St. Thomas Church,Perumalpuram,
Tirunelveli – 627007
Canon Rev. S. Paul Manickam, wished to establish a church in the college Road, Perumalpuram when he was doing pastoral ministry in Palayamkottai between 1956 to 1959. Some money was collected for the purpose. However, he could not do that at that time. In 1965, after his retirement from the pastoral ministry, he settled in Perumalpuram and began the work of establishing a church in Perumalpuram. At first, a land was gifted by a person called Paulpillai and the service was conducted in a thatched house with seven Christian families. In the same year, the Bishop Rt. Rev. A.G. Jebaraj B.A., B.D laid the foundation stone for a church on 21st December 1965 being the day of St. Thomas. Thanks to the great services of Canon Rev. S. Paul Manickam, Mr. Artimas and Mrs. Leela Gnanaraj. By their tireless service and with the donations of the people, the St Thomas Church was built within four years. The St. Thomas Church was dedicated by the Bishop Rt. Rev. A.G. Jebaraj B.A., B.D. on 20.12.69. At the time of dedication, the church did not have the flooring. The flooring work and the mandapam were added in the succeeding years. Perumalpuram became a Pastorate independent from Kulavanigarpuram on 1-7-84. The St. Thomas Church celebrated the Silver Jubilee on 21.12.94. During the period of Rev. Gandhi Selwyn the Church was extended with two balconies and four rooms which were dedicated by this Bishop Rt. Rev. Jason S. Dharmaraj M.A., B.D., D.Th. on 1.2.98. On every 21st December, at the St. Thomas day the Church celebrates Dedication Festival and Asanam. Harvest Festival is celebrated in the month of November. Ekklesia is the church’s magazine that carries the monthly schedule of the church. It also includes a message of the promise and a bible study.
Logos Prayer groups
For the spiritual enrichment of the people of God living in the Perumalpuram area organize themselves into 15 small prayer group units. Weekly prayer meetings are conducted through responsible leaders of the church. There is singing, sharing of witnesses, praying for one another and learning word of God. The groups are encouraged to say the Lord’s Prayer and the apostolic creed in every gathering. Hosting families are advised not to spend on hospitality of the participants. We do not collect any offering on these meetings. If some families gives any thank offering to the leader of the group, he/she is instructed to pay it in the church office and get the receipt for the money. Christians of different churches and even some non-Christians are attending these prayers. This has increased the Christian commitment and fellowship in the church. These groups are called Logos Groups.
Shalom Prayer Meeting
Geographically we divide the Perumalpuram congregation area in to six Shalom areas. During Lenten season, on every Sunday nights; special Shalom meetings are conducted on these areas. In these meetings the youth boys and girls of the church lead the singing and skit sessions. Then there is a time of 10 to 15 minutes praise and worship. This is followed by a Lenten sermon and prayer. After the meeting, supper is served to all those who attend these meetings. The expenses of these meetings are taken care of by that shalom area congregation. This has encouraged the people spiritually and helped for the increase of attendance and involvement of the people in the church.
Carol Singing – Good Deeds to the Poor
Our carol rounds are very significant and interesting. The youth and elders of the church around 25 to 40 members participate in the carol singing in the Christmas season. The offering given during at this time is completely given for the charity work. Poor people are given saris and dhotis before the Christmas. The money that is remaining is given as scholarships for poor students during July of the Year.
Grapho – Scripture examinations
On the Saturday after Good Friday, we conduct a scripture examination to the whole congregation. The syllabus is given well in advance, usually before one year. We select a book from the Old Testament and another from the New Testament. People register their name by paying 10 rupees. Hall tickets are issued on Good Friday. The exams are conducted in the Sarah Tucker College. Around 200 persons write examinations. Prize worth of about 25000 rupees is given shared among all those who get more than 50% of marks. We have eliminated the first and second prizes concept but give prizes on the basis of grades to proclaim mutual supportiveness and inclusive growth.
Harvest Festival – People’s day in the church campus
Our Harvest Festivals do not come to completion with only worship services and auction. It begins with the morning service and ends with evening cultural programmes. After the auction is over, lunch packets are distributed so that people may stay continuously in the church campus. In the afternoon, Bible quizzes are conducted in the prescribed portions and prizes are distributed to encourage the people to further study the Bible. In the evening games and sports are conducted for children and youth.