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A celebration of Faith marks 150 years of Church establishment in Garo Hills

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TURA, Feb 2: The gospel seeds of faith that were sown 150 years ago in Garo Hills continue to produce a harvest, a century and half later, as the Garo Baptist Convention began its historic four day Sesquicentennial Jubilee at Bethel A.bri (hill), 34 kms from Tura, on Thursday, marking a phenomenal celebration of the connection between the Almighty and his people.

With hearts filled with joy and bearing witness to this once in a lifetime religious event, thousands of Baptist devotees from across the length and breadth of Garo Hills and beyond have begun arriving at the religious venue since the celebrations of the sobha or gathering took off on Thursday evening.

Elaborate preparations have been made to host the largest gathering of people for a religious festival in the Garo Hills and organizers are expecting lakhs of people for the Sunday forenoon church service on February 4th with the faithful from as far as Assam, Nagaland and beyond.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma along with his cabinet colleagues are also expected to attend the Sunday church service at Bethel A.bri when Rev Dr Raja Singh Elias, General Secretary of IEM preaches the Gospel to a sea of humanity that will congregate for the final time to mark the closing of the celebrations.

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President of the Garo Baptist Convention Sundarsingh A Sangma on January 31st evening opened the Sesquicentennial Jubilee before a large crowd of devotees who were treated to a stupendous musical performance by the jubilee choir.

“Our first ABDK Sobha was held 150 years ago in Goalpara, Assam. Today, this celebration is not just for Baptists but entire people of Garo Hills and we welcome all denominations to this wonderful event. Celebrating 150 years is not just about the history of the Baptists but the A’chik (garo) tribe’s socio-cultural transformation that took place from those times and we fondly remember them all and give thanks to our almighty,” said Sundarsingh A Sangma on the eve of the celebrations, this week.

A host of religious leaders and pastors, besides GBC president Sundarsingh A Sangma, have been addressing the religious gatherings since January 31st, including Roderick D Shira, former president of GBC, Robinson M Sangma, former president of the youth ministry of GBC, Rev. Teseng G Momin, former pastor of GBC, Shillong, Rev Dr Wetterfield R Marak, former pastor of Tura Baptist Church and lady reverend Wirollinda Ch Marak, Secretary of GBC.

The highpoint of the jubilee begins from today, February 3rd afternoon that falls on the eve of Sunday service, when the crowds will swell in their thousands and donning the traditional Garo attire to the jubilee.

The Vice President of Asia Pacific Baptist Federation Rev Dr A K Lama is going to address the religious gathering on Saturday afternoon, followed by Rev. Dr Chakme Ch Marak, Assistant Professor of Harding Theological College, the same evening.

Mrs Jaksil A Sangma, former director Women’s Ministry, GBC will be the main speaker on Sunday morning.

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Record crowds of devotees are expected to congregate at the jubilee for the Sunday forenoon service that will have lead speaker and General Secretary of IEM Rev Dr Raja Singh Elias preaching the gospel.

The Garo Baptist Convention or GBC is one and a half century old umbrella organization of Garo Baptist churches of Meghalaya, Goalpara and Kamrup districts of Assam.

It is also known as the A’chik Baptist Dal’gipa Krima (ABDK) in garo.

The annual ABDK sobha or religious gathering used to be previously held at different Krimas or churches of the Garo Baptist Convention. But in 2023 the Bethal A.bri was made the permanent site for the sobha. However, once every five years, one Krima will be selected through rotational basis to host the sobha.

The GBC represents over 2600 churches including 309 mother churches with nearly 400,000 baptized members and approximately 200,000 unbaptized members.

The Garo Baptist Convention was established in the year 1874.

Organizationally, the Garo Baptist Convention has grown to one of the largest Baptist Conventions under Asia Pacific Baptist Federation and Baptist World Alliance.

Had it not been for the gospel of Christ, the head hunting and fierce Garo tribe was facing the prospect of being annihilated as a tribe from the face of the earth by the British regime.

We praise God Almighty for showing us the light of salvation through his son and our Lord Jesus Christ and thus paving way for spiritual, educational, socio-economic transformations of the garos. Indeed, “Great Things He has done” Psalm 126:3- the theme for the jubilee and truly a befitting gratitude for the arrival of Christianity in the region.

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