Rev. Robert Felix Cook
Robert F. Cook served as the prime missionary responsible for the establishment of the Pentecostal movement in India. Though a number of missionaries came before him and though the Pentecostal experience took place in India independent of foreign missionary work, Cook was the one that first established works that began to spread into neighboring areas. He came to India in October 1913. In 1914, he established a church in Thuvayoor, Kerala. However, three years later, on August 31, 1917, his wife, Anna, died. The following year, he met and married Bertha Frank.
Until 1921, he was stationed in Bangalore. However, in 1920, he became acquainted with Kalloor Chacko, of Thrikkannamangal, Kottarakara, and was convinced by him to relocate to Thrikkannamangal. In January, 1921, he headquartered his work in a rented home adjacent to Chacko’s and began his work in Kerala. He registered his churches under the name, Malankara Full Gospel Church of God. By 1922, he released the works in Bangalore to fellow workers and permanently moved to Thrikkannamangal.
The work spread quickly from then on. Due to the need for training for the new local workers, he began a Home Bible Training School at his residence. As the work spread, there were many future leaders that joined hands with him. Among them was K.E. Abraham, the founder of the Indian Pentecostal Church of God and Paul Ramunkutty founder of The Pentecostal Mission. However, as time went by, there arose disagreements over doctrine and organizational structure. Though Cook came as an independent missionary, he later joined the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee). This, and other reasons, caused rifts between Cook and many of his workers. Not wishing to remain under foreign control, K.E. Abraham left with many of the Syrian Christians and found the IPC. Cook parted company with Chacko also, over doctrinal issues. As a result, Cook relocated to Mulakuzha, Alleppey. He built the Bungalow on land that was partly donated and partly bought. The Bible Training Center was relocated to the Bungalow, also. Though most of the people that remained with him were converts from lower castes, the work continued to grow at a very fast rate among both these castes as well as among the Syrian Christians. By the time he returned to the U.S., the work had spread to the neighbouring states and had been registered in Tamil Nadu with the Central Government under the Indian Societies Act.
As the work in India continued to grow, the leadership of the Church of God began to take more interest and send more support and workers. Cook, due to age and to challenges to his authority from both local workers and from the missionaries sent by Cleveland, turned over the work fully to Church of God control and returned to the U.S. His wife, daughter, Blossom, and sons, George and Robert, returned with him. Though the others have died, his sons still reside in the United States and are involved in their own ministries.