1. Combined Anniversary Celebration of Parish Organisations
During the past one decade, anniversary celebrations of the four parish organisations, namely, Balasamajam , Sunday School, Christian Endeavour Youth Fellowship and Women’s Fellowship have been jointly held in this church on a Sunday in January every year. In the morning service, annual reports of the four organisations are read by the respective Secretaries and submitted to the Presbyter. The sermon ofthe day isdelivered by aguest speaker.
After the service, refreshment is served to the members of the three organisations and to the Sunday School students and teachers, followed by prize distribution to the members of Balasamajam and Women’s Fellowship & Sunday School students for their performance in the examinations &competetions and for their other achievements.
2. Unity Sundays
The Joint Council of the Church of South India, the Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church and the Church of North India is a forum for consultations and for strengthening unity among the three churches.The Joint Council, decades back had recommended that one Sunday every year may be celebrated as Unity Sunday jointly by the local parishes of these churches, to strengthen their unity in faith.
Unity Sunday was celebrated for the first time in Kollam during the late 1960s jointly by St. Thomas Marthoma Church, Kollam and this church. The first ever unity Sunday was celebrated at St. Thomas Marthoma Church at Thevally, and in the subsequent year it was celebrated at this church.For some reason this practice did not continue.
In January 2007, at the behest of Rev. John George, Vicar and the Kaisthana Samithy of the St. Thomas Marthoma Church, Thevally, and Rev. Israel Thomas, Presbyter and the Church Committee of this church, celebration of the Unity Sunday in Kollam jointly by the two churches was recommenced after a long gap of about 50 years. On Sunday 28th January, the morning worship in this church was conducted in the Marthoma liturgy, with the celebration of Holy Qurbana, officiated by Rev. John George, Vicar of St.Thomas Marthoma Church and assisted by Rev. Israel Thomas, Presbyter and Rev. Anilal M. Jose, Associate Presbyter of this church. The members of both the churches participated in the service with enthusiasm. A combined choir led the congregation in singing the chants and songs of the Marthoma liturgy. This church arranged a special curtain in front of the altar to facilitate the observance ofMarthoma rites for the celebration of Holy Qurbana. After the service, refreshment was served for the congregation. Itwas an experience to participate in a Marthoma eucharist service with all its trimmings, in this CSI Church. The Unity Sunday celebration was enjoyed by all those who attended it.
Next year, inJanuary2008,Unity Sunday was celebrated at St.Thomas Marthoma Church, Thevally. Sunday morning service in that church was conducted following the CSI liturgy with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Rev.Israel Thomas, Presbyter of this church officiated at the service and was the chief celebrant of the Eucharist, assisted by Rev. John George, Vicar of Marthoma Church, Thevally and Rev. Thomas Cheriyan, Associate Presbyter of this church. Refreshment was served after the service.
In January 2009, Unity Sunday was celebrated in this church with Holy Qurbana and the service followed Marthoma liturgy. Rev. John George officiated inthe service assisted by Rev. Israel Thomas and Rev. Thomas Cheriyan, Presbyter and Associate Presbyter respectively, ofthis church. In January 2010, once again the Unity Sunday was celebrated at the Thevally Marthoma Church following the CSI liturgy. The service was led by Rev. Israel Thomas assisted by Rev. Thomas K. Thomas, Acting Vicar, (In the absence of Rev. Johnson Varghese, Vicar of the Marthoma Church, Thevally) and Rev. Thomas Cheriyan, Associate Presbyter of this church. We hope that the spirit of unity and brotherhood between the people of these two churches in Kollam, having different traditions and different hierarchies, will prevail during the coming years also and will serve as an inspiration for others.
3. Kollam Convention
While Rev. Isaac. S. David was the Presbyter of this church, the church decided to organise an ecumenical convention series in Kollam under its auspices and name it ‘Quilon Convention’. The first meetings of the Quilon Convention were held from Sunday 23 February to Wednesday 26 February, 1964 at the Craven LMS High School grounds. The Quilon Convention was inaugurated by Rev. Dr. Stanley Johns, the reputed evangelist and a friend oflndia and of the Indian Church. He was the main speaker at the meetings. The meetings were attended by members of various churches in Quilon, in large numbers.
Unfortunately, the Quilon Convention Series were not held thereafter for many years. However the church organised yearly conventions on a smaller scale and these were held in the church. The main speakers were Dr. Theodore Williams, Dr. Augustine Sallins, Dr. Masilamony and others. Conventions with the name Union Conventions’ were also held in the church, jointly with St. Thomas Marthoma Church, Thevally and St. Thomas CSI Church, Pattathanam, participated by members of other churches also. But none of these conventions took the name ‘Quilon Convention’ or assume the scale and the appeal of the inaugural convention held in 1964.
In 2000, Rev. I. Shalom Prakash, the Presbyter of this church, took the initiative to revive the Quilon Convention, with the name: ‘Kollam Convention’. It was inaugurated on 10February, 2000 by Most. Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostem, the then Metropolitan ofMalankara Marthoma Syrian Church. The convention meetings were held from 10 > to 131h February. The main speaker was A. Dennison, District & Sessions Judge, Kollam. The meetings were attended by members of this and other churches and the public.
The programme on a typical day is:
Opening Prayer, Singing, Welcome, Vote of thanks & Announcements, Bible Reading, Mission Statement, Singing, Message, Song, Offertory and Benediction, with a duration of2 y,_ hours (6.00 pm to 8.30pm).
Each series is inaugurated by a Bishop or a clergyman of sister churches in turns. Kollam Convention is organised by a Convention Committee of the church, consisting of members of this church, and coordinated by a General Convener, assisted by two Joint Conveners, Conveners and Members of Committees for Prayer, Finance, Publicity, Reception, Light & sound, choir etc. The presbyters and the church committee support and assist the organisers.
4. Award of Rev.J.C.Thompson Prizes
In 1984 this church commenced felicitating students (members of this church) who achieve academic excellence inexaminations, on the initiative of Rev. Thomas David (Jr.), the then Presbyter of the church. The late John Joshua (Jr.) was the only person felicitated by this church before 1984,for his selection to the lAS, the IPS and the IFS in 1977. In 1984, Elizabeth John, Karunalayam, was felicitated by the church on her securing the first rank in MA (English literature) examination of the University of Kerala in 1983. Since then, every year, students who achieved academic excellence in various examinations are felicitated and cash awards presented.
In 2005, the church instituted the Rev. J. C. Thompson prizes for academic excellence in commemoration of Rev. J.C. Thompson who planted this church in 1837. The first Rev. J.C. Thompson prizes were awarded to 13 students of higher secondary, degree, post graduate, engineering and medical courses for their academic excellence, on 2nd October 2005. The prizes comprise of merit certificates and cash awards. Rev. J.C. Thompson Prizes areawarded regularly since 2005.
5. Palm Sunday
“Thenthe crowd raised the shout: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on Him who comes in the name of theLord! Hosanna in the heavens! “(Mattew21: 9)
A procession of church members – children and adults – is taken out in the morning, before the divine service on Palm Sunday from the precincts of CSI Balabhavan to the church in happy remembrance of the triumphant journey of Jesus from Jerico to Jerusalem. Carrying tender coconut leaves in their raised hands and singing songs that eulogise Jesus’ journey on a foal that day, the procession led by the Presbyters and the choir move to the church and enter the church solemnly for the morning worship. This is a joyful event, witnessing and adoring the Lord Jesus.
6.All Souls’ Day
In 378 A.D., Bishop Demasus introduced 13 practices in the Church. Inspired by these practices, Pope Gregory IV founded All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day in 837A.D., to be observed in November every year.
All Souls’ Day is known as ‘Feast of All Saints’ in Western Churches and as ‘Commemoration of the FaithfUl Departed’ in Latin Churches. The Anglican Church also observes All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days.
The Church of South India observes All Saints Day onthe t•t ofNovember and All Souls’ Day on 2nd of November. This church commenced observing All Souls’ Day from 1960onwards onthe initiative ofRev. IsaacS. David, thethen Presbyter.
For the sake of convenience, the church observes All Souls’ Day on the 1• Sunday in November. All Saints’ Day is not being observed by this church. On the first Sunday in November a memorial service is held at the cemetery at Kadapakada in the evening in remembrance of members of the church who are no more. Before the service, the people assembled move in a procession along the path ways of the cemetery singing hymns of faith and hope. Floral tributes arepaid at the tombs. No prayers are offered for the dead or to the dead. God is praised for the life, service and witness of the dear departed.
This is an occasion for the members of the families of the dear departed to visit the cemetery at least once a year and reflect on their cherished memories, and rekindle their love and gratitude to them. Avisit to the cemetery always reminds one ofthe reality of death and the need to seek God’s grace for one’s redemption from sin, while there istime yet. Observance of All Souls’ Day prompts the
church members to keep the tombs of their dear departed tidy, with the result that the cemetery is always in a reasonably neat state.
7. Christmas Festival Sale
The story of Christmas Festival Sales of this church commenced in 1909. The church organised a ‘Christmas Bazaar’ in December 1909 to raise funds for the construction of a new church. This was the first Christmas Sale of this church. Ever since, the church has been organising these Sales on the first Satnrday or Sunday every December. Inthe beginning, the articles brought to the church for sale by the members were agricultnral produce. Decades later, the name of ‘Christmas Bazaar’ changed to ‘Fancy Sale’. Later, other articles were also brought for sale. Fancy Sales are organised by a committee headed by a Convener.
S.G. Joshua is the earliest known ‘convener’, and years later, J. Thomas George became Joint Convener to assist the Convener. In the early years, Fancy Sales were conducted at the Cantonment LMS L.P. School. Subsequently, the venue shifted to the first floor hall of Craven High School. The various stalls functioned were Refreshments, Vegetables, Fruits, Pickles and Jams, Embroidery, Novelties, Christmas Tree, Sweets, Poultry etc. The Christian Endeavour boys conducted Side Shows, Skill Games, Raffies, Ice cream Stall, Jumble Sales etc. Entry tickets were sold in some years. The Sales are invariably inaugurated by prominent members of the society.
J. Thomas George was the Convener for the Sales in 1963. In 1964 Lydia Philip was the General Convener. John S. Robert was the General Convener in 1969 & Thomas David in 1971. In 1973, the Sale was conducted from 10 am to 7 pm on an experimental basis. In subsequent years the old timing, that is from 2pm to 7 pm was restored. Other General Conveners and Joint Conveners of the sales were Varghese Philip in 1974, Moses Panicker in 1975, John Joshua Jr. in 1976, David I. Bhanu, Jose J. Daniell, Abraham M.
Daniel and John Thomas (Binu Bhavan) in 1984 & Thomas David in 1985and in 1986. In 1985, the name of ‘Fancy Sale’ was changed to Christmas Festival Sale. General Conveners and Joint Conveners in the subsequent years were Joseph D. Solomon in 1990, Levi V. Mathew & Thomas K. Mathew in 1992as Joint Conveners & Varkey Jacob in 1992, Thomas K. Mathew and Levi V. Mathew in 1993, Oommen G. Philip, Abraham Varghese, Jerry Koshy Vaidyan and Wilfred Norman Lee as Joint Convenors in 1994, Sam Zachariah in 1994, J. Thomas George and Joseph D. Solomon in 1995, Abraham Varghese and Rajeev M. Abraham in 1996, Philip John and Thomas John Daniell in 1997. (No details for period from 1998 to 2001 are available) K.T. Dixon, General Convenor, Thomas John Daniell, Jerry K.J. Thomas and Suresh D. Thomas, Joint Conveners in 2001, Norman Moses Lee, General Convenor, K.T. Dixon, Finny V. Philip, Jerry K.J. Thomas and Issac Thomas- Joint Conveners in 2002, Philip Thomas, General Convener and Thomas K. Mathew Joint Convener for Special Sale in 2003 & Rajan Samuel General Convener and Issac Thomas Joint Convener in 2003. From 2004 onwards, the Christmas Festival Sales are organised by the Church Committee.
In2006 & 2007, the Sales were conducted at the parish hall from 4 pm to 7 pm. Stalls such as Cakes stall, Olivine stall, Kohinoor stall, Neo Caroline stall, Seed Stall, Balabhavan and Balikamandiram Stalls, Juice & Squash Stall etc. also take part in the sales. Occasionally activities like ‘American Auction’, ‘Guess my name’, ‘Guess my weight’, ‘Guess my price’ were also there. In 2008 and 2009 the Sales were conducted in the morning after the Sunday service. Breakfast and lunch coupons were sold beforehand and this helped to enhance participation of the church members in the Sales.
The 100″ Christmas Festival Sale was held in the parish hall ground floor at 10.30am on Sunday 6 December 2009. The sale was formally inaugurated by Master Jairam, an inmate of the CSI Balabhavan ‘ Kallam representing the children of the parish. He was elected for this important role from among the Sunday School students by picking a lot. Electing a child to inaugurate the centenary sale was symbolic of the importance given by the church to children, as they are the future leaders of the church.
8. Christmas Carol Service
The formal choir of this church was organised in 1933by J. Mathew, son ofRev. W. Mathew, District Minister in Quilon.
The organisational skill of J.Mathew must have induced him to organise a carol service in this church at Christmas in 1933 itself. That must have been the first carol service in this church. After the retirement of Rev. W. Mathew as district minister in Quilon, and after his family’s departure from Quilon, the members of the church choir sustained the spirit and enthusiasm and thereafter organised carol services in the church year after year.
P.Y.Thompson, a wizard of church music, took over as the Choir Master after the departure of J. Mathew and ably led the choir till his death in 1968. Organists in the early years were Laura David, Jaison Raj and Annamma David. Traditional English Christmas carols were the order of those days and the choir sang complicated and lengthy Christmas anthems composed by great composers like Caleb Simper, Dr. Isaac Watts and others, and Negros’ Spiritoals of great variety such as ‘Swing low, sweet chariot’ and ‘There is a balm in Giliad’ etc., to name a few at the carol services every year. Malayalam songs penned by P.Y. Thompson himself were also sung. This period lasted for 35 years.
During the tenure oflsaac Justus, successor of P.Y. Thompson as the Choir Master, the style of carols changed to suit contemporary trends and tastes. Isaac Justus adopted works by celebrated new composers and musicians like Avery, Marsh, Fred Kaan and Doran Potter for the carol services. Malayalam carols sung were in provincial styles with poetic content and sublime melodies composed and set to music by Stanley Hutton, a great musician who belonged to the Seventh Day Adventist Church and P.Y. Thompson’s much talented sons- W.J.Thompson, J.A. Thompson and Rajan David Thompson who constitute the famous trio of musicians of Qui!on, adopting different styles, tempos and emphasis. Rajan La! and Albert Vijayan, the much gifted musicians of great repute and composers and musicians like Mathew Gabriel, Dr.Srcclatha, Titus George, Johnson and Mary Vijayan also contributed ingreat measure. V. Stephen, a real artist at the keyboard was the senior organist at that time, assisted by K.George Philip who is a gifted keyboard player as for Malayalam carols and lyrics. During that period, which lasted for 26 years, the emphasis was on harmony and variety.
Later, the choir under Rajan David Thompson, who put on the mantle of Choir Master in 1994,took to a different style with perfection in focus. The carol services were topped with sections of Handel’s classics. The Thompson trio’s music prevailed in this period as well. Works of K. George Philip and the budding composers like Prince Alex Solomon also came in the lime light. The junior choir for the carol services was directed by W.J. Thompson, as in the past.
Apart from the old-time organ, accompaniments like guitar, violin, veena and tabala were also in use in the carol services over the years, played by members of the choir and others. They were K. George Philip, K. Justus Philip, K. John Philip, David George, Stanley Hutton, Laya V.Mary, Levi V. Mathew, Koshy Kurien,Varghese Kurien, George Solomon, Santhosh Jacob, Jerry K.J. Thomas, Subin Gabriel Thompson, Jossy George Thomas and others.
Carol Services are held at 6.30 pm on Sundays before Christmas. At the carol service, the choir enters the church in a procession led by a cross-bearer and leaves the church after the service in recession. Christmas messages at the carol services are given by eminent Christian leaders.
As our church choir is a leading choir in the city, people expect nothing short of perfection from it. The carol service of the church attracts large attendance. It can be said without reservation that the choir sincerely attempts to realise these expectations unassumingly. Carol services are essentially meant to herald the birth of Jesus Christ and to glorify God for His gift ofHis Sonto us.
9.Family Day Celebration
Family Days organsied by this church have not been regular annual events, but only occasional. The earliest known Family Day celebration of this church was held in Craven High School premises around 1948. A group-photo taken on the occasion shows that it was a well attended event. The then leaders of the church district and of this church are all there inthephotograph.
Family Day celebrated again around 1960, was also inthe Craven High School premises. In 1981 the day was celebrated with various programmes. On Sunday, 13th October 1991, it was celebrated in the church and in the Craven High School premises. The inauguration, sing-song session, quiz programme etc. were held in the church; breakfast, lunch, sports and games events, variety entertainment, evening tea and the group photo session were held in the school premises.
On Sunday 12th February 1995, Family Day was celebrated on an elaborate scale. The programme commenced with a thanksgiving service. Very Rev.K.P. Philip and the late G. P. Daniell, former Secretary of the church spoke on the virtues of cultivating healthy relationship between members of families and between families and the church Individuals, families, groups and church organizations took part in sing-song, children and adults participated inthe quiz competition, and almost all the members of the church participated in the lunch, sports and games events and in the group photo session. W.J. Thompson, Koshy Vaidyan and John George helped in organizing sing-song, quiz and sports events. George Thomas, the General Convener organized theprogramme.
On Sunday 2llt October 2007, the Family Day celebration took place at the parish hall. The celebration commenced with thanksgiving, after breakfast. Individuals, families and groups staged various entertainment items; the CEYF and Balabhavan boys presented skits and short plays. Quiz competition, games and competitions invarious noval items were also held, participated by the church members inlarge numbers. The programme came to a close with lunch and a group photo session. Finny V.Philip and Isaac Thomas were the co-ordinators for the programme.
The latest Family Day celebration took place on Sunday 12 September 2010. The celebration commenced with thanksgiving service at the church. Rev. Dr. Royce Manoj of the Kerala United Theological Seminary, Kannanmoola gave the message. The thanksgiving service was followed by the celebration ofHoly Eucharist. Programmes such as breakfast, photo session, variety entertainment, sing song, sports and games events and lunch were held in Craven High Schoolpremises. Quite a large number of church members participated in the celebration. Varkey Jacob was the General Convener and George Thomas, Manju Bhavan, the Joint Convener. Issac Thomas was in charge of refreshments, Boaz Simpson in charge of videography and photography, John George in charge of sports and games and Finny V. Philip in charge of variety entertainment.