August 20, 2016

Restoration proposal for Judson’s First Baptist Church to be submitted to American Embassy

Judson’s First Baptist Church in Mawlamyine. Photo: Myitmakha News Agency
Judson’s First Baptist Church in Mawlamyine. Photo: Myitmakha News Agency

AFTER conducting an early preliminary study on the World Heritage Site listed 188 year-old First Baptist Church, located in the Mon State capital of Mawlamyine, a proposal for building restoration will be submitted to the American Embassy to Myanmar this coming December, it is reported.
A number of difficulties to repair the church’s walls, floorboards, roofing were discovered during the start of surveying in January of this year, which included areas of termite damage. It is known that, when a fund for repairs be granted by the embassy, areas of damage will be given priority, while a domestic body of professionals will be formed to take responsibility for the long term conservation of the building.
“We unexpectedly discovered two areas of asbestos in the roof of the church during our preliminary study. Asbestos will be released into the air should they be destroyed. As breaking up the asbestos could lead to cancer, we’ll call in expert to systematically remove it. It will incur rather a great expense. We’ll report both the damaged parts of the church and the asbestos issue to the embassy. The asbestos will be systematically removed so that it can act as an example for the destruction of asbestos in construction around Myanmar.” said Jeffrey Allen, program director of the World Monuments Fund (WMF).
U Kyi Shein, abbot of the First Baptist Church, explained the church was surveyed by a team of experts from America and other countries after he received a letter of correspondence from the American Embassy in Yangon during August 2015 which informed him that the church had been inscribed on the list of World Heritage Sites after historical proof was discovered, revealing the church as the oldest place of Christian worship in Mon State.
The church was constructed by American missionary Judson in 1827. It was built reportedly using natural resources local to the region, while its design showcases a blend of both western and Mon cultural Beikthano handiwork. This project is actually the second such initiative to be carried out in Myanmar by the American Embassy and American WMF organization, the first being efforts working together with Myanmar experts to preserve the Mandalay Palace.—Myitmakha News Agency


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