People’s Republic of China
A Saturday in China
John McCall, mission worker in Taiwan, taught a 2-week class in Spiritual Theology at Jiangsu Seminary. He writes about the exploding church in China and the hunger of the Chinese "for the living water that only Christ can give." In a visit to rural Bin Hai he preached altogether to 7,000 people.
The church in China is "independent and autonomous, post-denominational, fast-growing, and faced with lots of challenges and emerging difficulties"—Rev. Gao Feng, president of the China Christian Council
Christianity was first introduced to China in 635 A.D. by Nestorian missionaries from Persia. The Protestant missionary movement began in China in 1807. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission work began in Ningpo (1843) and continued until 1949, when all foreign missionaries left China.
A new relationship has been established with the China Christian Council in a spirit of equality and mutual respect. The new beginning of interchurch relations between China and the rest of the Christian world is set in the context of the determination of the Christian churches in China to be free from unsolicited outside influences. They have not invited missionaries to return to China. Christian leaders in China have emphasized the principles of self-government, self-support and self-propagation in order to preserve the integrity of the church and to guarantee that the door of the gospel might remain open.
The church in China is experiencing a new unity in Christ and describes their church life as “post-denominational.” They are determined to nourish this newfound unity in the face of potential fragmentation. Yet, at the same time, the church recognizes the rich diversity of the various traditions and communions out of which they have come.
Since 1979 the number of churches has increased dramatically. There are over 50,000 churches and “meeting points” open for public worship, among which more than 70 percent are newly built. The total number of Protestant believers is estimated at 20 million.
The China Christian Council has intensified its theological education work to meet the growing demands for more church workers. Eighteen seminaries and Bible schools have been opened since 1981 and by July 2001, more than 4,000 seminarians had completed their training. By September 2000 there were more than 50 provincial training centers and the number of lay leaders who had received training once or more than once has reached to over 500,000.
Since 1980 over 30 million Bibles have been printed and distributed throughout the country. The China Christian Council supervises more than 70 Bible distribution centers. More than 14 million copies of the new hymnal have been published and distributed for use throughout the country. The hymnal has more than 400 hymns, one-fourth of which are indigenous Chinese hymns.
The Amity Foundation was started in 1985 at the initiative of Chinese Christians. By the end of 2000 it had projects in 31 of China’s 32 provinces and autonomous regions. Many of the projects are among the country’s minority population.
The PC(USA) works in China through mission personnel and partner church relationships. PC(USA) strategic priorities are:
Strengthening of theological education and leadership training in China.
Equipping pastors and lay leaders with Christian literatures.
Support for reconstruction of Chinese theological thinking.
Building of mutual trust and confidence.
The PC(USA) also joins the Christian community in China in ministries that include:
Amity English teacher program
Chinese Bible and hymnal printing in Nanjing
Special education and rehabilitation programs for handicapped children
Rural development projects
Church building projects
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Statement on Relations Between the Christian Communities in China and the United States was adopted by the General Assembly in Atlanta, June 1983.
A current issue: The China Christian Council supports the “reunification” of China, believing Taiwan is part of China mainland. The position of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is that it relates to the churches in both China and Taiwan as our partners and promotes peace and reconciliation through dialogue.
China Partner Churches and Organizations
The China Christian Council/Three-Self Patriotic Movement (CCC/TSPM)
The China Christian Council was established to represent Christian churches in China in a post-denominational context. It is committed to maintaining church fellowship and unity in China, spreading the gospel, and providing social services to those in need.
The Amity Foundation, with offices in Nanjing, China, and in Hong Kong, was established in 1985 as a nongovernmental organization (NGO). It was created at the initiative of Chinese Christians, who continue to serve on its board. Because it is a Chinese organization, Amity can offer a genuine partnership with Chinese professionals who have a vision for meeting the needs of disadvantaged members of Chinese society. Christians from more than a dozen countries, including the United States, have joined hands with the Amity Foundation to promote friendship and understanding and to contribute to Amity’s efforts in rural development, education, social welfare and Bible printing.
The Amity Foundation:
Contributes to China’s social development and openness to the outside world.|
Makes Christian involvement and participation in meeting the needs of society more widely known to the Chinese people.
Serves as a channel for people-to-people contacts and the ecumenical sharing of resources.
Huadong Theological Seminary
Minority Ministries in China
Hangzhou Theological Seminary
Nanjing Union Theological Seminary
- For information contact Walter Conser
The Presbyterian China Network is among more than 40 mission networks that connect Presbyterians who share a common mission interest. Most participants are involved in mission partnerships through congregations, presbyteries or synods. Network members come together to coordinate efforts, share best practices and develop strategies. See the webpage of the Presbyterian China Network.
Learn more about People’s Republic of China
Visit the BBC country profile