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Russian evangelicals visit China in search of partnerships

Members of the Russian Evangelical Alliance traveled to Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing to meet leaders of the China Christian Council.

FUENTES Russian Evangelical Alliance AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus 08 DE MAYO DE 2024 12:49 h
The Russian Evangelical Alliance delegation (with secretary general Vitaly Vlasenko, fourth from the right) with members of the China Christian Council in Beijing. / Photo via REA.

The leader of the Russian Evangelical Alliance (REA), Vitaly Vlasenko, led a small delegation of evangelical Christians in what they have called a “historic” visit to meet Protestant leaders in China.

Between 12 and 18 April, the group representing a slice of Russian evangelical churches (there are Russian denominations and churches which are not part of the REA) travelled to the Asian giant after being invited by the China Christian Council (CCC), with which they had been in communication over the last seven years.

The first stop of the trip was Shanghai, where the Russian evangelical delegation met with the CCC’s president, Reverend Wu Wai, who underlined “the importance of maintaining and developing bilateral relations between the Russian and Chinese churches”.

[photo_footer]  The Russian delegation meeting with the China Christian Council leadership, in Shanghai. / Photo via REA [/photo_footer] 

The CCC is the large registered Christian institution whose operations are authorised by the government. Other Christian movements in China are not sanctioned by the state and face religious restrictions.


History and chances to learn from each other

According to the Russian visitors, Wu Wai “gave a detailed historical account of the development of Christianity in the People’s Republic of China, and also thanked the guests for the first historical visit of Russian evangelical Christians to China”.

In his response, Vitaly Vlasenko noted that the REA seeks to “build spiritual bridges between peoples and develop strategic partnerships, mutually enrich themselves with spiritual traditions and exchange accumulated experience”. Other participants spoke at the gathering, which was followed by a gala dinner. The possibility of a return visit of members of the China Christian Council to Russia was discussed as well.


Theological seminary in Nanjing

The following day, the Russian delegation visited the city of Nanjing, where they met with the leadership of the National Nanjing Seminary, whose vice president, Yilu Chen, told visitors about the work of what is the largest Protestant theological school in the country. Chen spoke to the guests about the seminary’s work to “train ministers for China’s 36 million Evangelical Christians”.

[photo_footer]  The Russian delegation and leaders of the Nanjing Seminary. / Photo via REA [/photo_footer] 

After a tour around the seminary's campus, a joint lunch was held at which the idea of ​​a visit to the Nanjing Seminary of rectors and professors of theological seminaries in Russia was discussed.


Visit to Bible print and local churches

In the same city, the Russian evangelicals visited the Amity Christian Charitable Foundation, located at a huge publishing centre of the same name. “It was a great surprise for the Russian delegation to see such a large-scale production facility that prints Bibles and other literature for the needs of the PRC, as well as for many national Bible societies, including the Russian Bible Society”, the REA said.

After a five-hour journey on a high-speed train, on 18 April, the Russian Evangelical Alliance representatives met Reverend Liu Cuimin, who is the general secretary of Beijing’s China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (which is the official government supervisory organ for Protestantism in China). After the official meeting, a lunch was given at the Beijing office.

Also in Beijing, the guests from Russia were able to visit two local churches, one of which is located in close proximity to the largest square in the world, Tiananmen.

After its return home, the Russian Evangelical Alliance’s delegates said the visited left “both sides very pleased with the meetings”. The evangelical body said it will seek to “develop the dialogue that has begun”.


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