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United Methodist church opens in Nepal

2/5/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York

NEW YORK (UMNS) - An indigenous couple has founded the first United Methodist church in the predominantly Hindu country of Nepal.

Devi and Karuna Bhujel also are missionaries with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, according to the Rev. S T Kimbrough Jr., a board executive.

Kimbrough and another board executive, the Rev. David Wu, attended the Jan. 19 dedication of the new church building in the village of Tanmuna, about a 45-minute drive from the city of Biratnagar in eastern Nepal. The tiny country is located in the Himalayas, between India and China.

For many years, United Methodist missionaries have worked ecumenically there through the United Mission to Nepal, particularly in the area of medicine and health care, and will continue to do so. But the work of indigenous missionaries such as the Bhujels represents "a new kind of outreach to the Nepali community," Kimbrough said.

With financial support from the Board of Global Ministries, the Bhujels entered the master's degree program in theology at Trinity Theological College in Singapore, graduating in 1999. It was during that time, according to Kimbrough, that they became interested in Wesleyan theology and the idea of introducing such theology in their own country.

The Tanmuna church, which seats about 200, was built by the villagers, largely out of their own resources, he said. Pastors from the nearby Lutheran and Baptist churches were among those participating in the dedication.

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