VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 5/21/18)—On May 16, 2018, the Burma Refugees Commission of American Baptist Churches USA, along with representatives of the various organizations within ABCUSA, welcomed the Republic of the United States Ambassador of the Union of Myanmar, U Aung Lynn, to ABCUSA’s Mission Center.
Ambassador Lynn, the Ambassador’s wife, Daw Kay Thi Kyi Win and Embassy First Secretary, U Swe Sett, took tours of International Ministries (IM), American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), and ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary (later in the afternoon).
The Burma Refugees Commission hosted a time of official introductions and welcomes. Ambassador Lynn brought greetings and gifts to those present from Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counselor of Myanmar. Greetings and gifts were also given by Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, General Secretary, ABCUSA; Rev. Dr. Jeffery Haggray, Executive Director, ABHMS; Rev. Jim Bell, Associate Executive Director, IM; Rev. Gina Jacobs-Strain, Executive Director, ABWM; Rev. Dr. Saw Ler Htoo, Executive Secretary, Karen Baptist Churches USA; Burma Refugees Commission; Rev. Dr. Maw San Awng, Chairperson of Kachin Baptist Churches, USA; Burma Refugees Commission; Rev. Dr. Biak Hlei Mang, Chairperson of Minister’s Council of Chin Baptist Association North America; Burma Refugees Commission and Rev. Dr. Roy Medley, Emeritus General Secretary, ABCUSA. Rev. Florence Li and Rev. Leslie Turley, both of the Burma Refugees Commission, coordinated the gathering.
Following a luncheon, the group participated in an open dialogue to discuss ABCUSA’s concerns and thoughts about Myanmar. Both General Secretary Spitzer and Ambassador Lynn highlighted the unique historical ties between Myanmar and American Baptists, which began with the missionary work of Adoniram Judson over 200 years ago. American Baptist leaders expressed the common hope of a more peaceful and united Myanmar and advocated for respecting the civil and religious rights of all of Myanmar’s minorities (Christian and Muslim). The Myanmar diaspora, now a part of our American Baptist Churches family, spoke of the deep ties we share and their concern for the welfare of their people in Myanmar and refugee camps. Following the dialogue, Ambassador Lynn and Dr. Spitzer concluded the visit with a private conversation, in which the General Secretary reiterated ABCUSA’s commitment to civil and political rights for all people. The day’s proceedings ended on a positive note, with hopes for further dialogue and discussion.