The roots of the Malankara (INDIAN) Orthodox Syrian Church in the UK-Europe and Africa geographical region can be traced back to the 1930s, when Abu Alexios of the Bethany monastery (later Bishop Alexios Mar Theodosius) visited UK. This visit was made possible by the tireless efforts of Prof. A. M. Varki of Alwaye, a member of the ‘Mission of Fellowship to England and Ireland’ sponsored by the National Christian Council of India(NCCI). With the help and cooperation of people like Dr. William Paton, Cannon John Douglas and others, an association called ‘The Friends of the Syrian Church’ was formed to render help to this ancient church in India by offering higher theological training. The first candidate thus chosen was Abu Alexios, who also participated in the Jubilee celebrations of the Community of Resurrection, Mirfield. It is commendable that he was able to establish positive rapport with several religious communities in the UK.
The second priest who came to UK under this scheme was Rev. Fr. T. V. John of U.C. College Alwaye in 1934. Holy Qurbana in Malayalam was conducted in those days at the chapel at Kings College, London. Later on several others came to the UK under this programme. The most important milestone in the early history of the diocese was the visit of the Catholicos H. H. Moran Mar Baselios Geeverghese II, accompanied by the very Rev. Ramban C M Thomas (later Metropolitan Thoma Mar Dionysius) and Abu Alexios to participate in the second “Faith and Order Conference” of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Edinburgh in 1937. After the conference Ramban C. M. Thomas stayed with the Cowley fathers for studies in Oxford and conducted Eucharistic services. By the 1950s and 60s the influx of migrant communities to the UK laid foundation to the gradual growth of the Malayalee Christian community. Services, however, were held only occasionally by visiting priests and prelates. Noteworthy visits by other clergy who came to the UK region for higher studies and other purposes include Metropolitan Mathews Mar Coorilos (late Catholicos H .H. Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II), Rev. Fr. Dr. K Philipose (late Metropolitan Philipose Mar Theophilus), Rev. Fr. Dr. C. T. Eapen, Rev. Fr. P. S. Samuel, Rev. Fr. P. V .Joseph (late Metropolitan Joseph Mar Pachomios) and Rev. Fr. Yuhannon (late Metropolitan Yuhannon Mar Athanasius).
Fr. Philipose (Mar Theophilus) particularly visited the faithful in the UK region on several occasions during his trips to Europe in connection with various programs of the World Council of Churches (WCC). Another person who rendered invaluable service to the Orthodox community in the region was Rev. Dn. K. G. George (late Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Ivanios) who spent several years residing with the Cawley Fathers in Oxford. During those days, Eucharistic services were held at the chapel of the Indian YMCA at Fitzroy Square, London. This service was generally ecumenical in nature so as to include the wider Malayalee Christian community. As years passed by, the frequency of services conducted increased gradually. In the early 1970s late Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Osthathios, during one of his pastoral visits, organized the St. Gregorios prayer fellowship. Ironically, the growth in the community due to the influx of more migrants led to the inevitable segregation on denominational basis. By 1974, members of Orthodox Syrian Church and Marthoma Church formed separate congregations and commenced worshiping separately.
The next major milestone occurred in 1976 when the diaspora Orthodox community outside Kerala was re-organized. The European region thus came under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Bombay led by late Metropolitan Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios. It was he who, during one of his visits to London, formally declared the congregation in London as the St. Gregorios Orthodox Parish. During the 1979 re-organization of dioceses, the European geographical expanse came under the Diocese of Delhi enjoying the privilege of the pastoral care of eminent scholar late Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios who visited UK on a regular basis. The European congregations were again reorganized in 1993 under the newly formed diocese of Canada, UK and Europe under the elite leadership of late Metropolitan Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios.
The Holy Episcopal Synod of 2009 decided to once again bifurcate the area, thus forming the present diocese of UK-Europe and Africa. The newly consecrated bishop Dr. Mathews Mar Thimothios was appointed as the first Diocesan Metropolitan. The diocese currently boasts around 35 parishes and congregations covering two continents, stretching from the western tip of the UK mainland to the southern tip of Africa. The Episcopal guidance of the multilingual and Old Testament scholar H. G. Dr Mathews Mar Thimothios has been a boost in the growth of the diocese.