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About The United Methodist China Program

The crowd leaving this church in China is evidence of Christianity's growth.China's economic, political and cultural re-emergence on to the world stage is evident for all to see. Churches in China are flourishing, too.

Christians have found their place in Chinese society, living out Christ's gospel in worship, social service ministries, and new and relevant theologies. The church is developing a truly Chinese identity and these are exciting times to be in partnership, sharing with and learning from Christians in China as they creatively engage with society and the global church community.

The United Methodist China Program continues to facilitate deeper understanding and mutual partnership between the people of China, the United States and the international community.

History

The program developed from a long-standing interest in and concern for China as a people and nation. Begun in the late 1960s, the United Methodist China Program kept alive an interest in China even though Sino-American relations had been severed. In 1979 the United States established full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China ending our virtual isolation of it. This watershed event marked the beginning of new relations with Christians in China. Chinese Christians called for a reappraisal of the past unequal relationships as they bore witness to the gospel through Christian communities that were, and remain, self-governing, self-supporting, and self-evangelising.

As early as 1984, General Conference, the quadrennial United Methodist legislative assembly, stated, "The United Methodist Church affirms the selfhood of, respects the autonomy of, and reaffirms our readiness to hear and interact with the church in the People's Republic of China as together we shape future relationship based on mutuality" (United States Church-China Church Relations, adopted 1984). Much has happened in the life of China and the church since then: China's economy is a global phenomenon and post-denominational Christianity among the fastest growing in the world with 50 new church congregations emerging every month, according to the China Christian Council.

In 2007, religion was mentioned for the first time in the Chinese Communist Party's revised constitution. China's top leaders have called on religious individuals and communities to take an active and pro-active part in the development of society. Hailed a breakthrough in being fully accepted by society, Christians in China feel this is the fruit of nurturing self-reliance and Chinese identity within the Church of Jesus Christ universal. Celebrating with Christians in China this growing confidence, the 2008 General Conference has affirmed once again, "The United Methodist Church recognizes the necessity for China to continue its economic and social development and urges U.S. cooperation to that end within the context of Chinese independence and selfhood." (United States-China Political Relations, amended and re-adopted 2008).

Resources Offered by the Program

For those seeking greater understanding and relationship with churches in China, The United Methodist China Program (TUMCP) offers a range of resources to help improve the understanding between China and ourselves. A special emphasis is placed on the relevance of Christian faith to all dimensions of society-both China's and our own. This is done through:

Photo: The Sunday morning worship has ended and Christians leave, carry the Gospel of Christ with them in faith and deeds throughout the week.