World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit and a WCC delegation will visit member churches in China 7-16 January. The historic visit will begin the celebration of the WCC’s 70th anniversary. 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.
In Beijing, the general secretary is going to preach in Chongwenmen Church, on 7 January on the theme “Jesus Christ, the joy of the World.” 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.
Tveit emphasized the significance of this visit: “This invitation to visit our member churches in China is highly appreciated and received with great joy widely in the WCC and the ecumenical family. It’s a historic journey in many ways, and comes as a follow up to the meeting of the Executive Committee in 2016. I am eager to meet more representatives from churches, particularly students and youth who represent the church of the future. “
Tveit added: “As we begin the year of the WCC’s 70th Anniversary in China, we show that the WCC is a living fellowship with a rich legacy now active and open for the calling of the ecumenical movement in the 21st century.”
He said also: “China has the world’s largest population and is very significant partner in addressing the global challenges of our time. The church in China has a very significant role in shaping the Christian witness and service in our time, both in China and in the global fellowship.”
The WCC Executive Committee visited China 17-24 November 2016. The visit was hosted by the China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. This was the first meeting of a WCC governing body in China. Since the 7th assembly of the WCC in Canberra in 1991, the China Christian Council has been a full member of the fellowship of the WCC.
Within three decades, China may be home to the largest Christian population in the world. Since China opened up to the world in the late 1970s, tolerance for religion has gradually increased, and religious life prevails in China and the numbers of baptized Christians in China have grown significantly. WCC leaders acknowledged at the executive committee meeting evidence that China has experienced enormous economic growth over the last decades of peace and stability in the country.
“Millions have been lifted out of poverty by this growth, raising renewed hope of the possibility of eradicating the most extreme forms of poverty globally,” said Tveit. “In addition, we noted with appreciation China’s example and leadership in ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change and in scaling up its investment in developing renewable energy.”
Tveit and the rest of the Executive Committee expressed their gratitude at seeing and hearing about the witness and diakonia of the churches in China.
“We have been greatly impressed by the churches’ outreach to people of all ages, the commitment to ecumenical and interfaith relations and cooperation, and the scale and breadth of the social services provided by the churches and their institutions,” Tveit said in 2016.
Now he expresses the expectation for this visit: “We will be 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.”
Please contact WCC director of communication Marianne Ejdersten:firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 79 507 63 63
WCC Executive Committee meets with China Christian Council, Three-Self Patriotic Movement (WCC press release of 25 November 2016)