The history of the Methodist Malayalam Church can be traced back to the pre-Independence era, a time when Ambarnath was a tiny village of less than 20,000 people. There were no industries to speak of, apart from WIMCO, Woollen Mills (which closed down in 1948 when the owner left during the partition) and the Dharamsi Morarji Company (DMC).

The management of WIMCO factory wanted to start a primary school in Ambarnath for the benefit of the children of the employees. The WIMCO manager Mr. Egbert wrote to Rev. F. Wood the then district superintendent of Methodist Church, Bombay District.

The issue was taken up in the Annual Conference of the Methodist Church and it was decided that Mr. D. B. Salvi who was working at Igatpuri would be transferred to Ambarnath for the school.

Mr. Salvi was paid from the WIMCO, in addition he was given free accommodation. The school activities were supervised by Rev. C. L. Wood son of Rev. F. Wood & lady missionary Miss. Elliet. During this period Rev. R. N. Dathi, pastor of the English church & Hon. Magistrate of Kalyan used to visit the criminal settlement at Ambarnath & started evangelic work here and also supervised the school activities. By this time the school was recognized by the local board, Thane district, in 1933.

During these years after school hours Mr. D. B. Salvi used to visit the houses of few Christians, who came from different denominations, and were employees of local factories. Gradually a group of 15 members was organized. By the grace of God and by the efforts of Mr. D. B. Salvi the members were increased and became 75. During the course of time, Mr. Salvi underwent training and finally on 18 th of December 1938 he was ordained at Poona by the then bishop of Methodist church, Bishop Brenten Thouborn Badley and became pastor-in-full-charge of the congregation.

In 1942, one of the landmarks of Ambarnath – the Ordnance Factory was established. As a result, there was an increase in the members of the congregation.

Rev. D. B. Salvi used to visit all the members & conducted prayers. He also used to visit officers of the local factories. By going door-to-door, he collected contributions too and the income of the church also began to increase. M/s B. P. Gadge, D. P. Nikhar, W. A. Chhathre & C. E. Oomen helped the pastor as local preachers, lay leaders & treasurers. Though the members of the congregation were from different denominations & languages, they all worked as a team. The services were held in the school hall & the WIMCO authorities were kind enough to extend the facility. The services were in Marathi and were conducted by pastor in charge Rev. D. B. Salvi.

In 1946, it became clear that with the growing congregation, there was a need for a ‘proper' church building. For purchasing a plot for construction of a church, the Collector of Thana was approached. After a prolonged correspondence of almost two years, on 15 th May 1948 a plot of 3,333 sq. yards was purchased at the rate of Rs.1 per sq. yard by the then District Superintendent Rev. G. C. Westmo. For this, the local church contributed approximately Rs.1,000.

The land was thus ready, but what of the building? The main architect of the project of building a church on the land was Bishop R.C. Reins of Indiana, USA. He had come on a visit to India in 1951 & was invited to Ambarnath. He gave an assurance that the church building would be constructed at the very earliest & that there was no need to worry about the funds for this.

True enough, the people of Indiana donated generously towards this sacred cause. They were helped, in no small measure, by Bishop John A. Subban, Bishop Mangal Singh, District Superintendents Rev. J. F. Minnis (who did all the planning), Rev. I. A. Unruh, Rev. Haris & Rev. J. B. Salyavrata (who manned the whole construction of the church building & parsonage). Finally, in December 1957, the church building was dedicated for worship.

Meanwhile, a separate service for the Malayalam congregation had been started on 23 rd April 1950. This was because most of the Malayalee Christians couldn't understand or follow much of the worship as it was conducted in Marathi. A need to have worship in mother tongue was felt by the growing Malayalee Christians. Rev. Manuel Lawrence Bethel, who was the pastor of the Methodist Malayalam Central Church Grant Road, took the added responsibility of conducting the Malayalam service. Since the church had not yet been constructed then, the service was held in the Ordnance Factory Primary School, with the kind permission of the factory authorities. On 8th April 1951, the Methodist Malayalam Church was inaugurated by Bishop John A. Subban & District Superintendent Rev. J. F. Minnis.

With the passing away of Rev. M. L. Bethel in 1955, God brought a very young newly-wed pastor, Rev. M. J. Poyyail to take the charge of this equally young church. Rev. Poyyail & his wife knew they faced an enormous task but went ahead in faith and served the Malayalam congregations in both Ambarnath & Bombay for thirty years.

Rev. Poyyail was followed by Rev. George Satyanathan, Rev. Justin Charles & Rev. Fedrick Valsalan. Then, in 1982 Rev. Jacob Philip took up the responsibility. For the 23 years since then, Rev. Jacob Philip has been guiding the flock of Methodist Malayalam Church . Though residing in Parel, he has been conducting services in both the Ambarnath & Parel congregations.

Today, the membership of Methodist Malayalam Church Ambarnath stands at more than 60 families including several Non-Resident families. Many more developments have taken place:

In 1999, new parsonages were constructed within the church premises.

In 2003 a hall was constructed for conducting Sunday school classes.

The Methodist Malayalam Church has indeed come a long way, from a group of less than 15 members to more than 100. From the WIMCO school hall to a church building complete with parsonage and Sunday school hall. It is all due to the sweat, toil, tears and prayers of the founding members and most importantly due to the spirit of God that has worked through them.

Founder Members
CE Oommen
KV Cherian
TO John
CE John
Rev George
Rev Poyail
Rev Valsalan
Rev Jacob Philip
Rev Vinod
Rev Shinu Thomas

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