The Pentecostal Mission (TPM), formerly known as Ceylon Pentecostal Mission (CPM), is a pentecostal denomination which originated in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.
The international headquarters is now situated in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the largest Pentecostal denominations. The mission was founded in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1923 by a Hindu convert, Ramankutty – later known as Pastor Paul. It now has churches (or Faith Homes) in many parts of Sri Lanka, as well as India, Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Europe, Africa, the Caribbean Islands and the Middle East. It has close to 20 million members.
According to historian, somarathna, “The Ceylon Pentecostal Mission owes its origin to the ministry of Walter Clifford.” The church was founded by Pastor Paul along with Pastor Alwin R. de Alwis. Pastor Paul was born to Hindu parents in the district of Trichur in Kerala, India. While in Sri Lanka, at the age of 18, he became a Christian. Later, he felt a strong call from the Lord for his life and began to preach and share the gospel in various parts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. In the initial stages, he had worked with other evangelists. The CPM espoused an ascetic approach to spirituality. The church also instituted indigenous forms of worship.
Some of the distinctives are that fulltime ministers were expected to practice an ascetic life-style including celibacy, obedience to the elder pastors, communal living (including disposal of private possessions) in faith homes.
TPM churches are run by full-time ministers who are celibate and predominantly single. Married couples who enter full-time ministry can become celibate, and may be sent to different locations by the TPM leadership if they so choose. These full-time ministers are required to forsake the world, its attractions, and even their own families.
At dawn, every minister must awake early to praise God and to pray for every member in the church. They are to fast and pray often. Their sermon preparation is through prayer and waiting on the Lord. Ministers do not receive regular payment, but live by faith.
TPM worldwide is led by a Chief Pastor, who is usually appointed for life. Leadership is passed down after death to the next in seniority. The current chief pastor, Pastor Wilson Joseph, succeeded the late T.U. Thomas (died on 6 November 2006).
In America most of the church work was pioneered by Don M Spiers who also worked with Oral Roberts ministries.
Doctrines and teachings
The doctrines of the church include: Trinity, New Birth, Water Baptism , Baptism of the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking in unknown tongues, Separation , Divine Healing, Entire Sanctification (of the Body, Soul and Spirit), Overcoming Life, Consecrated Ministry, Rapture, Tribulation and Great Tribulation, Resurrection, The Millennial Reign, The Great White Throne Judgement, and Eternity.
As per the church the doctrines are:
1. There is one God, eternally existent as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
2. The Bible is God’s only inspired, written, Word to mankind – trustworthy, authoritative, and infallible.
3. The work of redemption by Jesus Christ – His virgin birth, atoning death, burial, and resurrection – is complete and prefect. Salvation (new birth) must be preceded by sincere repentance toward God and faith in Christ as risen Savior and Lord.
4. Water Baptism by immersion is mandatory for all who have been cleansed by the blood of Christ, and provides a further work of grace in the believer’s life. It must be administered by a spirit filled minister in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
5. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues, is the promise of the Father for all of His children. Only through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit can the believer live a life of true holiness and victory over the flesh, the world, and the devil.
6. Jesus Christ is coming back soon for a “glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle”. Only those who are thus prepared, those who ardently love His appearing, will be caught up to reign with Him as His Bride.
7. There will be a resurrection of the just and the unjust – the one to eternal life, other to eternal damnation.
Further, CPM does not believe in wearing jewellery, makeup or pants for women, and encourage divine healing rather than depending on medicine, members who partake of medicine are often barred from helping in the functions of their member church. They discourage watching television or visiting the cinemas and listening to music that does not glorify God. They believe that their rules and regulations prevent the believer from being trapped in the world. They preach and teach separation from the world, to prepare themselves for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
International conventions are held at Irumbuliyur in Chennai, India annually in March and April and at Kottarakara in Kerala, India in February, attracting over 50,000 worshippers. In November an International Youth Camp is held at Irumbuliyur in Chennai.
The main USA convention is held in Ashland, Ohio this year in July. The largest European convention is in London in the last week of August.
Service of song
Ever since the inception of TPM Service of Song (Service rendered to God by singing – I chr 6: 31) has been given a high priority.
* In the beginning, the songs were recorded in reel-to-reel audio tape recording and were distributed to the centre faithhomes alone for the sake of practicing the tunes.(Headquarters in an Administrative zone). But unfortunately many of these reels are not available for us to relish them.
* Recording of the songs on cassettes came into vogue in the 1970s; many of these are still available.
* Digital recording was introduced in 1998 (on cassettes only). In 1999 CD recording was introduced on a limited scale with mass production starting in 2000.
* Live recording of parts of International Convention was introduced in 2003 and complete recordings from 2005.
* The recordings never carry the names of the singers nor any speeches or prayers by them. The works, though copyrighted legally, can be used by anyone for the furtherance of the Word of God.
Songs were originally composed in five languages: Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi and English. Recently songs are also released in other languages such as Kannada, Punjabi, Tulu, Bengali, Marathi etc.
All songs are recorded in the Mission’s recording theatre at Adyar and are a great attraction at the Annual International Conventions.
Sunday school ministry
“Train up a child in the way he should go” resounds the theme of the Sunday School Ministry aimed at bringing up children spiritually. Classes are held from Little Kingdom (a class for pre-schoolers) until the Year 11 class. A Senior Sunday Class is also conducted where the students can study for three years after completion of Year 11.
Each class has its own syllabus containing twenty lessons – ten from the Old Testament and ten from the New Testament (in most of the standards). Each lesson is accompanied by a moral and memory verse (except in some higher grades). The syllabus covers the entire Bible and the children become proficient in the Scriptures once they are through the Sunday school.
The Sunday School organization is unique in many ways. Notable among them are
* The Teachers are selected not on the basis of their merit in terms of theological degrees, education or riches but based on their exemplary spiritual life.
* The Teachers are not paid salary for the services rendered by them but rather, they are willing to spend and be spent in the ministry.
* Though Children are imparted Scriptural Knowledge, utmost importance is given to moulding the character of the children and to make the children live the Word of God they study.
Examinations are held matching the standards of Government examinations right from the distribution of question papers, sending invigilators, timing, valuation etc. In addition to the exams, various competitions like Memory verse reciting, quick Bible reading, Singing etc. are conducted for the encouragement of the children and the performers are rewarded well.
Sunday Schools in the branches reach out to the children in the nearby areas, often providing them some form of assistance both spiritually and materially. Many families have been brought to the faith of the TPM by the Sunday School Ministry.
Magazines in several languages are printed and distributed to subscribers. The English magazine published from India is called Voice of Pentecost. Pilgrim’s Journal is published and printed in USA. Other English language magazines are: “Pentecostal Messenger” from Malaysia, “The Youth Herald” from Singapore, “Power Divine” from Sri Lanka, “Trumpet of the Lord” from U.K.
Malayalam magazine PENTECOST is one of oldest Pentecostal magazines from Kerala. Hindi edition PENTECOST KI WANI published from New Delhi is also other landmark in the history of Church to spread the Gospel to northern part of India.
New Testament Christian Academy
In 2002 the church opened its New Testament Christian Academy in Sierra Leone. The children from the Congo Cross and Wilberforce assemblies of this church attend the school.
Tracts of different kinds and various life issues (topics such as peace, salvation; questions about life and healings) are also published in different languages.
Many books are published by the church.