The Atlanta Parish is a member parish of the Saint Thomas Evangelical Church of India, an Evangelical, Episcopal denomination based in Kerala, India. The headquarters of the church is at Thiruvalla in the state of Kerala, India. The Church firmly affirms that the Holy Bible is the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God . All that is necessary for man’s salvation and living in righteousness is given in the 66 books of the Holy Bible. It further affirms that the Church has a responsibility to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the nations of the world, especially to India. Furthermore, the Atlanta Parish also has a responsibility to the community of Atlanta. We are incorporated as a non-profit organization in the State of Georgia.
- Our Presiding Bishop: Bishop Most Rev. Dr. C.V. Mathew
- Our Diocese Bishop: Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Abraham
- Our Vicar: Rev. K.B. Kuruvilla
- Our Vice-President: Mr. Satheesh Thomas
- Our Secretary: Mr. Thomas John
St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India (STECI) is an evangelical, episcopal, missionary church with headquarters in Kerala, India. It was formed in 1961 as a result of a reformation movement in the Mar Thoma Church, and traces its ancestry before then back almost 2,000 years to the tradition of Apostle Thomas.
STECI firmly affirms that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God and all that is necessary for human salvation and living in holiness and righteousness is given in the Bible. It further affirms that the church has a mandate to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the nations of the world, especially to India.
Fundamental Teachings of STECI
- Principal Aim and Objective:Our Church affirms that the purpose and work of the Church is the stewardship of the divine doctrines and teachings, as revealed through Jesus Christ and proclaimed by the Holy Apostles, and the preservation of these in their pristine purity, and the enrichment of the spiritual life of the members of the church.
- The Uniqueness of the Bible:
Our Church believes that the Holy Bible consisting of 66 books -– 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament –- is the sole authority for all matters concerning our faith and doctrines and that nobody has any authority to add to, or subtract from, the contents of the Bible. In other words, all questions regarding our faith and conduct have to be judged strictly in accordance with the word of God. We subscribe to the Nicene Creed because it is in conformity with the word of God. The uniqueness of an evangelical is that he/she will always stand within the squares of the 66 books contained in the Bible. This is all the more reason why we should study the Bible very carefully.
- Missionary Commitment:
While almost all the Churches believe in missionary work in one form or the other, our Church believes that evangelization (i.e. preaching, discipling, and Church planting) is the main task of the Church. Each one belonging to the Church, irrespective of his/her age or position in life, has to proclaim “the good news” and live as His witness. The task of proclaiming “the good news” should not be left to be accomplished only by a few full-time evangelists. Each one of us is duty bound to supplement the efforts being made by full-time gospel workers.
- Salvation by Grace Through Faith Alone:
Our Church believes that salvation can be obtained only by grace through faith and not through rituals and good work. When a person confesses his/her sins and believes that Jesus died for his/her sins and that God has raised Jesus from the dead for the salvation of mankind, he/she will be saved. This is not by any work but by faith. Salvation that is offered to the believer is to be preserved by continuously abiding in the Lord with “fear and trembling.”
- Royal Priesthood:
Our Church believes in the royal priesthood of all those who have accepted Christ. We believe that no bishop or clergy or other functionary of the Church can be infallible. All these functionaries are expected to abide strictly by the provisions of the constitution of the Church and the articles of faith expressly declared at the time the Church was constituted. It may be noted that while the constitution may be amended by complying with its provisions, no one has the right to change the above mentioned articles of faith.
- Christ the Only Mediator – (Why do we not pray to the saints?):
Our Church believes that every Christian has the right to communicate directly with our Savior Jesus Christ and no intermediary is necessary or permitted. The Bible teaches that Christ is the one and only mediator between man and God. Therefore, our Church strictly prohibits prayer to the Virgin Mary or the saints.
- Prayer for the Living – (Why do we not pray for the dead?):
Our Church believes that every human being has to decide, during his/her lifetime, whether or not to accept Christ. If any one fails to accept Christ during his/her lifetime, the position can in no way be rectified or improved by rituals performed or prayers offered by such person’s children or others after his/her death. The Church forbids prayer for the dead and, on the other hand, encourages intercessory prayer for the living. We should pray for, and try to help all living people around us that they may accept Christ during their lifetime.
- Holy Trinity:
We believe in the Holy Trinity –- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
- Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ:
in the personal return of Lord Jesus Christ with glory to judge both the living and the dead and in the final establishment of the kingdom of God in its fullness. We believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead -– the just will rise to live, and the unjust will rise to be condemned.
- The Lord’s Supper:
Our church recognizes the Lord’s Supper and baptism, both instituted by Christ, as the two sacraments obligatory to all Christians. We believe that the bread and wine used in the Lord’s Supper are only the signs and symbols of the body and blood of Christ. We categorically reject the teachings that there is any mysterious or other presence of Christ in the bread and wine. The Lord’s Supper is a thanks offering instituted by the Lord Himself to be observed till His coming, for the faithful to proclaim His death, remember Him, and have communion with Him and fellowship with the other believers.
Baptism is the sign of dying for our sins with the Lord, and of being resurrected with Him unto the newness of life, and a service of acceptance into the membership of the Church. Those who openly declare their faith in Jesus Christ should be baptized and accepted into the membership of the Church. Our Church believes that children of Christian parents (born again) are also part of the Church and this is the reason why parents are allowed to opt for baptizing their children. Baptism can be had only once and, therefore, a second baptism which disparages the duly administered first baptism is totally unacceptable. Baptized children should be brought up in the Christian faith and they should confess their faith in the Lord openly and be confirmed before completing the age of 14. If parents desire that their children themselves should confess their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ before they are baptized, they may do so. Such parents should dedicate their children in infancy. Before such children complete the age of 14, they should openly confess their faith in the Lord and be baptized.