Friday, 4 December 2009

Churches in China and Taiwan hold talks

On a visit to Beijing five years ago

Patrick Comerford

In its World News Feature page, the Church of Ireland Gazette today [Friday 4 December 2009] carries a report headed: “China Protestant group meets Taiwan Church representatives and global Evangelical body.”

In his report from Hong Kong, Francis Wong of Ecumenical News International (ENI) reports:

‘National leaders of mainland China’s officially-sanctioned Protestant Church grouping have made their first visit to the National Council of Churches in Taiwan, while a delegation from the World Evangelical Alliance has travelled to Chinese cities to meet Protestant Christians.

‘The leaders of the State-approved China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) attended a 13th-14th November academic forum organized by the Taiwan Church Council and the Methodist Church in Taiwan.

Methodist Bishop Enoch Kuey told Ecumenical News International in a 17th November email that the forum in the capital, Taipei, aimed to “dissolve misunderstandings” between the Churches in Taiwan and in mainland China.’

The feature continues with detailed analysis of the present state of the Church in China and in Taiwan. The Church of Ireland Gazette then adds its own report:

● Canon Patrick Comerford, the former chair of the Dublin University Far Eastern Mission, who has visited China regularly, told the Gazette: “These developments are very welcome. Official figures may vastly underestimate the number of Christians in China. As China emerges as a world power, it is important to encourage the Church in China as it builds relations with the wider Church in an open and generous spirit.”

He added: “The large number of Chinese Christians in Ireland are also a pressing need for our pastoral care. If we can empower and enhance them, then the Church in Ireland can play a major role in enhancing the mission of the Church and of Christians in China.”