History of Mar Thoma Syrian Church in Singapore

The Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, India, has had a relatively long presence in Singapore. The first Syrian Christians arrived in Singapore in 1912 and an organized church congregation first gathered in 1936. For ten years afterwards, worship services were conducted in the Armenian Church in Hill Street. In 1947, the Mar Thoma Syrian Community in Singapore decided to find a permanent place of worship. They bought a plot of land along a reserve road off St Michael’s Road. The site was then completely undeveloped, without any access road and amidst rural surroundings. The construction of the church building on the site was completed in 1952. The Mar Thoma Syrian community worshipped here for close to 40 years.

As the community also placed great emphasis on education, they purchased a piece of land in 1954 in the same vicinity to start an English Secondary school for over-aged and under privileged students in Singapore. At that time, there was a pressing need for the establishment of schools in Singapore to cater to the educational needs of the local populace. With a view to help meet these needs, the community established a private school, the St Thomas Secondary School in 1955. With the establishment of a Mar Thoma Syrian Church and a Mar Thoma Church educational institution along the reserve road off St Michael’s Road, the then Municipal Council appropriately named this reserve road as the “Mar Thoma Road”. The school became a government aided school in 1972/73 and was relocated to larger premises in Telok Blangah in 1982.

Trustees were established under Singapore law as a body corporate known as the “Registered Trustees for Singapore, Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, Diocese of Malaysia and Singapore” on 6th August 1969. On 7 December 1983, approval was obtained from the Metropolitan to establish the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in Singapore with its own constitution modeled on the parent constitution of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar. Permission was also granted by the Metropolitan to proceed with the incorporation of Trustees for the church in Singapore and for registration as a charity under the Charities Act, 198Z. The Mar Thoma Church in Singapore and the Mar Thoma Churches in Malaysia functioned and were administered as separate and independent entities with effect from ~ January 1984.

The Registered Trustees for the Mar Thoma Church in Singapore were established as a body corporate on 30th November 1984. On 15th April 1986, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in Singapore was registered as a charity under the Charities Act, 1982.

In 1991 the church building and premises located at 25 Mar Thoma Road were compulsorily acquired to make way for road development. The Mar Thoma Syrian community in Singapore then continued their worship at a chapel they built for the St Thomas Secondary School within the school’s premises. The school however was closed at the end of 2000 and with the closure, the community was once again, without a place of worship. 

The community mobilized itself once again and began planning to construct a new Church building. By the grace of God, a new plot was purchased at 29 Jalan Keli and a new church building was completed in 2004. With the completion of our new church building and premises at 29 Jalan Keli, we hope to continue to play a meaningful and useful role in the society we live in, whilst preserving our unique heritage and culture.

The Church has been active in the Christian ministry in Singapore and is a founder member of the National Council of Churches (NCC).

The Path ahead for the Singapore Congregation

On July 18th 2011, the Singapore Parish celebrated its 75th Anniversary. In conjunction with the anniversary the Church has decided to revitalize its focus on Mission Work. In addition to the celebrations around the event, the Church has decided to give Education grants for students in Singapore and India, expanded food aid program, medical ministry, etc.

The Church with its Ecumenical outlook and participation in the NCC and World Council of Churches is keen to support and involve itself in promoting unity among Christian churches. In a multi-national, multi-religious society the Mar Thoma Church encourages all efforts in promoting tolerance among religions through greater cooperation and improved understanding.

We continue to pray for God’s guidance and His Grace as we look forward to the next and future milestones.