On November 2016, China became the host of the World Council of Churches' (WCC) Central Committee for the first time.
World Council of Churches, one of the three biggest world Christian associations, has 348 member churches from 110 countries, aiming to bring all churches into one association through universal fellowship, cooperating witnesses and Christian's public service.
The Chinese church's two sessions magazine Tianfeng interviewed some executive committee members about their impressions and reflections on Chinese churches and the ecumenical movement.
According to the Director Manager of WCC Pastor Olav Fykse Tveit,
WCC has many experiences in bringing churches together. It helps a church to see himself as a member of the global fellowship in joining the cause of building a better world. I hope WCC keeps improving itself so that it may help churches to see their difference from each other, which not only brings value to individual churches; but, also inspiration for exploring the future of humankind in a country and in the world.
The Chinese Church takes an important role in the WCC; because, it has many churches in a populous world. It is significant for Asian churches and churches around the world due to its big scale. On this trip to China, we saw the passion of the Chinese Church, who also sent a message to churches around the world that the church can overcome difficult times to grow and attract the younger generation. We saw clearly the fact Chinese Church, having born a good testimony for the Lord in public service, has a great potential in this aspect.
Shortly after the foundation of the WCC, the Chinese Church joined it and became officially a member in 1991. Afterwards, the Chinese Church developed a good relationship with the WCC and other member churches of the WCC. It can build more relationships in the future. Fortunately, each year, Chinese students come to Sweden to study and we hope to see more teachers and professors to come as well. You will find out that we always consider the needs of Chinese Church in the development of the WCC's ministry.
In China, I was inspired by the churches I visited and their believers. I saw and heard your testimony. Your worship service, your Gospel message and the Bible you are reading are important. You inspire churches around the world. We need you and hope to cooperate with you more.
According to Peter Nigel Prove, the Director of WCC's Committee of Internationship Relationships and the coordinator of the peace-building program:
I have come to China several times, and the Chinese Church's growth impressed me deeply not because of its increase of believers only. It participated in the society doing public service, which is inspiring. I think that was Chinese Church's beautiful testimony borne in the post-denominational period, a realization of the dream of one world.
Each church can contribute to the cause of ecumenical movement simply by joining WCC and offering its own unique perspective. The Chinese Church's growth has shown its strength in the world. The China Christian Council, a part of WCC, which connects with the current new world and the new societal reality, teaches us how justice and peace could be realized in the world.
I am grateful for our friendship, your participation and your sharing. I am also grateful for your openness and honesty so that we can have dialogue together. We will share with each other more.
For Pastor Sharon Watkins, a member of WCC's executive committee and the director of USA and Canana's Churches of Christ.
This is my second time to China. I saw the wonderful fellowships of churches. I admire the Chinese Church's post-denominational situation, which is the direction of USA's churches. As companions on this path, the Chinese Church can provide help and guidance to us. I visited the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall and felt that we are internally connected with each other since our churches are of Christ. Jesus told us that we are one family although we speak different languages and live in different places. Let us walk together to learn from each other on this path of justice and peace!
For Agnes Abuom, the president of WCC's central committee, and the executive director of the organization TAABCO Research and Development Consultants.
It was my first time to China. I felt excited. I would like to share with my friends three things. First, Chinese friendliness and passion. Second, the vigorous Church life. Young people coming to the church makes it living. Third, after visiting the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, I was reminded that we need to fight for justice and peace.
My vision for ecumenical movement came from the post-denominational Chinese Church. We see different churches joined together in China. I hope we can learn from it.
China produces more Bibles than any other part of the world. I hope that we can have more cooperation with each other to bring the Bible God's word to Africa where people long to have Bibles. I still remember that China needed donation of Bibles decades ago. It is amazing that it produces the greatest number of Bibles now. I hope that WCC can work together with China to contribute for the development of global Christian institutions. The Chinese Church growing constantly can provide many experiences; because, you are the greatest church in the world. You inspire us to move forward and renew our faith.
According to Haile Mariam Melese Ayene, a member of WCC's executive committee and a teacher of Ethiopian seminary:
It is my first visit to China. I think the Chinese Church and its worship are great. It is good to see the young generation attend the worship and pursuing life of faith. Chinese people are great and friendly. Thank you!
For Pastor Henriette Hutabarat-Lebang, a member of WCC's executive committee, the president of Indonesian church of Christ association:
I have come to China when I was the General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA). Chinese people's faith, their commitment and understanding of the Bible impressed me deeply. Here, people have one mind and love each other in the church. The Chinese Church has done a good job in public service, not just internationally, but also domestically. Believers also donate to Church's ministry in public service.
I visited the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall and I was shocked. I think everyone should learn to live in the globalizing world, respecting people of different faiths and background, which make the world rich. We should build a community of peace and justice, going beyond our own circle, and not just think about ourselves.
For Dr. Matthew George, WCC's consultant and the General Secretary of CCA.
I want to tell the world the significance of coming to know the Chinese Church; because it developed quickly. Over the past 23 years of my work, I have been watching it and have come to China 40 times. I began associating with the Chinese Church when Ding Guangxun was the leading pastor. The Chinese church grows very fast.
I visited the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall. It was history, a heart-breaking history. I have also visited similar places like Massacre Memorial Hall in Cambodia, and Jerusalem. Japan's invasion hurt Chinese people's heart, making us feel sad.
I think the Chinese church and its believers should have more dialogue with other Asian churches to join the WCC's work.
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, a member of WCC'S executive committee and Office Director of Armenian Apostolic church, said:
My trip to China was great. The hotel, transportation and people I metcouldn't be better. I am grateful for the Chinese Church's leaders' invitation. They are wise, responsible and capable. I will share with my friends about this beautiful country, Chinese people and church.
I have visited China a few times, both personally and when I was with a group. I saw the change in this country and the cities that people's living standard has been improved tremendously. Compared to the China I saw in my first visit in 1988, it has changed completely.
I visited the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall. I felt so sad for I was also a victim because our nation has also been attacked by such violence. I cannot forget the pictures in video tapes in the memorial hall. They brought me back to 1915 when 1.5 million Armenian Christians were butchered, almost two third Armenians lost their life and nearly 90% Armenian land was taken. When I was visiting the memorial hall, I felt that such violence happened again. In 1937, in Nanjing, within 6 months 300 thousand innocent people were killed, which we could not allow to happen. What was worse was the perpetrators did not acknowledge their guilt or showed their regret and remorse. Only the fascist, nationalistic horrifying states could commit such crime. They should take the responsibility to face these crimes. I said it because they denied such bloody history. They must bravely admit, "Yes, we have committed the crime" and apologize. Wherever I go, I will tell people the truth of history.
In the memorial hall, I was given a commemorative badge on which the picture looks like "Do not forget me", which made me tear up. I could feel your pain because I have experienced the same suffering. I hope nobody suffers like this. I hope that Japan and Turkey would admit their crimes. I also prayed to God, asking God to give them courage and wisdom.
Christianity is a religion of love about the completeness of humanity. Every Christian is a member of the family of Christ. I would like to tell people "Come, Join us and love each other and worship God together."
To Dr. Audeh B. Quawas, a member of the WCC Central Committee and member of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, he remarked:
I came to China five years ago because of my church ministry. In this visit, I saw many changes in China. I went to Nanjing Amity printing company and saw many printed Bibles in different languages. I think nobody would imagine these Bibles came from China.
In the Chinese Church, I saw many young believers everywhere. If you come to my church, you will see only seniors. I hope we can have more dialogue and communication with each other. Although the majority of people believe in the Eastern Orthodoxy from where I am, on the path to holiness and unity, we can talk with each other. You should visit our church. China has many opportunities in the world and I hope we can receive China's help in the cause of local peace.
I would invite Chinese Christians to come to my country to know Christian's life. Unjust things are happening in our land and we need your support and help.
To Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Vice-Moderator of the WCC Central Committee and the episcopacy for the United Methodist Church, she said:
This is my second visit to China. A few years ago, I came here as a member of the Global Ministry of the United Methodist Church. I also went to Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing last time. I attended a worship service in Shanghai, while this time I went to Nanjing's St. Paul' s Church. It is very special for me to worship God there. With so many believers in the church, though our languages are different, I feel myself being familiar with the worship procedures as if I were in my own country. It made me want to praise the Lord.
I think the national CCC&TSPM in China is a good example for other churches in our effort to bring the world into one in Christ. Your post-denominational Christianity is an excellent example. I love WCC because different churches can join here to create fellowship with each other and to worship God together, as well as to dedicate to advance the ministry of gospel in spreading peace and justice. I hope that the WCC can bring churches into one as Jesus prayed in the last supper. I think we can become good partners. Pursuing justice and peace, we have visited many member churches around the world, come to understand their ministry so that we may know what effort we can make together in the path to justice and peace. It is good to see so many young people in the growth of the Chinese Church, which can serve as good examples for other churches to learn.
I visited the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall and was touched deeply. I am grateful that we could offer flowers there, showing the victims that we miss and remember them. I saw the pains and destruction wrought by the Massacre, hoping such things would never happen again for every child is precious as God's child. I realized that many places visited by WCC witnessed cruel massacre, murder, nationalism, hatred, harms, violence and religious attacks. We need to work continuously to bring peace to the world, to end using nuclear weapons, proclaiming our responsibility and mission. This trip to China let us feel our commission.
I was ordained as a Methodist pastor in 1973 by a Chinese, who went to San Francisco from China and became the bishop in Seattle in 1972. He is still with us and he is very important for me. I want to say that my connection with the Chinese Church has had a great impact on my life; it is my blessing. I hope that we can bless each other. I want to tell everyone, "We need to be courageous and strong, keep studying and love God and neighbors so that we can live in love. It is God's promise which will be realized."
According to Rev. Dr Micheline Kamba Kasongo from Democratic Republic of the Congo, a member of WCC's central committee:
I have a good impression on China and the Chinese people are hospitable. I will tell my church that there are many Christians in China. In Congo, many people may think there are no Christians in China. Furthermore, I will tell my friends that the Chinese Church is doing great ministry.
I was deeply touched in the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall because it reminded me of what we experienced in Congo. In the East of Congo, more than 2 million people were butchered; but, nobody cared about it while the state was silent. I said to myself that one day, I would build a memorial hall in Congo to commemorate the women, children and other victims in massacre.
The trip to China helps me a lot. Chinese people work hard, give importance to team work so it is an economic power in the world. Faced with many challenges, we need to learn from you.
The WCC's central committee members come from different countries, some of which come to China often, some visited China for the first time but all of them blessed and showed great hope in China, Chinese people and Chinese Church. Gathered here, love intersects here. I think this is a fellowship of love in unity.— THE EDITOR.