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News » Releases » Vietnam Mennonite Church formally legalized “Mennonite Six” released, but eight more are in custody
 

Vietnam Mennonite Church formally legalized
“Mennonite Six” released, but eight more are in custody

   

November 28, 2008
- Dan Dyck

Winnipeg, Man. — The Vietnam Mennonite Church has met all the requirements for full legal status, reports Mennonite World Conference (MWC) in a Nov. 24 release.

MWC reports that on Nov. 15-17 an official, government approved General Assembly of the Vietnam Mennonite Church was held in Ho Chi Minh City. Over 200 participants gathered, with 188 recognized as official delegates representing 6,123 believers. The full MWC story can be found at www.mennonitechurch.ca/tiny/823.

Despite the progress, Pastor Nhien Pham of Vancouver Vietnamese Mennonite Church reports that there are currently eight Mennonites in custody in Vietnam. Some were arrested for religious activities, some for human rights advocacy. On Nov. 17, over 100 Vietnamese Mennonite leaders sent a petition to government officials appealing for the release of the eight detainees. There has been no response so far.

In 2004, Mennonite Church Canada became aware of government destruction of Vietnamese Mennonite Church property. Several church leaders were arrested and imprisoned. Reports of beatings and torture followed. The Mennonite Six, as they became known, have all since been released, reports Nhien Pham, a representative of North American Vietnamese Mennonite Fellowship (NAVMF).

“Relatively, they are healthy and serving the Lord with much freedom, though some still have lingering health problems,” wrote Pham in recent email correspondence.

Mennonites in Canada advocated on behalf of the Mennonite Church in Vietnam at the time by sending support letters to Canadian and Vietnamese government officials, and by holding prayer vigils. The denomination also sent an advocacy letter to Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Phan Van Khai and Canada’s Ambassador to Vietnam, Richard Lecoq.

Mennonite Church Canada continues to support the Mennonite Church in Vietnam with training for pastors and church planting work through the North American Vietnamese Mennonite Fellowship.