Date 8th February 1900 Time 3.30 am on 8 February morning
An earthquake tremor shook the village of Puthen Cavu near Chengannur and surrounding areas in the early hours of 8th February 1900. Not many details is known about the incident, however, it is well documented by Rev. Thomas Walker in his book and passed on as oral legend by many elders. Thomas Walker was a principal speaker at the Maramon Convention from 1899 to 1912.
In the early days of the Maramon Convention, due to the limited means of travel, guest speakers used to arrive days or weeks in advance. In this time they would attend fellowship meetings and deliver messages to nearby congregations.
Rev. Thomas Walker wrote in his diary on 7th and 8th Feb, 1900, about an incident where he had preached and asked people to repent, that night the earth shook and people thought it was he who was responsible for the tremors. Many went on their knees and repented:
February 7. Last night we had a very solemn meeting, and I gave an opportunity to any seeking souls. Thank God, there were some; but oh, how many are indifferent, crowding to hear, but not willing to give up sin. The moment I had finished praying, some of the converted men struck up prayer of their own accord, red-hot if you like: they pleaded for the unconverted.
Then came my trials. I asked those who had held up their Hands to stay behind, and a number did so. But the other people would stand all round. They are not accustomed to quiet after-meetings, and simply refused to go away, even when asked five or six times. The Achans have no command over the people. At last I had fairly to drive them out before I could deal with those poor souls.
In the C.M.S. churches here they have full control of their congregations; but in the Syrian churches, none. And they have made up their mind that they can have none. You cannot get a single Syrian congregation to go off quietly after a service, for the sake of either Christ or souls. It makes it very difficult to get at anyone who is impressed. We were at least twenty minutes getting the people (or most of them) away last night. It seems to me that it is a case of either taking after-meetings in the mass (which is most unsatisfactory), or not taking them at all. Well, one has just to go forward trust the Lord. He knows the circumstances, and can help. And, praise Him, He knows every heart which is hungering for Him.
February 8. We had a solemn service last night, and sent them home with earnest warnings; but except for a quiet time on our knees, did not attempt an after-meeting. Well, in the very early hours of this morning I was suddenly roused from sleep to find the whole ground quivering with an earthquake. You have probably had the same shock. It seemed to last several minutes at least. I felt perfectly quiet under it, and then subsided towards slumber again. Not so the people. There were shouts and cries and prayers all over the place. There seemed to be a tremendous commotion. After a time they came thumping and knocking at my doors and windows, so I had to light a lamp and get up.
My room soon filled with men, some converted and some unconverted. They quite connect the earthquake with the solemn warnings I have been giving here. I told them last night in the pandal that I could do no more, and must just leave them to God. I asked them to go home and say truthfully in His presence, I am saved, or I am not saved. Then followed this earthquake shock, and they immediately connected the two together. It seems in a real sense God’s confirmation of His word by signs following. Call it a coincidence if you please, with Divine before the coincidence. & quot; “Well, I spoke to them, and two young men professed to repent on the spot, while I warned again several others. I then turned into bed and went to sleep again.
One of the Christians said, This morning’s meeting must be for the unconverted. It is against our practice, as the morning meetings are intended to help Christians; but I felt it was God’s will that I should go and preach on earthquakes. So I got some notes together, and a large crowd assembled. The Rev. T. K. Joseph turned up to help me. We had a very solemn time, and I told them that God was giving them another chance and a special warning.
Afterwards I called on any who wanted to turn to Him to stand up, and several men did so, and several women. I then got them to the front of the table where I stood, and we had an after-meeting before the whole pandal, in public. I felt that, after the earthquake, anxious souls ought not to shirk publicity. We were at it till nearly twelve o clock,…”
Dr. Eli Stanley Jones was born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA on 3rd January 1884. He was a faculty member at Asbury College, Kentucky, USA when he was called to missionary service in India in 1907 under the Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
He was one of the main speakers of the Maramon Convention from 1921-1970. His messages combined evangelistic challenges with social concerns. The Maramon Convention is one of the largest Christian convention in Asia, and is held at Maramon, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India annually in February. The venue is on the vast sand-bed of the Pampa River next to the Kozhencherry Bridge. It is organised by Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association, the missionary wing of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church. The 124th Maramon Convention is happening in 2019.
“For more than half a century Dr E. Stanley Jones proclaimed the Gospel of Christ and applied it to people’s personal, social, national, and international problems. He moved among statesmen and among leaders without portfolios as counselor, friend and worker for peace and goodwill.
Dr Jones became a friend of Mahatma Gandhi and wrote an appreciative biography of Gandhi. In 1950, Dr. Jones provided funds for India’s first Christian psychiatric center, and clinic currently known as Nur Manzil Psychiatric Center and Medical Unit at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.
In 1946, with the help of friends in USA, he donated the first loud speaker setup to the Maramon Convention. He is also the founder of the Sat Tal Christian Ashram movement, Nainital, Uttarakhand, India. He died on January 25, 1973 in his beloved India.
In the 1920s, India began to develop greater appreciation for its own history and culture and greater pride in its own unique contributions to world civilization. Stanley Jones was one of the very first to realize the possibilities that this change in India’s intellectual and spiritual culture created for Christianity and especially for Western Christian missionaries. But he could not fully understand the astounding scope and depth of the possibilities without experiencing the history and culture of his adopted country for himself. So, what better way to immerse himself in the ethos of India than to visit Indian ashrams?
This is exactly what he did. In 1923, he spent two months at Santiniketan, the ashram of the world-famous poet, Rabindranath Tagore. Three years later in 1926 he visited Gandhi’s ashram at Sabarmati.
It is no exaggeration to say that Jones’ visits to these ashrams changed the course of his life. In fact, in 1930, he established his own ashram as a spiritual retreat for Christians modeled on his experience with Ashrams in India. But this was only the first of hundreds of Christian ashrams that would eventually be established throughout the world. These ashrams are truly the work of the Holy Spirit as they continue to inspire, refresh, and renew thousands of Christians in many nations today.
~ From “Ordinary Man, Extraordinary Mission: The Life and Work of E. Stanley Jones” by Stephen A. Graham
A pdf resource sheet for Parents / Sunday School Teachers to explain to their children facts and events chosen from the history of the Maramon Convention.
3 January, 1653: Oath of Coonan Cross. Under the influence of the Portuguese Empire a synod was convened at Udayamperoor near Ernakulam in 1599 and the Malankara Church was made part of the Roman Catholic Church. People who wished for freedom from the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church tried to get a bishop from Babylon.
On the request of the Syrian Christians, a bishop named Ahathulla was sent to Malankara in 1652. However, he was captured and killed by the Portuguese in Goa. The Syrian Christians were infuriated and on 3rd January 1653, gathered in large numbers at a church in Mattancherry (Cochin).
They tied ropes to the granite cross in front of the church and by touching the ropes, took an oath severing their connection with the Roman Catholic Church. This incident is known as the Oath of Coonan Cross. (Coonan in Malayalam means bent – The Cross bent to one side during the oath taking ceremony).
According to tradition , out of a population of 200,000 St. Thomas Christians, only 400 remained loyal to the Roman Arch bishop Garcia. The event in 1653 broke the fifty four year old yoke of Roman supremacy imposed at the Udayamperur Synod of 1599.
However, today the church is a Catholic Church and it seems that a Church of historical value has no importance to any of the Non-Catholic Syrian Christian Indian Churches. It is also ironical that this story is taught in Sunday Schools in all these Churches with no historical meaning or significance. The Cross present today appears to be a wooden cross. It does not look like a stone cross that should be a couple of centuries old now as mentioned in all history books.
20 November, 1904: Death of Stephanos Kathanar – Author of “Shayana Namaskaram”.
Stephanos Kathanar (born on 14 June 1852) was a member of Kallarakkal Peedikayil family of Thazhahkkara, Mavelikkara. He became a deacon at the age of 8. He was an expert teacher of the Syrian Language.
In 1897 he established Thazhakkara Mar Thoma Church and started a library for the parish. Achen is the author of The Shayana Namaskaram– (prayer song usually sung with the evening family prayer or public worship) “njangalkullha karthave…” which is still used by many Kerala Christians.
Achen’s grandson Dr. Samuel Mathai was the Vice-Chancellor of the Kerala University. He was called to his eternal home on 20 Nov 1904.
20-26 June, 1599: Synod of Diamper (Udayamperoor) was held under the president ship of Aleixo de Menezes, (25 January 1559 – 3 May 1617) the then Archbishop of Goa. One of the decrees of the synod about marriage reads as follows “No man shall be married hereafter, until he has attained the age of fourteen years at least, nor any woman before she is fully twelve.”
9 June, 1834: William Carey often called “the father of modern Protestant missions” dies, having spent 41 years in India without a furlough. His mission could count only about 700 converts, but he had laid a foundation of Bible translations, education, and social reform.
He also inspired the missionary movement of the nineteenth century, especially with his cry, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God “. As per his will he was buried in the Serampore Cemetery with the following inscription on the tomb stone “William Carey, Born 17 Aug 1761, Died 9 June, 1834; A wretched, poor and helpless worm, on thy kind arms I fall”.
6 June, 1844: Formation of Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).
The Young Men’s Christian Association was founded in London, England, on June 6, 1844, in response to unhealthy social conditions arising in big cities at the end of the Industrial Revolution (roughly 1750-1850). Growth of the railroads and centralization of commerce and industry brought many rural young men in need of jobs to cities like London.
They worked 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week. Far from home and family, these young men often lived at the workplace. They slept crowded into rooms over the company’s shop, a location thought to be safer than London’s tenements and streets. Outside the shop, things were bad -open sewers, pickpockets, thugs, beggars, drunks, lovers for hire and abandoned children running wild by the thousands.
In India, YMCA was introduced in the last quarter of the 19th century. National Council of YMCA’s in India was established in 1891.
31 May, 1931: Anglican Church ordains first priest from Pulaya Community. Due to the work of CMS missionaries many people from the backward classes were converted to Christianity. But Syrian Christians were not willing to worship with them or accommodate them in their churches or society.
Special churches were made to for them and they were treated as untouchables by the high Class Syrian Christians. On 31st May, 1931, Mr. P. J. Isaac a member of the Pulaya community was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Moore in an effort to eradicate this social evil.