Chinese Protestants meet Monday (Oct. 6) for their first national con gress in nearly 20 years. More than 200 representative from groups throughout the country will attend the third congress of the "Three-Self" Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches of China.
China had around 700,000 Protestants when the Communists took over in 1949, and ministers say the number has since grown. China's various non-Roman Catholic Christian Churches, including Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists, were forced to unite into one church in the 1950s to survive under Communist rule.
"Three-Self" stands for self-administration, self-support, and self-propagation. It means the church may continue t exist provided pastors do not seek to make converts outside places of worship and that they finance themselves and have no links with foreign churches.
The congress will elect a new national leadership and form a committee to deal with religious affairs, including the reopening of churches closed and ransacked during the Cultural Revolution. Protestant churches have already reopened in more than a dozen cities. Peking has two, and there are plans to reopen a third because of growing demand.