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Mobile mission church reaches local Vietnamesecomment (0)

January 4, 2001

By Anthony Wade

Vietnamese Baptist Mission (VBM) in Mobile has been reaching local Vietnamese for about 15 years.

The mission met for several years at Moffett Road Baptist Church, Mobile, before moving to its current location.

While Vietnamese could conduct worship in their own language with their own pastor at Moffett Road Baptist, the church sat far from the fishing town of Bayou La Batre.

This is a population center of Vietnamese 25 miles or so to the south; hence only part of the Vietnamese in Mobile County could attend the Sunday morning worship services. The Vietnamese pastor would travel to Bayou La Batre for an afternoon worship service.

In order to more centrally locate and unite the population into one service, the mission moved two years ago to Hollinger’s Island Baptist Church (HIBC) on Dauphin Island Parkway. This brought the mission within about 12 miles of Bayou La Batre, while keeping it accessible to Vietnamese living in Mobile.

According to VBM pastor Hoang (Paul) Huynh, the Vietnamese services are distinctive, providing cultural and lingual identity in Christian worship.

Baptist churches in Mobile County embrace and have members from different ethnic groups, so the exclusivity of the Vietnamese and other missions/ churches is by choice for those individuals.

At the mission, Vietnamese find a special worship and fellowship identity, especially when it comes to their native language.

Vietnamese pastor Huynh and HIBC pastor James Mercer recently discussed how the two entities work together, yet remain distinctive.

“Paul and I work together. I generally will come in and help greet the Vietnamese as they come in to worship and it’s been my joy to preach to them four times in Paul’s absence,” Mercer said.

“Everything’s completely in Vietnamese, but they do the order of service things pretty much like you’d find in most Baptist churches.”

The goal of the mission is to have its own church building within about five years. Currently, there are about 55 Vietnamese attending on Sunday mornings.

The mission meets for worship from 9:30 until 10:30 on Sunday morning in the HIBC sanctuary, then proceeds to Sunday School at the church facility. Meanwhile, the HIBC congregation has had Sunday School and proceeds to worship in the sanctuary at 11:00 a.m.

The primary advantage of having a Vietnamese congregation unto itself is language.

“Not too many Vietnamese  adults understand English well enough to go to American churches, and also the customs are different,” Huynh said.

Huynh said some Vietnamese who are members of American churches sometimes visit at the Vietnamese church to renew their identity with their home culture.

“We still have new people come from Vietnam, and we try to reach out to them by meeting them at the port and have some basic gifts for them,”  Huynh said.

Huynh’s ministry often takes him out of the pulpit and beyond the walls of the church, as he works for the Mobile County Court system as a translator, and teaches anger management classes.

Other ethnic congregations that are also under the auspices of the Mobile Baptist Association are Spanish, Korean, Cambodian, Laotian and Arabic.

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