South Africa St. Thomas Orthodox Congregation
South Africa, Africa
The St. Thomas Orthodox Congregation of Southern Africa traces its roots to the mid-1980s when several aspiring Nasranis came to South Africa in search of better work prospects. A majority of them, being teachers, reached South Africa from other African countries like Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Lesotho. Facing a lot of hardships owing to the political and social structures, they managed to create a niche for themselves in the local communities of the erstwhile Homelands.
It was only by the mid-1990s that Malayalee Christian communities in various parts across the country were able to gather locally for prayers on a multi-denominational basis. Gradually, as the numbers grew, the Orthodox faithful in these parts took special interest in arranging prayers groups and held occasional worship services. The efforts and services of Fr. Dr. M. O. John, who visited South Africa occasionally proved to be an impetus in the founding and growth of an Orthodox Congregation in Southern Africa. As per the directions of the Late Lamented Metropolitan Thomas Mar Makarios of the erstwhile American Diocese, he was able to conduct Holy Week Services in 1997 and 1998.
The St. Thomas Orthodox Congregation of Southern Africa was officially recognized as a Parish by the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church through a Kalpana issued by Metropolitan Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios dated 23 February 1999. The Parish General Body which met on 4th April 1999 adopted the Constitution of the Parish. It was however only from 2004 onwards that the Congregation was blessed with the presence of a full-time priest, Fr. Jose M. Daniel. He, as well as his successor Fr. Bejoy Varghese served the parish for four years respectively as Asst. Vicars. With the formation of the new Diocese of UK-Europe and Africa in 2009 under the pioneering leadership of HG Dr. Mathews Mar Thimothios, the St. Thomas Congregation entered a new phase in its mission. Fr. Josie John was appointed as the first full time Vicar from 2012 to 2016. Fr. Stanly David James has been serving as Vicar of the Congregation since July 2016.
The Congregation was able to purchase a property in Crowthorne, Midrand (Johannesburg) in 2016 and applied to the municipality in 2017 for the construction of a Church building. A Parsonage Complex as well as guest rooms and a hall was completed in 2019 and blessed by Diocesan Metropolitan HG Dr. Mathews Mar Thimothios during his visit to the Parish for the Holy Week of 2019. By God's grace the Consent for Construction of a Church was approved in August 2019. Final paper works are currently being processed for the construction. The Covid Pandemic has unfortunately slowed down all processes.
The Malankara Orthodox presence in Southern Africa has indeed witnessed a lot of hardships over the years. The dedication of its members from all quarters along with the services and blessings of several bishops and priests over the years has enabled the Congregation to grow today with almost one hundred and fifty member families spread across over fifteen cities in the Southern African region.
Place of Worship & Timings
1/13 Jupiter Avenue, Crowthorne, Midrand 1684, Johannesburg, RSA
Every last Sunday of the month – 8am. Services on all other weeks as per schedule informed by Vicar at Pretoria, Groblersdal, Mokopane/Polokwane, Tzaneen/Phalaborwa/Burgersfort, Nelspruit/Whiteriver, Durban, East London, King Williams Town/Queenstown/Mthatha, Cape Town, Zeerust/Mmabatho and Gaborone (Botswana).