A delegation of 24 leaders from the World Evangelical Alliance met with leaders of China’s state-run church bodies Monday, building upon the relationships formed during the first visit by the alliance’s head, Geoff Tunnicliffe, in 2008.
The delegation, which arrived in Shanghai on Sunday, includes Tunnicliffe, National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson of the United States, Integral Alliance Director Fiona Boshoff of South Africa, WEA regional heads, and members of the WEA’s governing body – the International Council – among others.
On the first official day of their visit, the delegation was welcomed by local Chinese officials and leaders of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the only state-sanctioned Christian organization in China, and the China Christian Council, the umbrella organization for all registered Protestant churches.
In a speech, TSPM chairman Fu Xian-Wei said he was happy about the WEA’s visit, which he said will enable the development of mutual relations and further promote mutual ties and interaction.
Tunnicliffe, who was has served as WEA international director since 2005, meanwhile expressed the organization’s willingness to strengthen its relationship with the Chinese Church, which to date has mostly collaborated with the ecumenical World Council of Churches.
During Tunnicliffe’s first visit to China in April 2008, the WEA head had expressed his desire to have a delegation visit CCC/TSPM leaders and churches to develop deeper communications.
As a network of churches in 128 nations and over 100 international organizations, the WEA ties together more than 420 million evangelical Christians through its membership. The alliance’s mission is to foster Christian unity and provide a worldwide identity, voice and platform to Evangelical Christians.
Prior to China, the WEA delegation was in South Korea, where meetings of the alliance’s International Council and International Leadership Team were held last week.
The delegation is expected to conclude its visit to China this coming Sunday.