It was in the 17th century the Syrian Christian families started migrating to Kumarakom, a small village situated on the banks of Vembanad lake in upper Kuttanad area. The early migrants were predominantly agriculturists who came here in search of fertile lands. They reclaimed thousands of acres of land by drying up backwaters which were subsequently used for cultivating rice and other cash crops. Large paddy fields now seen all over the place is the hard work of these early settlers. Kumarakom, in recent years has attained a unique place in the world map with its special thrust towards backwater tourism. Kottayam, the nearest town is situated at a distance of 12 Km from this village.
Until the establishment of a church here in Kumarakom, the local Syrian Christians had to travel all the way to Kottayam to cater for their spiritual needs. The 16th century Holy Virgin Mary churches at Thazathangadi (Valiyapally and Cheriapallly) near the town of Kottayam were the only Syrian Christian churches nearby in those days. Roman Catholics who separated from the St. Thomas Syrian Christian community following the Koonen kuriz Oath at Mattancherry, had already built their first church in Kumarakom in the mid-18th century. It took another 100 years for the Syrian Jacobite community to construct a church of their own in this village. The land for the church was donated by two prominent families of the parish. With the sincere effort of all the parishioners, a small but beautiful church was built here in no time. Metropolitan Mathews Mor Athansius of Malankara consecrated this church on January 7, 1853. The main thronos (altar) in the church was dedicated to St. John the Baptist and thethronos on either sides were named after Holy Virgin Mary and St. Thomas, the Apostle to India.
The establishment of the church here coincided with a time of strong reformist movement by European missionaries who tried to bring the entire Syrian Christians under their fold. Kottayam was one of the main centers of their activity. However by God’s grace, the reformist movement led by the Church Missionary society and Mathews Mor Athanasius who switched sides, could not generate any influence in this parish. The entire parishioners firmly stood in Orthodox faith under the Antiochean Patriarchate and under the able guidance of the Metropolitan of Malankara H.E. Mor Dionysius V Joseph Pulikottil.
Historical records say about the participation of representatives from this church in the ‘Mulanthuruthy Synod‘ held under the auspices of Patriarch H.H. Ignatius Peter IV at the Mulanthuruthy Marthoman church in June 1876. It was this historic synod that took the decision to form six new dioceses in Malankara which until then functioned as a single unit called ‘Malankara Archdiocese’ under the spiritual supremacy of the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East. Accordingly the Kottayam diocese was formed and His Grace Paulose Mor Athanasius Kadavil became its first Metropolitan. Since then the Attamangalam St. John’s church became part of the Kottayam diocese. In the beginning of the 20th century some church disputes erupted in Malankara which had its impact in this parish also. However these problems did not prolong much in the parish. The minority faction was given due share and property to built a new church nearby, thereby solving the disputes in the parish. This separation happened around the year 1940.
In late 1940′s the church committee took the decision to rebuilt the old church building due to its depleted condition. The foundation stone for its reconstruction was laid by the diocesan Metropolitan Mor Dionysius Mikhayel in late 1940′s. Though the works started soon, it did not proceed much due to certain disputes. Later Metropolitan Mor Severios Paulose Mulayirickal of Kochi diocese took the initiative for its reconstruction. Finally in the the year 1955 the construction works were completed and on 4th May 1956 the rebuilt church was consecrated by the Metropolitan Mor Yulius Elias Qoro (Patriarchal delegate to India) of blessed memory. In 2006, an extension was built at the entrance, on the west side (similar tonatakasala in old churches) and also beautified the Madbho and the interior of the church. The consecration ceremony after these renovation works was led by His Grace Mor Thimotheos Thomas, the present Metropolitan of Kottayam diocese.
Very Rev. Punnose Corepiscopus Vaithara, a prominent priest of the Malankara Church, was the vicar of this church for a very long time.
Feasts celebrated in the church
The main festival of the Attamangalam church is celebrated from January 1 to 7 in memory of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the church. Feasts of Holy Virgin Mary, Mor Geevarghese Sahdo, Apostle St.Thomas, Patriarch St. Elias III of Manjanikkara, St. Gregorios of Parumala and Catholicos Mor Baselios Paulose II are also celebrated with great fervor in this church. More than 600 families are members of this 150 year old church.
Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Association
On 18th November 1972 the Attamangalam church hosted the ‘Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Association’, a representative meeting of the Malankara Syrian Church, and elected Palampadaom Eapen Thomas as its president. It was the decision of this historic association which paved way for the consecration of new Metropolitans for the Malankara Church and the revival of Syrian Orthodox faith and traditions in Malankara. The initiative taken by the parishioners for the upkeep of faith is indeed commendable.
Spiritual Organizations in the church
This church have two Sunday schools namely St. John’s and St. Thomas. Like in all the Syrian churches, this parish too have the units of Morth Mariam Samajam, Youth Association, Hail Mary League etc.. The Evangelical Association of the East (Pourasthya Suvisesha Samajam) also have a unit in this church. An health centre which has become a great relief for the villagers is functioning under the parish. Besides this, many social service schemes for the welfare of the poor and needy are being regularly conducted by the church authorities.