The ecumenical friendship of Indian Christians in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, traces its roots back much before any Church of any denomination of Indian Christians was originated. In fact, until October 1976, there was no denominational congregation in Philadelphia except for an ecumenical Christian group. Now for all the Christian denominations of Kerala origin, there are many Churches and believers in all of them also increased many fold.
The ‘Ecumenical Movement’ is the effort, under God, to bring the whole Christian world visibly and convincingly into one community, one Church. The ecumenical movement understands the unity of the church as a gift from God that we seek to manifest more fully and faithfully, not as something we humanly create. As per the current religious and Christian atmosphere of the world, the first aim of ecumenism should be targeted for a mutual respect and co-operation among the denominations, than any Himalayan task of uniting the churches.
The first Malayalam service for the very few Kerala Christians in Philadelphia was conducted by Fr. K. M. Simon of the Knanaya Church in the living room of Dr. T. V. Philip’s apartment at 4900 Pine Street in July 1962, with Dr. Philip as the altar boy. From August 1962 and onwards regular service was conducted on the first Sunday of every month by Fr. K. M. Simon, at Ashbury Methodist Church chapel on the Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. The attendees were an ecumenical group consisted of Orthodox, Marthoma and CSI denominations. Occasionally, Fr. A.T. Abraham of the Knanaya Church, and Fr. K. C. Abraham of CSI Church who were theological students at the Princeton University also conducted services. His grace Mor Kurilos (who later became Catholicos of the East) has also conducted services when he was a student at the General Theological Seminary. Any priest or bishop from the Marthoma, CSI and Orthodox denominations visiting Philadelphia has conducted service as requested by the ecumenical group.
Though the number of believers in all denominations increased many fold, all denominations in Philadelphia uphold the very same old love and unity across all denominations. All the ecumenical activities are arranged by an ecumenical body comprised of elected representatives from all Indian churches in Philadelphia.
21 parishes from Orthodox, Jacobite, Catholic, Marthoma and CSI Churches are participating in the Philadelphia Ecumenical Fellowship. Spread across the above nineteen Parishes, there are more than 4,000 members living in and around Philadelphia involved with this Fellowship.
1. Ascension Mar Thoma Church (215 677 7322)
2. Bethel Mar Thoma Church (215 725 9774)
3. Christos Mar Thoma Church (215 808 7410)
4. CSI Christ Church in Pennsylvania (267 600 9187)
5. Emmanuel CSI Church (215 677 3707)
6. Indian Latin Catholic Community (267 243 4291)
7. Mar Thoma Church Philadelphia (215 510 1601)
8. St. Gregorios Malankara Orthodox Church (312 927 7045)
9. St. George Malankara Orthodox Church (215 547 1474)
10. St. John’s Indian Orthodox Church (484 461 6898)
11. St. John Neumann Knanaya Catholic Mission of Philadelphia (215 421 5737)
12. St. Jude Syro Malankara Catholic Church (267 297 9952)
13. St. Mary’s Knanaya Church (215 620 6476)
14. St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral (215 289 4822)
15. St. Mary’s Orthodox Church of Philadelphia (215 552 9115)
16. St. St. Paul’s Syrian Orthodox Church (610 357 4883)
17. St. Peter’s Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church (215 856 7305)
18. St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church (201 681 1078)
19. St. Thomas Malankara Orthodox Church (215 904 7398)
20. St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church of Delaware Valley (610 644 3044)
21. St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Church (215 464 4008)
United Christmas Celebration:
Every year the united Grand Christmas celebrations are conducted at any Auditorium on a convenient Sunday in the month of December. A presiding Bishop will be invited from a denomination in rotation for this celebration. Also any of the civic leaders will be present as honorary guests. An ecumenical worship is an essential agenda of the program. A commemorative Souvenir is also released every year. Colorful welcome procession, public meeting, carol singing, and various presentations related to Christmas from member Churches are to add flavor to the evening’s events.
Every year an ecumenical convention is arranged in the month of October for three days. Many renowned speakers from all denominations have contributed devotional messages for the ecumenical convention.
Youth Retreat, Bible Quiz Competition, World Women’s Day Prayer