1998 NCC News Archives

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National Council of Churches General Secretary,
President-Elect Andrew Young to Visit China Oct. 8-15

Oct. 2, 1998, NEW YORK -- Ambassador and Mrs. Andrew Young and the Rev. Dr. Joan B. Campbell will be among members of a National Council of Churches delegation visit to China Oct. 8-15 to look at the current status of church-state relations in China.

The delegation will meet with the NCC’s historic partner, the China Christian Council; with high government officials, and with such governmental bodies as the influential foreign policy think tank, the Shanghai Institute for International Relations.

"The delegation visit represents one way that the NCC’s top leaders are seeking to keep current their understanding of the nature of church-state relations in China," said Dr. Campbell, NCC General Secretary. "We have maintained ties with the churches in China throughout this century. We want to continue to be influential interpreters of church-state relations in China."

This will be Dr. Campbell’s second visit to China in two years. She serves on the U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad. The State Department has offered the NCC its services to facilitate the visit.

Victor Hsu, NCC/Church World Service Director for East Asia and the Pacific, said that "during the visit, in addition to listening to the Christian community and to the government, we will be expressing to them the concerns of the U.S. churches about reports of religious persecution in China affecting not only places of worship but also the lives of individuals, including persons in prison. We can do that without being put into a confrontational situation."

The delegation visit represents the first official participation of Ambassador Young as NCC President Elect for 2000-01. He will preach on Sunday, Oct. 11, at Nanjing’s Mochou Church. Founded in the 1920s, the now post-denominational church is of Presbyterian background. Its membership numbers more than 2,000 believers, and more than 1,600 worship there every Sunday. The China Christian Council has invited Ambassador Young "to preach on any theme good for church unity and its spiritual growth."

Besides Andrew and Carolyn Young (who will join the delegation Oct. 9), Dr. Campbell and Mr. Hsu, NCC delegation members will include Dr. Peter Pizor, Chair of the Worldwide Ministries Division of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Ms. Sharon Maeda, Deputy General Secretary, Mission Contexts and Relationships/Mission Education, General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church, and the Rev. Dr. Albert A. Pennybacker, NCC Associate General Secretary for Public Policy.

The delegation was to have included Drs. William and Dellanna O’Brien of the Southern Baptist Convention, but Mrs. O’Brien, who is Executive Director of the SBC Women’s Missionary Union, suffered a stroke in late September and is recovering in the hospital.

"We are saddened by the circumstances that prevent their participation, but we are relieved that Mrs. O’Brien’s condition is improving," Dr. Campbell said. "We have extended our concern and prayers to the O’Briens, as has the China Christian Council." Dr. William O’Brien is Director, Global Center for World Evangelization, Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, Ala.

"Our goal in having representatives from the Southern Baptist Convention," she said, "was to broaden the representation of the U.S. Christian community on the trip to include another body that has wrestled with the issues of religious freedom and persecution."

The delegation will spend Oct. 8-9 in Shanghai, Oct. 10-11 in Nanjing and Oct. 12-15 in Beijing. The schedule will include a visit to the headquarters of the China Christian Council, a meeting with Bishop K.H. Ting and with Dr. Han Wenzao, President of the China Christian Council, and, most likely, a visit to the Academy of Social Sciences.


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