As part of the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church," the identity of Believers Eastern Church goes beyond culture, race, language, time and space. The Church can be compared to a river that originates at the foot of Christ's cross. For 2,000 years, this river has flowed through the centuries, creating many streams of the one true Christian faith. Many of these have contributed to our expression of faith.
The first stream starts with St. Thomas, Christ's Apostle, who sailed to India and started seven churches in the South. In 52 A.D., he started a church in the village of Niranam, the birthplace of Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan. These churches spread across parts of southern India and continued an unbroken chain in the faith, while maintaining sporadic contact with the Latin and Greek-speaking churches until the fifth century, when that relation was strengthened. In the ninth century, the tie to the rest of the Church was strengthened further when the Syrian Church responded to a request from India and sent bishops to build it up in the historic faith.
Throughout the centuries, many false teachers—like the Gnostics, Arius and Nestorius—sought to pollute the pure teachings of God's Word. But the Holy Church remained orthodox and continued as one until the 11th century, when the Great Schism in 1054 A.D. divided the Church into East and West, Orthodox and Roman Catholic.
The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, which reshaped Christianity in the West had very little influence on the Church in the East. One of the tragedies of the Reformation of AD 1,500 was that individuals began to interpret Scripture themselves, each in the way they saw best. As the newborn Protestantism, developed into what is now over 40,000 denominations in North America and Europe, the Eastern Church, already believing in the absolute purity of the Scripture and sacramental life, continued to flourish in spite of persecutions and setbacks.
This faith of the Indian church continued with very little changes until the 1500s when European Christians arrived in Goa. The Roman Catholic arrival brought many challenges as they and the Asian church sought to reconcile differences in faith and practice. The expression of Christianity that emerged as both fully Asian and true to its apostolic roots was strengthened when the Church of Antioch sent a delegation to install Bishop Mar Thoma I as the first Indian Metropolitan.
As the Indian church continued to grow through the centuries, a new stream—the Anglican Church—also began to impact faith in India. Two indigenous churches, the Church of South India (CSI) and the Church of North India (CNI) emerged and embodied Anglicanism in the subcontinent. Anglicans comprise the second largest church in India after the Catholic Church.
Within this rich tapestry of ancient faith, Believers Eastern Church—originally "Believers Church"—functioned as part of the larger Body of Christ until the consecration of Dr. K.P. Yohannan as our first episcopa in line with the Apostolic succession of the Holy Church. With the consent of the CSI Bishop's Council, The Most Rev. Dr. K.J. Samuel acted as chief celebrant of the consecration service. The then Rt. Rev. Dr. J.W. Gladstone, and Rt. Rev. Dr. D.G. Devakadasham were co-celebrants along with many other active bishops in office and church leaders. In 2017, we officially changed the name of our church to "Believers Eastern Church" to better express our roots in the ancient and Orthodox Church.
Seven bishops in apostolic succession participated in Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan I Metropolitan's consecration
Believers Eastern Church’s love for Christ and compassion for the poor has been enriched by embracing the historic faith in a deeper way, and it has better equipped us to help and serve the needs of all peoples regardless of caste, creed or religion.
Throughout the history of the Holy Church, from both sides of God's River, people have continued to dump false teachings and practices into the Holy Church. However, when a church in any century links its faith and practice with the original life and faith of the ancient Church—especially as demonstrated in the book of Acts—we purify our stream and remain safe no matter what culture or era we live in. God's Word is the same for all time.
We are thankful for the many different expressions of faith within Christ’s one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church and embrace as brothers in Christ those individuals and churches who call upon the name of the Lord and hold to the biblical faith.
Believers Eastern Church is a continuation of the Holy Church established by the mandate of the Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples 2,000 years ago. We seek to return to the roots of the first church started in southern India during the first century by the Apostle St. Thomas, a disciple of Jesus Christ. To learn more about the history of the church, refer to our publication ‘Believers Eastern Church’.