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NCC leaders warmly received by Chinese church leaders;
promise mutual prayers and a 'deeper working relationship'

Shanghai, China, March 5, 2009 -- The president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches have traveled to China to affirm with Chinese Christian leaders a mutual desire to engage in an "even deeper working relationship that allows us to consult regularly with one another and to speak and act together in response to contemporary issues."

H.E. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian and the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon met here February 26 with leaders of the China Christian Council (CCC) and the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China (TSPM).

The trip was supported financially by the Common Global Ministries Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. The Rev. Dr. Xiaoling Zhu, the board's area Executive for East Asia and the Pacific, accompanied Kinnamon and Aykazian on the trip.

The NCC leaders along with the Rev. Gao, Feng, President of the CCC, and Elder Fu, Xianwei, chair of the TSPM, expressed "thanks for the distinctive gifts that God has given us in our different settings (a point which is central to the witness of the Three-Self Movement)" and rejoicing "that we are related to one another in Christ, and that through one another we can grow in knowledge and love of God.  Ours is a relationship of mutual encouragement in order that the body of Christ might be built up in love (Ephesians 4)."

In their discussions, the American and Chinese leaders celebrated "the strong bonds that have developed over the years between our organizations and between the churches in our countries.  Signs of this relationship include praying for each other (as during the 2008 earthquake in China), periodic visits (such as the one this year), and occasional support for one another's ministries."

Among the contemporary issues on which the leaders plan to "speak and act together" are the pollutants that the U.S. and China emit daily into the world's atmosphere.

"We recognize that China and the United States together produce 40 percent of the world's carbon emissions," the leaders said. "For this reason, political leaders in our two nations have affirmed the need to work together to reduce such pollution and, thus, to address the urgent problem of climate change. 

"As churches, we can encourage this process of political collaboration by joining our voices in defense of God's creation.  We can share materials on environmental protection and look for ways to provide education on ecological concerns that draws on the resources of one another." The leaders pledged to raise the idea of deeper partnership with our governing bodies and to continue this conversation on forms of regular consultation."

The NCC leaders also expressed their anticipation of the  Bible Ministry Exhibition of the Church in China that, scheduled for display in Washington and Dallas in the near future. They pledged to help advertise this event in U.S. churches. 

"This will be a way of calling attention to the reality of the Chinese Christian community and of emphasizing our shared commitment to biblical study and translation," they said.

Aykazian and Kinnamon encouraged the CCC "to play an ever more active role in the global church, including in the World Council of Churches," and promised to advocate for this this in appropriate settings."

"Our common prayer," the U.S. and Chinese church leaders said, "is that God's will be done and that God's name be glorified!  May our work and life together bear witness to the reconciling love of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the One who creates, redeems, and sustains us all."


NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) , pjenks@ncccusa.org

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