Over the past ten years, China has seen something of a building boom for churches. Partly to meet the needs of the ever-increasing numbers of Christians in China and partly to demonstrate their "support" of religion, the government has not only allowed new churches to be built; they have actually provided funding and assistance. This article, translated from the Mainland website Christian Times is a report of the grand opening of LiuShi Church, which now lays claim to being China's largest church.
February 19, 2013 marked the beginning of a Week of Thanksgiving for the newly built church in Liushi Township, Yueqing District of Wenzhou, in Zhejiang Province. According to news reports, it is now Chinas largest church, with regular seating for 5,000 people. During Thanksgiving Week there will be 6000 to 8000 people in attendance. The cross on top of the church tops out at 63 meters. Wenzhou is one of the most gospel-saturated regions in China, and is sometimes referred to as The Jerusalem of China.
The light drizzle on Sunday did not dampen the atmosphere of joy and thanksgiving, as church workers decorated the vast space in front of the church with balloons and colored flags.
Dr. Shi Hengtan, a Christian scholar and professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of World Religions commented on his microblog: The construction of this church which accommodates 5000 people has taken ten years of hard work and has received the support from all levels of the government. It is a domestic breakthrough. In fact, that a district township was able to build such a grand church can be considered miraculous. Tomorrow morning (February 19), there will be 6-8000 people attending the celebration. This is an important event in the annals of Chinese Christianity.
Rev. Joseph Gu, of the Chongyi Church of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province was invited to give the sermon during the Service of Thanksgiving. The Chongyi Church in Hangzhou is also one of Chinas largest churches. Pastor Kou Shaoen, of the Taipei Home of Christ Church was also invited to lead the evangelistic revival meeting. The Canadian music team, CHANNEL, was invited to lead worship. The service was broadcasted live on the Internet.
There were numerous activities held during the Week of Thanksgiving. The dedication service for the new church was held on the morning of February 19. In the afternoon the Christian Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Wenzhou presented an award. There was also a sacred music concert. In the evening, Pastor En Kuoshao preached at a revival service. Throughout the week, there were numerous times for worship and revival preaching.
The foundation for the Liu Shi Church in Wenzhou was laid on June 26, 2008. The church building, which covers an area of 6194 square meters, sits on land totaling 13,973 square meters. The total cost to build the church was 45 million RMB. The design of the church is very modern, using simple geometric shapes to give the building a unique look. The inspiration for the structure was the story of Noahs Ark in the Book of Genesis. This can be seen in the churchs stone white appearance, and the symbolic use of sails and pigeons, traditional symbols of purity.
In 2011, I visited this church while it was still under construction. At that time the local Christians were eagerly looking forward to the completion of the church. Now, four years later, the construction of the church is completed, and it has been dedicated to God. The local Christians are filled with thanksgiving, and many of them have used their microblogs to express their gratitude and give glory to God. They believe this church is a powerful witness.
Christians have also commented that in addition to constructing a church building, we have to build an inner sanctuary. Moreover, many have reminded us that we need to pay more attention to the churchs impact on society than its grand appearance.
Original article (and photos): 专访大理雅歌福音客栈阿龙弟兄：神在云南做新事
Image credit: Wikimedia.
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