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9-17-14 Kansas-Nebraska Conference Celebrates the Incorporation New Karen Company of Believers
by John Treolo
Communication Director
Kansas-Nebraska Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Some of the members of the new Omaha Karen Company. Photo: Virgil Covel  
For two decades, from 1915-1934, Dr. Eric B. Hare and wife, Agnes, served as missionaries in Burma, sharing the gospel message and baptizing many in this country. Burma has seen more than its fair share of wars since then, both external and internal. Even the name was changed to Myanmar by the new government in 1988. Statistics from the United Nations reveal there are 6-7 million Karen (pronounced Kur-in) people around the world; many of their villages have been destroyed. Several hundred thousand have been living in refugee camps in Thailand.

In 2006, the U.S. began allowing resettlement of a limited number of Karen refugees in our country. According to Kansas-Nebraska Conference President Ron Carlson, there are three cities in this conference welcoming these refugees: Omaha and Lincoln, Neb., and Garden City, Kan. “Estimates suggest there are 5,000 Karen people in Omaha, with more arriving each month,” says John Sweigart, vice president for administration. “Nearly 100 of these are Adventists; many are direct descendants from the baptisms long ago by Dr. Hare.”
  John Sweigart, Sah Kler, pastor of Omaha Karen Company, and Ron Carlson display the Omaha Karen Company Charter. Photo: Virgil Covel

At camp meeting, a special offering was announced to fund a part-time pastor. The goal of $12,000 was to be matched by conference funds of an equal amount. More than $18,000 was received on Sabbath at camp meeting, with the additional $6,000 going to establish a building fund. Sah Kler, who was trained as a Bible worker in a refugee camp in Thailand, has been hired to pastor the Omaha Karen Company.

During the organization service, prayers and praise were expressed by the more than 100 Karen adults and children present. “This new company has a goal of bringing 10-20 new members into the group each year,” adds Virgil Covel, ministerial director. “Our conference celebrates the incorporation of this new company of believers into the sisterhood of churches.”

Learn more about the Adventist Refugee and Immmigrant Ministries, which is part of the Multilingual Ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
9705 Patuxent Woods Drive
Columbia, MD 21046-1565 USA
Telephone: 443-391-7200
Fax: 443-391-
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