On 7th January 2019, Rev. Shan Weixiang, vice president and general secretary of China Christian Council (CCC), received a delegation from British and Foreign Bible Society and the Church of England led by deputy chief executive Paul Thomas Woolley and Bishop of Kensington Graham Stuart Tomlin. Staff members from CCC introduced the delegates the status quo of the church in China, theological education and Bible publication ministry. Both sides friendly shared their respective experience on the development of church and had an in-depth conversation over the opportunities and challenges both sides had.
Rev. Shan Weixiang presided over the welcome ceremony and extended warm welcome towards the delegates. He mentioned that there has been a long-lasting friendly relationship between CCC and British and Foreign Bible Society that cooperates and supports each other. He also expected further communication with the Bible Society.
Deputy chief executive Mr. Woolley expressed his gratitude towards the warm welcome the delegation received, and affirmed the healthy relationship with the church in China since 1900s. He said that the delegation was willing to communicate with CCC in terms of global opportunities and challenge facing the church.
Bishop of Kensington and president of St Mellitus College Mr. Tomlin said that St Mellitus College is the old friend of the Bible Society and both felt grateful to see the increasing number of Christians in China. This visit aimed at learning relevant experience from the church in China and shared the successful patterns of theological education in St Mellitus College.
Rev. Shan Weixiang introduced the delegation current state of the church in China. There has been a steady and healthy progress in the church in China since the reform and opening up (in the late 1970s). The church has long been committed to theological education and pastoral care. These years saw changes in the age structure as well as the rural - urban distribution of the believers. From 1990s, the church began to focus on social service and make effort in building good public image of the church. At present, challenges arise from the growing secular trend, the lacking in in-depth pastoral care training, heretical harassment and so forth. In responding to these, efforts and measures are made in combating problems. Under the guidance of Rev. Lin Manhong, associate general secretary of CCC and director of Theological Education Department, Liu Song, a staff member of the Theological Education Department, present to the delegation the basic work of theological education ministries including the programs of the theological seminaries in China, the reconstruction of theological thinking, the indigenization and contextualization of the Christianity in China and so forth. Staff member Chen Hongli from Media Department introduced the Bible publication in China and current challenges.
Bishop Tomlin then shared a few positive outcomes from adjusting the mode of teaching in the seminary. For example, St Mellitus College tries to deepen the relationship with local churches and allows experienced pastors to tutor the practical activities of the theological students in church. This enables theological students to think ahead of time and helps cultivate their ability of church governance when it comes to better guiding believers and doing pastoral care. Therefore, it is possible to see an increase in the number of theological students and the revival of the church.
In the end, both sides exchanged gifts and took group photos in a friendly atmosphere.