Sanghom brought up six Orphan children in her home. They were taken into the Salem Bhavan. Subsequently more children were admitted and taken care of. Most of the children-both boys and girls are married. Some have done well in life and are working outside kerala and abroad, while others are struggling hard to meet both ends. A few more are to be married . Some are studying in schools. A few are retarded/disabled. Kandamma Kochamma, Mrs. P.J. Mariamma, Mrs. Saramma Mathew, Miss. T.T.Sosamma are a few among those who cared for these children. Mrs. Aleykutty Jacob. is the present Superintendent of the Salem Bhavan for the past 23 years. She has done a lot in helping the children to settle in life. Those who had ability to study could reach good positions in life. The ex-members of 106 families of Salem Bhavan has formed a Kudumbayogam, which meets once in a year for a get-together.
The number of children seeking refuge in the Salem Bhavan has reduced due to the advanced medical facilities and social awarness. A Balika Bhavan was started at Elanthoor where 75 girls from poor-families of remote areas. Without schooling facilities are admitted and educated in the nearly schools. All the applicants cannot be admitted into the Elanthoor Balika Bhavan due to certain limitations. Hence the Sevika sanghom is considering to open more Balika Bhavans.
Medical work also was started to serve the poor in the sea coast area of cheriazhical, near Karthikappally and at Puthuppally near Kayamkulam. Later when the Medical mission work was started by the Church the Sevika Sanghom withdraw from this field.
Educational work was undertaken in 1950 at Punalur and at Kottarakkara. Later on these have been placed under the corporate Management of the Chruch. A Kindergarton school was started in 1955. It has developed into a K.G and U.P school with boarding facilities at Thiruvalla in the international year of children in 1979, the Mar Thoma Nursery teachers training school was started and it is one of the few institutions that has the recognition of the Kerala Government and NCTE of the Central Government.
Hostels for working women became a great need and the Sevika Sanghom responded by starting one at Kottarakkara. Another hostel was started adjacent to the Vishranti Bhavan, Thiruvalla. Working women and students of neighbouring colleges stay in these hostels. Jyothi Nilayam is the third hostel run at Erimayoor near Palakkad. The working ladies who stay in the hostel can keep their children below 4 years old. A creche and a nursery school attached to the hostels are also functioning for the convenience of the working mothers.
Vanitha Bodhini is the official magazine published in Malayalam and English by the Sevika Sanghom. The magazine serves as a media for conscientising women on current affairs, Biblical and theological issues and several matters concerning women
The Sevika sanghom has started a registered society called Sthreejana Vikasana Samithi(S.V.S) to help women to become self supporting. The
Lahama bakery, curry powder unit, Printing press, Snack centre and the tailoring School, functioning under the S.V.S are managed by women to provide job opportunities for women.
A refresher course is arranged every year for the workers and they stay in the Ashramam at Thiruvalla.The members of Sevika sanghom at various levels-parishes, centres, diocese have taken up various project for the uplift of women and children. There are 11 mission fields, where 50 sisters of the Sangham stay and work both in the parishes and in the periphery among the poor and the marginalised.
The Income for the Sevika Sanghom is through voluntary contributions from its members by way of four collections:
|Deppy pirivu||For Children’s Work|
|Varshika pirivu||For office and establishment expenses|
|Saujanya danam||Evangelistic Work|
|Videsh Mission||Work outside Kerala and Ashram etc.|
Besides the above, donations, sponsorship and endowments are received for various purposes from kind hearted members.
Representatives from each branch of the Sevika Sanghom are elected for a three year period and they form a representative forum for the Central Sevika Sanghom. A Managing Committee, consisting of the three office bearers and 27 Committee members, representing the various Diocese, is elected from among the representatives. An Episcopa nominated by the synod of the Mar Thoma Church is the President of the Sevika Sanghom and he presides over the Managing committee, and the General Body which makes decisions concerning the general running of the Sanghom and co-ordinates the various activities at all levels.
The women’s wing of the Mar Thoma church is well organized body with a team of dedicated and hardworking members . May the Lord be glorified through the activities of he Sanghom.
The Vanitha Mandiram
The Mar Thoma Suvisesha Sevika Sanghom was founded in 1919, as a result of the vision of our mothers that the women should also participate in spreading the Gospel. From the inception of the Sevika Sanghom, the office bearers longed to start a training Centre women to equip them to participate in the mission of the church. That dream was fulfilled in 1925. They procured a plot at Thiruvalla. The women of the branches of Sanghom in the Central Travancore parishes raised the necessary funds for the construction of the building known as’ Vanitha Mandiram’.
Most Rev. Abraham Marthoma Metrapolitan of the Church rquested the Church Missionary Society to lend the services of Ms. Kellaway, an Australian Missionary, who was working in the Baker Memorial High School, Kottayam to the Vanitha Mandiram. The C.M.S acceded to the request and Miss Kellaway became the first Principal of the Vanitha Mandiram, with the assistance of Mrs. Kandamma Varghese. Vanitha Mandiram was inaugurated on the 25th February 1925. A two- year course was started with six young women. These women were sent to the mission fields after their training. Miss Kellaway was the Principal of the Vanitha Mandiram from 1925 to 1946. She was succeded by Miss. Mariam Samuel,who served till 1967, introduced a well designed training course and set a pattern strict discipline for the Sevinis. Miss Susy David was the next torch bearer of the Vanitha Mandiram up to 1998.She introduced course help the students to learn home management as well and equip them good Chirstian homes. After her demise Miss Saramma Eapen took over as the Principal of the Vanitha Mandiram Since 1998.
In the curriculam for the Vanitha Mandiram the main emphasis is on the Bible Study. The Church History, Christian faith, Counselling , Home Nursing, Typewriting , Computer classes, Tailoring , Home Science etc. are also included in the curriculam. A few priests and ladies, who have specialised in various subjects, teach in the Vanitha Mandiram. The students of the Vanitha Mandiram have to stay in the campus.
Along with the studies, emphasis is given for the personality development. The morning and evening worship of the students with the teachers and the individual meditation help the advancement of the spiritual life of the students. The students are encouraged to lead the worship and prayer. Several groups of women from various parishes come to the Vanitha Mandiram for retreats and conferences. The visits organised for students to different institutions, mission fields enhance their concern to the needs of the society, and encourage them to commit for mission work
The Vanitha mandiram used to conduct two-year courses and short-term courses, till the commencement of the Jubilee Institute in 1965. Those women who are dedicated for the full time evangelistic work are trained in the Jubilee Institute on completion of their course in the Vanitha Mandiram. Now , the course in the Vanitha Mandiram is for one year. Those who complete the one year course are given certificates and who opt for Evangelistic work are appointed as Sevika Sanghom workers
Miss Kellaway Library
A library was established in memory of Ms. Kellaway, the first Principal of the Vanitha Mandiram. The Library caters to the needs of the students and Sevika Sanghom workers. There are about 8000 books on various topics besides many current publications.
Kandamma Memorial Research and study Centre for Women Studies.
A research and study Centre was started at the time of the Platinum jubilee of the Vanitha Mandiram in the year 2000, in memory of Mrs. Kandamma Varghese one of the prominent founder members of the Sevika Sanghom. The aim of the centre is to provide facilities for those, who do research on gender issues womens concern and ecumenical studies. It also arranges discussions and seminars, dialogues on legal issues, economic problems, studies on marriage, family,etc for different age groups.
The centre is planning to publish a series of books each year,“In Memory of our Mothers” and to arrange memorial lectures to commemorate the forgotten women of the church who had served the Church and Sanghom at various levels. Vanitha mandiram continues to train women for the diverse activities of the mission work of the Sanghom as befitting the times.
Rt. Rev. Dr. Abraham Mar Paulos EpiscopaPresident
Mrs. Suma GeorgeVice-President
Prof. Dr. Achamma MathewGeneral Secretary
Mrs. Sheebi Anne GeorgeTreasurer