The Bendigo Karen Seventh-day Adventist company (Bendigo, Victoria) was officially organised as a church on Sabbath May 1, 2021, with a total 121 founding members.
A special service was held in the afternoon, attended by Victorian Conference president Pastor Graeme Christian, conference secretary Pastor Craig Gilis, ministerial secretary Pastor Justin Bone, Pastor Darren Croft, Bendigo Adventist Church minister Daniel Maher, Bendigo Karen Adventist Minister Eh Paung and Werribee Karen Pastor Nan Myat Kyaw, who all helped to officiate the service.
During the program, office-bearers were elected—including a treasurer, secretary and elders—with all nominees agreeing to the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist church before being accepted into their roles unanimously by the Karen church members.
According to church elder Michael Moowahshi, the first Karen refugees from Thaliand arrived in Bendigo in 2008. “There were only three Karen families in the community that year. In 2009, three more Karen Adventist families arrived and joined the Bendigo Adventist Church.”
From 2009 until June 2015, the Karen members worshipped with the main English-speaking Bendigo Adventist Church, before deciding to create a church plant and worship in their own language, in a separate building. In July 2018, they formed an official church company.
With dozens of baptisms and more than seven babies born in the past three years, the church is thriving. During COVID-19 last year, their membership continued to grow when nine online groups were created to facilitate online small groups and church programs via Zoom.