Mara Evangelical Church
The Mara people (formerly known as Lakher) are an ethnic group whose territory is situated on both sides of the border between India and Myanmar. In 1907 a British missionary couple began working among the Mara. Through their efforts and through the work of local evangelists and a series of revivals the entire Mara people were Christianized by 1960. At the independence of India and Burma the Mara were separated in two groups. In 1967 the church was also organized in two entities: the Evangelical Church of Maraland in India (the larger one), and the Mara Independent Evangelical Church in Burma (now Myanmar). In 1970 a split occurred in the latter, which lasted sixteen years. The break was healed in 1987, with the pastoral help of the Myanmar Council of Churches. The two parts adopted a new name, Mara Evangelical Church, to signify their unity.
The church "holds the faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of the world and worships one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit". It is evangelical in outlook and strongly committed to a holistic ministry combining evangelism and fullness of life. The church is sending evangelists to work among neighbouring ethnic groups. The MEC is ordered according to presbyterian principles. The ministries of elder and pastor have been traditionally reserved for men, but the church is now also encouraging women to assume these responsibilities.
For about ten years now several pastors of the MEC have been able to study in India, the UK and at the WCC's Ecumenical Institute at Bossey. These contacts have led to a strong desire to be part of the ecumenical movement. The leaders wish to break the isolation of the church, partly caused by its geographical location.