A heartwarming service filled with stories of endurance through struggles marked the fifth anniversary of the Melbourne Karenni Baptist church in Wyndham Vale on May 21.
The church has recently started meeting at a local community hall after several months of gathering at Pastor Christopher Shalom’s house following difficulties during Covid-19 – an arrangement which would have been quite a challenge for a church of around 60 members, although Pastor Shalom was very happy to accommodate everyone.
BUV Multicultural Consultant, Rev Meewon Yang, said the anniversary service was a joyful occasion for the church members, who have searched a long time for their new meeting place.
“I was heart-filled by their singing with strong voice, worship and stories of struggles and endurance like Jacob’s faith,” she said.
Most of the church members have families back in Myanmar who have been displaced due to the escalation of violence and constant attacks on villages as a result of the 2021 Military coup. “The Karenni people fled their home villages into an IDP area,” Meewon said. “The whole community has suffered in their homeland, yet they are centred in peace and place great importance on the care of other people.”
Pastor Shalom is currently going through the BUV’s ordination stream, and he will be the only ordained Karenni pastor in Australia. His church is the first Karenni Baptist church in Australia, but it will be joined by another in Geelong which will be officially welcomed to the Baptist Union of Victoria in October.