Yangon Mission

By Suak Khaw Ngin

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Suak Khaw Ngin was born in Chin State, Myanmar; he has been a pastor, teacher, principal, departmental director, and a seminary professor. He holds a BA in Religion from the Myanmar Union Adventist Seminary and a MA in Education from the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, Philippines. He was ordained to the ministry in 2003. Together with his wife, Pau Za Dim, a son and three daughters, he lives in Myaungmya.

Yangon Mission (formerly Yangon Adventist Mission) was established in 1977 as Yangon Attached District. It was renamed to its current name in 2017. Yangon Mission is a part of the Myanmar Union Mission in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division. The territory is comprised of the Yangon Region, the southwest portion of Bago Region, and the Rakhine States. The headquarters is in Dagon Township, Yangon Region, Myanmar.1

Statistics for June 30, 2018, indicate that there were 38 churches, 12 ordained ministers, and 5,560 members out of a general population of 12,004,502.2

Origin of Seventh-day Adventist Work

Herbert B. Meyers, who had become a Seventh-day Adventist in Calcutta, India,3 and A. G. Watson arrived in Yangon selling literature in 1902. They rented a house at 110 Brooklyn Street in East Yangon and immediately started selling religious books in the downtown streets. Meyers’s wife opened a school with 18 students. In 1904, Maung Maung went to Calcutta, India, and requested the assistance of a missionary for that area. The church responded to his request by sending H. H. Votaw and L. F. Hansen in 1905.4 A house called “Grennan Slopes” in Insein, about nine miles from Yangon, was rented.5

The first Seventh-day Adventist Church (now Yangon Central Church) was organized in 1907 with 23 members.6 Yangon has long been a multi-racial city with a Chinese and Indian mixed population. Early in the 1920s, work among the Telegu Indians was started by Andrews Stephen. The Telegu-Indian Church was organized on a Sabbath, December 23, 1922, with 15 members.7

The church bought a portion of land on the corner of U Wisara (formerly Voyle) Road and Mawkwunhtaik (formerly Steward) Road in 1928 and built an office and residential three-story building, headquarters of the Myanmar Union Mission, and a beautiful church for the Yangon congregation on the same portion of land.8 In the early years of Yangon Seventh-day Adventist Church, people called it the Yangon English Church. From 1924-1927, R. H. Hubley served as Yangon’s church pastor and initiated and opened an English primary school in Yangon.

Church pastors for the Yangon English Church were J. M. Comer (1911-1912); George A. Hamilton (1912-1922, 1937); Isaac Counsell (1920-1923); R. A. Hubley (1924-1927); G. W. Pettit (1927-1932); and W. W. Christensen (1932-1942).9 At that time, membership of the Yangon English Church was comprised of about 60 English-speakers and 25 native language-speakers.10 World War II began, and all church functions and services were stopped. When the war ended in 1945, the church’s functions and services started again.

Before the war, the Yangon English Church was attended by white people. Members from Karen and Myanmar worshipped in one office room following the main English church service. At the time, there was no pastor for Myanmar believers. Some Myanmar church members were Mr. Dick and his wife, Daw Saw Mya, Hla Pe, Saw Bwa, Tun Maung, Pein Kyi, Daw Mu Seik, Daw Sein, Lonsdale, and D. G. Robert.11

In 1977, Yangon Attached District was organized, and Khin Maung Nyein became the first district administrator. The newly-formed district was started with five churches and 764 members.12 In 2013, Yangon Attached District was extended to include Rakhine State. In this year, there were 37 churches with 6,224 members.13

Organization Challenges

Due to Myanmar’s urbanization, Yangon, its most populated mega city, accommodates over 4.7 million people at the present time. Over 12% of the country’s total population of 51.4 million lives in the Yangon area.14 It is also estimated that, by 2020, the population in Greater Yangon will reach over seven million.

Migrant workers, the local elite, and the wealthy moved to Yangon due to its business and work environment. The potential of business expansion, access to the international educational institute, INGO and NGO work availability, and modern setup of the city attracted the people. The churches in the Yangon area obtained sufficient membership and need to open other churches. The SDA Church needs to plant more churches throughout the city that can be easily accessed by people who live in the city. The offering, tithe, and other assistances are being increased. The members of Yangon Attached District moved to become mission level in 2017. The Southern Asia Pacific Division evaluated the application at the Yangon Attached District office on May 4, 2017.15

Yangon Attached District to Mission Status

The Southern Asia-Pacific Division conference/mission status survey commission carefully examined the qualifications of Yangon Attached District to become a mission during the meeting of August 3-4, 2017. As voted in the Myanmar Union Mission Executive Committee in 2017 (Action No. 2017-320), Yangon Attached District became Yangon Adventist Mission.16 The blessed celebration of the Yangon Adventist Mission was held during December 15-16, 2017. Division President Saw Samuel officially inaugurated it.

The first Yangon Adventist Mission officers were President Maung Maung Htay; Executive Secretary Khin Maung Yin; and Treasurer Nang Do Dal. The new departmental directors were Saung Wai Wai and Maung Maung Myo Chan.17

List of Administrators

Yangon Attached District Leaders: Khin Maung Nyein (1977-1979); Hla Chit (1980-1983); Tember Chit (1984-1990); Samuel Po (1991-1992); Kyaw Sein Pe (1993-1995); Tember Chit (1996); Kenneth H Suanzanang (1997-2002); Samuel Po (2003-2004); Sunny Htain (2005); Maung Maung Htay (2006-2010); and Saw Keh (2011-2015).

Yangon Adventist Mission President: Maung Maung Htay (2016- 2018).

Yangon Mission President: Maung Maung Htay (2019- ).

Sources

Fernandez, G. G, ed. Light Dawns Over Asia. Silang, Cavite: AIIAS, 1990.

Kotz, E. “Our Work in Burma.” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, April 23, 1931.

“Myanmar: Union of Myanmar-Burma.” April 16, 2019. Accessed May 21, 2019. https://www.citypopulation.de/Myanmar-Cities.html.

One Hundred and Twentieth Meeting, General Conference Committee, General Conference Archives, April 13, 1910. Images 1893-1993: The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Southern Asia. Oriental Watchman Publishing House, 1993.

Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1966.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1978, 2013. Accessed May 21, 2019. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press, 2019.

Southern Asia Pacific Division Committee Minutes, Action No. 2017 – 107. Southern Asia Pacific Division Archives.

Wilson, J. O. Advent Angels in Burma. Published by friends of Burma, n.d.

“Yangon Attached District.” Denominational Employees by Division 2016 Table 26, 2018 Annual Statistical Report. Accessed May 21, 2019. http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2018.pdf.

Yangon Attached District. Mission Status Proposal. May 4, 2017. Yangon Adventist Mission Archives.

Yee, Pe. The Story of Seventh-day Adventists in Myanmar. Yangon: Kinsaung Publishing House, n.d.

Notes

  1. “Yangon Adventist Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press, 2019), 347, 349.

  2. Ibid.; “Yangon Attached District,” Denominational Employees by Division 2016 Table 26, 2018 Annual Statistical Report, accessed May 21, 2019, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2018.pdf.

  3. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1966).

  4. One Hundred and Twentieth Meeting, General Conference Committee, April 13, 1910, 200, General Conference Archives, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Minutes/GCC/GCC1910.pdf.; Images 1893-1993: The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Southern Asia (Oriental Watchman Publishing House, 1993), 17.

  5. Gil G. Fernandez, ed., “Pe Yee, Burma,” Light Dawns Over Asia (Silang, Cavite: AIIAS, 1990), 279.

  6. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, 177.

  7. Fernandez, 284.

  8. J. O. Wilson, Advent Angels in Burma (Published by friends of Burma, n.d.), 120, 121.

  9. Pe Yee, The Story of Seventh-day Adventists in Myanmar, (Yangon: Kinsaung Publishing House, n.d.), 205-207.

  10. E Kotz, “Our Work in Burma,” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, April 23, 1931, 12.

  11. Pe Yee, 207-208.

  12. “Rangoon Area,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1978, accessed May 21, 2019, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1978.pdf.

  13. “Yangoon Attached District,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 2013, accessed May 21, 2019, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB2013.pdf.

  14. “Myanmar: Union of Myanmar-Burma,” April 16, 2019, accessed May 21, 2019, https://www.citypopulation.de/Myanmar-Cities.html.

  15. Yangon Attached District, Mission Status Proposal, May 4, 2017, Yangon Adventist Mission Archives.

  16. Southern Asia Pacific Division Committee Minutes, Action No. 2017 – 107. Southern Asia Pacific Division Archives.

  17. The official web page of the new mission is www.yangonadventist.org.

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Ngin, Suak Khaw. "Yangon Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=5ELA.

Ngin, Suak Khaw. "Yangon Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access June 18, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=5ELA.

Ngin, Suak Khaw (2021, April 28). Yangon Mission. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 18, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=5ELA.