Guwahati: The Assam Government has directed a 162 year old First Baptist Church here to hand over its premises to the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority GMDA for construction of a multi-storeyed car parking lot. The Council of Baptist Churches is North East India, CBCNEI, also has its headquarters here.
A CBCNEI delegation submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on 14 March 2007, demanding revocation of the government order issued by Revenue Secretary S Thadou.
The Baptist Church, officially known as the War Memorial Chinch, was established in 1845 by Reverend Cyrus Barker, while the CBCNEI is the largest Baptist group in South Asia with 10 lakh [One Million] members. The CBCNEI was founded in the Nineteenth Century by pioneer American Baptist Missionaries like Miles Bronson, author of the first Anglo-Assamese dictionary, and others who championed the cause of the Assamese language when the British introduced Bengali as the official language of the region. The American Baptist Mission which arrived in 1836 AD brought out the first Assamese newspaper Orunudoi [Sunrise] in 1846 AD.
Emerging from Good Friday service, Pastor Aziz-up-Haq described the order as an attack on religious minorities and said it had come at a time when the Centre was talking about minority welfare. Apart from Assamese, Christians, Hmars, Nagas, Khasis and other ethnic communities also worship regularly in either in the main church building or at the adjacent Louis Memorial Hostel auditorium.