Senior Members of China’s thriving Protestant church are in Australia for the 13th Annual Assembly, taking the opportunity to learn from the UCA’s experience of unity and develop new relationships.
The growth of the church in China is rapid. Although numbers are difficult to estimate, the China Christian Council identifies with some 55,000 congregations and more than 23 million members. The Council is a post-denominational Church, uniting a number of different denominations.
China Christian Council (CCC) President Rev Gao Feng said that the visit is extremely significant because the Chinese Church has much to learn from the Uniting Church experience of unity.
“The church in China is a post denominational church since 1958 and we are developing toward unity.” he said. “However we are not yet united and have met many challenges and emerging problems. We need to have more dialogues with our partner churches, especially with the UCA who have already had so much experience in creating church unity.”
The emerging Chinese church is enjoying increasing respect within society, with government co-operating with the Church to provide much needed social services. The Amity Foundation, established by the church, is the biggest NGO in China and provides care for orphans, the aged and schooling of migrant children.
Amity Foundation also runs the world’s largest printing press which this year printed the 100 millionth copy of the bible. While in Australia, the Chinese delegation have been meeting with UnitingCare and are considering ways to learn from and share resources with the Agency.
Rapid growth of the church has also produced an urgent need for theological training.
“We think this is very important- training for the Church in China is vital and we need to have more dialogues with our partners overseas to discuss how we can support each other in this work.” said President Gao.
Through UnitingWorld, the Uniting Church in Australia is exploring options to support the Church both through development work and volunteering opportunities. Last year’s historic visit by senior members of the UCA, lead by former President Alistair Macrae has set the scene for a partnership that will be of significance to both countries.
“We think this is an impressive trip from which we can learn a great deal,” said President Gao. “The church in China is developing quickly but experiences many challenges and we would like our brothers and sisters in the UCA to remember us and our church in their prayers.”
An interview with the President and General Secretary of the China Christian Council may be accessed through SBS radio online after 9:30pm on Sunday. The following link is the website: