Ecumenical and evangelical tributes as China's Bishop Ting dies

By staff writers
24 Nov 2012

Bishop K. H. Ting, a pioneer of the official post-denominational Protestant Church in China, has died on 22 November 2012, at the age of 97.

The World Council of Churches' General Secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, was among those expressing admiration for Bishop Ting’s commitment to reconciliation between church and society, Christians and non-Christians in China.

Dr Richard J. Mouw of the evangelical Fuller Seminary in the USA, writes: "Bishop Ting's contribution to the Chinese church has been most significant, and his legacy - through his writings and other accomplishments - will continue for generations."

Bishop Ting was an Anglican Bishop in the 1940s and 1950s. From 1942 to 1945, he worked in administrative affairs of the YMCA. In 1946, he moved to Canada where he served as mission secretary for the Canadian Student Christian Movement. He subsequently studied at Columbia University and at Union Theological Seminary, both in New York, USA, from 1947 to 1948.

On his return to China in the 1950s, he held several positions, including that of principal of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, chairperson of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (which mediates the relationship between church and state) and president of the China Christian Council (CCC), the official Protestant denomination.

Having lost his positions during the Moaist clampdown of the Cultural Revolution, Bishop Ting went on to help found the Amity Foundation, which runs social programmes and enables the printing and distribution of Bibles and other Christian literature.

Bishop Ting's contribution to the re-emergence of church life and opening of the church to the outside world in the 1980s and 1990s is widely recognised - though some in the unofficial, unregistered church in China felt that, especially in his later years, he enjoyed too cosy a relationship with the Chinese authorities, and was surrounded by too many other compliant figures. He also aroused mixed feelings among human rights advocates.

Nevertheless, with the creation of the CCC, “Bishop Ting played an important role in ensuring that Chinese Christianity continues to survive and grow even under the communist regime,” Dr Tveit declared.

Bishop Ting also served as vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (1989–2008), and was a member of the National People's Congress, China's legislature.

His theological work centred around the sometimes controversial 'reconstruction' of Chinese faith around indigenous insights and concerns.

"Bishop Ting’s passing signals the end of an important era in the relationship of church and government in China," said Dr Richard J. Mouw. "The situation in China regarding the role of religious groups continues to be a work in progress. And we do see much progress, for which we owe much to the Bishop’s leadership during complex and difficult times."

* The Passing of Bishop K. H. Ting (1915-2012), by Richard Mouw - http://www.fuller.edu/About-Fuller/News-and-Events/News/2012/The-Passing-of-Bishop-K--H--Ting-(1915-2012)--A-Presidential-Message-of-Appreciation-for-His-Leadership.aspx

* WCC - Letter to China Christian Council on demise of Bishop K.H Ting http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/tribut...

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