The Early Environment
The Malayalee Christian diaspora in the Phoenix area was relatively small till the early 1990’s. As the community grew, the need to worship together, to enjoy fellowship and to share the Malayalee Christian heritage was felt by many in the community. Thi s led to the start of ecumenical worship services (in Malayalam) and prayer meetings in the mid 1990’s. The ecumenical worship services were held once a month and attended by the various Malayalee Christian denominations in the area. During this early period Mar Thoma worship services were held once every two months, usually officiated by the vicar of Los Angeles Mar Thoma Church. The first Mar Thoma Holy Qurbana service in the Phoenix area was conducted by the late Rt. Rev. Dr. Zacharias Mar Theophilus Thirumeni in 1994.
Formation of Phoenix Mar Thoma Congregation
The early 2000’s saw continued growth of the Phoenix Metropolitan area as well as the very pleasing growth of a Malayalee Christian community from all denominations. Having reached a critical mass and recognizing a need for regular worship, this growth in turn led to the formation of separate parishes for the Catholic, the Orthodox and the Jacobite congregations during the period 2005-2006. The birth of these individual parishes and their growth were very pleasing to the whole community and a harmonious relationship and collaboration among the various congregations continued to this day.
The Mar Thoma community recognized the need to provide structure to our worship and fellowship and appealed in 2006 to then Diocesan Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Euyakim Mar Coorilos Episcopa, to approve the formation of a Mar Thoma Congregation in the Phoenix area. The Diocesan Episcopa per his kalpana No: DC/564/06 dated November 24, 2006, ap proved the formation of Phoenix Mar Thoma Congregation (PHXMTC), consisting of sixteen families, as one of the congregations in the Diocese of North America and Europe, effective December 1, 2006. The Episcopa also formally appointed Rev. Noble V. Jacob as its first vicar, while he continued also as the vicar of Los Angeles MTC.
Following the Episcopal approval of formation of Phoenix MTC and approval of its bylaws, an application for incorporation was filed with the Arizona State Corporation Commission to incorporate it as a religious entity, which was granted effective March 22, 2007. Subsequent to the incorporation in Arizona and on filing an application to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a tax-exempt status under section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS code was received on July 12, 2007.
Elevation to Parish
The PHX MTC congregation continued its steady growth in size and spirit and reached an important milestone in 2013. The Mar Thoma Episcopal Synod in its meeting on February 19, 2013, decided to elevate the Phoenix Congregation to the status of a Parish, effective April 15, 2013 and to be named Phoenix Mar Thoma Church. Rev. Dr. Philip Varghese was appointed the first vicar of the Parish.