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Indian Baptist educator breaks stained-glass ceiling
Published on 30 Dec. 2010 12:17 AM IST
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A Baptist leader and educator is poised to break barriers as the first woman ordained as a pastor by a Christian denomination in her northeast Indian state.
The Telegraph of Calcutta reported that leaders in the Baptist Church of Mizoram will ordain 65-year-old R.L. Hnuni as a pastor next month. Hnuni is principal of the regional convention’s Bible school, the Academy of Integrated Christian Studies in the state capital of Aizawl.
Mizoram is a small state in far northeastern India, bordering Myanmar. Its population is 90 percent Christian, with Presbyterians and Baptists comprising the largest denominational groups. British missionaries introduced Christianity in the area in the 1890s, and the faith grew rapidly. The Baptist Church of Mizoram claims about 130,000 members -- nearly a sixth of the state’s population. The group retains close ties to the Baptist Union of Great Britain and its missions arm, BMS World Mission.
Protestant denominations in other parts of India -- the largest of which were formed from unions of Anglican churches with other Protestant denominations following India’s independence from the United Kingdom -- have ordained women for decades. But conditions are different among the many ethnic tribal groups in the country’s mountainous northeastern corner. According to The Telegraph, no other denominational group in Mizoram has ordained a woman to church leadership. “The entry of a woman pastor in the strictly patriarchal society of the Mizos is a notable event,” the paper said.
Hnuni has served as head of the institute since 2001. Previously, she was a theology professor at Eastern Theological College, a Baptist school in Jorhat in the nearby state of Assam.

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