Syrian Church gets new supreme head

Thiruvalla, India - The Mar Thoma Syrian Church, which has about a million Indian followers - many of whom are based in the Middle East - appointed a new supreme head Tuesday in an impressive ceremony at its headquarters here.

Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, 76, belongs to the Palakkunnathu family in Maramon near here that had produced Abraham Malpan, the reformer, and the first four bishops of the church after reformation.

He replaces 90-year-old Philipose Mar Chrysostum Metropolitan who decided to step down due to old age and who in August entered the record books by becoming the longest serving bishop among all churches with the Episcopal tradition in India.

A former president of the National Council of Churches in India, Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan was ordained as a priest June 29, 1957 and was elevated to the post of bishop Feb 8, 1975.