Mara Evangelical Church
Mara Evangelical Church or MEC in short is one of the Churches in Myanmar, formerly Burma founded by English missionaries Rev. & Mrs. Reginald Arthur Lorrain in the year 1907. It is one of the oldest Churches in Chin State, Myanmar. It was part of the unified Mara Church among the Mara people until it had to become an independent Church after India and Myanmar attained Independence from the British Raj in 1947. The Mara Church in India is being inherited by Evangelical Church of Maraland and Congregational Church of India, Maraland (CCI-M), while the one in Myanmar became MEC.
Mara Evangelical Church (MEC) has its headquarters at Lialaipi (Lailenpi) and Sabyhpi (Sabawngpi) in Chin State, Myanmar. It has its mission headquarters at Sittwe, earlier known as Akyab, Rakhine State. It also has an office in Yangon, the largest and former capital city of Myanmar.
English missionaries Rev. & Mrs. Reginald Arthur Lorrain founded 'Lakher Pioneer Mission' in London in the year 1905 to do mission among Mara people in undivided India, which included modern day Myanmar. Finally, the missionaries arrived at Saikao, a village in Southern Mizoram on September 26, 1907 and started spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ among Mara people who inhabit today's Saiha District of Mizoram, India and Southwestern part of Chin state in Myanmar. The church grew rapidly. In 1960 the church become fully self-supporting. In Chin state, Mara people inhabited area falls under three townships - Thantlang, Matupi and Paletwa. When India and Myanmar, formerly Burma attained independence, Mara inhabited areas were divided among the two nations. The Church founded by the missionaries too had to go independently. Thus, Mara Evangelical Church (MEC) was born in Myanmar, while Evangelical Church of Maraland and its sister Church Congregational Church of India, Maraland (CCI-M) were born in India. The Maras embrace Christianity today, (7% of the Mara Christians are members of the Mara Evangelical Church.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF LORRAIN THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE AND MISSION STUDIES CENTRE
Lorrain Theological College & Mission Studies Centre (LTC&MSC) is a theological institute established by the Mara Evangelical Church (MEC) in the year 2003. (MEC is a member of Myanmar Council of Churches, Christian Conference of Asia, World Communion of Reformed Churches, World Council of Churches, and Lutheran World Federation). The college is dedicated to the memory of our first missionary Rev. & Mrs. Arthur Lorrain, the founders of the Mara Church in 1907. The name of this college was given by Dr. Zohra, the first PhD holder among the Maras. The Mara Church has been in existence for one century (1907-2007), yet we could not establish even One Bible College. Therefore the church used to send her theological students to Myanmar Institute of Theology, Myanmar Institute of Christian Theology, Zomi Theological College and theological colleges affiliated to Senate Serampore College in India. Since our church pastors are trained in different theological schools, we have different views and philosophies which sometimes affect our ministry in local churches. Therefore the church deeply feels a need to have a theological institute in which we can train our church pastors, ministers and evangelists for the unity of church ministries. For these reasons, the Mara Church paved the ways for the establishment of the college through the following programs.
In 1980, a Month Missionary Training was initiated for the preparation of seminary at the first stage. This training was organized once a year, especially for in-service missionaries.
In 1993 Mara Bible Correspondence (MBC) was started, in the second stage, for church lay leaders.
In 2000, the General Assembly held at Sabyta (Sabawngte) passed and voted to establish the Theological Seminary in Yangon.
In 2001, a Joint Bible School called “Yangon Grace Theological Seminary” was opened in cooperation with Kam Eum Chung Presbyterian Church in Korean. Rev. Bizo was appointed as Vice Principal for two years.
In 2003, by the blessing of the General Assembly held at Dawlei (Darling) local Church, the Lorrain Theological College & Mission Studies Centre was established, and opened on the first day of July, 2003 with the first batch of seven B.Th. students. From 1980s, there has been mushrooming of bible colleges in Myanmar with their own convictions and emphasis. Some colleges put emphasis on so called fundamental evangelicalism and neglecting ecumenical movement and some vice versa. Therefore there is a wide gap between these two extreme entities – ecumenical and evangelical. Lorrain Theological College is dedicated and committed to narrow down the wide gap between these two extremes in order that they might come and work together for the extension of the Kingdom of God. We confess our evangelical faith while we witness ecumenical faith.
Thus the college was inaugurated and dedicated on July 1, 2003 by the then general secretary Rev. L. B. Siama. The service was chaired by Rev. Bizo (Principal); after singing “We’ve a story to tell the nations,” the Rev. Thaulei (Vice Chairman) led an opening prayer. Then the college was inaugurated and its building was dedicated to the Lord by the Rev. L. B. Siama (general secretary of Mara Evangelical Church). Yangon MEC youth presented an inspired choir, and Rev. Dr. Pasang delivered a special message for all of us. Ms. Naungia @ Hla Hla Myint (B.Th final year student of Bethany Theological Seminary) rendered a sweet song, followed by word of encouragement and special prayer by Rev. Dr. Sikhia. Elder Tin Hrang (Htp. Teihra) expressed our heartfelt thanks to all participants, and we all stood up to sing “Faith of our Fathers” that we might also follow the footstep of our forefathers in faith, and closed with the benediction pronounced by Rev. Dr. Pasang.
Our beginning was very small, meaning to say that we started with the 7 male students. The college had no oversea sponsorship, totally depending upon individual contribution from our church members. The chairs, tables, cupboards, books for library, uniforms, blackboards, white boards, and even foods came from our generous church members. There were 7 lecturers and 7 students in one main building. Later, the students become more and more.
We, being deeply rooted in the Reformed faith, are committed to build up the wholeness of human being by fulfilling the Great Commission for the service to God and the People.
VISION: Theologically well equipped persons become God’s agents for the church and society.
MOTTO: Not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45)
LTC Day July 1 LTC Sunday The first Sunday of July
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES:
1.To train students for Christian ministry as Pastors, evangelists, missionaries and lay-leaders. 2.To equip students for promoting contextual skill and insight of tribal theology to serve the Church and society. 3.To kindle mission and ecumenical spirit; and equip students with contextual mission strategies. 4.To promote students for the build-up of the holistic development with the Word of God.
PROGRAMS: At present the college offers the following programs. 1.Mission Training - This training is conducted once a year. 2.C.Th (Certificate of Theology) – a three year course for church elders and laity in Maraland. 3.B. Min (Bachelor of Ministry) – a three year course for those who have passed the 9th standard and who have been actively involving in mission work. 4. B.Th (Bachelor of Theology) – a four year course for those who have passed the Matriculation examination. In future, we have a plan to open Master of Divinity Program, and vocational skill development programs for all walks of life to meet the needs of the people.
AFFILIATION: With the effort of former Principal Rev. Dr. Bizo, LTC became the 32nd member of Association for Theological Education in Myanmar (ATEM) in 2008. We are seeking to become a member of Association of Theological Education in South East Asia (ATESEA).
LIBRARY: There are only 1500 books at present. These books are donated by our generous church leaders, Gurukul Lutheran Theological College (Chennai), Feed the Mind, and Evangelical Lutheran Mission and individual LTC friends. LTC makes use of MIT library with the permission of her Principal. More books are urgently needed for students and faculty as well.
SCHOLARSHIPS: The college grants the following scholarship for the need-based. 1. Lorrain Scholarship – Our faithful LTC friends contribute for this scholarship program, we accept any amount for this project. 2. MCC/ATEM scholarship -
STUDENTS (2003-2013)" There are 79 students from 2003 to 2013 (one decade) according to the college registration. For the empowerment of Christian leadership, LTC forms the Student Council for implementation of the aims and objectives of the college. President, secretary and other Office Bearers are elected among the students for one academic year. The student body holds at least two mass meetings. They are encouraged to manage their messing, campus cleaning, devotion, choir and music practices, picnic, homage to teachers, birthday celebration as well as condolence service, sports and games, and other social activities. Student council enriches the capacity of student’s leadership.
GRADUATION : Within 10 years of journey, LTC could produce 41 B.Th graduates who are now working pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and social workers.
MISSION TRAINING “To equip our missionaries” is one of our commitments. As the Mara church is sending 80 missionaries to non-Mara speaking tribal people, namely, Khumi, Myo-Khami, Mro, Lemro, Asho and Hletu Mission fields in Southern Chin State and Rakhine State. In collaboration of the Evangelical Mission, we train our missionaries at least once a year.
LTC ALUMINI ASSOCIATION (LTCAA):
In order to maintain fellowship among past students of the college and to foster their interest in the activities of the College, an Alumni Association was formed on March, 2011. Principal Rev. Dr. L. B. Siama made a short speech as to forming the Alumni Association. Rev. Sikhaw (the then Executive Secretary for Education) underlined the importance of LTCAA, Rev. Zodau briefed the nature and duties of Alumni. LTCAA was then formed as follows: President - Rev. Thasie Secretary - Rev. Beirachhô Treasurer - Sayama Mai Khainge
LTCAA is committed: 1.To evaluate and reflect pastoral and social work of alumni theologically. 2.To create deep fellowship among the past students and with present students. 3.To response the needs of the church and society by sharing information and having mutual understanding, mutual trust-building, fulfilling the responsibilities given to Alumni. 4.To pray for Lorrain College. 5.To get involved in fundraise program for the college.
VISION FOR THE FUTURE ;
“Where there is no vision, people perish.” Our vision is our dream to implement in the near future. Myanmar is now marching toward realization of political democracy. This is a challenge for all theological institutes in Myanmar. There are several seminaries in Yangon and the numbers of students are also decreasing. The seminary cannot just offer the courses related to the Bible alone. There must be other alternatives for living-hood for the people targeted. Here are some among many. 1. To continue what are being done for academically and theologically. 2. To open the Master of Divinity for promotion of church leadership and capacity building of pastors and missionaries. 3. To conduct Mission Training at least once a year. 4. To start VOCATIONAL SKILL TRAINING for both Christian ministers and lay-people. Basic Computer Training English Language Study Organizational Management Sewing for Women Trainings related vocations.
LTC Board of Trustees prayerfully invites individually, collectively, and any person to become a FRIEND OF LTC. LTC Friend means: 1. To become a supporter of LTC in terms of giving wise advises, faithful prayer, financial and any assistances. 2. To become a person who has ownership spirit for our College. 3. To inform us and be informed all kinds of news and information necessary and related to the College. All are invited to be partners and co-workers in the vineyard of God to equip the saints for the great commission.
THANKS TO GOD :
It is by the grace of God that LTC could make such long journey till today. We passed through different kinds of hardship and difficulties for ten years of life journey. Yet we were not ruined, rather we are enriched with the knowledge of God. God did send many supporters, prayer partners, wise advocates and colleagues. All activities are God’s actions for us – thus become our story and then history. Today we gratefully give thanks to God for all His bountiful blessings and goodness for us. To God be the glory!
Mara Evangelical Church (MEC) is a member of
- A member of Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC) since 1985.
- A member of Christian Conference of Asia since 1989.
- A member of World Communion of Reformed Churches since 1993.
- An associate member of World Council of Churches since 2001.
- A member of Lutheran World Federation since 2010
As of 2004 the church has more than 17,200 members and almosst 100 congregations in Myanmar in 2004.
According to the recent statistics the church has 21,573 members and 87 congregations and 9 preaching points with 27 pastorates. The denomination has a Theological Seminary and Private Mission Middle School and Center of Maraland Education.
Theologians Holding Doctorate degrees
- Rev. Dr. L. B. Siama, D.Min (Union Theological Seminary, Philippine Christian University)2006
- Rev. Dr. Hc. Bizo, D.Min (Myanmar Institute of Theology, Myanmar)2007
- Dr. Sopai, Ph.D (University of Jerusalem, India), 2012.
- Rev. Dr. Vako, D.Min (Wesley Theological Seminary, USA), 2012.
- Beita, BeiRokhu. "Mara Church History". Maraland.net. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- Vako, Rev. "Mara Chuch History". MEC History. Freewebs. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- Official website of Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC) www.mcc-mm.org
- University of Jerusalem, India official website www.ujglobal.org
- Church website