History of the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed)

(Extract from Silver Jubilee Magazine 2008)


The occupation of Manipur by the British in 1891 paved the way for the entry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the North-East Region of India. Missionaries came to Manipur through two gates – the Northern Gate, i.e., through the Naga tribes, and the Southern Gate, i.e., through Chin-Kuki tribes. It is the entry of the gospel in Manipur through the Northern gate which brings about the formation of the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed).

On October 14, 1908, a missionary couple Dr. & Mrs. Peter Frazer and a young man Watkin Roberts left Welsh for India. They arrived at Aizawl, Mizoram, in the winter of 1908. They joined other missionaries like the Rev. and Mrs. David Evan Jones and Rev. & Mrs. Robert Evans. The Rev. Dr. Frazer served in the Welsh Mission Clinic at Aizawl and Robert helped him. As they were distributing tracts of the Gospel John, he heard a rumor that there is someone who could read and write at a village called Senvon, Manipur. He sent a copy of the gospel of John to this man. Three months later the tract he sent to Senvon returned to Robert himself with a note “Come over to Manipur and help us” written on the flyleaf. Robert, with two native Youngman, Lungpau and Thangkai as guides reached Senvon on May 7, 1910.

As the Manipur field proved to be promising, Robert organized some native workers under the name of “Thadou-Kuki Pioneer Mission” in December 1913, which was later renamed “The North East India General Mission” in 1925.

The work of the NEIG Mission was very successful that the Southern region of Manipur which consist of one race but speaking many different dialects were evangelized within a few decades. In the year 1948, the mission church was divided into five presbyteries. The South-West Presbytery of the NEIG Mission which was later renamed as the Evangelical Convention Church was the parent church from which most of the members of the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) originates.

  2. Causes Leading to the Split within ECC

It is reasonable to assume that in church schisms, factors other than theological, such as personal or political issues also are involved. So, it is necessary to begin this enquiry by asking whether any such factors were present in the formation of the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed).

(a) Personal Issue?

The main person involved in the controversy as will be evident in the following discussion was Mr. Vung D. Tombing. Whether he precipitated the split for his own personal ambition may be examined here.

Vung D. Tombing, sponsored by Dr. Robert G. Rayburn, attended Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, USA and came back in 1977, as a thorough Presbyterian and Reformed churchman. He holds many positions in the Evangelical Convention Church as Headmaster, Secretary, Chairman, Member of different committees and boards. It can be clearly seen from the above positions that he is an important member of the ECC which is a presbytery of the NEIG Mission. He held many important positions and served on several boards and committees when doctrinal differences rocked the church. Therefore, it is evident that there was no personal ambition on his part. All the leaders from the ECC maintained that the cause behind the split in the church was due to nothing personal or financial but purely doctrinal.

(b) Political Issues?

It may be observed that the division of the presbyteries in the NEIG Mission in 1951 was due to tribal/linguistic factors. Accordingly, the Evangelical Convention Church was a Paite dominated Presbytery. As both the parties involved in the split were both Paite, political issue is not the cause of the split.

(c) Doctrinal Issues

Initially, the NEIG Mission was a Presbyterian and Reformed church but it slowly leaned towards a non-denominational, Armenian church. The Board in London was eventually closed and the ministry of the NEIG Mission was supported by the Board in Philadelphia, which was also declared non-denominational. Meanwhile, the Reverend Paul Rostad took charge of the D.M. Bible School and trained Evangelists and Pastors on Armenian and Dispensational lines. Thus, the Mission began to move further away from Presbyterian doctrines and practices.

Vung D. Tombing tactfully re-introduced the Reformed doctrine in the ECC through text books for the Convention schools. He translated Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism, Shorter Catechism and Catechism for Young Children into Paite and prescribed them as text books for Bible classes in the schools run by ECC to reclaim Calvinism. But the effort to reform and bring back the church to the Presbyterian reformed faith from within was futile.

Vung D. Tombing tactfully re-introduced the Reformed doctrine in the ECC through text books for the Convention schools. He translated Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism, Shorter Catechism and Catechism for Young Children into Paite and prescribed them as text books for Bible classes in the schools run by ECC to reclaim Calvinism. But the effort to reform and bring back the church to the Presbyterian reformed faith from within was futile.

On January 12, 1984, Rev. T. Jam Khothang, the then Secretary of ECC gave a written report to the Annual Assembly of the Church which was circulated throughout the congregations of the ECC of its inability to accommodate Calvinism (Reformed/ Covenant Theology) within the Evangelical Convention Church as it does not believe in it.

The Leaders of the ECC put the blame on the Reformed leadership thinking that they are too stubborn about their doctrinal conviction and on the other hand the leaders of the Reformed faith blamed the ECC leaders for turning away from the Reformed faith. The question before them was whether to silently accept the General Secretary’s report as final and stay in the ECC or to separate and organize themselves into a new Church.

(d) A New Church Organized:

With the ECC Leadership unwilling to accommodate the Reformed faith within them, the leaders of the Reformed faith were ultimately left with no other option but to form a new church as they were unwilling to compromise their faith.

On April 14, 1984, a meeting was organized at Mualkoi, Churachandpur, Manipur, attended by 157 persons and formed a new church namely the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed). The names of the head of family of the members were as follows:

  1. Rev. Vung D. Tombing
  2. Elder T. Thuankhopau
  3. Elder (Late) T. Tualzachin
  4. Elder (L) T. Sinkhokam
  5. Deacon Phungpau
  6. Deacon (Emeritus) V. Tuangkam
  7. Elder T. Thangzakhup
  8. Elder Dr. L.K. Tombing
  9. (Late) Tualthang
  10. (Late) T. Tualkhothang
  11. (Late) Thangvum
  12. (Late) Ginhang
  13. (Late) Zamsiam
  14. (Late) Lianvung
  15. Thongkhopau
  16. Vungpum
  17. V. Kamkhanthang

The Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) Adhoc Executive Committee Members, 1984 were as follows:

  1. Elder T. Thuangkhopau, Chairman

02.Elder T. Tualzachin, Vice Chairman

  1. Vung D. Tombing, Secretary

04.Kamkhanthang Ngaihte, Asst. Secretary

  1. T. Sinkhokam, Fianance Secretary

06.S. Lutzagin, Treasurer

  1. Dr. L.K. Tombing, Member

08.Tuangkam Valte, Member

  1. Nengzalam Hangzo, Member

10.Tuankhothang Samte, Member

  1. T. Thangzakhup, Member

In the meantime, the Reformed leadership decided it was necessary to sent Khen P. Tombing, who was teaching at Patkai Christian College in Nagaland, to Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, USA, to study and make friends there.

The Church was registered with the Government of Manipur under Regd. No. 114 of 1988, dated February 20, 1988 under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 as the “Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed)” with a different name from the Presbyterian Church of India which already existed in North-east India. Rev. Rualzakham, a Pastor in the ECC, was invited by the leaders to be their Pastor to which he agreed and joined the PCI (R) on July 1, 1984 and was named the Organizing Pastor.

The Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) held its first worship service on April 20, 1984, at the house of Elder T. Tualzachin, as it does not have a church building of its own, and this day, the 20th April is known as “PCI Day”.


The growth and development of the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) into a mature church may be divided into two periods; from 1984 – 1986 and 1987 onwards.

  1. The Periods from 1984 to 1986:

The period from 1984 to 1986 may be described as the church’s infant stage. During this period it existed by itself without any affiliation or relation with any church body, national or international. Some friends from the United States encouraged and upheld them with prayers and gifts. But there was no official link with any of them.

In spite of opposition and discouragements from the established neighbouring churches, the new Church grew and develop steadily. Five new congregations, viz., Kaihlam, Vungbuk West, Mualnuam, Panglian and Vungbuk East were added to their folds which numbers to six congregations in all. Elder T. Thuangkhopau, the then Moderator, donated a part of his garden where the first church building was constructed and inaugurated and dedicated on July 1, 1984.

The church developed in organization and ministry. The Presbyterian Youth Fellowship and the Presbyterian Women Fellowship were formed on October 25, 1984 and September 16, 1984 respectively. A Board of Missions was constituted on September 30, 1984 under the Chairmanship of Rev. Rualzakham. Rev. W. Chaoba Singh, an alumnus of PTS, who was working among the Meeteis (Hindus), who himself was a Hindu convert, contacted the Board of Missions and the Board decided to support his missionary work among the Hindus at Wangoo.

The First Presbytery Meeting of the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) was held at Mualkoi from January 9 to 10, 1985 where five Teaching Elders, viz., TS. Thangta of Imphal, V. Khamthong of Mualkoi, K. Vungkham of Kaihlam, Daizagin of Vungbuk West and Thongsiam of Panglian were ordained. They were the very first ordained Teaching Elders of the PCI (R). Four Ruling Elders and four Deacons were also ordained in this Assembly. During this period 6 local congregation were added to the fold of the PCI (R). The Assembly decided to open Village Schools at Vungbuk (East), Kaihlam, Mualnuam, Panglian and Mualkoi. Mr. K. Thongzagou, the former Secretary of Christian Education in the ECC, was invited to join PCI (R) as a Director (Coordinator) to which he accepted and he joined the church with his wife Mrs. Ningzaching, who was also appointed as Office Assistant.

The Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) established its Head Office at Mualkoi in 1985, where K. Thongzagou functioned as the Administrative Head and Rev. Rualzakham as the Organizing Pastor. Five Teaching Elders looked after the PCI (R) during these periods. In the 1986 General Assembly, three Teaching Elders viz. – Vung D. Tombing, K. Thongzagou and W. Chaoba were ordained. Seven Ruling Elders and four Deacons were also ordained in this Assembly.

The growth and development of the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) from 1984 to 1986 was a testing time for the Church. There were strong oppositions from within and without, many times the workers could not be paid on time. However, the church grew in Spirit, Word, Truth, Love and Fellowship.

  1. Growth and Development 1987 – 2009:

(a) Presbyterian Missions International Inc., USA:

The year 1987 proved to be a turning point in the history of the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed). Dr. Robert G. Rayburn, who was a visiting Professor at Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Dehradun, informed the leaders of the PCI (R) that friends in the United States have agreed to constitute a Board to help the new Church, which was the result of the discussion between Dr. Robert G. Rayburn and Vung D. Tombing. An organization by the name of Presbyterian Mission International with its office at Covenant Theological Seminary (CTS), 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO 63141, USA was formed consisting of Dr. Robert G. Rayburn, Chairman, The Rev. Steve Leonard, Rev. Khen P. Tombing and Mr. Mark Beltz as Legal Adviser.

The arrangement was that PMI would support the PCI (R) through national missionaries of which Rev. Khen P. Tombing was the first of such missionaries. The PMI was initially set up to support the PCI (R), but now the PMI is global and have sponsored many missionaries throughout the world.

(b) Further Consolidation:

The member of the PCI (R) considers the formation of the Board in the US as a historic landmark. The Lord provided them with friend who would be partners in the ministry in India. Khen P. Tombing, after completion of his training at Covenant Theological Seminary, returned to India in 1989. Under his leadership, the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) underwent a new turn where church planting, educational reforms and other church ministries were undertaken in full swing and many local churches sprung up within Churachandpur District.

Khen P. Tombing summarizes his responsibility as a national missionary from PMI to India in raising fund for the ministry in India with PMI’s approval, giving training to men and women through Reformed Bible Institute, planting Reformed and Presbyterian Churches in India, developing Christian education, institutions and social contributions under the supervision of the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed). Up to this period, 13 new congregations were added to the PCI (R), numbering 38 congregations in all.

The Fifth General Assembly, 1989 ordained Khen P. Tombing as a Teaching Elder. The Assembly resolved to set up Board of Education, Pastoral Committee, Administrative Committee and open educational institutions in villages where there were no schools.

(c) Setback Due to Communal Crisis (1997 – 1998):

Again, the growth of the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) was slowed down by the ethnic and communal conflict between the Zomis and Kukis during 1997-1998. This ethnic clash affected all the Churches and denominations and church growth came to a standstill. The outcome of this ethnic clash was that many were rendered homeless, many a child were deprived of their homes and parents and became orphans. It results in loss of human lives and property. Because of this ethnic clash, some congregations have to leave the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) due to its location, not by choice but out of compulsion and expediency. At this time, the PCI (R) decreases to 16 congregations.

(d) A New Start:

Towards the end of 1998, the ethnic clash was over and the PCI (R) had to start afresh from scratch with what was left. People began to return to their deserted villages rebuilding their houses and readjusting their lives. The PCI (R) also resumed the church planting and other programs which were forced to slow down due to the ethnic clash. The church planting got a new impetus as peace returned and people start to settle down, pursuing their normal lives.

In the year 2000, Rev. Lian C. Tombing returned from Covenant Theological Seminary, USA as a PMI Missionary and started Covenant Children’s Home. By 2001, the church has grown to 38 congregations. The General Assembly 2003 created two Presbyteries viz. East Presbytery and West Presbytery out of these congregations.

A new development took place in 2006, when the General Assembly, by passing a new bye-law, created three presbyteries viz.- Thanlon Presbytery, Singngat Presbytery and Lamka Presbytery.
In the year 2007, Rev. G. Pau Muanthang, recommended by Rev. Khen P. Tombing attended Covenant Theological Seminary, USA and returned to India in 2008 and took over charge of Reformed Bible Institute as the Principal.

Updated in 2022: At present the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) consist of 4 Presbyteries with 42 local churches, 3 Mission Presbyteries and 18 mission churches. There are 26 Teaching Elders, 204 Ruling Elders and 163 Deacons ordained by the General Assembly and Presbyteries at present. The total population of the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) is approximately 9,500 memberships from different tribes speaking different dialects.


  • From the very day the first church was organized, the PCI (R) adopted Presbyterian form of church government. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Supreme Head of the church and Christ as King has delegated his power to His church officers. Further, the Book of Church Order of the PCI (R) clearly defines the system of church government as follows – The Scriptural form of Church Government, which is Representative or Presbyterian. According to the Scriptures, there are three offices of church officers by whom all its power are administered – Teaching Elders, Ruling Elder and Deacons’.

    The Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) has three tiered Church Courts – Session, Presbytery and General Assembly. The General Assembly and Presbyteries have its own Working Committees to function on its behalf.

    The Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) has its Head Office located at New Lamka, Churachandpur, Manipur, which functions with a Chief Coordinator and three other Coordinators viz. – Coordinator (Ministries), Coordinator (Institutions) and Coordinator (Missions).

    The values on which the Presbyterian Church in India (Reformed) would carry on their ministries are summed up in the following points:
    To profess the apostolic faith and to be true to the word of God and to preach unadulterated word of God.
    02. Emphasize literacy of Christians with a Christ centered education as its main objective.
    03. Evangelism as its main objective in accordance with the great commission of Jesus Christ.
    04. Charity to mankind following the example set by Jesus Christ.