An eight-member delegation from the China Christian Council (CCC) and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) discussed the theme “Issues Facing the Church in China and the U.S.” with representatives of the American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) at the ABCUSA Mission Center in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
The meeting took place on September 22, 2016, and was hosted by the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chan, area director for East Asia, China and India for American Baptist International Ministries (IM).
“We need your prayers. We face many challenges,” remarked the Rev. Feng Gao, president of CCC, to his ABCUSA hosts during the reception. Among the challenges that Feng noted are ongoing dialogues with leaders of Confucianism to resolve conflict and “restore peaceful harmony in our conversations.” He also noted the CCC’s efforts to improve ecumenical relations and to deal with heresies that arise.
Feng was profuse in giving thanks to ABCUSA and IM for their long history of support to the church in China in ways, he said, are too numerous to mention. “Our friendship began a long time ago,” he said. Feng especially noted the ABCUSA support for the successful presentation of two Bible ministry exhibitions by the Chinese Church in New York City and Washington DC in recent years.
The TSPM in China is the largest church grouping in the nation. Principles guiding the movement include being self-governing, being self-supporting and accomplishing self-propagation free of dependence on outside influences.
CCC and TSPM are the two organizations that provide support and networking to Protestant churches in China. Their work includes supplying millions of Bibles, hymnals and pieces of Christian literature to churches in China; coordinating and supporting more than 55,000 churches and meeting points; managing 21 theological seminaries and Bible schools with over 1,800 enrolled and over 9,000 graduates; supporting 3,700 pastors (including 1,000 women, 5,500 elders and 27,000 evangelists) and more than 150,000 lay pastors and Christian leaders; and promoting a positive Christian influence on society through witness and social services.
Representing ABCUSA at the reception were leaders from several organizations located in the Mission Center, including IM, the American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), ABCUSA – Office of the General Secretary and American Baptist Women’s Ministries (ABWM).
The Rev. Sharon Koh, IM’s chief executive officer; Chan and the Rev. Dr. Stanley Slade, IM associate executive director for Program and global consultant for Theological Studies, welcomed the delegation. Virginia Holmstrom, executive director of ABWM, presented gifts to the delegation on behalf of ABWM. Representing ABHMS were the Rev. Dr. Marilyn P. Turner, associate executive director of Missional Life and Leadership, and the Rev. Florence Li, national coordinator for Intercultural Ministries and Asian churches strategist in the U.S.
Ken Marsenburg, ABCUSA’s director of development, presented a welcome in the place of interim general secretary Susan Gillies. “I welcome you on behalf of our ABC family with its 5,000 churches that are a vital part of the body of Christ,” Marsenburg said. “There are wondrous things occurring in our churches today.” Marsenburg noted that he had recently learned that one third of the pastors in China are women. “We have a ways to go to catch up!” he said.
In addition to Feng, the Chinese delegation included the Rev. Weimin Tang, vice president of the CCC and chair of the Henan Province TSPM; the Rev. Ming Gao, associate general secretary of the National TSPM; the Rev. Dr. Manhong Lin, associate general secretary of the CCC and dean of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary; the Rev. Tioanyuan Chen, chair of the Anhui Province TSPM; Elder Enlin Ou, director of the Overseas Relations Department of the CCC and the TSPM; the Rev. Ying Fang, reporter for the Media Department of CCC and TSPM; and Meiying Shi, secretary for the Overseas Relations Department of CCC and TSPM.