Parish History

In 1990, eight family members joined together with a common purpose of establishing a church for solemn worship in the Indian Orthodox tradition. The enthusiasm and sacrifice of those individuals resulted in the incorporation and registration of St. Thomas Orthodox Church of West Orange, New Jersey as a non-profit organization, as of December 1990. The members were fortunate to have had Very Rev C. M. John Cor-Episcopa available to take over the spiritual leadership of the church. The first elected managing committee members were George V Itty President, Korah P Kuruvilla Secretary, Mathai K Mathew Treasurer and Jacob Peter, Alias Mathai, Abraham George and Susan Abraham as committee members. First Holy Qurbana was conducted on Sunday, December 23, 1990 at Church Of The Holy Innocent’s Episcopal Church at 681 Prospect Avenue in West Orange, NJ. In response to the request made by Very Rev. C. M. John Cor-Episcopa and the church members, the then Diocesan Metropolitan H.G. Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios declared St. Thomas Orthodox Church of India, West Orange, New Jersey as a Parish of the American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Church of India and appointed Very Rev. C. M. John Cor-Episcopa as the first Vicar with effect from March 1, 1991.

The church activities and spiritual organizations flourished under the leadership of Very Rev. C. M. John Cor-Episcopa. Rev. Fr. Thomas Mathew celebrated Holy Qurbana in our church for a short period of time during 1995-96.

After serving for five years as Vicar, Very Rev C. M. John Cor-Episcopa was transferred by the Metropolitan H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas, and H. G. appointed his Secretary Rev. Fr. M. Johnson (presently H.G. Joshua Mar Nicodemos) as the Vicar.

The Holy Innocents Church in West Orange provided their facilities until September 1996. From October 1996 onwards, the parish had to move from place to place looking for an uninterrupted Sunday Worship. For over two years we were at Christ Lutheran Church in Maplewood, NJ. From there, the worship moved to Christ Episcopal Church in Belleville, NJ in November 1999. In the General body meeting held on June 25, 2000, we decided to buy the church building and the Diocesan Metropolitan H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas gave the necessary approval. Funds were raised through the effective leadership of the Vicar Rev. Fr. M. Johnson and the generous contributions from members, well wishers, friends and other Orthodox parishes. The contract for the church building at 360 West Blackwell Street in Dover, NJ was signed on October 3, 2000. On November 5th, 2000, Diocesan Metropolitan H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas consecrated the church and conducted the first Holy Qurbana. Thus a long cherished dream came true for the members of the St. Thomas Orthodox Church.

Since then, The Church flourished ecclesiastically, spiritually and significantly under the guidance of both Diocesan Metropolitans, H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas (heavenly abode on December 8, 2012) and H.G. Zachariah Mar Nicholovos. In 2003, the Diocesan Metropolitan appointed Rev. Fr. K. K. John as the new Vicar. After Rev. Fr. K. K. John’s tenure, Rev. Fr. Sunny Joseph was appointed as the vicar. In 2009, the Diocesan Metropolitan appointed Rev. Fr. Shibu Daniel as the Vicar. As a prominent parish in the NE American Diocese, St Thomas Orthodox Church contributed many talented individuals to lead many organizations at the Diocesan level.

Holy Qurbana is celebrated on all Sundays and other special days as dedicated by the Holy Church. Holy Qurbana in English is also celebrated regularly on the last Sunday of every month. All Church organizations such as Sunday School, Morth Mariam Vanitha Samajam, MGOCSM and Monthly Prayer meetings are active and live. Along with Feast of Patron Saint Thomas, Easter, Christmas, all church designated Lents, Catholicate Day, Seminary Day etc, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Onam, Picnic, Family Night, Family Camp/Retreat etc are also celebrated. News letters are published monthly. Clergy and guests from US and abroad visit the Church periodically. Charitable contributions and community involvement are another facet of the parish’s activities.

Every year a Managing Committee is elected by the Parish General Body and the Managing Committee under the Presidentship of the Vicar takes care of the daily activities and administration of the parish. Parishioners, well wishers, benefactors and friends take care of this parish unselfishly with their continued support. The prayers, support and dedication of each one of them is making this parish a stalwart in the Diocese.

The parish takes pride in being a church belonging to Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church. The parish is very proud of the great heredity of St Thomas, a disciple of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The parish firmly declares its loyalty and allegiance to the throne of H.H. The Catholicose, H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II The Holy Synod and Diocesan Metropolitan.