Centenary Celebrations
15/05/2019 11:39:09 AM | Ros Gooden and Chris Barnden
​Congratulations to the Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship on reaching their centenary. One hundred years (and counting) of dedicated service!

Experienced cross-cultural workers with big hearts for Bangladesh, Ros Gooden and Chris Barnden, offer an overview of Australian Baptist’s long partnership with the Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship (BBCF) and why this is such an important milestone to celebrate.

In 1882, the first Australian Baptists, Ellen Arnold and Marie Gilbert, were sent out to serve among the predominantly Hindu Bengali communities of East Bengal (now Bangladesh). However, this is not the start of the story of Australian Baptist’s heart for Bangladesh. The story actually began eighteen years earlier in 1864, when Rev Silas Mead of Flinders Street Baptist Church inspired the congregation with stories from William Carey and Bengali believers, which prompted the forming of a society to support local preachers. Therefore, we are actually sharing a 155 year partnership!

1880 brought a Bengali preacher to Adelaide to speak of the great need for Bengalis to hear the Good News of Jesus and the need for Australians to go and share this Good News. Ellen Arnold and Marie Gilbert attended and his message was instrumental in their discernment and response of God’s call on their life. Many, many others followed faithfully in the footsteps of those early pioneers and made their own contribution to the life of the Bengali Baptist churches and the growing maturity of the believers. We give thanks for all of them.

The decades that followed saw Australian Baptist cross-cultural workers establish a hospital, several dispensaries, pastoral training programs and community development work which are now entirely run by Bangladeshi nationals. A conference in 1919 for all Baptist Churches in East Bengal was held to discuss the possibility of establishing a Union, and the delegates voted in favour of this. And here, one hundred years later, with over 500 faith communities, we look back with wonder and praise.

Global Interaction has learnt much from the Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship that has shaped our theology of mission. Decades ago in 1929, Ellen Arnold was convinced that the Bengali church needed to hold increased responsibility for the work without the involvement of foreign cross-cultural workers. Her cry to the Australian Baptist mission was, “You have trusted me, now trust the Bengalis.”

This centenary marks a significant milestone for Global Interaction and Australian Baptists to celebrate. This was the first location where our cross-cultural workers were sent and it has formed a strong foundation for our ongoing ministry. Our vision, to see growing, vibrant faith communities among the least-reached has come to fruition among this community however there are many other communities yet to be transformed by understanding the Gospel in their own cultural context and language. We praise God for His  activity in this community… and pray for Him to do it again and again.

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