World Convention is currently building a global reference for the countries and territories where we know there are Christian – Churches of Christ – Disciples of Christ Congregations. Of the 193 United Nations States, the Stone-Campbell Movement exists in 174. This listing includes other nations and territories, numbering 194 countries where there is at least one representation of our churches.
Rather than waiting for comprehensive, complete information we are putting up the details we have available. If you can correct or add to this information, please contact the World Convention Office with details at email@example.com.
The People’s Republic of China, is a sovereign state located in East Asia. It is the world’s most populous country, with a population of over 1.35 billion. The PRC is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party, with its seat of government in the capital city of Beijing. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometres, China is the world’s second-largest country by land area. Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China has become the world’s fastest-growing major economy. It is the world’s second-largest economy and is the world’s largest exporter and importer of goods.
Estimates of religious demographics in China vary. One study says Buddhists make up 11–16% of the adult population, Christians make up less than 4%, and Muslims make up 1%. If 4% of the population is Christian, that would mean 54 million Christians in China, but others estimate over 100 million.
Along with India, China was another early mission of the Foreign Christian Missionary Society. In 1886 it sponsored Canadian Dr. William Macklin (1860-1947) as a missionary to Nanking. Edwin P. Hearnden (d. 1896) and Albert F.H. Saw (1865-1898) from Britain soon joined the mission along with two couples from the United States. They began medical work, schools, and other mission stations assisted by converts like Shi Kwei-biao (d.1925) and additional missionaries like Rosa Tonkin from Australian Churches of Christ. These missions persevered under Chinese opposition to “foreign” influences, through the Boxer Uprising of 1898-1901, and during Sun Yat-sen’s republican revolution of 1911-1912. By the 1920’s the missionaries began to relinquish control to Chinese Christian leaders like Li Hou-fu (d.1939) the co-secretary of the mission.
Chinese leadership was essential in preserving the churches through the trying political situation of the next few decades. Japanese occupation of China began in 1937 with the brutal occupation of Nanking where missionaries Miner Searle Bates (1897-1978) and Minnie Vautrin (1886-1941) protected thousands of innocent lives. During the occupation, Shao Ching-San (d. 1958), known as Luther Shao, who completed a Ph.D. at Yale in 1934, returned to China and became secretary of the mission. Due to Communist rule beginning in 1949 the last of the United Christian Missionary Society workers left in 1951.
American Churches of Christ entered China through the work of George (1898-1991) and Sallie (1896-1981) Benson in Hong Kong beginning in 1925. By 1930 they had established a mission in Canton on the Chinese mainland with schools and religious papers. Lowell (1910-2007) and Odessa (1911-2010) Davis and others joined them, but were forced to return to Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation. They briefly returned to Canton in 1947-1949, but left again during the communist takeover. In 1949, Elizabeth Bernard and others from American Churches of Christ revived the Hong Kong mission , establishing churches and preaching schools, so that today there are 400 or so members. In 1959, Roy Mullinax and Enoch B. and Jeanine Thweatt moved to Taipei. Several missionaries have since served in Taiwan, planting nine congregations.
International Churches of Christ have congregations in Macau and Hong Kong.
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has worked ecumenically in China particularly in education of church leaders and in economic development in rural communities.
Created by Gary Holloway, November 13, 2013