Area Update

Area Update

Significant Events in East Asia and the Pacific
There was an Foundation for Theological Education Meeting in New York in early December, which was attended by Jeni Chapman in the absence of Xiaoling Zhu. This committee supports scholarships, projects and program in the Asia region, particularly in China. And especially Nanjing Seminary. This committee also is presented by 10 denominations and works ecumenically with other organizations in the region.

Significant Events in East Asia and the Pacific
There was an Foundation for Theological Education Meeting in New York in early December, which was attended by Jeni Chapman in the absence of Xiaoling Zhu. This committee supports scholarships, projects and program in the Asia region, particularly in China. And especially Nanjing Seminary. This committee also is presented by 10 denominations and works ecumenically with other organizations in the region.

Following the Foundation for Theological Education meeting was the World Council of Churches scholarship meeting at the Riverside Drive building. Which were attended by the same denomination representatives at the previous meeting. Other participants were the scholarship recipients studying the New York area, as well as the Young Women’s Christian Association and United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia.

Pacific Islander Asian American Ministries Implementation Committee met for the last time in February 11-12, 2005 in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1989, the General Synod gave the responsibility for the implementation of the Proposal for Action: A United Church of Christ Ministry with Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans to the Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries Implementation Committee. Now this responsibility will be forwarded onto the Executive Committee of the Pacific Islander Asian American Ministries.

In March 31-April 6, 2005, the Christian Conference of Asia will have their Twelfth General Assembly in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which is entitled “Building Communities of Peace for All.” Global Ministries will be represented by Sam Pearson, our missionary in Beijing, China, since the date conflicts with Common Global Ministries Board meeting.

The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan held their 50th General assembly in March 29-April 1, 2005.

Trip Report to East Asia and the Pacific
Australia Xiaoling Zhu visited our partner Churches, the Uniting Church of Christ and the Christian Church and met with the leaders in Sydney. He was also able to visit the Gobledales, who are missionaries in Melbourne at the Christian Church Theological Seminary.

China/Hong Kong End of November through December, Xiaoling interviewed many of the China Christian Council leaders for a future video project. From Bishop Ting, to other key leaders of China Christian Council, as well as leaders in the Seminary settings. He also did attend other events, such as the celebration of a new church building in Hefei.

On December 4-9, 2004, Xiaoling Zhu and Mike Schuenemeyer, along with a delegation from the Beijing University Medical School, visited Zecheng County, Henan Province, which is highly affected area for HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the visit was to finalize the agreement with the Zhecheng Succor Center to be part of the Child Sponsorship Program, to determine whether a medical team needs to be sent to help the HIV/AIDS patients, to network with the community to establish self-sustaining projects, and to meet with the local government leaders to get up to date information regarding the AIDS situation. Their visit provided hope for the children’s future education and seeking other avenues for new and low cost medication in the market today. Mike was also a guest speaker at one of the lectures at Beijing University regarding tools for fighting the AIDS pandemic. Such as basic information, myths and facts of dangerous behavior, corruption, prevention, treatment, obstacles to treatment and vaccines.

On January 17, 2005, Xiaoling Zhu was also able to attend the ground breaking at Nanjing University for future buildings, which hopes to hold 1,000 students upon it’s completion. More than 200 guests, government officials, church leaders, faculty and students gathered in the wide open space marked for the campus to celebrate the ceremony. It’s new location in the university town of Jiangning, in the outskirts of Nanjing, amidst 13 other institutions of higher learning, will provide a fitting environment for challenging theological thinking and encouraging cross fertilization between Christianity and the fine arts and culture of China. Bishop K.H. Ting, President of the seminary since 1952, remarks that it is inevitable and significant that the development of the new seminary would be accompanied by the advancement of theological reconstruction. He stressed how important it was for the church to nurture people who had relatively high theological attainment, had well rounded personalities and should be knowledgeable in history, philosophy and the arts.

While numerous works of foreign theologians have been translated into Chinese and are available in ordinary bookshops, not many mainland Chinese theological writings find their way into foreign publications. One notable exceptions is Bishop K.H. Ting, whose collected writings were published by Chinese publisher Yilin Press in English under the title “Love Never Ends” in April 2000. Now, an American publisher has produced another English edition of this work, “God is Love.” This publication of an American edition of the bishop’s writings will hopefully further the understanding of the Chinese church among American audiences.

Chinese Protestants came from a variety of denominational backgrounds, ranging from strongly congregational and non-hierarchic traditions like the indigenous True Jesus Church to high Anglican structures. Today, local congregations are held together through a network of Christian Councils on various administrative levels. Although the national church leadership provides guidance and an ecclesiastical framework, local congregations are quite independent. In the light of this situation, the decision to consecrate (more) bishops is an interesting development that raises the question of how this move will affect the wider church structure. Currently, Bishop K.H. Ting (who comes from a Anglican background) is mainland China’s only living Protestant bishop, consecrated in 1955. Rev. Cao Shengjie explained the decision-making process that had led to this development, was a series of meetings convened by Bishop K.H. Ting in the first half of the year that showed an overall consensus that bishops would be one further step in building the Chinese church. All historical churches had bishops, and the Chinese church was part of the historical church ecumenical. Keeping the holy order of bishop was a way to incorporate traditions of the church ecumenical into Chinese church life, it was a beneficial move to build the Chinese church, to regulate the functions of vocations within the church and to strengthen pastoral work. Bishops with their authority in matters of faith and theology could exercise a positive function regarding theological reconstruction and the fight against heresies, and having bishops would benefit international exchanges.

On February 11-12, 2005, Xiaoling Zhu attended a meeting with the China Christian Council and North American denominations regarding the preparations for a Bible Exhibition here in the United States. It was decided that the exhibition would be held in September of 2005 in New York City.

Japan Xiaoling Zhu and Eleazar Fernandez attended the final JNAC meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 23-26, 2005. It was decided that the rest of the accumulated funds would be disbursed to each Church according to their percentage of contribution in the past years. Also, there is a plan for a gathering in 2007 to take place in Japan to celebrate the ministry of JNAC. With the dissolution of JNAC, the responsibilities will temporarily be administered by Shadan, who also administers the property concerns.

New Zealand Xiaoling Zhu also traveled to Dunedin to meet with Lydia Johnson, our missionary place at Otego University. He also met with one of our scholarship recipients in Auckland.

Pacific Islands Xiaoling Zhu visited our partners in Fiji, Pacific Council of Churches, Pacific Theological College, South Pacific Association of Theological Schools, Pacific Concerns Resource Center, and Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy.

Micronesia On March 29-31, 2005, the leadership of the Micronesian Council of Churches of the United Church of Christ met with John Thomas, Lydia Veliko, Bennie Whiten Jr and Xiaoling Zhu to begin conversations of the relationship between all the partner churches.

Dr. Erlinda Senturias, President of Southern Christian College in the Philippines was able to visit with the East Asia and Pacific Office in November. She provided up to date information and stories regarding Southern Christian College and its programs and projects. She also presented a project proposal that would provide a growth in their student population with additional curriculum.

Rose Wu, Director of the Hong Kong Christian Institute was able to visit the Cleveland office in September. She met with Olivia Masih White and discussed the situation of social concerns in Hong Kong and the advocacy actions taken by the Churches and non-government organization’s.

In January, two guests from the United Church of Christ in Japan (Kyodan), Rev. Hiroko Ueda and Rev. Nobuhisa Yamakita were able to come to the states to attend the final JNAC meeting in Louisville, Kentucky as well as visited Indianapolis and Cleveland offices.

After the JNAC meeting in January, 2005 representatives from UCCJ, Rev. Hiroko Ueda, Executive Secretary and Rev. Nobuhisa Yamakita, Moderator met in Indianapolis, Indiana with David Vargas, Robert Welsh, Julia Brown Karimu and Robert Nottingham to begin conversations of the partnership relationship that UCCJ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will continue despite the dissolution of JNAC. They then went on to Cleveland, Ohio to have the same conversation with Lydia Veliko and Bennie Whiten Jr regarding the relationship with the United Church of Christ (UCC). To further strengthen the partnership, they have been invited to the UCC General Synod to be able to affirm the relationship and what is just the beginnings of conversation to furthering this partnership.