THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH, SHILLONG 

Historical Background 

       Different Christian denominations were established in the 1800s in the Assam Province during the British Raj, and many followers were found in the hill districts of the province, namely, Khasi & Jaiñtia Hills, Garo Hills (now Meghalaya), Lushai Hills (now Mizoram) Naga Hills and Tuensang Area (now Nagaland) and in the Brahmaputra Valley as well.  Shillong was then the capital of the Assam Province, and continued to be so even after independence.

       J F Ashlock was the first Seventh-day Adventist missionary to be sent and posted in Shillong in 1934.  Prior to the arrival of the Ashlocks, there were regular colporteurs who visited Shillong as well as the tea gardens in the plains of Assam.  The earliest recorded visit was made by F O Raymond in 1913.  Periodically thereafter, visits to Shillong from the Mission Office in Calcutta (now Kolkata) were made by Pastors Wilson, Wyman, Wellman and Raymond.

       Miriam, the wife of Mr Hardinge, an officer in the Survey of India, stated that her husband and herself were converted in Calcutta through the efforts of a lady colporteur.  In 1915, Hardinge was posted to Shillong and was appointed as the officer in charge of the Assam Survey and Traverse Party.  As there  were no Adventist believers or church in Shillong at that time, the Hardinges did their best to witness and had special worships every Sabbath in their home.

Hardinge was known as the Sahib who neither smoke, drink nor eat meat, and who kept the Sabbath as his holy day.  He printed the first Adventist tracts in the Khasi vernacular (at his own expense) with the help of Mr E E Dorum (an Anglo-Khasi) who was baptised in 1928.

Before leaving Assam on retirement, the Hardinges sold their house in Shillong and turned in the proceeds to the Mission towards a fund to establish a school.  This contribution helped establish the Assam Training School (now the Northeast Adventist College), Thadlaskeiñ, Jaiñtia Hills.

Pr & Mrs L J Burgess, after their retirement from the Mission service, came to Shillong in 1931, with the aim of settling down in Shillong. Sadly for them, on account of ill health, they had to abandon the plan, and returned to California, USA in 1934.  The hard work of the Burgesses was rewarded with the baptism of Mr & Mrs R E Rajee.

Because of the urgent need and the requests of the few Khasi believers, the Mission approved to send Pastor and Mrs J F Ashlock to take charge of the work in Assam.  They were to establish their post in Shillong, the provincial capital of Assam.  The Ashlocks arrived in Shillong in 1934.  They quickly learned the Khasi language, and very soon, by 1936, could conduct Sabbath School as well as preach in Khasi. Pastor Ashlock, with the help of Mr Rajee and others, conducted evangelistic meetings in Shillong town, as well as in other districts of Assam, particularly in the Jaiñtia Hills and Garo Hills District.

       In 1937, Pastor and Mrs O W Lange were sent to assist Pastor J F Ashlock in evangelistic meetings.  The Langes left Shillong shortly thereafter, only to return in 1939.  The Ashlocks and the Langes were responsible for the establishment of the Seventh-day Adventist Mission and its growth not only in the district of the United Khasi & Jaiñtia Hills, but their activities had much influence and resulted in the growth of the Mission in other districts of the province.

       The first mission property was acquired on 02 December, 1937, when Mr K Adhikari, the Extra Assistant Conservator of Forest, Assam, sold his 44,000 sq.ft. of land at Laitumkhrah, to the Seventh-day Adventists for Rs.8,800=00.

On 4 June, 1938, the company of 25 baptised believers were organized into a church though they had no church building yet.  With this the Adventist Church in Shillong became the first organised church in the province of Assam (now aften termed as Northeastern India).

In the same year, F H Loasby, the Superintendent of Northeast India Union reported that the Southern Asia Division had appropriated Rs.7,000=00 for the church building in Shillong.  In 1939, Loasby came to Shillong to initiate the work on the new church building, amidst the uncertainties of  inflationary prices, on account of World War II, and the little that they had in hand.  Extra funds of Rs.2,500=00

which came from the brethrens abroad was a big help.  God blessed their efforts and the church building was completed.  A plan was also made to create a set of rooms in the basement to be used for a church school, by taking advantage of the height of the columns/pillars of 8 to 10 feet, which supported the church building.

       The church building was dedicated on 01 March, 1941.  Below is the original detailed programme:

ORDER OF SERVICE

PRELUDE                                                              Mrs.C A Boykin

THE DOXOLOGY

KA JINGRWAI IAROH

Jingkyrkhu na U Blei ngi ioh,

To ngin ainguh їa U baroh;

Iaroh phi ruh ki angel khuid,

I’U Kpa, Khun, bad Mynsiem Bakhuid.

INVOCATION                                                     Mr R E Rajee

ANNOUNCEMENTS                                          The Pastor

OFFERTORY                                                        For British & Foreign Bible Society

HYME NO.361 Christ In Song [No.1 Khasi Booklet]

SCRIPTURE READING 1 Kings 8:22-30, 54-61        Mr S K Mawplang

PRAYER                                                                Pr O W Lange

SOLO                                                                       Pr J M Steeves

SERMON                                                                Pr N C Wilson

DEDICATION PRAYER                                    Pr F H Loasby

HYMN NO.406 Christ in Song [No.27 Khasi Booklet]

BENEDICTION                                                    The Pastor

POSTLUDE                                                            Mrs C A Boykin

J F Ashlock

Pastor

Today the original church building still stands and continues to be a blessing to all who worhip within it.  It has grown old.  Originally constructed to accommodate about two hundred odd worshippers, it can no longer meet the need of over six hundred fifty baptised members and their children, their grandchildren and visitors, too.

The time to construct a new church has come.  The church members with the inspiration and support of Elder Jimmy Ashlock, the son of J F Ashlock, are working toward building a new church building in Shillong.

– Source:   Pr L F Lyngdoh,
President,
North East India Union of SDA,
Shillong