ELCA Leaders in China to Discuss Social Services, Theological Education, Lay Evangelism

(Photo Credit: ELCA)ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson answers a question at a denominational conference in Chicago, Illinois on August 14, 2012

The presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other top officers of the denomination are meeting leaders of China's state approved Protestant church during a seven day visit to Shanghai and Sichuan Province.

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson will share the current context of mission and will explore possible areas of collaboration including social services, disaster response, leadership training and more, ELCA said on Tuesday.

Also making the trip is the Rev. Rafael Malpica-Padilla, the executive director for global mission at ELCA churchwide ministries and the Rev. Y. Franklin Ishida, who directs Asia-Pacifica ministries at ELCA churchwide ministries.

"I look forward to deepening our relationship with the leadership of the China Christian Council, the national expression for the Protestant church in China," Rev. Hanson said.

He will also meet with the Rev. Gao Feng, president of the council.

The CCC, along with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) form the official, government-sanctioned protestant Church in China. While the CCC focuses on church affairs, the TSPM serves as a liaison between churches and government.

On its website, the CCC-TSPM reported that the five-person ELCA delegation met with Fu Xianwei, chair of the TSPM National Committee.

"We will build upon discussions we have had when the council president and other leaders have visited us in the United States. We have focused on theological education, leadership development, lay evangelism, the publication of Bibles and the expansion of the church's work in social services," he said.

Rev. Hanson said since the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, funds from ELCA members have been used to assist in rebuilding 20 church buildings that were damaged. Funds were also used to provide care and counseling for children and funding for first responders.

"Now we will discuss the possibility of expanding social service models and cooperation in theological education and lay evangelist training," Rev. Hanson said.

He has also been invited to preach in Lizhou, a city in southeastern Sichuan. ELCA has been engaged in helping assisting the city with social and health care services, community and agricultural development, senior care and children services, rehabilitation with people living with disabilities and more, he said.

"It is through the good news of Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit joins us in one faith and the one Body of Christ. What a powerful witness in a world that knows divisions and distrust to proclaim together the one gospel," said Hanson.
The trip also includes a visit to the city's First People's Hospital and its Federation for the Disabled.

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