|Believers Eastern Church|
|Orientation||Reform Eastern Christian · Pentecostal|
|Metropolitan bishop |
|Athanasius Yohan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan)|
|Associations||Kerala Council of Churches|
|Other name(s)||Believers Church (formerly)|
Believers Eastern Church (previously Believers Church) is a Christian denomination in Indian origin with congregations and parishes worldwide. It is also a branch of the ministry Gospel for Asia. The church now follows an episcopal governance. The church holds Christ as the head of the Church but also requires that bishops and ordained ministers swear to submit to its metropolitan and any successors of the metropolitan. It is governed by a committee of bishops, the Synod, with one central bishop holding the honorary title of "first among equals" and follows Evangelical Christian doctrine. Believers Eastern Church is administratively based in the state of Kerala in southwestern India. In 2015, the church reported it was re-organized into 33 dioceses; a decrease from the 36 dioceses reported by Smith in 2009. According to Believers Eastern Church, it claims its membership consists of more than 3.5 million people in 10 countries speaking a hundred languages. The Church has 30 bishops, and the Metropolitan Bishop is Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan)
Believers Eastern Church has its roots in Pentecostalism. The denomination was founded in 1993 as part of the Gospel for Asia apostolate. On 6 February 2003, K. J. Samuel, the Moderator Bishop of the Church of South India (a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion), along with the P.M. Dhotekar, Bishop of Nagpur of the Church of North India, and the Bancha Nidhi Nayak, Bishop of Phulbani of the Church of North India, consecrated Moran Kp Yohanonos (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan) as a bishop in Anglican lines of apostolic succession; the K.P. Yohannan thereafter became the first Metropolitan of the Believers Eastern Church, which acquired an episcopal polity of ecclesiastical governance. Believers Eastern Church describes itself as being "Apostolic in origin, universal in nature, Biblical and evangelical in faith, ecumenical in outlook". It adheres to the Nicene Creed, biblical
The church accepts the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible as the inspired Word of God which is inerrant and the fundamental standard of faith, and complete and final written revelation of God. It also adheres to the Nicene Creed. The church believes in the following doctrines:
For being distinguishable members of Believers Eastern church, and the message of the Word of God to be applied in an individual's life leading to a greater maturity in Christ, following are the official code of living.
Believers Eastern Church is involved in various social projects and has been lauded for "its humanitarian service towards the society at large." The church's social service includes poverty alleviation, and promoting adult literacy. The church is also providing shelter to street children through a home called Asha Grih, which is licensed by the Indian Government. Additionally, Believers Eastern Church has a child development project called Bridge of Hope (BOH). BOH provides holistic development to needy children throughout South Asia. As of 2012, the project is helping 60,000 underprivileged children by providing them free education, a nutritious diet and school supplies. Bridge of Hope's 525 project centers are staffed by 2,400 individuals. Other major projects include the Believers Church Medical College Hospital, Believers Eastern Church Caarmel Engineering College and Believers Church Theological Seminary. Most of the funds for these social projects are sent over from the United States by the ministry Gospel for Asia, of which Believers Church is a part. The metropolitan of Believers Church, Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan), is also the president of Gospel for Asia.
The operations of Gospel for Asia and Believers Eastern Church were scrutinized after Believers Eastern Church, under the guidance of Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan), purchased a 2,268-acre (9.18 km2) rubber estate in Kerala, India. Opponents said the church had diverted foreign funds to amass land for itself and for uses other than declared purposes. Further, it was alleged that the rubber estate, which Believers Eastern Church purchased from Harrison's Malayalam Ltd., was on leasehold from the government and not saleable. Hence, Believers Eastern Church was accused of illegally holding government land. At a later time, Harrison's Malayalam was accused of forging their land title, leading to continued debate about the legality of the sale.
Legal proceedings are still ongoing. "Former Ernakulam District Collector Dr M G Rajamanickam, who was appointed as the Special Officer of the government to confiscate the illegal and excess estate lands under the custody of various companies, had issued an order in May, 2015, confiscating the 2,268 acre of land from Believers Eastern Church." However, this ruling was appealed and now there is further complication because the local government wants to build an airport on this estate. News outlets are reporting that the local government wants to buy the property. However, it is also reported that "The government does not need permission from K P Yohannan to set up airport in the Cheruvally estate, BJP national executive member V Muraleedharan said." The BJP is currently behind a large scale anti-corruption crackdown on Black Money inside India. The final status of the estate for building the airport is still unsettled.
There is also been an ongoing court case regarding the illegal filling in of wetlands in order to build the Believers Eastern Church Medical College Hospital. GFA has been paying a special tax because a "substantial" amount of its income is not used for intended purposes of the fundraising. An Indian court said, "It is not in dispute that substantial income of the assessee trust was not used by both the assessees for the purposes for which they were formed."
Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan) says that the claims were politically motivated and that the workings of Gospel for Asia and Believers Eastern Church are transparent. Further, the rubber estate is an investment to help fund social work among underdeveloped communities and not a personal land grab as opponents have stated.
Some of the more prominent Pentecostal groups are the Sharon Fellowship Church (est. 1975), the New India Church of God (est. 1976), New India Bible Church (est. 1975), and the Believers' Church, run by the Gospel for Asia ministry (est. 1978) under the leadership of K. P. Yohannan, from a St. Thomas Syrian Christian background.
In 1993, Gospel for Asia created its own church administrative structure, the Believers'Church, where newly founded congregations supported by Gospel for Asia were grouped together.
On 6 Feb 2003 the Rt. Rev. K. J. Samuel, Bishop in East Kerala and former moderator of the Church of South India, assisted by the Rt. Rev. P.M. Dhotekar, Bishop in Nagpur of the Church of North India, and the Rt. Rev. Bancha Nidhi Nayak, Bishop in Phulbani of the Church of North India, consecrated Yohannan as metropolitan archbishop of the Believers Church.
Believers Church, a Christian denomination, is Apostolic in origin, universal in nature, Biblical and evangelical in faith, ecumenical in outlook, and has a constitutional episcopacy for governance. The Church adheres to the Nicene Creed, Biblical Faith, and traditions of the historical church backed up with its own Canonical Constitution.