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Our heritage from Kerala and Malankara
Most of the members of St. James Church, New Jersey immigrated to United States of America from Kerala, India. Kerala is one of southern most states on the west side of India. A quarter of the Christians in India are from Kerala alone. Of the total 32 million people in the province of Kerala, the Christians constitute around 20 % i.e.; 6.5 million. A few more thousands of Kerala Christians are residing outside the state, like us in the USA.
Christianity reached the shores of Kerala with the arrival of St Thomas in AD52. St. Thomas is depicted as the apostle of India by the faith, tradition old liturgy, church history, the views of historians etc. The Syrian Orthodox Church Strongly believes that St.Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of the Jesus, had established the Church in India.St.Thomas reached Kodungallur by ship in AD52. Apostle is believed to have started his gospel mission in India, from a small town called "Malayankara" on the sea coast of 'Paravur' Taluk in Kerala, at a short distance away from Cranganore Port. The church in Kerala was later known as ‘Malankara Church’ (Phonetically similar to 'Malayankara').
Although the name ‘Malankara’ is not widely used today, the official name of the Archdiocese for the members of the church from India in North America is called ‘Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church’ to distinguish this diocese from other SOCA(Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch) dioceses in North America. This reflects the fact that most of the member of this Archdiocese came from Malankara Church in Kerala.
The SOCA church in Kerala is called ‘Jacobite Syrian Church’, a name adopted in memory of Mor Yacub Burd`ono (Mor Jacob Baradeus), who rejuvenated the SOCA in the 6th century. Even though SOCA churches in different parts of the world are called differently in different languages, the official name of the church remains unchanged throughout the centuries as `idto suryoyto treeysath shubh’ in Syriac. The 'Syrian Christians' numbering about 5 million, spread across various denominations is the largest ethnic group among the Malankara (Kerala) Christians.
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