Proposal for Mar Thoma church in Sydney gains support

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Reverend Thomas Koshy and George Paniker say the $11 million church in Horsley Park would be the state’s largest Indian church and will attract people from all regions. Photo: Daily Telegraph
Reverend Thomas Koshy and George Paniker say the $11 million church in Horsley Park would be the state’s largest Indian church and will attract people from all regions. Photo: Daily Telegraph
Reverend Thomas Koshy and George Paniker say the $11 million church in Horsley Park would be the state’s largest Indian church and will attract people from all regions. Photo: Daily Telegraph

THE first Indian church in the region, Bethel Mar Thoma, an Assyrian name, could welcome worshippers by 2021 if the proposal is approved.

The $11 million development in Horsley Park would be the state’s largest Indian church and is expected to attract people from all regions.

Bethel Mar Thoma Church Sydney Incorporated lodged the application for the 2.9ha development in September, and will be assessed by the Joint Regional Planning Panel.

The proposed building on 1650 The Horsley Drive will include the church, a 700 sqm multi-purpose indoor recreation facility, office, meeting rooms, library, amenities and off-street parking for 83 spaces.

Church trustee George Paniker said the name was derived from the Assyrians because the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar was part of the ancient Christian community in Kerala, India founded by St Thomas.

“We are Mar Thoma Christians, meaning the Christians of Saint Thomas, and belong to the churches of the Assyrian tradition,” Mr Paniker said.

He said about 350 Indians would travel from all over Sydney to attend.

“This would be our main church so we’re very excited about it,” Mr Panker said.

“We chose Horsley Park because it’s a predominantly Christian area and it’s close to everything and everyone. Right now we’re worshipping at an Anglican Church in Harris Park so it would be great for us to have a home.”

The church will provide religious services including weekly Sunday services, Sunday school, bible studies baptisms, weddings and funeral services as well as religious festivals.

Mr Panker said many fundraising and charity events were planned to help raise the money needed to build the church.

“We expect construction to start as soon as it’s approved and to finish the work in about five years.”

According to the 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics, close to 2000 Indians live in the Fairfield region.

Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone said many religious places are starting up in the area and was proud that more than $500 million of investment will occur in Fairfield this year alone. “Since the financial year ending June 2002 and up to June 2015, Fairfield has had $1.7 billion worth of residential development and $1.5 billion in commercial development.” Daily Telegraph

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