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A New Beginning

Written by Michael and Doreen McFarlane
March 5, 2007

Michael and Doreen McFarlane - China

As you all know, the two of us are currently serving in China as seminary teachers and as a "critical presence" on behalf of the Common Global Ministries Board of the two churches: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the church in which we are pastors, the United Church of Christ. We have been here since mid August of 2006 and thought you might like to hear a bit about our ministry here.

This is an exciting and very happy time for both of us. We can hardly decide where to begin or what we can fit into this short letter. So let's start with the best part - the people of this seminary and the people of China! From the time we arrived, every person has treated us with such sweetness, kindness, and respect. The Chinese people are good people and have been open, trustworthy, and have a great sense of humor. We cannot say enough about them. We have fine colleagues and dedicated intelligent students. We have also made new friendships that will last over the years. Now, each of us wants to put in a few words about our work.

(from Doreen) I teach four courses to the graduate students: Hebrew, Greek, Old Testament, and Old Testament Research Methods. This next term I will also teach the Book of Job. We both have translators who are also teachers although our students are working hard on their English and doing quite well. The level of their work equals that of my American seminary students. We have a good time together pouring over biblical texts in Hebrew, Greek, Chinese and all those English versions! Our goal - to come up with a good translation!

(from Michael) I conduct the seminary choir and teach hymnology, conducting, voice production and History of Western Music. There are about 40 singers in my choir and we put on quite a good Christmas concert on Dec. 21st and also sang Christmas Eve at a big outdoor event here on the seminary grounds attended by about 1000 people. By the way, Doreen and I have been singing at various functions here in Nanjing and will be giving a recital in June in Shanghai. We have found a fabulous Chinese pianist for this concert. I am also making two recordings here; one of Irish music and the other with Doreen of English translations of Chinese songs. We will be accompanied by piano and arhu - a traditional Chinese instrument; a kind of two stringed violin. How's that for inter-cultural relations?

(from us both) You may wonder what we meant in that first paragraph by the term "critical presence." People are sent out by the Common Global Ministries Board to serve in various places in the world where the need is critical. What is critical here in China is that the Chinese Church, growing by leaps and bounds, is in great need of educated and seminary trained Chinese professors. There are 18 seminaries and Bible Schools throughout China and each requires well qualified people. We are participating, in conjunction with the excellent teachers here at China's premiere seminary, in preparing those who will teach! We also are training pastors to go out and serve throughout China in its burgeoning churches. (Every church we visit is jam-packed and they also have buildings next door, filled to capacity, watching on closed circuit TV!)

Well, more stories another time. Do know that we care about you and think of you often. Keep our work in your prayers and know we also pray for your lives and work.

Blessings and love from China,
Doreen and Michael McFarlane
Michael and Doreen McFarlane work with Nanjing Theological Seminary, Nanjing, China.  Michael serves as professor of Church Music.  Doreen serves as professor of Biblical Studies.

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