The impact of international migration on home churches: The mar thoma Syrian Christian Church in India

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12 Scopus citations


Based on qualitative, multisited research, this article examines the impacts of short- and long-term international migration to the Middle East and the West on the Mar Thoma Syrian Christian demonination of Kerala. Migrants and their foreign-born children have new demands and expectations, and significant financial contributions have led to adjustments in the orientation and functioning of the denomination and its clergy. Large-scale emigration has also had indirect effects. International networks and the economic affluence of the population, along with a rise in social problems caused by migration and consumerism, have led to the rise of evangelical and charismatic transdenominational churches in Kerala that challenge the functioning of established Christian denominations such as the Mar Thoma. Church leaders have been trying to bring about changes to address these developments, but are constrained by the tradition, structure, and the mission of the churches. I draw on theories of organizational religious change and theories of transnationalism to explain the process of social change in Kerala, also addressing some limitations of these theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-129
Number of pages21
JournalJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Home communities
  • India
  • Mar Thoma
  • Migration
  • Religious change
  • Syrians
  • Transnationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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