Pentecostalism in Kerala


Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Book of Acts. Pentecostalism was established in Kerala at the start of the 20th century.


Indigenous Pentecostalism in India first emerged from the Syrian Christian community in the state of Kerala. Christianity in Kerala claims its origin in AD 52[citation needed] when the Apostle Thomas arrived and preached the gospel to Jews.[citation needed] In addition, there were evidences of migrations of Christians from Syria in the fourth century and the eighth century to Kerala.

The Pentecostal message from the West arrived in Kerala in 1909 through the visit of George Berg. This American missionary of German descent arrived in Bangalore in 1909 and preached in a convention in Kerala. The first Pentecostal congregation was formed through the efforts of Berg in Kerala only in 1911; this was among first generation Christians. Berg was the first missionary to reach out to the natives who[clarification needed] did not speak English.[1]

In 1913 Pastor Robert F. Cook also came to India as a missionary. He came to Kerala and began his ministry there in 1914. By 1923, Cook had established 36 churches in Kerala, known collectively as the South India Church of God (Full Gospel) in India. Pastor K. E. Abraham, who was associated with Pastor Cook until 1930, was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1923, an event considered as the foundation for the establishment of the India Pentecostal Church of God. In 1930, Pastor K.E Abraham who believed that local Keralite churches must be independent from foreign organizations for effective evangelization within India, split from Pastor Cook and formed the South India Pentecostal Church of God. He later changed the name of the church to India Pentecostal Church of God.

In addition to the work begun by Abraham, Pentecostalism grew rapidly in Kerala through the ministries of the Ceylon Pentecostal Mission (CPM), the Church of God (Cleveland), and the Assemblies of God.[2]

Notable communities

Non Denominational Pentecostal Churches

There are hundreds of other independent Non Denominational congregations throughout Kerala. Its strength varying from 100 to 10000 members.


Denominations among all Christians in Kerala

  Syro-Malabar (38.2%)
  Syro-Malankara (7.6%)
  Latin Catholics (15.2%)
  Pentecost (5.3%)
  Orthodox (8.0%)
  Marthoma (6.6%)
  CSI (4.5%)
  Dalit Christian (2.6%)
  Jacobite (7.9%)
  Others (5.9%)

Christian Denominations in Kerala, 2011

Communities Population Percentage
Syro-Malabar 2345911 7.0
Syro-Malankara 465207 1.4
Latin Catholics 932733 2.8
Jacobite 482762 1.4
Orthodox 493858 1.5
Marthoma 405089 1.2
CSI 274255 0.8
Pentecost 213806 0.6
Dalits 159982 0.5
Other Christians 361864 1.1
Total Christians 6141269 18.4

Source: Religious Denominations of Kerala[3]

Pentecostal Youth Associations

Youth Association Name Community
PYPA (Pentecostal Young People's Association) India Pentecostal Church of God
YPE (Young People's Endeavour) Church of God
CA (Christ Ambassadors) Assemblies of God
CEM (Christian Evangelical Movement) Sharon Fellowship Church
YPCA (Young People's Christian Association) New India Church of God
YF (Youth Fellowship) World Mission Evangelism Church of God
PYF (Pentecost Youth Fellowship) Pentecost Church of God


In classical Pentecostalism, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is understood to be a separate and distinct experience occurring sometime after regeneration. Influenced by the Holiness movement, baptism with the Holy Spirit was regarded by the first Pentecostals as being the third work of grace, following the new birth (first work of grace) and entire sanctification (second work of grace).[4][5]

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, taught that there were two distinct phases in the Christian experience.[6] In the first work of grace, the new birth, the believer received forgiveness and became a Christian.[7] During the second work of grace, sanctification, the believer was purified and made holy.[7] Wesley taught both that sanctification could be an instantaneous experience,[8] and that it could be a gradual process.[9][10]

Early Methodists wore plain dress, with Methodist clergy condemning "high headdresses, ruffles, laces, gold, and 'costly apparel' in general".[11] John Wesley recommended that Methodists annually read his thoughts On Dress;[12] in that sermon, John Wesley expressed his desire for Methodists: "Let me see, before I die, a Methodist congregation, full as plain dressed as a Quaker congregation".[13] The 1858 Discipline of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection thus stated that "we would ... ejoin on all who fear God plain dress".[14]

Outward Holiness, or External Holiness, is a Wesleyan-Arminian doctrine emphasizing modest dress and sober speech.[15] The doctrine was prevalent during the revival movements for the early Lutheran Pietists and Methodists, and during the Holiness and Pentecostal movements. Some Christian denominations within the Wesleyan-Arminian theological tradition, such as some Methodist, Holiness, and Pentecostal denominations continue to observe outward holiness. The standards are:

  • Modest and plain dress, which is defined as loose covering from the neck to below the knee in all normal body postures; women often wear a Christian headcovering.[16] This would also include the strict prohibition of mixed bathing.
  • Moderate or no use of jewelry or ornaments of gold, silver, and jewels for personal adornment; some denominations will only allow the use of a wedding band or ring while others proscribe it too.[17]
  • A distinction of the sexes in clothing, forbidding such style as trousers and pant suits for women unless required by work or public service.
  • Christian men are to wear their hair short and Christian women must never cut or remove their hair, wearing it long in order to have a definitive distinction of male and female sexes.

But Methodist churches believe and practice infant baptism so most of the Pentecostal community wont accept their practice because Pentecostal churches follow beleivers baptism.

As a continuation, in Kerala many Traditional Pentecostal denominations do not wear ornaments depending upon the denomination they are part of. However Dr. Valsan Abraham who is the current president of IPC Church has mentioned that removing ornaments is not a part of Biblical doctrine but the forefathers of IPC CHURCH had decided to have a simple lifestyle and the practice of removing ornaments has never ever recorded in the constitution of IPC and in the statement of faith. Most of the Independent churches in Kerala do not have a practice of removing ornaments. At the turn of the century, more and more traditional churches are moving away from the practice of mandating compulsory removal of ornaments and classifying it as a personal choice of believers.

Pentecostal Institutions in Kerala

List of some main institutions are :-

  • India Bible College & Seminary, Kumbanad
  • MT Zion Bible Seminary, Mulakuzha
  • Faith Theological Seminary, Manakkala
  • Bethel Bible College, Punalur
  • Sharon Bible College, Thiruvalla
  • Shalom Bible College, Vadavathoor
  • IPC Kottayam Theological Seminary, Puthuppally
  • Rhema Bible Seminary, Nallur, Palakkad. Accredited by ATA
  • Calicut Theological College - Kozhikode
  • Asian Bible College - Kochi
  • Trinity Bible College Kozhikode, Waynad

Pentecost Media

Media plays a leading role to spread Pentecostalism in Kerala through Television Channels, Radio Channels, Newspapers/Magazines and Social Media.

Television Channels Radio/FM Channels Newspapers/Magazines Presence in Social Media
Powervision TV Bafa Radio Good News Online Good News
Harvest TV Psalms Radio Hallelujah Dunatos Gospel Ministries
Trumpet TV Radio Manna Believers Journal M4manna
Kahalam TV Jesus Coming FM Marupacha
Manna TV RAFA Radio Kraisthava Ezhuthupura
IAG TV My Worship Radio Disciples News

Resistance of Pentecostalism in Kerala

The US-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned some attacks on Christians in Kerala, generally considered a safe-haven for Christians because of the large Christian minority there. The ICC warned that the Kerala attacks would only embolden anti-Christian extremists elsewhere to attack the even more vulnerable Christians in their states.[18]

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad along with the Arya Samaj arranged the Ghar Wapsi Program and converted a few number of Christians to Hinduism in Kerala. Because Dalit Christians had belonged to SC/ST communities before conversion to Christianity, but they are denied the government's SC/ST benefits in education and job reservation.[19] The Supreme Court ruled that a person who reconverts from Christianity to Hinduism shall be entitled to reservation benefits if his forefathers belonged to a Scheduled Caste and the community accepts him after reconversion.[20]

International Evangelists in Kerala

American Evangelist Billy Graham came in February 1956, conducted program in Kottayam in Kerala. Most of the pentocostal Christian homes in Kerala had the wall poster with the side view picture of 36 years old Evangelist Dr. Billy Graham with the writing "God is Calling The Church”.[21]

German Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke preached in Kochi for the CfaN Fire Conference on April 9-13, 2008.

Malayalee Evangelists outside Kerala


Ma Varghese is the senior Pastor of Bethel AG church Bangalore.


P.G Varghese is the founder of IET Indian Evangelical Team working in North India. They have nearly planted 8000 churches across India.


Anison Samuel is a revival speaker, Pastor and an evangelist who has started his ministry at the age of 12. He is currently the President of The Apostolic Ministries International and the senior Pastor of Zion Apostolic church in Edmonton, Canada. The Apostolic Ministries International have around 1500 churches across the globe.


Pastor R Abraham and Pastor VA Thampy are the founders of New India Church of God. Under their leadership they have planted 3500 churches across the nation of India with orphanages and schools.

See also


  1. ^ "As East and West Met in God's Own Country: Encounter of Western Pentecostalism with Native Pentecostalism in Kerala". Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  2. ^ "The Keralite Pentecostal Community: The Past and the Present". Archived from the original on 25 February 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  3. ^ K.C. Zachariah (April 2016). "Religious Denominations of Kerala" (PDF). Center for Development Studies. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  4. ^ The West Tennessee Historical Society Papers - Issue 56. West Tennessee Historical Society. 2002. p. 41. Seymour's holiness background suggests that Pentecostalism had roots in the holiness movement of the late nineteenth century. The holiness movement embraced the Wesleyan doctrine of "sanctification" or the second work of grace, subsequent to conversion. Pentecostalism added a third work of grace, called the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is often accompanied by glossolalia.
  5. ^ The Encyclopedia of Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. 1999. p. 415. ISBN 9789004116955. While in Houston, Texas, where he had moved his headquarters, Parham came into contact with William Seymour (1870-1922), an African-American Baptist-Holiness preacher. Seymour took from Parham the teaching that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was not the blessing of sanctification but rather a third work of grace that was accompanied by the experience of tongues.
  6. ^ Synan, Vinson (1997). The Holiness-Pentecostal tradition: Charismatic movements in the twentieth century. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 6–7. ISBN 978-0-8028-4103-2. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  7. ^ a b Stokes, Mack B. (1998). Major United Methodist Beliefs. Abingdon Press. p. 95. ISBN 9780687082124.
  8. ^ Alexander, Donald L.; Ferguson, Sinclair B. (1988). Christian spirituality: five views of sanctification. InterVarsity Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-8308-1278-3. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  9. ^ Curtis, Harold (2006-09-21). Following the Cloud: A Vision of the Convergence of Science and the Church. Harold Curtis. p. 86. ISBN 978-1-4196-4571-6. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  10. ^ Southey, Robert (1820). The life of Wesley: and the rise and progress of Methodism. Evert Duyckinck and George Long; Clayton & Kingsland, printers. p. 80. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  11. ^ Lyerly, Cynthia Lynn (24 September 1998). Methodism and the Southern Mind, 1770-1810. Oxford University Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780195354249. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  12. ^ Journals of Wesley, Nehemiah Curnock, ed., London: Epworth Press 1938, p. 468.
  13. ^ Wesley, John (1999). "The Wesley Center Online: Sermon 88 - On Dress". Wesley Center for Applied Theology. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  14. ^ The Discipline of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection, of America. Wesleyan Methodist Connection of America. 1858. p. 85.
  15. ^ Jim McKinley; David Huston (2018). "What is outward holiness?". Glorious Church Questions & Answers. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  16. ^ Streitmatter, Jeff (2018). "About Us". Fort Myers Apostolic Christian Church. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Discipline of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches" (PDF). 2014. pp. 33–34. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  18. ^ "christiantoday". Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  19. ^ "conversion". Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  20. ^ "reconvert". Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  21. ^ "Billy Graham's Memories of India". Retrieved 23 February 2018.