Camp Centre: Saptathy Mandiram, Kompady

The spiritual renewal in the Church, which was the offspring of reformation has created a yearning in believers to present the Gospel to others. It was realized that this could not be fully achieved by the services of a few full time evangelists. On the other hand every member of the Church should be a missionary filled with such joy and assurance of salvation as to be Christ’s witness to those who come into contact with him, irrespective of one’s profession in secular life. Such people have the opportunity to come into contact with others in ordinary human situations and to communicate the Gospel message in a natural setting.

Believers interested in evangelistic and intercessory activities used to assemble periodically for prayer and fellowship. It was in the annual meeting of such a gathering in 1924, the present Mar Thoma Voluntary Evangelists’ Association got formed. Bishop Abraham Mar Thoma was the ardent supporter of this movement and Titus II Mar Thoma Metropolitan sent a circular to all parishes encouraging the formation of branches of the Association. Rev. C. P. Philipose Kassisa was the first president, Sadhu Kochu Kunju the secretary and Kolakottu John Upadesi the traveling secretary.

The object of this association is that every member of the Church should be a witness to Jesus Christ, whatever his occupation may be. Those who volunteer to be members of the Association meet together in each parish at least once a week for fellowship, intercessory prayer, Bible study and sharing experiences. Then they go out and contact those who work with them and share the Gospel. They help with various services in the parish, such as the Sunday school, youth fellowships, and cottage prayer meetings. They visit the sick and the needy and give spiritual fellowship and material help to them. They work for reconciliation where people are estranged form one another. They also seek opportunity to convey the message of the Gospel to non-Christian friends.

Where such groups are active, the parishes experience joy and spiritual power. The vicars encourage and strengthen them by helping them with Bible study and giving leadership in other ways. The branch of the Mar Thoma Voluntary Evangelists’ Association in the Parish is called Edavaka Mission.

The Edavaka Missions from all the parishes in one regional group called center, meet every month for fellowship and for planning future work. The centers send their representatives to the Diocesan organization called the Samithi of the Voluntary Evangelistic Association at the Diocesan Level. There is also the annual meeting of the representatives from all Dioceses arranged by the central organization of the Voluntary Evangelists Association.

The central organization has been responsible for running the Abraham Mar Thoma Memorial Bible Institute at Kompady, Thiruvalla that gives training for laypersons in personal evangelism. There are courses of different durations, which were originally started by Abraham Mar Thoma himself, before these were organized on the present level. The Gospel team of the organization conducts parish tours and evangelistic work in non-Christian areas and laypersons give their witness. Annual lectures are arranged as Abraham Mar Thoma Memorial lectures to highlight the emphasis that he gave on Abraham Mar Thoma Metropolitan gave on the witness of lay members.

The Association manages three mission fields at Achencovil near Punalur, Mukkada near Ranny and Kalkulam near Chungathara. Its official organ is the Tri-Monthly ‘Sandesam’ containing sermon notes, Bible studies, articles and the news about the association.

The Mar Thoma Voluntary Evangelists’ Association serves as the organization in the Church emphasizing the ministry of the laity in the Church. The Platinum Jubilee of the Association was celebrated in 1999.