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HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (BP)--Vietnamese Baptists met at Grace Baptist Church in Ho Chi Minh City Jan. 10-11 to celebrate the church's receiving official government recognition and to organize a new national confederation. This historic development is expected to encourage future evangelism and church-planting efforts in the country.
The Vietnamese government made this possible by granting a certificate of religious practice to the church. The 400-member group met to create Grace Baptist Southern General Confederation. It adopted a constitution and elected officers for the new organization, which will organize and represent new churches across Vietnam.
The church sits alongside the main airport road in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Formerly called Saigon, the city was renamed in the 1970s at the end of the war... The church is completing an expansion of its building, prompted by a road-widening project. A new multi-story building is fronted with a dramatic spiral staircase and topped with a cross.
Grace Baptist Church is an outgrowth of Southern Baptist missionary work that began in Vietnam in the late 1950s. Missionaries left the country when the Vietnam War ended in 1975. Since then, the Vietnamese government has not allowed missionary presence.
But that foundational work continued to grow. Today, Baptists are widely acknowledged as the fastest-growing church group in Vietnam. There are now some 5,000 Baptists in 90 congregations in a dozen cities and provinces across the country. Only some of them are allied with Grace, church leaders said.
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