St Stephen’s Orthodox Church, Thane
St. Thomas Christians or the Indian Syrian Christians exist at present in different churches and denominations. But a major section of the parent body of St. Thomas Christians which has maintained its independent nature constitute The Orthodox Church under the Catholicate of the East on the Apostolic Throne of St. Thomas and the Malankara Metropolitan with Headquarters at Devalokam, Kerala in India. The Church, though modern in its vision and outlook, keeps the traditional oriental Orthodox faith and liturgy.
St. Stephen’s Orthodox Church, Thane fall under direct administration of Malankara Metropolitan and it is part of Bombay Diocese. St. Stephen’s Orthodox Church came into existence in the year 1976 though the spade work for Thane Parish began way back in 1967. From 1976 to 1996 we were using St. James – C. N. I Church for our spiritual activities. The long-cherished dream of having our own place of worship in Thane did come true on 26th January 1996 when this Church was temporarily consecrated by the then Asst. Metropolitan of Bombay Diocese His Grace Geevarghese Mar Coorilos in the Charismatic and divine presence and guidance of the Late Lamented His Grace most respected Dr. Philipose Mar Theophilus who was well-known as the Ambassador of Malankara Orthodox Church. It was a miracle that the construction of the Church was completed in a record time of 59 days with the blessings of our patron Saint
St. Stephen. The Church was renovated and consecrated again on 2nd and 3rd of February 2001.
Again, with the abundant blessings of Almighty God through the ceaseless intercession of our Patron Saint St. Stephen, we have been able to re-construct our Church and consecrate the same on 7th and 8th of January 2011. The Chief Celebrant of the Consecration Ceremony was His Holiness Moran Mar BeseliosMarthomaPaulose – II barely 2 months after His Enthronement as the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan.
Our Activities : In addition to usual spiritual activities within the religious parameters, we are also engaged in many other projects &programmes as under:
- Charitable Activities. We help the poor, needy, downtrodden & marginalized with food, clothing, medicine & direct finance in most deserving cases. A free charitable clinic is functioning from our Church premises. We are extending charitable help to every needy person irrespective of caste, creed, religion & community. We had, in the past, collected usable dress materials from pantaloon and distributed them among the poorest of the poor in and around the slum areas. A few consignments of such dress materials were dispatched to the tribal villages of M.P. under the direct supervision of our sister organizations there a few years back. We also have distributed imported blankets among the survivors of ‘Sairaj’ Building at kisan Nagar when it collapsed a decade back.
We do believe that “one hand opened in charity is worth 1000 hands folded in prayer”.
- Prayer Meetings. Prayer meetings will be conducted in various houses of the parish on voluntary basis. This augments the personal interaction between the families of the parish knitting the parish members as a home. The Prayer meetings are held every week and normally on Sunday evening. Our members take turns to host the prayer meeting at their residence.
The prayer meeting gives our members a great opportunity to come together to learn more about the faith and to network with each other to build up the strong ties among the members of the community. During the prayer meeting, we have the following activities to help our children and adults to grow spiritually:
- a) Devotional Songs b)Bible reading c) Message of the day (by Vicar /distinguished guest) d) Evening Prayer(SandhyaNamaskaram)
The Great Lent Prayer Meetings: During the 50 day Great lent, the special Lent prayer meeting is held at the residence of our members. The members are divided into geographical areas and the members in a particular area attend the prayer meeting. This is a great initiative as we are able to pass on the traditions to our next generation.
- MGOCSM is a students’ wing under our church. It stands for “Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Students’ Movement”. This unit is also engaged in various social, educational & cultural activities in collaboration with international organization like YMCA & many other associations of similar objectives & various other groups of people who render philanthropic services to the society at large.
- MarthmariamVanitaSamajam is a women’s wing of our church. The women community of our church get together on Sundays & chalk out their plans &programmes which include praying for the sick and infirm, visiting hospitals, children home & orphanages and many other humanitarian & benevolent activities in co-ordination with our Charity wing.
- Sunday School: Under our Church, a Sunday School is also functioning in full swing which imparts education to children of our members mainly on Christian values in the lines of what Jesus taught the world i.e. Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
- Youth Movement: The youngsters of our Church have come together and formulated various ways and means of extending their support to the poor, needy and under-privileged irrespective of caste, creed, religion and community. Our youth wing is working on many other philanthropic activities such as Ambulance Service, Organizing Blood Donation Camps, Extending financial support to the poor and sick. The ultimate objective of the plans and programmes of our youth is to alleviate the sufferings of our fellow beings, no matter which religion or community they belong to.
- Malayalam Classes: Under the initiatives of the state Government of Kerala, we have already started Malayalam classes at our church premises. The target group of students in this case are those who want to learn Malayalam language which is the most difficult language in the world. We have trained teachers as faculty members. Nearly 100 students have got admission. The main objective of the project is equipping the children of Keralites born & brought up outside Kerala with at least basic knowledge of Malayalam so that they will not find it difficult to get along with their peers while visiting Kerala- their homeland which is God’s own country.
Prayer : O Lord our God Omnipotent one, Thou art the Master of all mankind, sole and supreme ruler of whole universe. We praise You, glorify You and thank You for the great love with which You guided comforted and led us so far. We know our feeble hands are strengthened by Your mighty unseen hands. Let Thy blessings flow upon our Parish that we live in peace, prosperity and happiness ever more worshiping You in this House of God.
Fr. Benjamin Stephen