Thousands of Christians gathered in India for Asia’s largest annual Christian congregation. The 1255th Maramon Convention is held in the small town of Maramon in Kerala, India which began on February 9th and ends on the 16th, reports The Hindu.

Organized by the Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association (MTEA), the missionary wing of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, the convention is a week-long spiritual retreat, prayer, Bible classes, meditation and discourses by key speakers. Various parishes in and around Kozhencherry and Maramon cooperated to prepare the venue and the ‘pandal’, a temporary shed used for public gatherings.

Churches have a responsibility to bring spirituality to the outside world and their mission is to fulfill God’s will, not to tire out. —Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam, Church of South India moderator

The Maramon Convention will have three sessions within a day from February 10-15. Men and women will have separate Bible classes at the venue. Participants will also have the opportunity to hear lectures of Archbishop Keimari Godsworthy from Australia, Bishop Dino Gabriel from South Africa, Rev. Monodeep Daniel from Delhi, and Rev. John Samuel from Chennai.

Fr. George Abraham Kottanad, MTEA’s general secretary, said the Maramon Convention was the main reason for the creation of various institutes in India, including Mar Thoma Sunday School Samajom in 1905 and Mar Thoma Sevika Sanghom in 1919.

During the inauguration of the convention, Church of South India (CSI) moderator Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam said Churches are key to freeing society from unfavorable events.

“Churches have a responsibility to bring spirituality to the outside world and their mission is to fulfill God’s will, not to tire out. Criticisms may arise, insults may come, and we should be able to move forward boldly with strong faith in God,” he said.

Bishop Rasalam also advised the youth to turn to God in times of trials.