Image via WikipediaIt is easy to assume Chinese Christians are cut off from the rest of the world. For example, it is true they were unable to visit the Global Christian Forum in 2007. However, they have firm links with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and have been members since 1991.
On Monday, a seven member delegation from the China Christian Council (CCC) visited the WCC. This was the fourth such meeting since the CCC was founded in 1980. Details of the meeting can be found on the WCC website. Here is a brief summary of the topics covered.
While analyzing religious policies and church-state relations, the delegation expressed the common opinion that "this is a golden era for the development of religions in China". The church in China is engaged in various means of promoting a "harmonious society" in China. The Rev. Kan Baoping explained that religious communities in general and the Protestant church in particular have experienced rapid growth in China over the last 30 years. He said that having moved beyond denominational divisions was one reason for the church's vitality, partly because Chinese culture puts more emphasis on commonalities than on differences.
Rev. Zhang Shuilian, vice-chairperson of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant church, said that Christians generally had a good image in today's China. This is due to their response to societal needs, for example by collecting donations for the victims of the 2008 earthquake in China's Sichuan province, she added. Zhang said that urban churches often had special programmes to welcome migrant workers, while in rural areas church life was important to fill the gap experienced by the elderly and children who were left behind as other family members went to seek employment in the cities. Encouraging stability in family life, she continued, is one way in which Christianity and other religions cooperate in the government’s policy aimed at maintaining a "harmonious society". Robust interfaith relations also support this goal.