Beginning of Ministry in Kerala
Mr. Paul Sudhakar, an itinerant evangelist and a former follower of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan’s philosophy initiated the UESI ministry in 1954 in Trivandrum. The first Inter-Collegiate Evangelical Union (ICEU) was formed with Mr. Paul Sudhakar, Dr. A. P. Mathew and Prof John K. John as Senior Advisors and with Mr. D. S. Spurgeon as its President in 1955. Mr. Paul Sudhakar and Prof. John K John opened their homes for the ministry and supported it in every possible way.
Ms. J. Dana Bai and Mr. John Varghese attended the first South India camp held at Virudhunagar in 1957 and the first All India Conference held at Nashik in 1959. Mr. K.V Abraham was drawn into this movement in 1957 when he was an intermediate student at N.S.S. College, Pandalam.
The first UESI camp in Kerala was conducted at A.M.M. Bible Institute, Kombady in 1959 and the next one in 1960. The third camp was held at Girideepam, Chengannur in 1961. Some of the other participants of these camps were P.P Thomas, Charles John, K.P. Zachariah, Itty Mathew, Sam C. Samuel, John Zachariah and M.K Abraham. After these camps the participants took the initiative to start small prayer groups at Changanassery, Kozhencherry and Quilon.
Changanassery EU was started in 1959 and it got affiliated in 1960 to become the second affiliated EU in the State. M/s Itty Mathew, M.K Abraham and P.G Varghese were members of this EU during the period before 1963.
M/s Sam C. Samuel, John George and M. Livingston were the initiators of Quilon ICEU in 1960-61. Mr. Charles John was a degree student at St. Thomas College, Kozhencherry during 1958-61 where Mr. John Zachariah joined for the degree course in 1960 and Kozhencherry EU was started during that period. All these Prayer Groups were under the guidance of Mr. P.C. Varghese and Mr. Sathkeerthi Rao, then UESI National Staff Workers.
Later EU groups were formed at Pathanamthitta when Mr. M.K Abraham joined Catholicate College as a lecturer in 1962 and at Mavelikkara when Mr. Itty Mathew joined Bishop Moore College as lecturer in 1964. Thus Trivandrum, Changanassery, Quilon, Kozhencherry, Pathanamthitta and Mavelikkara were the first 6 affiliated EUs in the State.
By 1966 some of the graduates moved to MA College of Engineering, Kothamangalam (John Zachariah), Govt. Engineering College, Trichur (P C Abraham), Palghat Judicial Court(J Dana Bai), Cheruthuruthy (Jacob Jacob, at his home after graduation from Mar Thoma College, Tiruvalla) and other places on employment with a vision to start ministries in these and other places. Thus in addition to the 6 affiliated EUs, there were 12 active groups at Ranny, Chengannur, Tiruvalla, Kottayam, M A College of Engineering Kothamangalam, Ernakulam, Alwaye, Irinjalakuda, Trichur, Palghat, Chittoor and Calicut. The ministry was started in Ernakulam because of the initiative of Jacob Kurian and P.M. Mathai who were teaching in Cochin Refinery School.
When there were not many Staff Workers for Kerala, the graduates from Kothamangalam, Trichur and Palghat made outreach ministry visits to colleges in Calicut, Kannur, Wayanad, and Nilambur during weekends.
The first evangelistic camp was held in 1969 at Calicut in which 25 graduates and 11 students attended. Later, some of our graduates like Mr. T.V. Alexander who got employment opportunities in places like Taliparamba, Kannur, and Sultan Battery went there with the vision of raising testimony for Christ among students and graduates. Their efforts proved fruitful in establishing the ministry in the parched areas of North Kerala.
Prayer vigils Prayer vigils that later became the life breath of the UESI ministry had its beginning at the residence of Mr. Paul Padiyangadan (Kannur) in 1968, led by Mr. Sam C. Samuel. The two-day Prayer Conference on 30th and 31st May 1971 at Calicut, was attended by 25 graduates that motivated them to have extended times of corporate prayer for the ministry. The leadership of Mr. Thomas T. Mathai of OM India helped the graduates to understand the value of prayer vigils. In later years prayer vigils proved to be the source of blessing in the ministry.
KERALA EVANGELICAL GRADUATES’ FELLOWSHIP
The “Evangelical Graduates’ Fellowship of Kerala” was formed in a meeting held at Chengannur in November 1963 with Mr. M.K. Abraham as the Secretary and Mr. Itty Mathew as the Treasurer for the effective coordination of the EU ministry across the State.
The first EGF conference attended by 19 graduates, was held at Bhoothathankettu, near Kothamangalam in 1968, for the spiritual nourishment of the graduates.
In 1968 the name of this fellowship was changed to “Kerala Evangelical Graduates’ Fellowship” (KEGF) and began to function with a new structure. Prof. John K. John was the first President. In 1971 a constitution was drawn up for the KEGF.
Staff workers: During 1970-1981, 13 people worked as Staff Workers or Coordinators for different periods of time. UESI appointed P.M. John as the staff worker for Kerala. O. N. Chacko and Jacob Jacob who were appointed as Coordinators by KEGF, worked in South and North Kerala respectively during 1972-1974. Marykutty Ninan who was appointed as Coordinator covered the whole of Kerala from 1975-1977.
LTC (Leadership Training Camps): The first Leadership Training Camp in our state was arranged in 1971 at Settlement High School, Aluva.
GSTP (Graduating Students Teaching Program) was held at Aluva during the summer of 1980 under the initiative of Idicheria Ninan.
Work camps: It was started during the summer vacation in 1971 to give practical training in outreach evangelism.
Summer Training Programmes (STP): Summer Training Programmes for Pre-Degree Courses completing students were held under the responsibility of each region or two to equip the participants for the ministry before they went for degree studies.
Discipleship Teaching & Training Programs (DTTP): Discipleship Camps were conducted for 3 to 4 days at the initiative of a local EU/ICEU for the spiritual growth and maturity of believers.
The Consultative Conference of State EGFs held at Secunderabad in 1975 decided for the decentralization of State units so that the affairs of the State ministry could be managed more effectively under the responsibility of the graduates and students of the State. UESI-Tamil Nadu became the first State to be a decentralized unit in 1976.
Though Kerala started considering decentralization in 1976, a Consultative Conference on this matter was held at Charalkunnu, near Kozhencherry in Aug 1980. The final draft constitution of UESI-Kerala was adopted in a consultative meeting at Baker School in February 1981. Kerala was given provisional status as decentralized state on 1st July1981. At the time of decentralization, Mr. Idicheria Ninan was the National Staff for Kerala (1979 to 1983).
In the absence of a staff couple from the State, Prof. John Zachariah took leave from his teaching job in Kothamangalam Engineering College to be appointed as State Administrative Secretary (SAS) in 1981. He established UESI-Kerala office at Muvattupuzha. He played a very crucial role in building up the ministry in the State immediately after the decentralization (1981-1987).
The period just after decentralization was very challenging but encouraging, witnessed by the joining of several graduates including ladies as Staff Workers. During this period UESI-Kerala had 39 Staff Workers (18 Men and 21 Ladies) including 2 Missionary Staff and 4 Office Staff. Mr. M. G. Varghese took leave for 6 months from his job to work as Office Administrator and set up the office at Muvattupuzha. John Christian (1980-1986) and Eapen George (1982-1986) from Kerala joined National UESI as Staff Workers for Bihar and Rajasthan respectively.
Graduates and Staff from the State started to shoulder more responsibilities, making the State ministry more systematic, resulting in considerable growth of the ministry.
The first State Secretary was Mr. Mathew Varghese (1986-1996). Subsequent State Secretaries were Mr. Stanley Johns (1996-2004), Mr. Jose Thomas (2004-2012), Mr. George K. Mathew (2012-2016) and presently Mr. Jojo C. Kurien from 2016.