The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s work in the Central Asian country of Nepal this month was recognized as a denominational “mission,” a move up from an “attached field” of its parent division.
Though it’s a small milestone, the subtle distinction represents the Adventist Church’s development throughout an entire country. Only a handful of countries still have Adventist work in beginning stages. The Adventist Church now officially operates in 208 of the 232 countries recognized by the United Nations.
The Adventist Church in Nepal was formerly classified as an attached field to the Southern Asia Division. It will now be known as the “Nepal Section.” The denomination’s administrative structure unit “mission” sometimes goes by different names in various world regions for the sake of clarity in the local context.
There are nearly 8,600 Adventists in Nepal, up from 212 in 1993, according to the Adventist Yearbook.
At a ceremony on September 6, Southern Asia Division President John Rathinaraj held the first meeting of the Nepal Section, saying the church in Nepal had grown.
Umesh Kumar Pokharel, the first president of the Nepal Section, welcomed church officers and 60 guests from other Adventist churches in the country.
Division Secretary Gordon Christo recalled the role of his father, who came to Nepal in 1958 with missionary Dr. Stanely Sturges to establish Adventist medical work.
Much of the Adventist Church's infrastructure in Nepal surrounds Scheer Memorial Hospital in Banepa, located 15 miles southeast of the capital city of Kathmandu. The Adventist-operated medical center was established in 1960.
The Nepal Section, in coordination with the division, now has an elected president. The division will soon coordinate the appointment of a secretary and treasurer. Future development of the section could promote the unit to a “conference,” which means it would be self-supporting, both in nominating leadership and financial self-sufficiency.
The church in Nepal has made small but steady gains in recent years. Membership has increased, and the denomination’s Adult Bible Study Guide is continually translated into Nepali by the country’s first native Adventist Church member. In 2011, the Adventist Church held a major youth rally, with many participants walking several days and riding rural, public buses to attend. Also, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency has run several programs to help exploited children.
Nepal's population is more than 30 million. Formerly a Hindu nation, the Nepalese parliament declared it a secular state in 2006.