Marthoma Community Podcast

#17 - Ron Jacob: Women as Lay Ministers, "The Revolution", and Be The Match (2 of 2)

January 06, 2021 George Mathew Season 2 Episode 17
#17 - Ron Jacob: Women as Lay Ministers, "The Revolution", and Be The Match (2 of 2)
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Marthoma Community Podcast
#17 - Ron Jacob: Women as Lay Ministers, "The Revolution", and Be The Match (2 of 2)
Jan 06, 2021 Season 2 Episode 17
George Mathew

Guest: Ron Jacob
Parish: Long Island MTC (NY)
Interview Date: December 30, 2020


Part 1 (Previous Episode)

  • Ron's background
  • Experience of serving in the Diocesan Assembly and Council
  • The Mar Thoma Church Constitution

Part 2

  • Women serving as lay leaders (lay ministers)
  • "The Revolution" (Article by Ron, originally published in the Marthoma Messenger, click here for the full paper)
  • Background on "Be The Match"

Ron on LinkedIn

Be The Match

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

Guest: Ron Jacob
Parish: Long Island MTC (NY)
Interview Date: December 30, 2020


Part 1 (Previous Episode)

  • Ron's background
  • Experience of serving in the Diocesan Assembly and Council
  • The Mar Thoma Church Constitution

Part 2

  • Women serving as lay leaders (lay ministers)
  • "The Revolution" (Article by Ron, originally published in the Marthoma Messenger, click here for the full paper)
  • Background on "Be The Match"

Ron on LinkedIn

Be The Match

Support the Show.

Women Serving As Lay Ministers [00:33:42] 

George: All right. So before we get to any of our other topics here, but there's a hot topic, which I'm sure you've heard about in line with what we're talking about in the constitution. Right? So there are actually in the previous interview I did with Merry, she talks about her experience as a serving, as a lay lay minister, right?

Lay leader.


Lay Leader. Yeah. Yeah. But so serving as a, as a lay leader, assisting in the worship, I'll just say it that way with Zacharias Thirumeni at one of the conferences. Right. And, you know, we can, we can get into that whole discussion, but what's more interesting this year I've heard of now two instances of people being nominated.

For that role in the executive committee for their parish. And there were female. So I've heard now two instances of this happening, and this is 2020, we're recording this. Right.

Ron: Right.

George: And the one instance, it was actually the second time. No, it was, it had happened the year before the committee. The parish had accepted it when it went to Thirumeni, it was rejected.

Right there. Right. And the reason was given that in the constitution, it explicitly States that a male lay person must serve in that position. But it doesn't say that in the English version, which is the last update was 2015. So that was given as the reason. Right. So it's like okay, well now the next question was like one, why.

You know, when are we going to get this updated so that we know that. And then question number two obviously is like, why does it have to be that way? Right. So then instance, number two I heard about was another parish someone was nominated or they, they did the nomination. Now everybody's remote. So now everybody's using the, the forms or the nomination forms that you mentioned Or you have to list your, your father's name or your husband's name, which is also a I'll call it a leftover from the patriarchal structure.

Anyway, this person was nominated. And when the results came out, only one leader, leader position was filled. Typically there's two, right? And there was no reason given as to why the second one was not filled. So only after inquiring. And again, this is all after. I'm hearing this. So if someone's listening and there's a different version, please tell me, and we'll talk, but I, I wanna, I wanna paint the picture.

Right. So yeah, it wasn't until that that lady inquired to the Achen directly, like, Hey, how come I didn't get the position that it was explained to her that, Hey, in the constitution, the Malayalam constitution, which is the, the, the official copy, it States that it has to be a male. And so same thing.

It's like, Hey, yeah, we didn't know this. What, you know, first, why didn't we know this too? Why is it like that? So I bring that up. I want to hear your perspective on yeah. I just want to hear your perspective on that reaction.

Ron: Couple of things. I was there at that junior senior conference with Merry,

George: Oh yeah.

Ron: Was assisting. And that was amazing. It was a, it blew my mind. And I, and I remember, I, I don't know if I was junior high or high school, but it was awesome to see that in 2015 at Carmel Marthoma Church at the leadership conference Theodosius Thirumeni got permission from the parish to have a lay leader who was a female up there.

And after that, At every single leadership conference, we did that, but it was a unique  I at Carmel because Carmel was a first time we did it at a at a parish and, and, and I, this is something that bothers me too. They said that. It becomes a sticking point because there's a Marthoma machbaha because they females have been doing this for years, decades.

If I'm not mistaken  conferences and in India that wherever

George: I I've heard that.

Ron: have done it. Right. So it was an issue because, Oh no, no, it's a Marthoma Madhbaha, but that's not because anywhere that you have a Marthoma Qurbana service is a Marthoma Madhbaha. Right? As soon as you have everything that you need for that, it's, it's what it is.

So that always

George: I guess, yes. It's the people who are trying to make the, and I don't necessarily agree with this, but I think people are trying to make the distinction of, you know, when you build a new church and you consecrate a Machbaha as like a permanent, you know, this is the alter of this church. Cause I know there's a, for people who haven't experienced this, right?

So there's, there's a ceremony for when you deconstruct a church, right? If the church is getting knocked down or renovated or whatever, There is a dedicated way and liturgy and things that go along with that. So it is, there is a permanence about it that I think people try to just make a distinction from a, you know, like a conference where you, you set up a table and they say a prayer and then, okay.

And then it gets taken down. But your point is well taken that they're all madhbahas. Right. So they're not one is not less than the other.

Ron: you have a Thabaleetha everywhere at every location. Right. And that's what you need. So that was just something I wanted to point out. And You know, at every I was the re regional Sunday school coordinator in the Northeast for three years. And at every junior senior conference, I had a female up there.

Leadership conferences, we ensured that we had someone up there. So it was something that we were doing now, a couple of things that I'm concerned about too, for anyone to make the statement that the Malayalam constitution is different from the English constitution. That is that's scares me. We have a problem then, because in the forward of the English constitution, which is assigned to the metropolitan, it says clearly in there that this is exactly the same as the Malayalam constitution.

So if there is a difference, or if there's something that is not accurate, we have a major issue because as metropolitan told me face to face, one-on-one Joseph, Martha Iranius Thirumeni right. He sat there and told me, we have lawyers who look this over. We have people who make sure the translation is proper and legal.

That legally everything translates over properly. And that we have. You know, the, the Sabha council and Synod and Mandalam, everyone has to approve everything. That's in there. So that's a big miss. That's a huge miss because at the end of the day, I don't know Malayalam, so I can't go and verify what's in the Malayalam constitution.

I can verify in the English constitution that there is no role within the executive committee that is gender specific vice-president trustee accountant, or.

Lay ministrants...there, you know, it's not there. The only one is for the priest and the Bishop. That's a different topic, different story.

George: totally different. Yeah. We won't touch that today.

Ron: but there is nothing there now. I've heard different things there. Hey, culturally. And it is true. I do remember when this was brought up, the people in the church who had the biggest issue were who? Merry said this too.

George: The women, the women. Yeah.

Ron: it wasn't even a hard generation. It was the older aunties. 

My wife and I assisted together at a YFF young family fellowship conference.

George: Cool. Cool.

Ron: And it was cool. It was a very cool experience. I know in Carmel I don't know who was the first person, none of the women who was the first person to assist there at that leadership conference, she assisted with her dad.

I'm a father to a daughter. And I always think, man, that would be such a cool experience. I got it to assist with my wife and to be able to do with my daughter too. That'd be spectacular. I mean, that's amazing. It's a blessing, but.

George: Hey, let's put it out there. Father's day. I think that's a, I think that's a great idea.

Ron: That would be so cool. But but again, for people to say that there is something in the constitution, we have to rectify that we have to fix that.

I don't know where that is, man. It

George: You know, so it's just clicking now. I think  this is a perfect example of what we were talking about earlier of the constitution versus the Bible. Like. What, which one are we taking guidance from? Is it because it says, or in this case, in the English one it's omitted and therefore, Oh, we're going to lean on the Malayalam one.

It's like, okay, hold on Biblically. And I've had  Achens when they, when they get asked this question, I've had them say openly, Oh, there's nothing Biblical that prevents a woman from even being a priest or any of this stuff. Right. And it's like, well then. So now I'm just confused. Like, well then why are we doing?

Why is it not happening? So, yeah,

Ron: And I think we have to also keep in mind that. For any of these changes to occur, we need the buy-in of the women and the females,

George: sure.

Ron: that's such a big issue. And I, I, I it's, it's unfortunate that we're at that point where there are so many women, I had an auntie go to my wife because she, she saw us assist at that conference and say, Oh, mollay, You know, that's great.

I love, I think it's wonderful. I don't have a problem with you or anyone your age assisting. I just don't want anyone my age up there to assist. And I was like, wow. So it's not even, they don't even have a problem with like the second gen. It is a first gen individual who was a female should not be assisting.

And I was like, man, this is,

George: again, that's another one. I'm like, what, what, okay. I don't know. Yeah. And so that's an excellent point you were making, right? Like, Especially us as men. Right. So, so I hope, hopefully I look forward to talking with some, some ladies about this, you know, I want to get here their, their perspective, but right now it's me and you.

Right. And so as guys, like, and as leaders, right. I've, I've served in youth fellowship as a leader. And so I would talk about this open, like we would have meetings about like, Hey, you know, what is the role of, of girls? Like, why is it different or is it different? But then I would always. There would be a line that I would draw for myself, like, okay, I want to talk about this as openly and transparently as possible.

But as a guy, I don't want to overstep and it, maybe it was maybe it was me like holding myself back too much. I don't know. But I always felt that, okay. There's only so far. I can go with this without. You know, something being said out of turn or whatever. And even then my own understanding is limited also.

Right. I don't want to talk, like I know everything because I don't like there's there's yeah. There's two, there's two sides to it.

Ron: George is the other point I want to make with this as, and again, just the role of women and I'm not seeing it either way, but. Even the aspect of like Achen saying, Oh, there's nothing biblical about women become priests or bishops. 

We're in communion with the CSI church. The CSI church has a female Bishop.

They have a female Bishop. If that female Bishop were to come to any one of our parishes and say, I'm going to be leading service today. We do not have the authority to say no.  When you're in communion with a church, their bishops are on equal standing with our bishops. So what what's going to happen?

So we acknowledge our, that we're in communion with them and our Bishop is there. And.  You know, are we going to tell a female Bishop from the CSI church? No, she's not allowed to, so these are all the, just things. It's difficult for me to reconcile things like that. How are you in communion with the Anglican Episcopal church and the CSI church when you have fundamental differences, supposedly fundamental differences in it, right?


George: You know, so I, I actually wasn't aware of that, of the female Bishop. I know they had female priest, so I just did a quick Google and  

Pushpa Lalitha is the name that came up. So it is. It's true.

Ron: It is true. I'm not making it up.

George: The internet says so, so, but yeah, I know what's that is an excellent point you brought up there. 

Ron's Article, "The Revolution" [00:46:21] 

George: So, all right. I think we've I think we've exhausted that one and I don't, hopefully neither of us gets thrown out for talking about the constitution too much here, but I do want to take a couple minutes here before we, we close out.

I want to talk about or at least start talking about your article. Again so first, why don't you talk about what prompted you to write it and, and how it came to be.

Ron: Sure. When did I was just at him and he was here, there were multiple opportunities for different people to do paper presentations. So they would present a paper and then we'd have a discussion and dialogue it, whether it be and different venues.

George: And so was this at the, at the assembly level or just in general? He was reaching out to people.

Ron: It was general. So this was a combined youth fellowship and young family fellowship meeting in 2013 in September, I believe at St. Thomas Marthoma Church  (NY) . And and there were clergy there and things like that. And so, and he would give you a topic. And this was specifically about the, I think it was the expectations of the second generation of the church, you know?

And so what do we expect of the church and so wide topic, right? You can just talk about everything. And so I went at it like, okay, I, I don't want to have it from my perspective. That's bias. Right. That's, that's my own personal visions. So I went wouldn't and I actually just reached out to a lot of friends and people that I knew from my church and different churches, and I just had different questions and things like that.

And I kind of compose that and put it together. And that's what I. Presented there. And that was, that was the intent of that.

George: Yeah. I just want to throw it out there and I'll, I'll have the link up. We'll we'll find a link that I can yeah, we'll, we'll, we'll find a place cause it was published in the messenger. So I will find that and make that available to people or I'm sure, you know if they contact you directly, I'm sure.

It sounds like you'd be willing to share that with them. But anyway, I just want to mention, like, at the very beginning of it, you state that, that, Hey, this is not my opinion alone. But this is representative of, I think you said close to 50 people. That question, so, okay.

Ron: And, and yeah. And then and then again, I was very intentional about ensuring that we identified the good things that have been done in this diocese and the good things that the Marthoma Church has done it because it wasn't intended to be a bash-fest where we're just complaining and complaining. No, there are things.

Amazing things that the church has done since the seventies, since it's been here and the first generation has done. So I want to acknowledge that. And that's why I went step by step. If you see it, I acknowledge those things. But then, you know, you go into the common concerns and things that. That the second generation want addressed, you know, and back then, in 2013, it was, Hey, to have more English services, we need to have more sermons in English.

We need to have more meetings in English. And language was such a big thing. We need to have less politics in the church, right. And so again, when I hear that, it's not that, Hey, we don't want a democratic functioning church. We want a church that avoids the conflict, right? When you hear about politics, it's always, the idea is there's always conflict.

Why is there, why are there verbal arguments and even physical arguments at a church meeting? That should not, you know, that shouldn't be the case. Right?

So, so those were the things that we were trying to touch. Right. And I think the one thing that, well, there's a couple of points and I didn't use the term in the paper, but I kind of coined it later, whereas the curse of the committee, or even the curse of the council where you have, and I just sporadically took three or four churches, and I looked at their leadership over the years. What you see is those who were in the council or the committee, 60% of their children are inactive in their own churches.

Right now, Their own Marthoma  Churches, 60%

George:  I want you to expand on that number a little bit, cause that's not just that it's not just, you know, everyone says with like 80% of stats are made up right here.

Ron: If you go, and if you go to even my church and you identify every single individual who held a position from 1987 till now, and then you go and check out their children, right. And say, and the way I defined active and inactive was coming to church a minimum of once, once a month. If you come to church once a month, I will classify you as active, which I think that's very liberal. I think that's generous. 

So, and then I broke it down and just did a percentage of, okay. How many are active? How many

George: And so this was for your parish, but

Ron: This was not just my name. It was mine. I believe it was St John's  (NY) and it was Epiphany as well.

George: Okay.

Ron: So it was the three local churches nearby that I did. And. It was huge, like 60% I think was more on the conservative end.

I think it's more than that now where you have a lot of people who just, you know, they were they're the leaders of the church, but their children have, don't want to have anything to do with the church.

George: Yeah, well, and I think it's and correct me if I'm wrong. Right. But I would assume it's safe to say, you know, there could be different reasons why, right. But looking at it as just numbers. I, I, you know, it's a point, well taken that, you know, I I'll, I'll put this out there, you know, I've, I've said it to my dad a couple of times now.

You know, my dad is someone who was very very, very active in church all throughout my life, growing up. And unfortunately, Things happen where he just kinda was like, you know what, I'm going to take a step back and to where he's, he's kinda an arms length. You know, I, I don't think it questioned his faith or anything, but it's in terms of activity in the church.

Right. Very it's like night and day. And you know, me seeing that, meanwhile, I had transitioned to being very, very active in the church. And then I finally got to a point where I was like, are you happy with the amount of time you invested? The church. Right. And now you're seeing me investing that much time.

And yet you're telling me, I don't want to say discouraging, but you would, he would tell me very openly, like be careful. Right. And he would say like, you know, don't. And, you know, again, coming from his experience of you know, to paraphrase, you know, getting burned or however you want. So, and so I would ask him like, are you happy?

Like, do you think it was the right thing? Because now I'm literally at a point where like, I have a one-year-old now, like I'm getting ready to do essentially the same thing. So, do you have some other perspective now that I should know about? So yeah. Anyway, so that comes from, again, like there can be a lot of reasons why someone someone's kids are not who'd have chosen not to be active in Marthoma Church, but it is something that I, I don't think we should be ignoring.

Ron: It scares me to George and it scares me personally, too. Right. Because I have invested so much time energy into this church. And I think I'm like, man, I do all this. And if my, if my children turn around and go, yeah, I'm not, it's not for me

George: And see that was, that was it. I hear it all the time. Right. People are like, Oh, we spent all our, our money and our time. And we invested so much in this church and now you're just going to walk away from it. And so like now I'm the one being like, no, I want to invest more time and money into that. And my dad's like, mm, maybe you don't even want to do that.

Ron: And, and see that it goes back again to the whole issue of. Specifically in the discussion with you and your dad is 

that was such a negative experience for him that he's still hurt by it.

George: Yeah. Yeah. And I, and I, yeah,

Ron: and, and, and it's, it's unfortunate that an institution like the church can open wounds like that up, and that's, what's sad.

And that's what bothers me. And I think, and that's where that kind of leads to my second point of that paper is that I believe in a good number of churches. There is a silent majority, and these are the people who have good intent. They're good people. They want what's best for the church. They want the truly, when they say we're here for the youth, they mean that right.

They want to see that the second generation and third generation flourish. But unfortunately we have the aggressive minority who take control and run the church. And the silent majority has surrendered the church to the aggressive minority. And I, I wholeheartedly believe that is the case in many parishes.

It's sad. You know, again, this is anecdotal information and statements that I've heard, but I've heard people say, Oh, it's because there are a lot of people in this diocese and in this diocese, in this country who were inactive in church in India, they don't, they were never, they were never churched. They were unchurched people who came to this diocese and saw the opportunity in this church to have status, have a connection to the Malayali culture in America.

And therefore they jumped on that. And then all of a sudden they never had the foundation of what a church is supposed to be or, or, you know, you're supposed to kind of take it too. And so, so that's. That's an issue then obviously there are those aggressive minority who just, they have selfish motivations as well.

Right. There's, there's different drivers. I understand that, but I think there's gotta be a reclamation. And that's why I entitled that article as the revolution. Right.

George: Right. What was the reaction to that.

Ron: I got a lot of grief. I got a lot of grief. I said, Ron, that's that's too aggressive. It, it, it, it sounds, you know, too, too harsh. And I said, yeah, but read the, read the article, the revolution is revolting from surrendering the church to a minority aggressive group that doesn't have true proper intent for the church. If they don't want to preach the gospel, and they don't want to ensure that all the members have experienced the gift of salvation and grace and mercy, and have that connection with Christ personally, why are we allowing them to lead this church, this body that's supposed to take us to that place.

And that's where that's. When I say revolution, let's revolt. I told you this, George, we are a church that is so proud that we are a reformed church that reformation, right. The Koonan Cross. And we, you know, we, we learned at all, we do, we do talk about Malpan and everything. And you were so proud of that, but.

Too often. Now we act like the other guys. See the reformation is great for us, Marthomites. It's a beautiful term. And we're so proud of it. But the other side of the people who did not reform look at reformation in a negative light and they think that's horrendous. We hate that word. Well, when you talk about the revolution, the revolution means just, Hey, going in line with that reformation.

Right. That was a reformation for a purpose. Well, all I'm saying is let's just refocus on that. The revolution is to refocus on the reformation and understand why we exist. And I think, I, I. 

For my daughter's baptism my wife and I discussed it and we're like, okay, who are going to be, who's going to be the godmother.

Tradition in our, like the last two generations has  been the  grandparent is the God parent. My mom told us, listen, you guys go get someone else. I'll always be the grandparent. Right? Go find someone who's a little younger who can relate to her, will be there, who can advise her. And my mom was a realist.

She said, I'm not going to be here all that long. So. You have someone who can be there for her. And so my wife and I were so onboard and we ended up actually getting two of my cousins who are young at the time. They were both, I think maybe they were in college at the time later in college. And we asked them both, went to Theodosius Thirumeni obviously I said, Hey, how does this work?

You know? And he said only one person can sign, but there's nothing that says that they can't be the godmothers, we did it. And, and, and, and our intent was we wanted to really empower the godmothers. Right. We wanted to redefine, or at least bring back the true definition of what the godmother or godparents were supposed to be.

So we were very happy with it.

George: Yeah, it's to interrupt. Sorry, but it's what you were saying earlier about like in the spirit of the law, right? The spirit of the tradition, what is the role of the godparent? And are we meeting that? And you know, like you said, your mom being a realist, it's like, okay, who can fill that role? So yeah, no,

Ron: a long period of 

George: for a long period of time.

Yeah. And then empowering them to take on that responsibility too, I think is huge. Right.

Ron: at the baptism. One of my, one of the Achens who's a friend of mine came over to , came over to me and said, 

Ron, You're, you know,

George: What are you doing?

Ron:  when you do stuff like this, the other youth and the kids are going to see it and they're going to do the same thing. And I said, what, what did we do that was wrong?

He said, Ron, this is over, this is a honor. And a responsibility of your parents. You should have give it to. I said, Achen my mom's the one who brought it up with us. So, you know, Ron, this [is not good] and I said, but action again. Then we got to the conversation. There's nothing that excludes us from doing this.

I said, yeah. And then I said something to him. I said, 

Achen, when Malpan was going through his reformation, when he was making those changes, there were other Achens sitting there and getting upset and angry and telling him, Hey, Malpan, sit out, shut up, stop it.Achen, don't be one of those other Achens. I said, please don't me. And he was a friend of mine,

George: Yeah. So you

Ron: so it was, it was, it was a personal relationship. Right. But, but that's the thing. We are so proud of the reformation, but we don't want to continue it. And, and again, maybe the labels like revolution is scary for people. Maybe we could have to repackage it.

George: Good title though.

Ron: I'm I'm okay with that. But what we're asking for is nothing crazy. It's just, Hey, ensure that the leaders of the church are people who are understand that they're flawed, but know that they need to pursue Christ. Like I, I always tell my son to school kids. I say, if you want me to describe myself, I'm a bad guy who be a whole lot worse.

If it were not for the grace of God. That's it. I don't deny my sin. I don't deny my struggles. I don't deny the evil that exists in me, but what I, what I hold true to is that it would be so much worse if I didn't have Christ and understand that there's mercy and grace that showed to me. And, and, and, and that's another beautiful thing about the Marthoma Church.

We're a church of second, third, fourth, chances we want that. Right. We talked about at the beginning of the conversation, we want the flawed to come in the flawed going to lead, but the goal is for my sins not to come out and dominate when I'm trying to lead and do those kinds of things. That's, you know, that's what we're going for.

But. I just, I think, I think that we can do the church as a whole. I don't have a problem with the polity and the policies and the doctrines and those things. I don't, I just have a problem with the way culturally, we have changed. 

And I'm not talking Malayalee culture. I mean, there's a Marthoma culture that has taken over and changed in the Marthoma Church, which we just need to correct. And I think it's just, it's a correction that's necessary. And, and I'm hoping to see what will happen at churches like Redeemer and Crossway, and even Horeb in California. I want to see what happens. Do they just fall along the same path as the other churches that have around 30, 40 years? Or is there going to be a change in the culture of the church?

George: Yeah, I would add to that. And that's a, you know, that's a topic I, I hope to dive into pretty soon. You know, I did the one interview with with Sajan from Redeemer. Right. So it was a hearing, some of that. I talked to Merry now from Horeb. So anyone from Crossway for listening? Give me a shout. Let's talk. 

But yeah, I, I think also you know, you mentioned your mom making, making it obvious that Hey, The older generation isn't going to be there forever. Now I'm a parent our churches that have been established now by the first generation, they're gonna, they're going to be hitting that timeframe now where it's like, they don't have a choice, but for the second gen folks to be taking on leadership roles, because the, the, that older gen it's going to be slim pickings

Ron: Unless,

George: unless,

Ron: unless the Yuvajana Sakhyam continues in the path of our, of the first generation and that's where in some churches you see that some churches there is a, Yuvajana Sakhyam population that's picking up right, right where our parents left off and you're like, Oh man.

George: So, you know, I like thank you for bringing that up because I, I have slowly I've realized that I've slowly been almost subconsciously, including that Yuvajana Sakhyam population, in the second-gen population. Which is not which they, they are, they it's like the second wave. Right. So they may be younger, but they are themselves first gen immigrants or whatever it is.

So, yeah. That's a


Ron: more like they're kids than we are  them.

George: Yeah. You know, you're, you're absolutely right. Yeah.

Ron: Right. And 

George: So there is a danger.

Ron: there's. And again, I don't want to, I, I, it will

George: Yeah. It's not, it's not be aware of the

Ron: right?

George: like you have no, that's not it. No,

Ron: because again, in our church, for us in our church, we have some amazing Yuvajana Sakhyam members that are really supportive and really we're even talking about collaborating as a YFF and getting things done.

So I think it's going to be great, but, but I do see in some other churches where the Yuvajana Skhyam has literally continued that culture. Which I think we need to c. You know, if you 

Listen, if you are not preaching Christ, and if that is not the intent of your leadership there, then I, I have a problem with that.

And I think that's what we have to fix. We have to fix, you know, It, it sounds utopian. And unfortunately it's going to come across like that, but that's, that's what I think is necessary for all these churches, you know? And that's the, again, I go back to those. I, they, I know they don't like calling it second-gen church, the all-English speaking churches.

Right. I think that's what they prefer. The all-English speaking churches I want to see in 10 years and 15 years, where do they stand? You know, are they just a carbon copy of what has already existed or were they able to make the corrections? Because again, I remember in 2007, when Coorilos Thirumeni first brought up the idea to a couple of us here in New York and like, Hey, you guys do it.

I asked people around it and they were just kinda like, ah, no, we don't want to leave our churches. We would, would there be a major, you know, gulf of just lack of leadership, you know, if we leave and I said, I understood

George: I think there were a lot of people also that had a loyalty to their, to their home parish. They're like, well, I don't want to go start another church. This is my church. Okay.

Ron: That's what you've, especially from a guy who kept telling people that, Hey, we have to stop, you know, abiding by this layover church policy where, you know, you're in the Marthoma Church until you go to high school through high school. And then when you go to college and come back, Oh no.

Now is my time to find my church. This was just that layover church for me. And I hate that. Right. And I've always hated that concept. You know, because it goes against the whole idea of God is an intentional God. There are no accidents. So what was his intent for you to be in that church for 18 years of your life?

Not for, to be a layover. It, wasn't just a pause for you to go to your next two, three, four churches later on in some somewhere else. No. And so that's where I would always argue. So then for me to come back and say, Oh, by the way, now I'm ready to go start another church back in 2007, it was hard. It was a difficult concept.

And so, you know, it, it didn't, it never panned out and you know, all the other churches did. But I, I wouldn't be surprised if something like that were to occur here in New York is a 

George: It's a, it's a very interesting, and we, we won't dive into this too much now, but I think it's a good point. Maybe for another conversation. Like to me, the question always comes up. Like, what is the mission of the global church? What is the mission of the Marthoma Church? What is the mission of the diocese and then ultimately the parish, right?

To me. Why are you starting another parish? Unless there is a slightly different, very, you know, a variation on the mission, right? If it means, okay, we want to minister to this town of the town over like, okay, you have enough people and you've got, you've got some resources, go ahead and start it. And then you can focus in that area.

But otherwise, like you come from a larger parish, right. Long Island Mar Thoma Church. How many, how many families roughly, would you say?

Ron: 225, I believe.

George: that to me is like mind boggling. Like I, I've never been a part of a parish that big. Right. So to me, it's like, you know, you don't have to start a parish just because it's too big.

Right. Like, okay. And like, I've been part of parishes where that was the reason because okay. The building physically couldn't hold everybody. It's like, okay. So they decided they want to go and find a bigger building. All right. That's one direction. The other direction is like, okay. Some of the people are going to go and start another parish closer to where those, those people.

So what I'm getting at it's like mission is to me is what's supposed to be defining the reason for another parish versus, Oh, I don't like dealing with these people, so I'm going to just start my own parish or whatever.

Ron: Or, or now, George, can I ask you then, could it be that the people who are leaving don't feel the mission of that current church is being fulfilled or right,

George: Yes. No, I think that's, that's another version of it. Yeah. It's it's it goes, it goes to the mission, right? If we're not achieving the mission or we have a different mission or something like that, to me, that justifies or not justifies, but that gives you the reason to say, okay, can, is it time to branch off, start another parish, right?

Ron: And, and I challenge every single parish in this diocese to not only put  an electronic copy of the English constitution up on your website, but also go put up the declaration right before that, because that is our mission statement. I, when I first read the constitution and I read this, I couldn't believe that this was a Marthoma statement. Right. Because do you mind George, if I read it, I love it

George: Yep. Yeah. You quoted it in your paper,

Ron: This is how I end the paper. And I said, 

The ministry of the church is the gift of the risen Christ. The responsibility to fulfill the ministry in history is entrusted with the church. The church affirms that the people of God are sent all over the world and they partake in the salvation work of God to unite everything in Jesus Christ through the ministry of reconciliation begun in Jesus Christ. 

The church has received the power of the Holy spirit, which enables the church to fulfill the redemptive work of God who directs and controls the events in history. 

The Holy spirit guide has the offices of the ministry originated through divine plan. 

It ordains, the people of God to build the church, which is the body of Christ in order that they may attain maturity akin to the fullness of Christ through faith and knowledge in the son of God and the unity of the Holy spirit. 

The church believes and proclaims the above basic principles of the ministry of the church. And I go on to say, this is the vision of our revolution. This is it. We are not recreating anything.

We want to go back to this. Whoever wrote this in the constitution knew what they were talking about, and this is what they started the church on. Or even if it was written after the church was formed, they adopted and said, this is what our church is about. This is what the Marthoma Church is about, man.

This is, and this is what has to be put this on a big old, you know, painting or artwork or documented frame it and have it in your lobby or foyer when people walk in and they say, what does this church about right there. That's what it's about.

George: In addition to making it electronically available. Right.

Ron: in addition to that,

George: Awesome Ron.

Well hey. I think that's a good place for us to end. So thank you again for making time. 

Be The Match [01:11:30] 

George: I did want to give you a chance to talk a little bit about the work you do with, be the match. If you've got a couple of minutes if you could just talk a little bit about what their mission is and what they do.

Ron: I love it, man. Thank you. So the mission of be the match is literally we save lives too through cellular therapy and wouldn't be the match. It has a database, a registry of volunteer blood stem cell and marrow donors. Who've signed up and said that if they ever match a patient who has chemo lymphoma, lymphoma, or another blood disorder disease.

And did they. They're willing to donate their blood STEM cells to save that person's life. And so a lot of people know this as marrow donation. Marrow donation just means a collection of cells, we call it blood STEM cells from the back of your hip bone under anesthesia. So you don't feel any pain during the process.

But that's only done 20% of the time. Now, 80% of the time the collection is done through your bloodstream, we give you a medication. Yeah. We give you a medication that

George: aware of that 

Ron: listen. So that's so we have, we do about 500 plus transplants a month. So well, over 6,000 a year and 80% are done through the peripheral blood stem cell donation.

So it's, it's something that, you know, I, I started as a volunteer cause I had a friend who was diagnosed and we've in our church and all the friends we did drives around the country trying to find a match for him. And I started working for the organization and I love it. We actually have a bunch of donors from the Marthoma Church.

Biju Simon Achen, if you know him, he's a donor, he donated to a patient in India. 

George: Oh, 

Ron: I had a chance to be a donor as well. So it's a, it's a cool experience, man. 

George: I actually my introduction to them was when I was back in college I had friends, I didn't, didn't know anyone personally going through anything that needed anything, but it was, you know, I had friends who were passionate about it and wanted me to sign up and yeah. That's so I get their little mailers and all that stuff.

So it's, it's, it's really amazing the work that you guys are doing. So I'm just glad you were able to share that. So if anyone's interested to hear more about that, where can they, where should they go?

Ron: They could go to be the And you'll find out more information there. You could find us on Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, Snapchat, we're all over. And you can also find me as well. And we are, you know, we, we partner with universities, corporations, religious venues, all around the country.

We're a national organization. And we're always looking to register and do more drives. We've done registration events at our leadership conferences and national conferences. And I I'm, I'd be shocked to. If, if not all of our parishes have hosted a registration drive at one point or another, I mean, so our Marthoma Church has been amazing as far as far as partnering with, Be The Match with a lot of other Indian denominations.

And even as far as Indian organizations and groups, oncologists, we've worked with many of them where the national philanthropy for three South Asia fraternities. So yeah, so it's a, it's a definitely cool partnership that we have, and I appreciate it because We are one of the ethnically diverse groups that have done well when it comes to registration, registering donors, commitment isn't necessarily there.

So we're trying to ensure we have our numbers when people come up as matches aren't too good. Too many people say no. So that's something that wasn't that great, but it's improving now with this younger generation, this 18 to 25-35 year old group. A lot of them are a lot more committed and willing to save a life when given the chance.

George: Amazing. All right, Ron. Well, thank you again for making the time. Glad we had the conversation and I look forward to talking to you again.

Ron: George. I just want to thank you, man. This is an amazing platform. What you're doing is incredible. I told my daughter, I was going to be on a podcast and. She was like, what? And she was so excited. I'm like, is it, is that? And she was like, thrilled. I'm like me and George having a conversation.

And I, you know, so so, but,  this is an amazing ministry.

This  really is dude. And I want to really thank you for that because you're allowing conversations to take place  on a platform that is engaging, you know? So thank you.