Hobart Baptist Church is an international church with people from many different backgrounds, languages, ages, cultures and experiences. We currently have three gatherings on Sundays 10am, 11:45am (Karen language) and 2pm (Church With No Walls) and others during the week. Yesterday those baptised were from our Karen community.
The Karen are a significant part of our diverse church family. Having fled Myanmar (Burma) due to religious and ethnic persecution, over 70,000 Karen have now resettled in various countries including North America, New Zealand, Scandinavia, and Australia. Quite a number of those who have settled in Hobart are an important and integral part of our church.
The Karen are Baptist by heritage for special reasons. Deep within their tradition lies a story of a golden book given to them by God that was either lost or destroyed. Prophecy foretold that one day a white brother would come and reunite them with a copy of the book and the one true God. In 1813, on July 13, America’s first foreign missionary Adoniram Judson and his wife Ann arrived in Rangoon with their Bible and its message from the one true God. Today, 200 years later, the Karen still celebrate the arrival of the Judsons as the fulfilment of the prophecy.
The baptisms taking place today belong to a long church heritage that goes back to Jesus and the early Christians. For our Karen folk there is also a special link back to the faithful witness of the Judsons and many who came after them.
The rich diversity that makes up Hobart Baptist church brings with it much blessing and this morning’s celebration is just one aspect of that richness. Although our vast diversity has its challenges, in a profound way it reflects the very nature of God and the beauty of his creation. For this we have much to be thankful for.
No matter what background you come from, my hope is that you too sense the presence of God, his love and faithfulness, and can experience something of what it means to be part of God’s big, diverse family.