Top leaders of U.S.-based National Council of Churches recently met in Shanghai with leaders of China’s official church bodies for discussions that included a partnership to raise the issue of climate change with their respective governments.
NCC president the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon and general secretary H.E. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian traveled to China in late February to meet with representatives of the China Christian Council (CCC) and the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China (TSPM). It was the first time both an NCC president and general secretary had traveled together to China.
During their Feb. 26 meeting, the three major church bodies were able to affirm a mutual desire to engage in an “even deeper working relationship” that allows them to “consult regularly” with each other and to “speak and act together in response to contemporary issues,” according to an NCC USA report.
Leaders expressed joy over the “strong bonds” that had developed between the two organizations and also between churches in the United States and China. They noted that U.S. churches had prayed for China during its 2008 massive earthquake, and church leaders from both countries had made periodic visits to one another.
As part of their plan for greater cooperation, the American and Chinese church leaders will “speak and act together” against pollutants emitted by the United States and China into the atmosphere.
"We recognize that China and the United States together produce 40 percent of the world's carbon emissions," the leaders said, according to NCC USA. "For this reason, political leaders in our two nations have affirmed the need to work together to reduce such pollution and, thus, to address the urgent problem of climate change."
They continued, "As churches, we can encourage this process of political collaboration by joining our voices in defense of God's creation. We can share materials on environmental protection and look for ways to provide education on ecological concerns that draws on the resources of one another."
NCC and CCC will also work together to promote the Bible Ministry Exhibitions of the Church in China which will be held in Washington, D.C., and Dallas in the near future. NCC leaders pledged to help advertise the event in U.S. churches.
During the meeting, the U.S. church leaders also encouraged CCC to play a more active role in the global church, including in the World Council of Churches.
In China, Christians are only allowed to legally worship in government-sanctioned churches supervised by the CCC/TSPM. But tens of millions of Christians oppose that law and worship “illegally” in house churches. These “underground” Christians challenge the restriction on their freedom of worship as well as allowing the government to have control over the church.