CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 October 2018

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An historic visit to China

BEIJING (AsiaNews): Reverend Olav Fykse Tveit, the secretary general of the World Council of Churches (WCC), has been on what has been deemed an historic trip to China. 
 
Reverend Fyske has been in the country since January 7 together with the WCC president for Asia, Reverend Sang Chang along with the programme executive for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, Reverend Peniel Rajumkar.
 
The visit, which is slated to conclude on January 16, is meant to kick off celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the ecumenical organisation.
 
The intinerary includes a visit to the Chinese Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, but there will be no visits or meetings with unofficial Protestant Churches were not 
 
The delegation was scheduled to visit the East China Theological Seminary in Shanghai and the Xian Shaanxi Bible School. Meetings with the state administration for religious affairs were also on the agenda.
 
In Beijing, Reverend Tveit spoke at the in the Chongwenmen church on January 7, while Reverend Chang is scheduled to speak at the Gangwashi church on January 14. 
 
Chongwenmen church, built by American Methodists in 1870, is one of the oldest Protestant churches in China. 
 
Destroyed during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, it was rebuilt in 1904. Following its closure during the Cultural Revolution, it was reopened in 1980. 
 
Gangwashi church is also an historical building. Built by the London Missionary Society in 1863, it is considered the oldest Protestant church in China and celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2013. It too suffered damage and closure during the Cultural Revolution and was reopened in 1980. 
 
According to Protestant sources, churches in China are flourishing, so much so that sociologists predict that by 2050, China will be the country with the largest number of Christians in the world. 
 
However, many new Christians belong to unregistered Protestant communities and many of the younger generatnion are critical of the government’s Three-Self Patriotic Movement.
 
The WCC recognises that “within three decades, China may be home to the largest Christian population in the world.” 
 
Reverend Tveit said the visiting delegation are “inspired by seeing and hearing what the Church is doing in this country and we aim at an even stronger cooperation from the worldwide fellowship with the Church here.”

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