Chinese Theological Review 16

Opening Speech to the 7th National Christian Conference

Ji Jianhong

The opening of this 7th National Chinese Christian Conference is an occasion of great joy. On the happy occasions of our great nation's successful bid to host the 2008 Olympic games, the success of the APEC meeting in Shanghai and China's entry into the WTO, Chinese Christians celebrate together with the whole Chinese people, with incomparable pride in being Chinese and with praise for the accomplishments of our nation that have attracted worldwide attention. May God continue to bless China.

Under the leadership of the great Chinese Communist Party, not only has China's international status and influence increased, the growth of socialist economic construction proceeds steadily apace, there has been widespread improvement in our standard of living and in social stability and growth in the healthy development of political democratic life: all these express the right leadership of the Party Central Committee with General Secretary Jiang Zemin at its core. Modernization of Chinese socialism is approaching a new high tide and this is the hour of the great resurgence of the Chinese people. In December 2001 the Central Committee and State Council held a National Meeting on Religious Work, determined the basic task of the Party's religious work at the beginning of the new era, and offered guidance for our meeting here. Over the last five years, every aspect of the church's work has unfolded healthily and in good order, the three-self principle has reached new heights; the building up of the church has been laudable. God has showered abundant grace on the Chinese Church, and our 7th National Conference opens in just such wonderful circumstances.

We are extremely happy that Vice-Directors Liu Yandong and Li Dezhu of the Standing Committee, Vice Secretary General Zhu Xiaoming and Bureau Head Chang Rongjun of the United Front Department of the Party Central Committee; Director Ye Xiaowen, Vice Bureau Head Wang Zuo'an and other leading comrades of the Religious Affairs Bureau, along with comrades from provincial and municipal level bureaus, are all with us today. Our Church's venerable pastor, our esteemed Bishop Ting, is also with us, and friends from every sector of society who have long been concerned for and supported running the church well according to the three-self principle have also come to take part in our meeting. Allow me, on behalf of all delegates, to express our warmest welcome and heartfelt gratitude to these leaders, to Bishop Ting and to all our friends. (Of 300 delegates to this meeting, 23 are special invitees; 290 in attendance and ten apologies.)

The Chinese Church, with the unfailing efforts of colleagues everywhere, has promoted theological reconstruction with excellent results. This has been our most effective response, in the principle of running the church well through independence and self-determination, love for country and church, increasing unity and bringing about the adaptation of the church to socialist society, to the emerging new situation, new issues and new challenges.

At this meeting, we will not only look back on five years of solid work, but move a step further in theological reconstruction, independence, resistance to interference from outside, strengthening the church, running the church well, leading believers in healthy pursuit of spiritual growth and realization of God's call to us to spread the gospel, as well as how to study and implement the spirit of the National Meeting on Religious Work, share and study it in the church. At this assembly, we will elect new committees and new leadership for the national CCC/TSPM. This will have great and far reaching significance for furthering theological reconstruction and actively promoting the adaptation of Christianity to socialist society in the next five years. We believe that with the efforts of the whole body of delegates here, this will be a Conference united, in step with the times, and particularly blessed by God.