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In the midst of thunderous applause Rev. Saju Mathew, vicar of Immanuel Mar Thoma church, Houston, has received this year’s prestigious Merlin Award instituted by International Magicians Society  for the “Best Gospel Magician’ category from its founder and CEO Tony Hassini.

Dubbed as the Oscar in the field of magic, this is the first time that a clergy receiving this coveted Merlin Award also known as Oscar in the field of magic.

International Magicians Society, with a sizable membership of over 37,000 magicians, was set up in 1968.

Rev. Saju Mathew has also received the certificate for Doctor of Magic at this occasion. He is the third Indian who received doctoral degree in this and the fourth to receive the award after famous magicians P.C Sorcar, Gopinath Muthucad and Samraj.

In this award meeting several dignitaries of church and the Malayalee communities offered congratulatory notes including Vice President Immanuel Mar Thoma Church Jojy John,  Stafford City council member Ken Mathew, Azhchavattom news chief editor Dr. George Kakkanattu, Indian Christian Community Council of Houston secretary Dr. Anna. K. Philip, representing the clergies Rev. Kochukoshy Abraham Vicar of Trinity Mar Thoma Church. Representing the Chachipunna, Pathanapuram, Rev. Saju Achen’s hometown, Mr. Shajimon Idiculla adorned Saju achen with a ponnaada.

Saju achen thanked God for the manifold blessing He has showered in the past in installing Christian values in young children through the medium of magic. He also thanked his family especially wife Bincy and children Joel and Johanna and his parents and dedicated the Merlin Award to them. He also thanked all his well-wishers and said he is dedicating this award to them and Immanuel Mar Thoma Church Family.

Rajan Daniel welcomed the guests and Immanuel Mar Thoma Church Trustee Joy N. Samuel offered vote of Thanks and the award meeting ended with prayer and benediction by Rev. KB Kuruvilla.

This story originally appeared on Voice of Asia.