Church of the East & Abroad is a predominantly American sect that departed from its the Orthodox Nasrani faith and practice in July of 2005, but it still claims its true origin is during the Second Temple era of Judaism. It describes itself as a Nasrani Nestorian "Mishkani (i.e. Messianic) Orthodox Church, and claims a common history with the Church of the East between the late 2nd century A.D. until 1917 A.D. It is now one of sThomasine sects which trace their origins to Saint Thomas the Apostle who, according to Universal Catholic and Protestant tradition, came to India in AD 52 and established churches in what are called now Kerala State and Tamil Nadu State.
This church has been referred by other names, such as Nazaraean Church of Jerusalem
, Universal Bible Church - St. Thomas Christian Church
, Mar Thoma Nasrani Church of the East & Abroad
, The Nasrani-Nestorian Orthodox Church
and The Nazaraean Orthodox Church of Jerusalem
, The International Christian Church of Jerusalem", and the most recent "The Yeshuan Assembly of Jerusalem: Temple of Alhaym
The current Patriarch of the church lives in Jerusalem, while the Catholicos resides in Camden, Tennessee. There are also a number of individuals designated as Apostles. Members believe their Patriarch is from the line of the Desposyni.
As with many other religious American sects, this Church of the East and Abroad claims three lines of Apostolic Succession
- namely lines from the Church of the East
, the Syrian Orthodox Church of the East and what they call the Nazaraean "Desposyni
" line from Jerusalem via the ancient Royal Burmese-Nasrani Church, who they claim are blood line kindred of Joseph and Mary the Mother of Christ. They believe that its present day leader, Mar Michai
is the descendant of the Desposyni, inheritants of the true Family Blood line of the Family of Jesus Christ and beliefs from direct and private teachings lining up to the first Church of Jerusalem
and the See
(said to be founded by Saint James the Apostle
). They also believe that its line of patriarchs originates from James the Just
and the relatives of the Virgin Mary
, making it a blood line directly from Jesus Christ. Other links with the bloodline and teaching of Christ were are claimed by asserting that it shared Patriarchs with the Church of the East in the 2nd Century A.D. This group teaches that the Desposyni were leaders of a Jewish community which moved to Mesopotamia during the second century, and later fled further east to establish a community in Burma, eventually becoming the Royal Burmese Family Yaza.
In the sixteenth century the center of the church became an isolated Burmese community. In the last century, the church sources claim that in 1890 their See moved to Kerala, India, then in 1935 to Lisbon, Portugal, and finally in the 1970s to Chicago, Illinois USA. It has moved from Chicago, Illinois in 1991 to Paris and then in 2001 to Camden, Tennessee, USA. Their 'Mishqana" of holy see is now portable, as it goes where and whenever its Leader goes and stays.
According to the church's website, its leader Mar Michai
currently lives in Jerusalem, while his second in command and head of the Patriarchate
of North America
and the International Christian Church of Jerusalem with title of Catholicos resides in Camden, Tennessee. Believers hold that His Holiness Mar Michai
is above all human judgement and their clergy and membership are required to sign a Loyalty oath
, and visitors to the Mishqana (i.e. Holy See) trailer are required to sign a Confidentiality Agreement
similar in most respects to those signed by members of the Church of Scientology
in the past.
The leaders state that they all must depend upon their canon
, which includes the Book of Presence, the Peshitta (an Aramaic version of the standard Old & New Testaments), the Didache
, and the Book of the Sons of Light, along with their traditions and revelations (i.e. the Magisterium
) of their Church for beliefs, scriptures, morals, practices and customs. Members believe it is their duty to guard over the original faith of the Church of Jerusalem
. Since late 2005 they have become strict Sabbatarians
, observers of their own Calendar
laws and Oral Torah
traditions. They claim to be the only remnant of the true church, and refer to other followers of Christ and their churches by the name Klal Kristiani
(i.e. Christian Heretics). They also outreach organizations called as the International Christian Church of Jerusalem, the Yeshuan Assembly, and Zijiyani Buddhaism (zijiyani.org) through which they seek to proselytize among Euro-Americans.
It is claim through their own news letters that in 2003 some 1000 Burmese Christians joined their church, and were granted the name Burmese Orthodox Church
along the border of Myanmar
extending from Laos
to the Andaman Sea, in an area which they call The Kingdom of Nettara
and which is actually located within Thailand's Burmese Refugee Camp Areas. The church claims that the area hosts about 25,000 of their Nettaran Christian refugees. At present they claim that their "kingdom" in Burma is recognized by the Shan and Mon peoples who are in rebellion to the Military Junta presently oppressing Myanmar.
According to the church, they have a Sanhedrin of Nasrani Rabbis located somewhere in Israel, with members through the world.
Since 2007, many of these sites are shut down or private.