From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Chinese Christians bring strong message of hope

Date 18 Apr 2000 15:37:49


Chinese Christians bring strong message of hope

by Marie Panton

     (Episcopal Life) Last month, at a breakfast meeting hosted
by the Episcopal Church Center, Han Wenzao, president of the
China Christian Council (CCC), gave an update on church
growth in China, expressing an urgent need for a younger
generation of church leaders to maintain international
ecumenical relations.

     Participants included representatives of the Asian American
Ministries offices of several parishes and the Diocese of New
York, church center staff members and a representative of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

     "My goal here is to further strengthen the relations,
partnership with the United States," said Wenzao. "This is an
opportunity for the younger generation to be exposed to partner
churches in the United States because we want to continue
ecumenical relations."

     Wenzao said a visit from the Rev. Patrick Mauney,
director of Anglican and global relations, and the Rev. Brian
Grieves, director of peace and justice ministries, in November,
will help to strengthen partner relations. "Their presence in our
church and country tells much of the universal church and its
ecumenical relations," said Wenzao. "We can learn and share with
each other. ... They can see what's happening with their own eyes."

     Mauney agreed with Wenzao about maintaining contact. "We
have not had an official delegation from the Episcopal Church to
China for many years," he said. "The China Christian Council
represents the part of the church that deals with missionaries.
We respect its new reality as a non-denominational church,
but I believe it's important that we continue to have an important
relationship to nurture," he said.

     The CCC, a non-denominational group, has been in
partnership with the Episcopal Church for about 20 years,
primarily through the council's Amity Foundation, which allows
missionaries into China as teachers. The foundation, established in
1985, has projects in 29 of China's 32 provinces. The six-member
delegation came to the United States by invitation of the
Presbyterian Church.

     The Rev. Insik Kim, the Presbyterians' associate for East
Asia and the Pacific, said it was long overdue.

     "It has been 20 years since the council was formed. We felt
that inviting them [the delegation] to have dialogue to see what
has changed both in China and here would give us a common under
standing, engaging in a common task for mission," said Kim.

     Wenzao said China's Protestant Christians number 14 million,
"20 times as many as in 1949," whereas China's population has
only tripled over that period. There are 13,000 churches and an
additional 25,000 "meeting places," 18 theological seminaries with
more than 3,100 trained seminarians. Since 1980, 26 million Bibles
have been printed, 23 million by the Amity Printing Co.

     But the church is not without its challenges. "There are not
enough pastors," Wenzao said. "We need to train as many
personnel to be pastors, preachers, theologians, Christian
writers and musicians, specializing in Christian management
and ethics."

--Marie Panton is editorial assistant on the staff of Episcopal Life.

For more information contact:
Episcopal News Service
Kathryn McCormick

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