Ivy, from the Overseas Relations Office of the Chinese Christian Council (CCC) picked us up at the airport and drove us to a restaurant to have lunch with Elder Fu, Pastor Pao and Mr. Oh, Ivy's boss. Elder Fu is the head of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM). TSPM is a Protestant Church in the People's Republic of China. The three principals are self-governance, self-support and self-propagation. In conjunction with the CCC they form the only state sanctioned Protestant Church in mainland China. They are post-denominational, and pastors are trained at one of thirteen officially sanctioned seminaries, with current theological emphasis focused on the five basics tenets of the Christian faith: the Trinity, Christ being both human and divine, the Virgin Birth, and the Death, Resurrection and Second Coming of Jesus (I got most of this explanation from Wikipedia).
TSPM has over 200,000 Christians in Shanghai alone. Over lunch we spoke about Chinese ministry in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and about TSPM's ministry. There are currently about 50% male clergy and 50% female clergy in Shanghai, while other parts of China the ratio still tips more in number of men than women.
We also heard about Elder Fu's dream for the "Red Cathedral". His dream is to tell the story of the Cathedral windows and contents through cards, with pictures on one side, an explanation on the other side to tell the story and act as an evangelization tool. He would also like to see multiple services held every day!
The Red Cathedral was originally an Anglican Cathedral. During the cultural revolution they closed it down and used it as a movie theater, putting in a false ceiling/floor over the nave floor and building office cubicles above. The Cathedral was returned to TSPM and subsequently the offices were returned to TSPM after they petitioned the government. The offices and outer buildings once housed an Anglican boy's school. Here are some pictures of the refurbished sanctuary:
After lunch and after the tour of the Red Cathedral, Elder Fu and I went to his office, and in the lobby I saw the following:
On a large wall. The life of Jesus carved in wood. Beautiful!
Here is Ada Wong-Nagata, Joshua Ng and I speaking with Elder Fu over a cup of tea.
And finally, an exchange of gifts:
Elder Fu will be will be with us at our General Convention. He has invited us back to visit him again in Shanghai, and I exchanged that invitation with him to be in Los Angeles with us as well.
After saying our goodbyes Ivy took us to the train station where we took the train to Nanjing. We are here now resting this evening in preparation for a full day tomorrow!
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