In late March this year, I attended the inauguration ceremony of a new church building and a retreat in East China’s Zhejiang Province. I took this opportunity to visit several local churches in Xiangshan, which left a deep impression on me.
During the dedication service for Holy Grace Church in Yalinxi Village, Xiangshan County, Ningbo City, Rev. Jin Da from Xiaying Church in Ningbo preached a sermon titled "Blessed Is Joseph", citing Genesis 49:22–26. When Israel gave blessings to his twelve sons, Joseph received the most special and richest blessing. Rev. Jin reminded believers to have a good relationship with Jesus Christ, rely on the Holy Spirit to make disciples of all nations, and spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.
In the inauguration ceremony, Rev. Huang Weiguang, former president of the Xiangshan Christian Council (CC), introduced the history of Xiangshan Christianity and the construction of Grace Church.
A church in Xiangshan was founded in 1860, and by 1950, there were two thousand believers. From 1952 to 1978, though the church closed due to historical reasons, the number of believers increased. When the church reopened, Xiangshan had 7,000 Christians. In 1982, the Xiangshan Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) was established, and later 18 churches were approved to be established. Today, Xiangshan has 48 churches and three gathering places.
Rev. Huang explained that it was not easy to build Holy Grace Church. They purchased land in 2011 and tried to apply for the building of a church. After many twists and turns, the construction was started in 2021, and they moved into the new church in September 2022.
Before the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, believers in Yalinxi all gathered in Daxu Church. After the resumption of gatherings in 1979, they set up a meeting point in Yalinxi Village. Later, in order to build a church, Daxu Church mobilized believers in Yalinxi to gather in Daxu. In 1997, the new building of Daxu Church was completed. Later, to facilitate the gathering of believers, a meeting place was set up in Yalinxi, separated from Daxu Church. And now it has become a fixed place for worship as a new main building has been constructed.
During the retreat on March 22–23, Rev. Jin Da and Rev. Xu Lei from Ningbo International Church delivered sermons.
On the evening of the 22nd, believers presented many kinds of performances, including hymns, dances, a comedy sketch in the local dialect, a Nativity play, and recitations.
During and after the meeting, through exchanges with many pastors and visits to local churches, I learned that many local churches focus on small groups and discipleship to fulfill the Great Commission. According to a pastor, there are pastor retreats jointly held by several local churches to protect the spiritual lives of pastors and rekindle their ministry passion. The local CC&TSPMs arrange for pastors to give sermons in churches in Xiangshan, which often learn advanced experience from churches in Ningbo City through activities and exchanges. Local church volunteers with a commitment to online ministry strive to learn relevant knowledge, establish the church's online ministry, and help other churches build network platforms with technical assistance.
In 2007, the magazine "Manna" was published by Xiangshan CC&TSPM, with Rev. Huang in charge of the section "Cleaning the Dust of History". From then on, he began to collect the testimonies of local pastors and evangelists. After retiring, Huang sorted out the history of 51 churches in Xiangshan.
- Translated by Abigail Wu