Agency reports massive growth of Christianity in China

 Christianity is growing faster in China than in most other parts of the world, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland said this week. CTBI's newly-appointed China co-ordinator, Caroline Fielder, said: "The significance of the extraordinary expansion of the Chinese church, both Protestant and Catholic, is still not adequately understood or appreciated by Christians here." Caroline, who has studied and worked in China, is an Anglican with a background in human resources management. Her new role will include raising the awareness of China and Chinese churches across England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and developing projects on youth and women in China. It is conservatively estimated that there are more than 17 million Protestants and 12 million Catholics among China's 1.2 billion people. In spite of difficulties and hardships the number is increasing every day, both in the official and unofficial churches. The Churches' Commission on Mission, part of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, is the base for common ecumenical work on China. Catholic, Methodist, United Reformed, Church of Scotland and Anglican agencies and churches are among those who fund it. Besides running study programmes with churches in China, CCOM grants theological scholarships for pastors, priests and others coming from the People's Republic of China to study in Britain and Ireland. It also assists church exchange visits, and supports health, teaching, rural development and women's skills-training work carried out through the Amity Foundation and other church-initiated agencies. The Commission also supports a pioneering research unit on East Asian Christian Studies to promote research and reflection on Chinese Christianity at the University of Birmingham. Edmond Tang, a Roman Catholic has been appointed co-ordinator of the unit. "At a time when the focus is on the struggle of churches in the West, attention to and support of Christians in China is an important way to understand how radically the geographical base of world Christianity has shifted," said CCOM secretary Simon Barrow.

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