High up in the North East area of India, above Bangladesh and below Bhutan, there are approximately 10,000 Unitarians, the third largest Unitarian community in the world. Unitarianism started here in the 1880’s when one young man, named Hajom Kissor Singh, after converting to Calvinism, had too many questions for the missionaries. He made contact with others from the United States with similar beliefs and celebrated the first Unitarian church service back in 1887. Today, there are 37 Unitarian churches and fellowships in the state of Meghalaya; nine of these are partnered with churches in the United States. Most churches run Unitarian schools up to at least level four, and most of these schools are free and open to all children regardless of their religion. This is their social outreach to the community.
The 37 churches are united with the Unitarian Union of North East India (UUNEI). It is basically a volunteer-run organization with only two full time paid ministers who receive a small salary for the administrative work that they do. The many hardworking ministers and church visitors who each serve several congregations are only reimbursed for their travel expenses.
This remote area in India is exquisite with peaks, gorges, waterfalls and orchids, and the people are warm and welcoming. Unfortunately, all is not idyllic here. Most of the people live well below the global poverty level of one dollar a day. Most villages have no running water, and in some villages, the people walk miles each day for their daily water supply. 77% of the children in this state drop out of school before the 10th level, because they are needed by their families to work in the fields. The health care system ranges from poor to non-existent.
These wonderful people long for our contact and friendship, but they also need our help and support as they struggle toward a better way of life for themselves and their children.
Please consider a first or second partnership in India. At present, there are seven US congregations with partnerships in Transylvania as well as India, and two with only one partner. There are 10 more Indian churches looking for partners. These partner church relationships are truly congregation–changing experiences!