Year of the 50th: This Abu Dhabi parish has been around since 1971
The UAE turns 50 this year. Abu Dhabi Mar Thoma parish is celebrating the same achievement.
The UAE and the Mar Thoma parish in Abu Dhabi are celebrating a significant achievement this year — they both turn 50 and they’ve both come a long way. From a small prayer group held at homes in 1971, the faithful have travelled a journey filled with many milestones.
Announcing details of the golden jubilee celebrations, senior vicars and church members from 31 prayer groups recollected ceremonies, such as the first house-to-house carols, Sunday School and Holy Communion service held since the 1970s.
“The UAE turns 50 this year. Abu Dhabi Mar Thoma parish is celebrating the same achievement. Many Marthomites landed in the Gulf by the 1950s and 1960s. Seeing a need for fellowship, our elders began meeting as a prayer group. As the number of prayer groups increased, the need to worship as a community arose. Our parish was initiated in September 1971. Thus, we as a parish share the UAE’s golden jubilee. We, as a parish, have come a long 50 years,” said Rt. Rev. Dr Theodosius Mar Thoma Metropolitan.
In September 1971, the parish was formed with Rev. KS Varghese as visiting vicar from Bahrain. By June 1972, Rev. MM Thomas was appointed as a full-time vicar of the parish. Currently, the parish has 1,400 families with nearly 6,000 followers.
“What started as a small group of faithful in 1971 has grown manifolds thanks to the blessings of God. This is thanks to the generosity of the UAE leadership. All such celebrations are times of thanksgiving,” said Rt. Rev. Thomas Mar Timotheos Episcopa.
In 1984, the St. Andrew’s Church was inaugurated, and parish members held combined services there. By 2004, the Abu Dhabi Government allotted land for the new church. After two years, the Mar Thoma Church was constructed in the industrial area of Mussafah and then completed in multiple phases.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, said the parish celebrating the golden jubilee is a testament to the power of tolerance and human fraternity in the UAE.
“So many of your practitioners have lived and worked in the time before our nation’s founder, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, united the emirates and established the new nation in 1971. This is a congregation that, for 50 years, has made significant contributions to building and sustaining this city of Abu Dhabi,” Sheikh Nahyan said.
“An occasion like this reflects our respect for all other faiths. My presence here is an embodiment of one of the core values of the UAE. Ours is a tolerant country that allows people from different places, religions and ethnic backgrounds to live here in harmony and cooperation. Mar Thoma Church has had an inspiring and blessed first 50 years. Your success bodes well for the future.”
As part of the golden jubilee celebrations, there will be year-long programmes with the participation of nearly 6,000 parish members.
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