Habecker Mennonite Church
Habecker Mennonite Church is not just for Karen people. We offer hospitality to people from any language or race. We worship mostly in English and Karen, but we also have people who speak Spanish and Burmese in our congregation. We love music, and we love to worship and fellowship together. On weekends we have extra worship services in people’s homes that are mainly in the Karen language. There are other places Karen gather to worship, but Habecker is considered the hub in Lancaster. – Mu Kaw, worship leader
Pastors Chris and Dawn Landes partner with Karen church leaders, Htoo Gay and Mary Win, who organize the worship services that are mainly in the Karen language. We work together as a congregation in different languages, but we have the same heart. We love each other and care for each other. – Mya Ray, lay leader
The Karenic languages are spoken primarily in the coastal areas of Thailand and in the lower regions of Burma. There are three main Karen languages and many dialects spoken by some seven million people around the globe. The main types are S’gaw (pronounced Skaw), Western Pwo Karen, and Eastern Pwo Karen. It is generally held that the Karen languages derive from the Tibeto-Burman group of the Sino-Tibetan language family, so there may be ancient Chinese links. Languages of the Karen group have been greatly influenced by the languages of the Thai and Austro-Asiatic families.
S’gaw is spoken by over one million people in Burma and Thailand. Generally, S’gaw is the more common language as a lot of Pwo Karen also speak S’gaw. Only a small percentage of Karen speak Thai. Jonathan Wade, an American Baptist missionary, created a written script for Karen using the Burmese alphabet about 1830.