World Council of Churches (WCC) head was "deeply saddened" by the death of the former official Chinese church leader Dr Han Wenzao, who has been working with WCC closely for many years.
In a letter to Rev. Cao Shenjie, president of the China Christian Council (CCC) dated Feb. 7, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia described Han as "one of the great personalities who provided leadership to the church in China in the post-revolutionary era."
In 1949, the People's Republic of China was formally established with the Communist Party taking the rule. Kobia recalled that Han had helped create the official "Patriotic Protestant Church in China" along with one of the few church leaders in that era. Since then, the so-called Protestant "Three-Self Patriotic Movement" (TSPM) was formed, under which all the churches are under the control of the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Han was convinced that TSMP "was politically necessary to repudiate the imperialist sponsorship of foreign missionaries" in China. And Han has "passionately articulated the integrity and dignity of the church in China," according to Kobia’s letter.
Han’s ideal has made him a key player in the official Protestant Church in China. He has served as the president of CCC, general secretary of the Amity Foundation, vice-chairperson of the Jiangsu Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and chairperson of the Advisory Committee of the Protestant Churches in China.
In terms of ecumenical relationship, Han has spearheaded in establishing the official links between the church in China and the WCC in collaboration with Bishop K.H.Ting, honorary chairperson of TSPM and honorary president of CCC.
Han was deeply involved in the planning and preparation of the first and second official visits of the China Christian Council (CCC) to the WCC in 1983 and 1989 and CCC’s subsequent decision to bring the church in China back into full membership in the WCC, the letter stated.
Finally, Kobia concluded the letter as saying, "We thank God for the life and witness of Dr Han Wenzao. Please convey our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, the members of the CCC and the Amity Foundation."