TODAY -

State's oldest church appeals against illegal use of its name, logo
Source: Chronicle News Service / R Lester Makang

Ukhrul, December 05 2023: Phungyo Baptist Church (PBC) has fervently appealed to a local church to cease illegal use of its nomenclature and logo in the interest of protecting its spiritual legacy and upholding the age-old history of being the 'Mother Church' in the entire state of Manipur.

The deacon board and trustee board of the PBC made the earnest appeal during a press conference held at its office, Tangrei in Hunphun village, Tuesday evening.

Briefing the media on the matter, PBC associate pastor Seth Ragui said that PBC officially became the first Baptist church in Manipur on September 29, 1901 when 12 first Christian converts were baptised by American Baptist missionary reverend William Pettigrew.

"There were no any other church establishments anywhere in the state during the time and being the first; it became the Mother Church in the entire state of Manipur.

The name Phungyo was given by Rev Pettigrew and was derived from the name of its location as Phungyo in Tangkhul means beautiful mount," he said.

The name Phungyo was officially adopted in 1916 and since its establishment at the Phungyo mount, it has been a source of spiritual guidance and fellowship for the local population for over a century, he explained.

However, a group of its members had seceded from the church back in 2008 and established a new church under the same nomenclature without any permission at Tahao in the same village.

"We have learnt that the group is now using the name and logo of PBC without any legitimacy for an upcoming event.

We say this is illegal and we appeal to them to cease the act immediately in the larger interest of the PBC which is the Mother Church of not just Hunphun but of all believers in the state," Ragui pleaded.

He reminded all members to be grateful to God for the blessings of Christianity and western education and not to create division and confusion among the members which goes against God's will.

"As Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Prince of Peace - our Lord Jesus Christ, approaches, we believe no one creates anything to disturb peace.

We wish everyone a peaceful Christmas," he added.

Attending the press meet, PBC trustee board chairman Ngachan Raleng, secretary Asung, former pastor Matthew Mung and deacons Rumchumshai Rumthao and Wormi claimed that the church stands firmly behind the truth of the PBCs establishment and God stands witness to its century-old history.

According to the PBC leaders, Rev Pettigrew had instructed to found the church in the Phungyo mount and to call it Phungyo Baptist Church.

"This name has since become synonymous with the church and nas been used to refer to the church since its founding.

The name is so deeply entrenched in the church's history that the church takes seriously any attempts to use it elsewhere, " said Raleng.

They said that all members adhere to the fact that the name PBC has only one true history in God's record and that any other history, of distortion, is unacceptable.

Rumthao pointed out that just as chieftainship of any village is not transferable, the church's name which is intrinsic to the Phungyo mount cannot be taken away.

"With the passage of time, the population was growing and it became necessary for additional churches to be built.

As such, the Hunphun Baptist Church (HBC) and Viewland Baptist Church (VBC) were established, with each taking the name of its location.

When these churches were established, they weren't meant to overshadow or replace PBC.

Instead, the whole idea was to offer greater access to worship services for members living in other parts of the village," Raleng explained.

"We believe in giving respect to the church and its legacy and history.

So we have no issue with establishment of new churches and even though people attend different churches, we still consider all our own members," he said.

Meanwhile, the Manipur Baptist Convention (MBC) has, in a letter addressed to Tangkhul Baptist Churches Association and Phungyo Baptist Church, clarified that Phungyo Baptist Church, Ukhrul is the first church founded by reverend William Pettigrew based on the records available with the convention.

It stated that Phungyo Baptist Church was founded on September 29, 1901 with the conversion arid baptism of 12 male individuals by reverend William Pettigrew and became the organised church from February, 1902 .

"The MBC acknowledged the church under pastor reverend Zaklei Kaping, Phungyo Baptist Church, Ukhrul of the Tangkhul Baptist Churches Association as the first and mother church of Manipur," stated general secretary, MBC Reverend K Losii Mao in the missive.


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