Thursday, March 19, 2009

Southern and northern protestants hold congresses

The 33rd Assembly of the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (North) met Feb. 24-25 at the the Hoanh Nhi evangelical church of Giao Thuy district in Nam Dinh province. It was attended by about 300 clergy and believers, according to Vietnam News Agency,nearly half of them ethnic minorities (an earlier VNA report predicted 1,000 in attendance). Among the events that took place at the meeting, according to VNA, was "an ordination ceremony for nine young pastors for the first time over almost three decades." This would appear to reflect on government policies restricting the ordination of clergy. A 13-member executive board was elected at the assembly along with a new president, Rev. Nguyen Huu Mac. The meeting also discussed revising the church's statutes and merging with the much larger General Confederation of Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South), which in the past has resisted such a merge due to fear of increased government control.

According to VNA the northern church, which gained legal recognition in 1958, "currently has 14 chapters with 24,000 followers and overseeing the practice of worship by 126 registered groups of Hmong followers in the northern mountainous region."

The Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South) met in Ho Chi Minh City March 3-6 for its congress, attended by 1,041 pastors, functionaries and missionaries according to VNA. Its president Pastor Thai Phuoc Truong is reported by VNA to have said:

"since the churchs legal status was recognised by the Government in 2001, it has managed to grow into 1,343 cells region-wide, two-thirds of them based in the Central Highlands. The Religious Publishing House has helped us produce over 30,000 bilingual copies of the bible, in Vietnamese-Bana, Vietnamese-Giarai, and Vietnamese-Ede to meet the growing demand of ethnic minority followers, added Truong. Moreover, tens of thousands of other publications on religious theory and hymns have been published in seven different languages and distributed region-wide. The churchs charitable work has greatly contributed to improving the living conditions of poor people, especially in remote and poor communities. The church's Committee for Healthcare and Social Affairs reported that in the last four years, the church has distributed free medicines to over 7,000 patients, drilled more than 260 water wells and built over 420 houses for the poor. "

VNA also estimates that the southern protestant church has nearly one million followers, including 433 pastors, with the church most popular in the Central Highlands among ethnic minorities and in Binh Phuoc province, "where local administrators have allotted land for the construction of six new churches and granted licences to another 165 worship houses."

Sources: Vietnam News Agency, Feb. 20,24,26, March 3, 13; Voice of Vietnam Feb. 25.


At 6:04 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As, an American Baptist I attended this conference and was truly amazed at the response from those all over Vietnam. I actually thought I was going to a local church service only to be told on the way (on a motorbike) that I was going to the convention. I asked will there be the army and police causing problems. My friend said, "we'll see once we get there". Helped a whole lot! There weren't and I thoroughly enjoyed the conference (I went two nights) It was truly an amazing church service, which I will never forget. Almost made this Baptist Pentacostal. Reason I wanted to shout when they sang some of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and I didn't understand the words to any except, Halleleuah. WOW!

At 5:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To continue on with my comments. Whoever wrote your article either had his head in a bucket or just simply wanted to lie. I videod the two nights that I was there and my video will show there were over 2,000 in attendance. Don't believe it come view my video or pictures or ask for a copy. The main writer of your article is a liar and has an axe to grind or a first grader trying to tell a "tall story" and anyone can quote me. shame on the writer for lying. You may not even know that the mayor of Ho Chi Minh City spoke at the beginning of the meeting.
Curtis Gilliland, Somerset, Kentucky 606-678-9949

At 8:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To add to my comments. Just two days ago an estimated 40,000 Vietnamese gathered to celebrate Christ, in Ho Chi Minh City and an estimated 12,000 did the same in Hanoi. Don't believe it? There is video and news reports of it. Of, course there are going to be those who doubt it.


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