The term Eastern Protestant Christianity (also called as Eastern Reformed Christianity as well as Oriental Protestant Christianity) encompasses a range of heterogeneous Protestant Christian denominations that developed outside of the Western world, from the latter half of the nineteenth century, and retain certain elements of Eastern Christianity. Some of these denominations came into existence when active Protestant churches adopted reformational variants of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox liturgy and worship, while others originated from Orthodox groups who were inspired by the teachings of Western Protestant missionaries and adopted Protestant beliefs and practices.[1][2][3][4]

Some Eastern Protestant Churches are in communion with similar Western Protestant churches.[1][5] However, there is no universal communion between the various Eastern Protestant churches. This is due to the diverse polities, practices, liturgies, and orientations of the denominations which fall under this category, as can be seen in Western Protestantism.

Major branches


Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church

Bishop of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church in liturgical vestments

The Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church has its origins in a reformation movement within the Malankara Church in South India, in the latter half of the 19th century. India was part of the British Empire at the time, while the Malankara Church is an Oriental Orthodox church, in communion with the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. Concurrently, Anglican missionaries from England arrived in South India. They became teachers at the church's seminary and made the Bible available in the Malayalam language. Inspired by the teachings of the missionaries and imbibing the ideas of the Protestant Reformation from them, a few priests under the leadership of Abraham Malpan initiated a reformation. Abraham Malpan also managed to get his nephew Deacon Mathew, ordained as bishop Mathews Mar Athanasius, by the Patriarch of Antioch. But many opposed the reforms. The groups for and against reforms engaged in court litigations for the church and its properties. These ended in 1889, through a verdict favoring the Patriarchal faction. Subsequently, the reformed faction became an independent church, known as the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church. To date, there are 11 bishops, 1149 priests and over a million laity.[6][7] While retaining many of the Syriac high church practices, the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church is Reformed in its theology and doctrines.[8] The church employs a reformed variant of the Liturgy of Saint James, with many parts in the local vernacular. The Mar Thoma church is in full communion with the Anglican Communion and maintains friendly relations with many other churches.[9][10][5]



Eastern Lutheranism refers to Lutheran churches, such as those of Ukraine and Slovenia, that use a form of the Byzantine Rite as their liturgy.[11] It is unique in that it is based on the Eastern Christian rite used by the Eastern Orthodox Church, while incorporating theology from the Divine Service contained in the Formula Missae, the base texts for Lutheran liturgies in the West.[12]



In the far north of the Scandinavian peninsula are the Sámi people, some of whom practice a form of Lutheranism called Apostolic Lutheranism, or Laestadianism due to the efforts of Lars Levi Laestadius. However, others are Orthodox in religion. Some Apostolic Lutherans consider their movement as part of an unbroken line down from the Apostles. In Russia, Laestadians of Lutheran background cooperate with the Ingrian church, but since Laestadianism is an interdenominational movement, some are Eastern Orthodox. Eastern Orthodox Laestadians are known as Ushkovayzet (article is in Russian).[13]

Ukrainian Lutheran Church


The Ukrainian Lutheran Church, formerly called the Ukrainian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, is a Byzantine Rite Lutheran Church based in Ukraine.[11][12][14] The Eastern Christian denomination consists of 25 congregations within Ukraine, serving over 2,500 members and runs Saint Sophia Ukrainian Lutheran Theological Seminary in Ternopil in Western Ukraine. The ULC is a member of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC), a worldwide organization of confessional Lutheran church bodies of the same beliefs.[15]

Reformed and Presbyterian


Assyrian Evangelical Church


The Assyrian Evangelical Church is a Middle Eastern Church which attained ecclesiastical independence from the Presbyterian mission in Iran, in 1870.[16] Its membership is composed mostly of Eastern Aramaic speaking ethnic Assyrians who were originally part of the Assyrian Church of the East and its offshoots, or the Syriac Orthodox Church. They, like other Assyrian Christians are sometimes targets of persecution by hostile governments and neighbors.[17][18]

Armenian Evangelical Church


The Armenian Evangelical Church is the product of a reform campaign from within the Armenian Apostolic Church.[19][20][21] The reformers were influenced by the missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, who arrived in Turkey in the early nineteenth century, and published translated bibles for the Turkish-speaking Armenians.[22][23]

The reformers were led by Krikor Peshdimaljian, one of the leading intellectuals of the time.[22][23] Peshdimaljian was the head of a training school for the Armenian Apostolic clergy.[22] The school was under the auspices of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople.[22] Out of this school, emerged a society called the Pietisical Union, whose members focused more directly on the Bible and organized Bible study meetings.[22][23] They began to raise questions about what they saw as conflicts between biblical truths and the traditional practices of the Armenian Apostolic Church.[22] The Union also advocated Pietism, which they believed their church was devoid of.[23][24]

The leadership of the Armenian Apostolic Church under Patriarch Matteos Chouhajian was against any reform, and excommunicated the reformists from the church.[22][23][24] This separation led to the formation of the Armenian Evangelical Church, on July 1, 1846, at Constantinople.[19][25] By 1850, the new church received the official recognition of the Ottoman government.[24][25] Later, however, Armenians were forced out of Ottoman Turkey, due to the Armenian genocide.[20][22][25] The Armenian Evangelical congregations in the Middle East are currently organized as the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East.[20][22][23]



St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India


The St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India (STECI) is an Evangelical, Episcopal denomination based in Kerala, India. It derives from a schism in the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church in 1961. STECI holds that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God. Adherents believe that all that is necessary for salvation and living in righteousness is given in the Bible. The church is engaged in active evangelism. The headquarters of this church is at Tiruvalla, a town in the state of Kerala.[26]

Assyrian Pentecostal Church


The Assyrian Pentecostal Church is a Pentecostal Christian denomination which originated in the 1940s among the Assyrian people of Iran and spread among ethnic Assyrians in Iraq, Turkey and Syria.[27][28] They are native speakers of the Assyrian Neo-Aramaic language, and also use it as their liturgical language.[29] They use the Syriac Aramaic Bible.[30] Most of the members of this denomination were originally part of the Assyrian Church of the East and its offshoots, or the Syriac Orthodox Church.[17] The Assyrian Pentecostal Church is affiliated with the Assemblies of God Church.[31] There have been reported instances of persecution against them as well.[32]

Believers Eastern Church


The Believers Eastern Church (formerly Believers Church) is a Christian denomination with roots in Pentecostalism, based in Kerala, India. It exists as a part of the Gospel for Asia.[33][34] In 2003, this church acquired episcopacy, by getting Indian Anglican bishops to ordain its founder K. P. Yohannan as a bishop. Henceforth this denomination adopted several elements of Eastern Christian worship and practices like the use of holy oils for anointing, while keeping the principle of sola scriptura.[35] Its name was officially changed to Believers Eastern Church in 2017, so as to "better express its roots in the ancient and orthodox faith".[36]

Evangelical Church of Romania


The Evangelical Church of Romania (Romanian: Biserica Evanghelică Română) is one of Romania's eighteen officially recognised religious denominations.[37][38] The church originated between 1920 and 1924, through the work of the young Romanian Orthodox theologians Dumitru Cornilescu and Tudor Popescu.[39]

Deacon Cornilescu was motivated to translate the Bible into modern Romanian, by Princess Calimachi of Moldavia. While translating the Epistle to the Romans, Cornilescu became interested in the concept of personal salvation. By the time he completed the translation, he had become staunchly evangelical.[39] Afterwards, Cornilescu served as a deacon under Fr. Tudor Popescu, at the Cuibul cu barză Church in Bucharest. After some time, Popescu converted to evangelicalism, due to Cornilescu's influence. Both of them began to preach salvation by personal faith in Christ. Gradually, they gained a significant following, including priests from the Romanian Orthodox Church. Soon other evangelical traits, such as singing and congregational participation, began to manifest in this group.[39] They called into question many Orthodox practices, which they perceived to be unbiblical. Tudor Popescu has been called the Romanian Martin Luther, for his attempts to reform the Romanian Orthodox Church.[40][41]

Due to deviations from Eastern Orthodox doctrines, the Romanian Orthodox Church defrocked Fr. Tudor Popescu. Dumitru Cornilescu was forced to leave the country. But Popescu and his followers (originally called Tudorists), established their own Church; the Evangelical Church of Romania.[42]

Evangelical Orthodox Church


The Evangelical Orthodox Church is a Christian denomination which blends Evangelical Protestantism with features of Eastern Orthodoxy. It started off in 1973 as a network of house churches established by Campus Crusade for Christ missionaries in the United States. The founders Peter E. Gillquist, Jack Sparks, Jon Braun, and J.R. Ballew wanted to restore Christianity to its primitive form based on the writings of the early Church Fathers. So they stood in a circle and self-ordained each other, creating an entity called the New Covenant Apostolic Order (NCAO). Their own interpretations of Church history led to the adoption of a somewhat liturgical form of worship and induced a need for apostolic succession. In 1977 the first contact with the Eastern Orthodox Church was initiated through Orthodox seminarian Fr. John Bartke. In 1979 the Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC) was organized. The EOC pursued various avenues to obtain episcopacy, including a visit to the Patriarch of Constantinople, but to no avail. At last they met Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch, during his historic visit to Los Angeles, which proved successful. This meeting was arranged by Fr. John Bartke, who later served as the primary intermediary between the EOC and the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, and also hosted the initial set of chrismations and ordinations for the EOC at St. Michael's Church in Van Nuys, California. Unable to completely reconcile Evangelicalism and Orthodoxy, many EOC members formally joined the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in 1987. Some others joined the Orthodox Church in America. The rest remained independent and continue as the Evangelical Orthodox Church.[43][44][45][46]



P'ent'ay is an Amharic and Tigrinya language term for evangelical Christians in Ethiopia and Eritrea. This movement has been influenced by the mainstream Oriental Orthodox Christianity of these countries as well as Pentecostalism. As Protestantism is relatively new in Ethiopia, most P'ent'ay are ex-Orthodox Christians.[47][48] Many of these groups describe their religious practices as culturally Orthodox, but Protestant by doctrine. They boast approximately 16,500,000 members.[49] The P'ent'ay denominations may constitute as much as 19% of the population of Ethiopia,[50] while being a small minority in Eritrea.[51]

List of churches


See also



  1. ^ a b Fernández Rodríguez, José Manuel (28 November 2016). "Eastern Protestant and Reformed Churches "a historical and ecumenical look"". Theologica Xaveriana. 66 (182): 345–366. doi:10.11144/javeriana.tx66-182.ioproh.
  2. ^ Milovanović, Aleksandra Djurić; Radić, Radmila (2017-10-11). "Parts I, II, III". Orthodox Christian Renewal Movements in Eastern Europe. Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-63354-1.
  3. ^ Leustean, Lucian N. (2014-05-30). Eastern Christianity and Politics in the Twenty-First Century. Routledge. pp. 8, 10, 484–485, 568, 587–589. ISBN 978-1-317-81866-3.
  4. ^ Werff, Lyle L. Vander (1977). Christian Mission to Muslims: The Record : Anglican and Reformed Approaches in India and the Near East, 1800-1938. William Carey Library. pp. 101–103. ISBN 978-0-87808-320-6.
  5. ^ a b "Heritage – Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church".
  6. ^ Fortescue, Adrian (1913). The lesser eastern churches. London: Catholic Truth Society. pp. 368–371, 374–375. ISBN 978-1-177-70798-5. A Malpan (teacher) in the Kottayam college, Abraham, who was a priest (Katanar), took up Protestant ideas warmly. Dr. Richards says of him with just pride that he was "the Wyclif of the Syrian Church in Malabar."…The Reformers calls themselves the "Mar Thomas Christians". They are considerably Protestantized. They have no images, denounce the idea of the Eucharistic sacrifice, pray neither to the saints nor for the dead, and use the vernacular (Malayalam) for their services…If only we knew what the views of the Church of England in matters of faith are, it would be easier to estimate those of the Mar Thomas Christians.
  7. ^ Neill, Stephen (2002). A History of Christianity in India: 1707-1858. Cambridge University Press. pp. 236–254. ISBN 0521893321. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  8. ^ Kurian, George Thomas; Day, Sarah Claudine (14 March 2017). The Essential Handbook of Denominations and Ministries. Baker Books. ISBN 978-1-4934-0640-1.
  9. ^ Pallikunnil, Jameson K. (2017). The Eucharistic Liturgy: A Liturgical Foundation for Mission in the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church. AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-5246-7652-0. Metropolitan Juhanon Mar Thoma called it "a Protestant Church in an oriental grab."...As a reformed Oriental Church, it agrees with the reformed doctrines of the Western Churches. Therefore, there is much in common in faith and doctrine between the MTC and the reformed Churches of the West. As the Church now sees it, just as the Anglican Church is a Western Reformed Church, the MTC is an Eastern Reformed Church. At the same time as it continues in the apostolic episcopal tradition and ancient oriental practices, it has much in common with the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Thus, it is regarded as a "bridging Church".
  10. ^ Leustean, Lucian N. (30 May 2014). Eastern Christianity and Politics in the Twenty-First Century. Routledge. p. 568. ISBN 978-1-317-81866-3. The Syrian Orthodox also became the target of Anglican missionary activity, as a result of which the Mar Thoma Church separated from the Orthodox in 1874, adopting the Anglican confession of faith and a reformed Syrian liturgy conforming to Protestant principles.
  11. ^ a b Hämmerli, Maria; Mayer, Jean-François (23 May 2016). Orthodox Identities in Western Europe: Migration, Settlement and Innovation. Routledge. p. 13. ISBN 9781317084914.
  12. ^ a b Bebis, Fr. Vassilios. "The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, used by the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, and its missing elements".
  13. ^ Karelian religious movement Uskhovayzet
  14. ^ Webber, David Jay (1992). "Why is the Lutheran Church a Liturgical Church?". Bethany Lutheran College. Retrieved 18 September 2018. In the Byzantine world, however, this pattern of worship would not be informed by the liturgical history of the Latin church, as with the Reformation-era church orders, but by the liturgical history of the Byzantine church. (This was in fact what occurred with the Ukrainian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, which published in its 1933 Ukrainian Evangelical Service Book the first ever Lutheran liturgical order derived from the historic Eastern Rite.)
  15. ^ "Member Churches". Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  16. ^ Vander Werff, Lyle L. (1977). Christian mission to Muslims: the record : Anglican and Reformed approaches in India and the Near East, 1800-1938. The William Carey Library series on Islamic studies. William Carey Library. pp. 366. ISBN 978-0-87808-320-6.
  17. ^ a b "Who are the Assyrians? 10 Things to Know about their History & Faith".
  18. ^ "UNPO: Assyria: Church Raided by Iranian Authorities".
  19. ^ a b Boynerian, Avedis (January 2000). "The Importance of the Armenian Evangelical Churches for Christian Witness in the Middle East". International Review of Mission. 89 (352): 76–86. doi:10.1111/j.1758-6631.2000.tb00181.x.
  20. ^ a b c Melton, J. Gordon; Baumann, Martin (21 September 2010). Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition [6 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 2956. ISBN 978-1-59884-204-3.
  21. ^ Katchadourian, Herant (5 September 2012). The Way It Turned Out: A Memoir. CRC Press. pp. 38–39. ISBN 978-981-4364-75-1.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kurian, George Thomas; Lamport, Mark A. (7 May 2015). Encyclopedia of Christian Education. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-8108-8493-9.
  23. ^ a b c d e f Raheb, Mitri; Lamport, Mark A. (15 December 2020). The Rowman & Littlefield Handbook of Christianity in the Middle East. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 284–285. ISBN 978-1-5381-2418-5.
  24. ^ a b c Winter, Jay (8 January 2004). America and the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Cambridge University Press. pp. 187–188. ISBN 978-1-139-45018-8.
  25. ^ a b c Raheb, Mitri; Lamport, Mark A. (24 May 2022). Surviving Jewel: The Enduring Story of Christianity in the Middle East. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 113–114. ISBN 978-1-7252-6319-2.
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  27. ^ Iran Almanac and Book of Facts (9 ed.). Echo of Iran. 1970.
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  29. ^ . 14 February 2012 Archived from the original on 14 February 2012. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  31. ^ "Haik's Impact Upon Church History". Archived from the original on 2005-01-02.
  32. ^ "Wife of Iranian Pentecostal Leader Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison After Praying With Christians". 31 January 2018.
  33. ^ The South Indian Pentecostal movement in the twentieth century. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. 2008-06-06. p. 54. ISBN 9780802827340.
  34. ^ "Believers Eastern Church". Archived from the original on 2023-03-21. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  35. ^ "K.P. Yohannan Blesses and Consecrates Holy Oils for Believers Eastern Church". 18 April 2018.
  36. ^ "Believers Eastern Church".
  37. ^ "State and Religion in Romania" (PDF). Bucharest: State Secretariat for Religious Affairs. 2019. pp. 37, 149–150. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2022-10-31. Retrieved 2021-05-31.
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  39. ^ a b c Scarfe, Alan (1975-11-01). "The evangelical wing of the orthodox church in Romania". Religion in Communist Lands. 3 (6): 15–19. doi:10.1080/09637497508430738. ISSN 0307-5974.
  40. ^ Ramet, Sabrina P. (1992). Protestantism and Politics in Eastern Europe and Russia: The Communist and Postcommunist Eras. Duke University Press. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-8223-1241-3.
  41. ^ Milovanović, Aleksandra Djurić; Radić, Radmila (2017-10-11). Orthodox Christian Renewal Movements in Eastern Europe. Springer. pp. 234–237. ISBN 978-3-319-63354-1.
  42. ^ Clark, Roland (2021). Sectarianism and Renewal in 1920s Romania: The Limits of Orthodoxy and Nation-Building. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 169–193. doi:10.5040/9781350100985. ISBN 978-1-3501-0095-4. S2CID 229431106.
  43. ^ Lloyd R. Thompson, “A Critical Analysis of the Evangelical Orthodox Church (New Covenant Apostolic Order)” (Ph.D. diss., Yale Divinity School, 1979), 20.
  44. ^ Ruth Stiling, “An Examination of the Evangelical Orthodox Church” (M.A. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, May 1980), 17-18.
  45. ^ Steve Barth, “Development of Evangelical Church Traced: Twelve Years of Theology Change Moves Away from Anti-Authority,” Daily Nexus (November 13, 1979): 2.
  46. ^ D. Oliver Herbel, Turning to Tradition: Converts and the Making of an American Orthodox Church (Oxford University Press, 2014), 104-117.
  47. ^ "Ethiopian Culture - Religion". Cultural Atlas. Archived from the original on 2019-09-06. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  48. ^ Eshete, Tibebe (2009). The evangelical movement in Ethiopia : resistance and resilience. Baylor University Press. ISBN 9781602580022.
  49. ^ "Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in Ethiopia: A Historical Introduction to a Largely Unexplored Movement". ResearchGate.
  50. ^ Baker, Stephanie (18 October 2012). "Religion In Ethiopia". Archived from the original on 6 September 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  51. ^ "ERITREA" (PDF).
  52. ^ Alexy II, ed. (2008). "Евангельские христиане" [Evangelical christians]. Православная энциклопедия [Orthodox Encyclopedia] (in Russian). Vol. 17. Москва: Церковно-научный центр "Православная энциклопедия". pp. 40–44. ISBN 978-5-89572-030-1.