Democratizing access to the best data on religion since 1997

Religious Group Profiles

Scroll to Profile Section:

Eastern Liturgical (Orthodox) Family:

Religious Traditions:

Religious Families:

Search US Group Profiles

Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church (1972 - Present) - Religious Group

Religious Family: Eastern Liturgical (Orthodox)
Religious Tradition: Orthodox
Description: The Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church in the United States is part of the global Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church which is headquartered in Kottayam, Kerala State, in South India. It is one of the so-called Oriental Orthodox Churches (the others being Armenian, Coptic, Eritrean, Ethiopian, and Syriac) which, unlike Eastern Orthodox Churches, recognize the validity of theological decisions of only the first three Ecumenical Councils. It is also known simply as the Indian Orthodox Church or the Orthodox Church of India, and it traces its origins to 52 AD, when St. Thomas brought Christianity to India. The church has historically been influenced by the Syrian (Syriac) Orthodox Church of Antioch. In 1665, the Syrian Patriarch sent a bishop to lead the community of Christians in India on the condition that they accept Syrian Christology and would follow the West Syrian rite. In 1912, however, the Indian Orthodox Church was divided over the issue of the authority of Syrian Patriarch. One faction declared itself an autocephalous (fully independent) Church. The other group remained loyal to the Syrian Patriarch. The first group became what is now the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church. In the 1950s, a number of prominent priests from India came to America for graduate studies in theology. In 1954, a delegation from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church attended the Second World Council of Churches held in Evanston, Illinois. Later that year, Bishop Daniel Mor Philoxenos celebrated the Holy Qurbono (Divine Liturgy) at St. John the Divine Episcopalian Cathedral in New York City. This was the first recorded celebration of the Divine Liturgy of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in the United States. In 1965, the new U.S. immigration law made it possible for thousands of professionally qualified individuals to come to America. Many Malankara Orthodox Christians (especially nurses) from Kerala, South India, arrived in the United States during this time. In 1972, the St. Thomas Malankara Orthodox Syrian parish was legally founded in the State of New York. It first used the Lampman chapel at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. In 1979, the Synod of the Malankara Indian Orthodox Church established the Diocese of America with Metropolitan Mor Makarios (former Metropolitan of Bombay) as its first Diocesan Bishop. In 2009, the American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Church was divided in two: the Northeast American and the Southwest American. The Divine Liturgy in Malankara Orthodox Indian parishes in the United States is celebrated in Malayalam and English, although at times classic Syriac (an ancient Church language, a dialect of Aramaic) is used. All prayers are sung in the form of chants and melodies. The Malankara Orthodox Church has a tradition of communal “congregational” singing in the church, which is not common in many other Orthodox Churches. A musical notation system has not been developed in the Malankara culture, and melodies are transmitted between generations via oral tradition. Malankara liturgical hymns are chanted antiphonally (“call-and-response” style of singing) by two choirs. In addition, worship services in the Malankara Orthodox Church also incorporate various traditional Hindu elements.
Official Site:

Maps: Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church1

Adherence Rate per 1,000 (2020)

Congregations (2020)

Top 5 Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church States (2020)1 [View all States]

Rank State Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 New York 28 5,843 0.29
2 Texas 17 5,461 0.19
3 Pennsylvania 8 2,232 0.17
4 Maryland 5 735 0.12
5 New Jersey 6 998 0.11

Top 5 Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church Counties (2020)1 [View all Counties]

Rank County Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 Rockland County, NY 4 667 1.97
2 Fort Bend County, TX 3 1,531 1.86
3 Westchester County, NY 6 1,453 1.45
4 Bucks County, PA 3 763 1.18
5 Nassau County, NY 5 1,567 1.12

Top 5 Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church Metro Areas (2020)1 [View all Metro Areas]


1 The 2020 data were collected by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) and include data for 372 religious bodies or groups. Of these, the ASARB was able to gather data on congregations and adherents for 217 and on congregations only for 155. [More information on the data sources]

Our Sponsors

Our Affiliates

© 2023 The Association of Religion Data Archives. All rights reserved.