[COMMENT: The growing Christian presence in Asia is making some rather surprising impacts, such as the positive reference to original sin by a Chinese Communist official. What is God up to?
I just came back from a conference run by Christian Vision University (http://www.vision.edu/), an extension course university operating all over the world. They reported astonishing work, great numbers of churches being established, e.g., by Korean Christians in and around China, with the aim of going all the way to Jerusalem with a path of churches. E. Fox]
Report by Chris Sugden.
Archbishop John Chew, in his sermon on his installation as Archbishop of the
Province of South East Asia in succession to Bishop Yong Ping Chung,
preached to the top state official from China about freedom from sin through
the cross of Jesus. The guest of honour in the front pew at St Andrew's
Cathedral Singapore on February 5 was the Director General of Religious
Affairs of the State Council of China. As a member of the Cabinet in China
he had to have his Prime Minister's permission to be present. Also present
was the Chairman of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant
Churches in China.
At the celebration dinner to mark the tenth anniversary of the Province the
previous night, the President of the China Christian Council, speaking on
behalf of the sixteen million Christians he said were in China, invited all
the 1000 guests to visit them in China. Asian and African archbishops
present expressed great interest in the invitation to show that Christianity
has not only got a western, which for some still means colonial, face.
This was the first time such high ranking Chinese leaders had attended such
an occasion. The Diocese of Singapore has "deaneries" which engage in
significant missionary efforts in Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand
and Indonesia, and leaders of the evangelical fellowships in those countries
also attended. The presence of state officials from both China, which
regards Indo-China nations as its sphere of influence, and Indonesia
indicated that this activity was with the "permission" of state authorities.
The intercessions asked for God to "fill your church with a passion for lost
souls." In his address Archbishop Chew spoke at length about freedom and its
relation to truth. It is not adequate to have freedom for something or
freedom to do something if people are not free from what restrains humanity,
from our selfish and narrow perceptions of life.
He recalled that the Head of Social Sciences at Beijing University had
recently said that one of the things that Christianity was contributing to
the reconstruction of China was that it recognizes original sin. John Chew
urged that freedom from this came through Jesus and his death on the cross.
His sermon is to be posted on www.globalsouthanglican.org.
Also present at the installation were, the leader of the Anglican Communion
Networks in Canada and the United States, Bishop Don Harvey and Bishop Bob
Duncan. From the Church of England, Bishop Jonathan Gledhill of Lichfield
which has a long partnership with the Church in South East Asia represented
the Archbishop of Canterbury. Canon George Kovoor principal of Trinity
College Bristol where Archbishop Chew, who was also a Langham Scholar at the
University of Sheffield, trained for ordination, and Rachel Parry from USPG
were present. A representative of Anglican Mainstream was also among the
invited overseas guests.
Archbishop Ping Chung resigned his office during the service and installed
the new Archbishop himself. In an impromptu move the service he called
forward Mrs Christina Chew and their son Harry for prayer with the new
Archbishop; and at the west door at the close Archbishop Moses Tay led the
primates, bishops and clergy in holding their hands forward to invoke a
blessing on John Chew.
Archbishop Chew will not only be the leader the Diocese of Singapore, with
18000 Christians in 26 parishes in a population of 3 million, and of
Anglicans in Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia with a population of
450 million. He is also the secretary of the Global South network of
Anglican Provinces which was formed in Egypt in October last year. Their
executive met on the occasion of his installation and issued a communique.
Chris Sugden is executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream International.
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