The visit to China will begin the celebration of the World Council of Churches (WCC) 70th anniversary. In Beijing on 7 January, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit preached in Chongwenmen Church, on the theme “Jesus Christ, the Joy of the World.” Dr Tveit brought a greeting from the living fellowship with 348 member churches worldwide.
Chongwenmen Church, is one of the oldest Protestant churches in China, built by American Methodists in 1870. In 1900, the church was destroyed in the Boxer Rebellion and then rebuilt in 1904. The church was closed during the Cultural Revolution, and it was reopened in 1980 and a point of reference for thousands of Christians. They celebrate five worship services every Sunday with many young participants. Today came approximately 1 000 to the worship service to pray together.
Tveit said, in his sermon, “We are called to share the good news of God’s love and God’s peace for all people, whoever they are, whatever people they belong to.”
Tveit especially mentioned in the sermon the role of the churches in China and the WCC, protecting children and peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula, in the Middle East and Colombia.
Tveit said: “The first word about Jesus Christ was a word of joy. It is indeed a joy to visit you here in Beijing in this season of Christmas, when we celebrate this joy. In this world of today, we need something that really can unite as human beings in a sustainable joy across all borders.”
“The light is coming to the world…To be human, and the dignity even in its most obvious vulnerability as a newborn child, is affirmed by God. We have all been created in the image of God.”
He added: “Now the message from heaven is for all the people. The care for human beings should be the same for all of us, because we all have the same needs and rights for protection.”
“The ecumenical movement is built on the perspective for “all the people”. The joy of Christmas is at the heart of the work and the call of the World Council of Churches as we now, on this day of Christmas, and here, in Beijing, China, begin our celebration of the 70th anniversary of the WCC,” said Tveit, and continued, “This joy of Christmas can continue to bring us together as churches and as human beings, in a world that is both able to improve and still very divided and fragmented. Even if many have been brought out of poverty, like in your country, many people in the world are still suffering from poverty, uncured illnesses, conflicts, fear, loneliness, even hopelessness.”
Tveit also mentioned the role of churches in China. “We continue sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with all the people. Among the very good news in the family of the World Council of Churches has been the news about the life and the growth of the church in China. Your Christian witness, during and after very difficult times for your church, has given hope to many in the world.”
Tveit concluded his sermon by reminding people about the different conflicts going on in the world. “The joy of Christmas is a word to all who live without peace. In these days you live with the risk of war in your neighbor countries in the Korean Peninsula. The people of Korea have been in our prayers and our attention for a long time and particularly the last months. As a World Council of Churches, we share their fear and their faith in the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. This year we will also give special attention to the peoples of Latin-America and their needs for peace, particularly in Colombia.”
“In this time of Christmas, we are particularly reminded of the need for a just peace of our sisters and brothers and of all peoples in Bethlehem and in the Middle East.”
WCC visits China
World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit and a WCC delegation visits member churches in China 7-16 January. The WCC delegation, in addition to Tveit, includes WCC Asia president Dr Sang Chang and Rev. Dr Peniel Rajkumar, WCC programme executive for Interreligious Dialogue.
The delegation will visit Shanghai and meet with the China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, as well as with the leadership and students at the East China Theological Seminary. They will also travel to Xi’an and visit Shaanxi Bible School and Jing Xin Church. Dr Chang will preach on 14 January in Gangwashi Church. The WCC delegation will also meet with Chinese religious leaders and representatives from the State Administration for Religious Affairs in Beijing.
Please contact WCC director of communication Marianne Ejdersten:firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 79 507 63 63