|The Indian Pentecostal Church of God (IPC)|
|Region||India and Worldwide|
|Origin||Started in July 1924, as ‘Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha’ |
Registered on 9 December 1935 as "The Indian Pentecostal Church of God" at Eluru
The Indian Pentecostal Church of God (IPC) is the largest Pentecostal Christian Denomination in India with Wesleyan influences having strong emphasis on the doctrine of outward holiness and entire sanctification. It has over ten thousand congregations around the world. Its organisational headquarters is at Hebronpuram, Kumbanad, Kerala, India. Although many current IPC preachers promote the word of faith gospel, it laid stress on simplicity during early days. IPC shares its beliefs with Assemblies of God, Church of God and Sharon Fellowship Church. However, it distances itself from TPM (The Pentecostal Mission), which according to IPC promotes legalism, although the IPC has come under scrutiny for promoting legalism as well. The church has a tendency to stray from ecumenism, as several of its leaders often denounce high church liturgy as a method of worship, instead embracing low church contemporary worship. It believes in Baptism of the Holy Spirit as separate event and does not believe in cessationism.
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|Christianity in India|
Protestant evangelical low church movement flourished in Kerala after the translation of the Bible by Hermann Gundert and Benjamin Bailey who also established the first printing press in Kerala in mid 1800s. George Burg, an American-German missionary first introduced the Pentecostal experience in early 1900s. During those times, many evangelical low churches were from the Kerala Brethren and followed reformed puritan practises (Verubadh Sabha) and these churches was pioneered by K.V. Simon, Volbrecht Nagel, Anthony Norris Groves etc. The origins of the Indian Pentecostal Church can be traced back to K E Abraham, who belonged to the Kerala Brethren denomination during the period of the native revival movement in Travancore. Abraham was born on March I, 1899 to Jacobite parents in Mulakuzha, India. He converted to Pentecostalism at age seven in 1906, and was rebaptized on February 27, 1916 by Mahakavi K.V. Simon. During his younger years, Abraham ministered among the youth, and as a result, many people accepted Christianity. As a Christian minister, he had built a small place of worship adjacent to his house in Mulakuzha in 1920 for a Puritan Assembly.
The missionaries from the west also came at the same time to South India for the propagation of the Pentecostal doctrine. Many native people accepted it. On 22 June 1923, it was alleged that Abraham also received the gift of speaking in tongues and became a Pentecostal believer at the house of C. Manasseh at Paraniyam at Neyyattinkara. Because he accepted the Pentecostal faith, the Puritans did not accept him.
During the time of rejection and separation from his erst while group, he wrote a book, Baptism of the Holy Spirit advocating a second baptism, baptism by the Holy Spirit strongly in line with Wesleyan Christian Perfection which made a way for him to be known; it opened many ways to preach and to propagate the Pentecostal message. Several prayer groups and fellowships sprang up in Travencore.
Following that, more churches were established and subsequently on 13 April 1924 a monthly gathering was started with all these churches, which is still continuing among all the IPC churches in different places. These independent movement churches were given a name in July 1924 ‘Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha’ (The South India Pentecostal Church of God). Even when Abraham and colleagues formed these independent churches, they were in cooperation with Rev. Robert F. Cook who headed "Thennindia Poorna Suvishesha Daivasabha" and Mary Chapman the Assemblies of God missionary.
There was a dispute on a ‘land registration’ with Assemblies of God, which caused Abraham to disconnect his relationship with the AG church for a while, at least until the return of Rev. Robert F. Cook from America. When Cook returned Pastor K.E Abraham along with Rev. Cook formed a new organization called Malankara Pentecost Daivasabha by merging the "Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha" (K E Abraham) and "Thennindia Poorna Suvishesha Daivasabha" (Robert F. Cook). These churches had affiliation from Assemblies God as an independent denomination. However, Malankara Pentecosthu Daivasabha was a native movement under the leadership of Cook and K E Abraham. The joint venture helped the church grow faster and many accepted the new faith.
Even though Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha and Thennindia Poorna Suvishesha Daivasabha merged, the churches that were under the jurisdiction of Abraham kept an independent nature. Even though the two organizations merged there was a separate meeting of the Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha held at the house of Abraham on 9 April 1927.
In 1929, the Malankara Pentecost Daivasabha completely separated from the fellowship of AG due to their restriction concerning the ministerial areas for the work of the missionaries. It was not acceptable to Abraham and other native ministers; therefore, they encouraged Cook to detach Malankara Pentecost Daivasabha from AG fellowship. Cook, who was also aware of the future of Pentecostal movement, decided to detach from AG mission and thought of giving more opening to the native ministers for ministry and administration.
The unity between Cook and Abraham did not last longer because Abraham decided to separate from Cook in January 1930. There are two reasons Abraham indicted for the decision behind separation, first, the freedom of local churches and second, the assumption that an apostolic faith life will not be possible by being with Cook. The diplomatic thought of apostolic life was the influence of Pastor Paul who came and preached in South India. Pastor Paul is the founder of Ceylon Pentecostal Mission, which is today known as ‘The Pentecostal Mission’. Some of the believers from Kumbanad tried to unite Rev. Cook and Abraham, but it did not work out.
Abraham accepted the same name that was given to the independent churches in 1924 as ‘Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha’. After the separation from Cook, Pastor P M Samuel joined Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha with the seventeen churches that he had established. The churches also grew in number in the ministry of native ministers. Since Abraham and his colleagues were challenged by the life and faith of Pastor Paul, they also decided to follow "the Apostolic Faith life".
The Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha came in cooperation with the "Ceylon Pentecostal Mission" in 1930 and the fellowship and ministry together existed until 1933, but Abraham had to leave the fellowship due to some doctrinal differences and differences regarding baptism. When Abraham, Alwin and Paul failed to settle the issue after many written discussions, Abraham took a decision to separate from Ceylon Pentecostal Mission in 1933. It was the Ceylon Pentecostal Mission chief Pastor Paul who ordained K E Abraham in 1933 as Pastor.
The following 8 Pastors were the founders of this organization. Pastor K C Oommen - (Kodumthara) Pastor K E Abraham (Kumbanadu) Pastor K C Cherian (Mazuvali) Pastor P T Varughese (Chethakkal) Pastor T G Oommen (Povanmala) Pastor T K Mathew (Karamvali) Pastor A C Samuel - Koyipparam (Later went back to AG Church) Pastor V V Thomas (Ranni)
By 1933 the ministry of Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha expanded outside Kerala state, therefore, the ministers requested the leaders of the church to establish a council. The first minister's council was formed on 5 June 1933. There were 17 members selected in the council and they were:
P M Samuel was selected as the first president of this independent organisation and the council was registered in Aranmula. The head office of the organisation was in Kumbanad, Kerala. Since the work of the Thennindia Pentecosthu Daivasabha reached far beyond South India, the name was changed to India Pentecosthu Daivasabha (Indian Pentecostal Church of God). The organisation is registered in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh under the Societies Act XXI of 1860 on 9 December 1935.
K E Abraham started a bible school at his house, which was unnamed until 1932 and then given the name Hebron Bible College. HBC is an institution that has trained more than 14,000 church leaders, pastors, missionaries, evangelists and students belonging to various denominations for over 83 years.
Thereafter, the IPC made a remarkable progress in founding local churches and taking the gospel to different parts of Kerala as well as other states of India. By 1950, IPC was the leading Pentecostal organisation in South Kerala. However, the period from 1953-1966 was also marked as the period when the church split also referred to as ‘the Dark Age’ of IPC. The split among IPC workers caused many to leave the organisation. The division briefly affected the growth of the church and it is written that K.E. Abraham had contemplated leaving the organisation. After the 1970s the IPC formed a national council for the smooth expansion of the organisation. Today, with more than a 7500 congregations, IPC has founded local churches in all the major continents of the earth. The native leaders’ vision and hard work can be primarily attributed to the growth of the IPC. In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Pastor P.M. Samuel, Pastor Paramjodhi - Andhra Pradesh, Pastor K.G. Koshy - Chennai and Pastor Abraham Samuel - Andhra Pradesh developed the local churches and ministries and they were able to bring many to Christ and through their work in Andhra and Tamil Nadu there are many thousands that are believers in Christ. As a result of their work, there are large churches that bring in thousands of people to worship each Sunday.
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Statement of Faith as per IPC Constitution are as shown below:
- 1. The Holy Scriptures as the revealed will of God, the all sufficient rule for faith and practice. The Holy Bible consisting of sixty-six (66) books including the Old and New Testament, is the inspired Word of God, a revelation from God to Man, concerning the will of God in all things necessary to our faith, conduct and salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:15-17).
- 2. In one God, eternally existing in three persons, namely the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-11; Matthew 28:19; Mark 12:29).
- 3. That Jesus Christ is the only Begotten Son of the Father, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of virgin Mary (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 3:16-17)., that Jesus Christ died at the cross, and was buried and raised from the dead; that He ascended to heaven and is today at the right hand of the Father as our intercessor.
- 4. In the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceed from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and Son together is worshiped and glorified (John 14:16-17).
- 5. That man was created in the image and likeness of God, but fell by voluntary transgression and his only hope of redemption and salvation is in Jesus Christ; that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, that repentance is commanded of God for all, and is necessary for forgiveness of sin; that salvation, new birth and justification are wrought by the grace of God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the renewing work of the Holy Ghost (Genesis 1:26-31; 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-21; 6:23; 10:13; Titus 2:11, 3:5-7).
- 6. The inward evidence of salvation, new birth and justification to the believer is the direct witness of the Spirit, and the outward evidence to all men is a life of righteousness and holiness (Romans 8:16; 12:1-2).
- 7. In the ordinance of water baptism by immersion, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, for all who repent and believe Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Matthew 28:19; Acts 10:47; Romans 6:4).
- 8. All believers are entitled to and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ; that the full consummation of the Baptism of the believers in the Holy Spirit is evidenced by the initial sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit give utterances and by the subsequent manifestation of the gifts and fruits of the Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-6; 1:8; 2:4; 2:38; 10:44-46; 11:14-16; 15:7-9; 19:2-6; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31).
- 9. The Lord’s Supper consisting of the elements of bread and the fruit of the wine, is a memorial of His sufferings and death and a prophecy of His second coming, and will be enjoined by all believers, “until He comes” (Luke 22:17-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16,17; 11:23-32).
- 10. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement and is the privilege of all believers, and the anointing of the sick with oil for healing and the laying on of hands (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8: 16-17; Mark 16:18-20; James 5:14-16).
- 11. The Church is the body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit, with divine appointments for the fulfillment of His great commission; and that a divinely called and scripturally ordained ministry have the two fold purposes of evangelization of the world and the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23; 2:19-22; Hebrews 12:23; Mark 16:15-20; Ephesians 4:11-13).
- 12 In the pre-millennial second coming of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of those who are asleep in Christ, and the rapture of those who are alive and remain in the coming of the Lord, is eminent and is the blessed hope of the Church (Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Titus 2:13).
- 13 In the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven, the salvation of all Israel, and the millennial reign of Christ on this earth is the scriptural promise and the world’s hope (Romans 11:25-27; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Revelation 19:11-16; 20:1-7).
- 14 That the devil and his angle, the beast and the false prophet, and whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into everlasting punishment into the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone (Revelation 19:20; 20:10-15).
- 15 In His promise and look for new heavens and a new earth wherein the righteous will dwell (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).
Indian Pentecostal Church is governed by General Presbytery and General Council. The general management of the Church are carried by the general council, whereas spiritual administration, doctrines and matters pertaining to church ministers are carried by general presbytery.
IPC has a presbytery in three levels of administration: General, Region or State, and District. The members of the presbytery are ordained ministers. All ordained offices held in IPC are exclusively for men. As per the constitution, the General Presbytery meets when called by the General Secretary on behalf of the General President. The General Presbytery is the 'Court of Appeal' in all matters of the church and its decision is considered as final. The ministers who form the General Presbytery are:
Matters pertaining to the transfer of a minister, ordination of a minister etc. are decided by the respected Region or State Presbytery on the recommendation of the District Presbytery.
Council consists of both ordained ministers and elders from local churches. All members of a council are men. They are in charge of management of the church, finances, church buildings and assets, conventions and conferences etc. Councils are found in every level of management: General, Region or State, District, and local church. The executive members of the council are the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Joint-Secretary and Treasurer. Ordained ministers are not allowed to hold the post of a treasurer, usually joint-secretary post in General and State Councils are reserved for non ministerial elders, however, there could exist two joint-secretaries, one elected from ministers and one from believers. The executive members are assisted by council members, both ordained ministers and elders. The usual term of a council is 3 years.
The president, vice-President, secretary and minister-joint secretary will be part of the Presbytery and will serve in that office in the Presbytery.
There are many auxiliary ministries associated with IPC such as Bible Colleges & schools, Pentecostal Young People Association (PYPA), Fellowship of Women - Indian Pentecostal Women's Association, Sunday School and Christian publications, magazines and journals. All these auxiliary ministries have contributed to the growth of Pentecost entirely. PYPA is one of the leading auxiliary ministries and a grooming ground for new leaders and preachers for the church. Many talented ministers and believers have emerged and continue to emerge from the folds of PYPA. The Sunday school association also has been carrying a systematic ministry for years. The Sunday School consists of 14 grades and the people that faithfully complete the 14th class are awarded a Diploma in Theology from IPC Sunday School Association.
The famous Kumbanad convention is an annual Pentecostal convention that is held by the Indian Pentecostal Church of God at Hebronpuram, Kumbanad. It is one of the oldest and the largest Pentecostal conventions in India. First General Convention of IPC was held at Kalakkattu Purayidam near Ittyappara Ranni from Wednesday 1 April to Sunday 5 April 1925. The IPC convention is usually held in January and the 97th Kumbanad Convention was held online from 18th Jan – 24 Jan 2021 due to COVID 19 pandamic and the 98th Kumbanad Convention was held at Hebron ground, Kumbanad from 16 Jan - 23 Jan 2022 in a hybrid mode (virtual media and physical gathering) with limited number of participants in the physical gathering due to covid related restrictions.