US Grant to See Restoration of 19th Century Church Through

By Tin Htet Paing 7 December 2017

YANGON — Restoration work on the 190-year-old Judson First Baptist Church in the Mon State capital of Moulmein will continue thanks to a second round of financial support from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation and help from conservation experts with the World Monuments Fund.

Built in 1827 by Adoniram Judson, an American missionary who spent nearly 40 years in Myanmar in the early 19th century, the church will receive an additional US$100,000 for its preservation. The church received US$125,000 in February 2016 from the same program. The World Monuments Fund aims to use the new grant to complete the two-year project.

Scot Marciel, the US ambassador to Myanmar, will announce the grant at the church on Saturday together with Mon State Social Welfare Minister Htein Linn and the church’s pastor, Reverend David, the US Embassy’s press invitation reads.

With hospitals and community organizations bearing the Judson name, the First Baptist Church represents America’s longstanding engagement with Myanmar, the embassy said in a November statement. It added that the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation has provided some US$225,000 to preserve cultural heritage sites in Myanmar since 2015. In 2013, US$500,000 was awarded for the restoration of the Shwenandaw Kyaung Monastery in Mandalay.

According to the World Monuments Fund, the restoration of Judson’s church will be “an educational opportunity to introduce a cadre of local tradespeople, students and officials to cultural and architectural heritage conservation methods, building skills among Myanmar professionals that can be applied to similar sites in Moulmein and throughout the country.”

In late September, leading members of Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT) — an advocacy group founded in 2012 for heritage protection in the country’s commercial capital — visited heritage buildings in Moulmein at the request of Mon State Chief Minister Aye Zan, who envisions the founding of a local conservation group similar to YHT. He has also asked for technical assistance from YHT for the restoration of other historical buildings in Moulmein.

Besides the First Baptist Church, other significant heritage buildings in Moulmein include a 19th century Buddhist monastery, the 120-year-old Yadanabon Myint Monastery built by King Mindon’s consort Sein Tone, the residence and tomb of the fourth daughter of Myanmar’s last monarch King Thibaw, the forestry office of the Bombay Burma Trading Corporation built in 1897, a cannon built in 1827 featuring the emblem of Britain’s King Edward, and a watchtower built in 1912.