Khasi Hills Partnership Will Feature on May 5th Share the Plate

Apr 2, 2024 | Beacon, Justice, Khasi, News

We in the Khasi Hills Ministry Team are excited that East Shore’s partnership with Unitarians in the Northeast of India will be featured at the upcoming Share the Plate event on May 5.  Rev. Morgan McLean, who heads the UUA’s international partnership program will present.  We will learn how the UUA is using inclusive methods to redefine our faith’s approach to international partnerships.

We also thought it would be helpful to tell East Shore’s friends and members some basic information about our partnership.

First off, who are the Khasi people?  The Khasis are an indigenous people living on a high plateau between Bangladesh and Bhutan.  The Khasis live in an autonomous state in India called Meghalaya with other indigenous peoples.  The Khasis are related ethnically and through language to SE Asian peoples.

Why are there 10,000 Unitarians in this remote hill country of NE India?  For over 140 years, there has been a thriving and growing union of Unitarian churches in the Khasi Hills.  At that time, their founders created a new religion based on a mixture of traditional and progressive values.  When they discovered British and American Unitarianism, they chose to call themselves Unitarian and associate with international Unitarian churches.

How did East Shore get involved in a partnership with Khasi Unitarians?  In the 1990s, our emeritus minister, Rev. Dr. Leon Hopper, became a founder of the modern UUA partnership movement.  He and other East Shore members traveled to visit the Khasi Unitarians.  We formed a church-to-church partnership with the Unitarian churches of Kharang and Smit, a village and town, respectively.

Why does East Shore focus on education?  The short answer is because we were asked to!  In early visits to Kharang, the Khasis participated with us in Community Capacity Building workshops.  The Church Council of our partner church in Kharang then asked East Shore to focus on education, and to help them build an English-medium primary school.  Watch this 5-minute video for perspectives on why education is so important to them and the history of the Friendship Unitarian School of Kharang.

Is our Khasi Partnership still thriving? Yes, definitely!  Over time we have built up an enormous amount of trust, mutual understanding, and ability to cooperate to achieve great goals together. Our relationships have never been stronger, and we are in constant communication through WhatsApp, Facebook, and regular conferences.

What are you planning for in 2024?  After the May 5th Share the Plate, our focus will turn to raising funds to support seven teachers’ salaries at the Friendship School.  We do this by holding a community-wide rummage sale in East Shore’s sanctuary called Trinkets and Treasures (July 19-20th).  It’s a lot of fun and helps East Shore members clear out their closets!  We also have a student sponsorship program for over 20 of the most economically challenged students in the village.  Our East Shore sponsors have one-on-one relationships with these young students.  Exciting news: East Shore’s Youth Group is starting to plan a visit to the Khasi Hills in the summer of 2025!

All of these programs are exciting and serve others.  We gain so much of value from our association with the Khasi people. Please attend the May 5 service to learn about why this partnership is a precious asset to East Shore, and to provide your moral support to our hard-working ministry team.
– Doug Strombom and Barb Clagett