INDIAN PENTECOSTAL CHURCH OF GOD NORTH AMERICA EASTERN REGION.
ORIGIN AND GROWTH
Pentecostal movement has been spreading rapidly throughout the world as the literal fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, “In the last days I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. (Joel 2:28)” Historically, the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues was first manifested at Topeka, Kansas in 1901 as in the day of Pentecost. It is amazing to know that two revivals took place in Kerala in 1873 and 1895 with the manifestation of speaking in tongues many years prior to the Kansas revival. The same experience was repeated at Mukti Mission of Pandit Ramebhai, Poone, India in the beginning of the 20 th century (Autobiography of Pr. K.E. Abraham).
Indian Pentecostal Church of God: God has used both foreign and native missionaries to spread the power of the Holy Spirit in India. Among them was a humble servant of Jesus Christ Pr. K.E. Abraham, a former Brethren Minister who was filled with the Holy Spirit and used mightily by God in spreading the fire of Pentecost through his inspiring preaching and thought provoking writings. He was instrumental in founding the Indian Pentecostal Church of God (IPC). He had the unique quality of encouraging and training other servants of God and bringing them to the forefront. Consequently, I.P.C had the privilege of molding eminent men of God who were mightily used in India and abroad. Through the selfless ministry of these servants of God, IPC became the largest indigenous Pentecostal movement in India. Moreover, IPC members and ministers who migrated abroad established local churches wherever they settled making IPC the largest Indian Pentecostal community outside India as well. At present I.P.C have thousands of churches worldwide.
Pastors K.E. Abraham, P.M. Samuel, K.C. Cherian, and P.T. Chacko were the pioneer IPC leaders to visit the United States in the 1940s. Pastors P.J. Thomas and T.S. Abraham and Bros. T.V. Thomas and A.K. John were the first IPC students to come to United States for higher studies in the early 1950s. By the latter half of 1960s and the early 1970s, several more young people came to the United States as students and as nurses from Kerala. These young men and women stood firm for the Pentecostal faith and began organizing small groups of worship in different places in the United States which later grew into IPC churches. Men of God like Pastors Oommen Abraham, M.S. Samuel, A. C. George and K.V. Kurian may be regarded as the pioneers of IPC work in the U.S.A.
IPC North America Eastern Region: The origin of IPC Eastern Region (North America) can be traced back to 1988, when the late Pastor George Varghese, then General Secretary of I.P.C. visited New York. He convened a meeting of IPC ministers in the region on Oct. 28th and initiated a pastor’s fellowship with the late Pastor A.C. George as the convener. Since then, the pastors gathered on a regular basis for prayer and fellowship. In the early nineties, Pastors A. C. George, K. V. Kurian, John C. Daniel and Bro. M. A. George met several times at India Christian Assembly to discuss the formation of a region-wide fellowship of IPC in North America. Later on, Pastor Sunny Philip and Bro. Roy Vakathanam also joined the discussions. The pastor’s fellowship and these discussions ultimately led to the formation of the Fellowship of IPC Churches of North America.
At a meeting of the pastors and the representatives of IPC churches in New York and New Jersey held on April 20, 1991 the decision was made to call a general body meeting consisting of the representatives of churches in the region. Accordingly, the first general body meeting of the region was convened at I.P.C Queens Village, New York on May 12, 1991. Pastors and elders representing ten churches attended the meeting. Pastor A.C. George the convener of he minister’s fellowship presided. The meeting formalized the region fellowship known as the Fellowship of I.P.C Churches of North America (Eastern Region). The meeting elected Rev. A.C. George (President), Rev. John C. Daniel (Vice-president), Rev. T.C. Mathew (Secretary), Bro. Varghese Pinakulam (Jt. Secretary) and Bro. M.A. George (Treasurer). A region council was also constituted consisting of one representative from each member church in addition to the officials. The name of this fellowship was later changed to the Indian Pentecostal Church of God North America, Eastern Region at the Region Council meeting held on October 2, 1994.
During the years, God enlarged the boundaries of the Region, with the addition of many churches in addition to the original ten churches from the New York-New Jersey area. Today, we have about thirty churches spread across the eastern United States from the capitol city of Washington and the neighboring states of Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the New England. It is with great joy that we can report that during the years our churches have been prospering, both spiritually and materially. New members are being added to most churches and several churches have moved from rented facilities to church owned beautiful houses of worship.
First Region Convention: The first annual convention of the region was held at Susan B. Anthony School, New York from September 13-15, 1991. Thus, the 2015 convention will be the Region’s 25th convention and we are completing 25 blessed years in 2016. The annual convention, pastors and elders meetings and fellowship meetings of member churches are the featured programs of the Region since the beginning. Since 2007, the region has been conducting separate English and Malayalam sessions in the region convention. This has increased youth participation and interest in the region convention. A combined worship service of the New Jersey and the Hudson Valley churches are also held every year under the umbrella of PYPA. The churches in Philadelphia also conduct separate combined worship, convention and fellowship meetings regularly. Additionally, the Sunday school, PYPA and Women’s Fellowship hold a variety of meetings under the auspices of the region.
IPC North American Family Conference: The Region is the birthplace of IPC North American Family Conference. In a special meeting called by the IPC General President Pastor T.S. Abraham on August 14, 1998, at IPA in Hicksville, New York, the attendees decided to commence an IPC Family Conference for North America beginning 1999. The Region was given the responsibility to organize the 1 st Conference. Then Region President Pastor K. V. Kurian was the convener of the first conference. Other officials of Eastern Region and other regions in North America constituted the 1 st Conference Committee. The first IPC Family Conference was held from June 24-27, 1999, at Francis Lewis High School, Queens, New York.
IPC General Council: On January 21, 1997 IPC General Council officially recognized the Region as a formal region of the Indian Pentecostal Church of God under the name IPC North American Eastern Region. Pastor Mathew Samuel and Brother Kunjumon Samuel were the first General Council members from the Region. In subsequent terms Pastors A. C. George, Joseph Williams, T.C. Mathew and P. Philip and Brothers Joy Thumpamon, Stanley George, Kunjmon Samuel, Varghese Philip and George Samuel have also served in the General Council representing the Region. Presently, Rev. Joseph Williams and brothers George Samuel and Kunjumon Samuel represents the Region in the General Council.
Incorporation and Bylaws: After several failed attempts, the Region was incorporated on December 13, 2006 as an official region of IPC under the name “The Indian Pentecostal Church of God [North America – Eastern Region]”. Subsequently, the Region adopted a bylaw on December 21, 2008 which is linked to the Memorandum of Association and Constitution of the Indian Pentecostal Church of God confirming that the region is an official branch of the Indian Pentecostal Church of God (IPC) with international headquarters in Hebron, Kumbanad, India. The Region has a formal Ordination Guidelines which was approved on December 9, 2012. On June 22, 2014 the Region Council approved an Election Guideline and Bylaw Clarifications which clarified certain languages in the bylaw pertaining to region elections which was confirmed by the Region General Body held on December 21, 2014.
Silver Jubilee: The Silver Jubilee Convention was held from October 9-11, 2015 at the Viscardi Center in Long Island, New York. As part of the convention, the Region organized a silver jubilee celebration and thanksgiving service on Saturday, October 10, 2015. A large gathering consisting of pastors and members of local churches and representatives of other Malayalee Pentecostal churches such as Assembly of God, Church of God and Independent churches attended the meeting. The Region executives provided leadership to the festivities. IPC General President Rev. Jacob John and General Secretary-in-Charge Rev. Sam George were the chief guests. Current and former region executives and representatives of various organizations offered facilitations. Pillars of the Region: In the past, this fellowship flourished under the leadership of Pastors A.C. George, Mathew Samuel, K.V. Kurian, T.C. Mathew, Philip Philip, Itty Abraham, Joseph Williams, John C. Daniel, K.V. Abraham, Thomas V. Koshy, Anthony Rocky, John Thomas, Mathew Philip, Sunny Philip, and Babu Thomas. We acknowledge the contributions of all those who planted and watered this fellowship, and give all glory to God who has caused it to grow. Brothers M.A. George, Varghese Pinakulam, George Kuruvilla, George Varghese, Oommen Abraham, Joy Thumpamon, Kunjumon Samuel, Mathai Alummoottil, Michel Johnson, Varghese Philip, Thomas Kidangalil, Thomas Varghese, Sam Thomas, Oommen Ebenezer, Johnson George and Bavan Thomas has served the Region in different capacities along with the many brothers and sisters who lead our Sunday school, PYPA and Women’s Fellowship.
The current leadership of the Region consists of Rev. Joseph Williams (President), Rev. Mathew Philip (Vice-president), Rev. Babu Thomas (Secretary), and brothers Johnson George (Jt.Secretary) and Bavan Thomas (Treasurer); and the Region Council consisting of 45 members (23 pastors and 22 brothers). IPC Eastern Region is a major sponsor and financial patron of Hebron Bible College (HBC). The net savings from our region activities are primarily used to support students pursuing Post Graduate courses at HBC and occasionally to support selected mission fields and various charities in India. Many of the local churches in the region are actively engaged in various charitable work and church planting missions in India. Several member churches also contribute regularly to major IPC projects in India including the development of IPC headquarters in Kumbanad.
Pioneers: Several of our pioneer leaders went to their eternal rest within the twenty-five year history of our Region. Notable among them are former presidents Pastors K.V. Kurian, A.C. George, T.C. Mathew and Mathew Samuel. The unexpected departure of several of these servants of God left an enormous gap in the leadership of the Region. But God has been raising men of God with fresh anointing to fill the void. As the mission continues, we remember those servants of God who lead us in the past. It is our prayer that the Lord will enable those of us who are called to succeed them to honor their lives and imitate their faith.