The Indian Pentecostal Church of God (IPC)

The Indian Pentecostal Church of God (IPC) is the largest Pentecostal organization in India. Its headquarters is situated in Kumbanadu, in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. It has about eight thousand local churches spread over all states of India, besides the Middle East, America, Europe, Australia and Africa and so on.


The first half of the twentieth century was a period, in which the Malankara Christianity was being prepared to witness a major spiritual momentum, thanks to its noble Christian heritage, and with the advent of renewal movements such as the Mar Thoma, the Breatheren, and with the evangelistic fervor which came through the missionaries. It was George Burg, a German missionary who first introduced the Pentecostal experience to Kerala. Subsequently, Pandalam Mathai Upadesi, a travelling preacher accepted the Pentecostal faith. The first Pentecostal church was established in Thuvayur, in Adoor in the year 1909. Gradually several spiritual fellowships were formed between Ranni and Kottarakkara. Although we may not call these fellowships as systematic Pentecostal churches, these small groups moved ahead with spiritual enthusiasm, prayer, Bible devotion and worship. It was at this time that Rev. R. F. Cook had arrived in Kerala. He stayed in Kottarakkara and began to establish Pentecostal churches. There was a dissident movement under the leadership of the great poet K. V. Simon which brought about a spiritual renaissance among the Malankara Syrian Christians. Simon sir had a disciple called K. E. Abraham who was a school teacher. He had been very actively participating in evangelism along with an organization called Anderson Church of God. He studied about the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues from Pandalam Mathai Upadesi. He then started praying with the desire to receive it. Eventually he received anointing of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues as he was tarrying and praying at the home of a Pentecostal pastor called C. Manaseh in Parinayam in Trivandrum on 22nd April in the year 1923. Even before K. E. Abraham received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, there were small Pentecostal fellowships formed in places such as Kumbanadu, Ranni, Ezhumattoor, Perumbetti and so on. These fellowships were led by men of God such as Kodunthara Oommechen, Chethakkal Keevareechan, etc. who came to the Pentecostal faith through the evangelistic works of Rev. R. F. Cook. As a result, these churches had regular spiritual interactions with Rev. Cook. In the year 1924, K. C. Cheriyan, a colleague of K. E. Abraham received the anointing of the Holy Spirit and began to do spiritual ministries together. Gradually they were happily received by those churches under Kodunthara Oommechen and Chethakkal Keevareechan. This brought about collaboration between several churches.

Rev. Cook returned to America in 1924. But the Pentecostal movement gained strength under the leadership of people like K. E. Abraham, K. C. Cheriyan, Kodunthara Oommechen, Chethakkal Keevareechan, A. C. Samuel, and A. J. John. Since then K. E. Abraham and his co-workers started calling their churches as South India Pentecostal Church of God. These churches had a good rapport with the Assemblies of God because of their cooperation with its missionary Miss. Mary Chapman. In 1925, all churches under the South India Pentecostal Church of God in Ranni area came together and conducted a convention. The ground where the convention was held was known as Ranni Ittiayappara Kalakkattu Purayidam. Later on, this convention came to be considered as the first convention of the I.P.C.

In 1926, when Rev. Cook returned from America, K. E. Abraham went to Kottarakkara to see him and spoke at a meeting to receive him. Subsequently the South India Full Gospel Church of God under Rev. Cook and the South India Pentecostal Church of God under the leadership of K. E. Abraham and K. C. Cheriyan have decided to work jointly. That led to the formation of the “Malankara Pentecostal Church of God” on October 6 in the year 1926. A committee was also formed with Rev. Cook as the President and K. E. Abraham as the Vice President. Meanwhile Rev. Cook had established a firm relationship with the Assemblies of God during his visit to the U.S. Thus the “Malankara Pentecostal Church of God” became the official part of the A.G. At the same time the A.G. missionaries were also continuing their work independently. These evangelistic works in Kerala continued until 1929. In the same year the Assemblies of God South India-Ceylon Council was formed. And with that a new law came to exist which required all the A.G. workers to restrict their works to their own territory. Since it was an act of interference in their freedom, the South India Full Gospel Church of God, under the leadership of Rev. Cook and K. E. A. Abraham broke their relation with the A. G. and became an independent church. By this time several Pentecostal churches have been started and gained strength in Kerala.

There erupted some troubles in the “South India Full Gospel Church of God” after it broke away from the A.G. At that time freedom struggles were gaining momentum in Kerala. Obviously some local leaders took a strong stand against any kind of foreign domination. That prompted leaders like Pr. K. E. Abraham and K. C. Cheriyan to revive their old organization called “South India Pentecostal Church of God” and subsequently parted ways with Rev. Cook. This organization later accepted the new name “the Indian Pentecostal Church of God”. There was also another background for this parting of ways. In 1924, a new church was formed in Sri Lanka with the title the “Ceylon Pentecostal Mission” by Pastor Paul. His concept of ‘Apostolic faith life’ became very popular. Rev. Cook invited Pr. Paul to attend his meetings. Pr. Paul’s preaching and ministries impressed several people. He cited the apostolic age and exhorted the people to lead faith-life and shun financial aspirations. That created a new awareness among Pr. K. E. Abraham and his co-workers in the Malankara Church. This encouraged them to avoid the small financial assistance they were getting from Rev. Cook. Eventually they took a decision to sever ties with Rev. Cook.