The St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church, Philadelphia (formerly known as St. Thomas Malankara Orthodox Church, Inc.) is a parish of the Northeast American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The St. Thomas Malankara Orthodox Church came into existence in 1976. During the course of time several other parishes also came into existence in the City of Philadelphia including another St. Thomas Malankara Orthodox Church. It became essential for us change the names to St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church Inc. just to avoid confusion. In 2005 soon after acquiring the property on 1009 Unruh Avenue, Philadelphia, with the permission of the Diocesan Metropolitan the change of name was processed.
Very Rev. K. Mathai Corepiscopa was its first Vicar. This congregation received dedicated service of the following priests: Rev. Dr. K. C. Mathews, Rev. Fr. K. G. Philipose, Rev. Fr. M. T. Kurian, Rev. Dr. Joy Pyngolil, Rev. Fr. Varghese Clery, Rev. Dr. M. K. Thomas, Rev. Dr. K. K. Kuriakose Very Rev. Dr. P. S. Samuel Corepiscopa, Rev. Fr. Alexander Kurian, Rev. Dr. John Mathews (now His Grace Dr. Youhanon Mar Demetrios of Delhi Diocese) and Rev. Fr. P. M. Cherian. Rev. Fr. M. K Kuriakose was appointed Vicar from February, 1996 and Rev. Fr. Gheevarghese John as Assistant Vicar from September, 2011.
The parishioners worshipped in rental buildings ever since its inception. During the course of time the Orthodox community was divided to form several parishes in the City. From 1989 through 1995 the parish worshipped at the St. Thomas Christian Center on Mascher Street. From 1996 through 2004 the parish worshipped at the Cardinal Dougherty High School Chapel. It was one of the smallest parishes in the Philadelphia area with 28 families. The parish General Body met on February 18, 1996 made a historic decision to forget the past of discord and strife to obey the Lord by extending love and cooperation with other Orthodox and non-Orthodox parishes. As the parish grew slowly, plans to purchase its own facility began as early as 1997. In the year 2001 the parish purchased six acres of land in the city spending more than half a million dollars. Amazingly the members showed zealous financial commitment to the parish. Attempts for building a new church were going on seriously. As a bolt from the blue information about the present facility came to us. The members found a complete building complex in this fairly large facility that can cater to all our needs. It was the famous Oxford Circle Jewish Community Center on 1009 Unruh Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia that the Lord offered to us. The parish acquired the property in October 2004. The vacant land of six acres was sold to pay for the building complex without any debt. Thus a long cherished dream of the members that grew to approximately seventy-five families, came into fruition. Time proved that the parish has been growing in the direction that the Lord has been providing. Membership increased as many new families found their home in St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church that offered membership with no financial conditions except annual subscription. As of December 31, 2012 the membership has risen to 170 registered families and more than a dozen unregistered families.
The present facility is a 45,000 square feet building complex. A new altar was built suiting to Orthodox style. The facility has a sanctuary to seat 550 persons, small chapel for one hundred persons, social hall for 1000 persons, a gymnasium, many office rooms, classrooms etc.
Martha Mariam Samajam, OCYM (Orthodox Christian Youth Movement), MGOCSM (Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Student Movement), Sunday School, Men’s Forum, Couples Forum, FOCUS (Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in the United States), Young Women’s Forum, regular weekly prayer meetings and weekly Choir and Altar Assistants orientation are functioning in the parish. The parish has regular Holy Eucharist on Sundays in the morning, on Wednesdays in the evening and on special days of observance. MOCF (Malankara Orthodox Christian Fellowship of all six parishes in greater Philadelphia area), Joint Orthodox Vacation Bible School, Joint Orthodox Student Camp called Hadootho, and Ecumenical Fellowship of Indian Churches in Philadelphia are the local activities in which the St. Thomas Indian Orthodox parish actively participates.