In China, Presiding Bishop meets with Bishop Ting, Nanjing seminary students
Bishop K. H. Ting, an Anglican-ordained bishop whose impact on the church in China is far-reaching, hosted Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in his Nanjing home on Wednesday, November 13 during her visit to China.
Ting, a gracious and warm host, said, "It is great to have the opportunity to welcome you to China."
"It is a great honor for me and all of us to be here," Jefferts Schori replied.
At age 92, Ting is physically frail and uses a wheelchair, but his knowledge and spirituality were evident in his wise, aged and halting voice. His eyes sparkled as he told Jefferts Schori of his joy in meeting the first woman Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
Ting's legacy in the history of Christianity in China is unparalleled. He is chairperson emeritus of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and president emeritus of the China Christian Council (CCC). He was educated in China and also holds degrees from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary, both in New York City. Consecrated an Anglican bishop in 1955, he was one of the founders of Amity Foundation in 1985 and is a principal at Nanjing Union Theological Seminary.
Ting and Jefferts Schori share a commitment to theological education. He noted, "We hope more and more Christians will have theological education in China." When he inquired where the Presiding Bishop attended seminary, she answered, "At Church Divinity School of the Pacific in California. It looks toward China." "Ah," he nodded knowingly, "I have heard of it."
Ting spoke fondly of his time in the United States, including his ministry at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City. "That's the cathedral I have been most familiar with," he said, a relationship cultivated during his days at nearby Union Theological Seminary.
Ting warmly greeted his friends Peter Ng, partnership officer for Asia and the Pacific, and the Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, director of Peace and Justice Ministries, both of whom are traveling with the Presiding Bishop. Ting expressed his pleasure on Grieves' area of focus. "Many Chinese Christians are concerned about peace and justice," he smiled.
"It is a great gift to be in your presence," Jefferts Schori told Ting at the conclusion of the private meeting. "Thank you for receiving us."
The Presiding Bishop addressed seminarians at Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, the national seminary of the Church in China.
"It is a great pleasure and delight for me to be here," Jefferts Schori told those gathered for evening prayer. "I bring you greetings from Episcopalians all across the United States and other countries."
She talked about China's CCC and TSPM. "I am convinced that the Episcopal Church and its fellow Anglicans have much to learn from your experience," she said, a translator by her side. "Your experience in a post-denominational church has a good deal to teach Episcopalians and Anglicans."
More than 200 students, faculty and pastors sat in rapt attention in the chapel as Jefferts Schori spoke on the subject of the baptismal covenant. "In baptismal ministry, all baptized Christians may claim the gifts they have as gifts for ministry," she explained.
"I hope to welcome Chinese students in the United States, and you would welcome students here."
The seminary was opened in 1952 by TSPM and is located in the center of Nanjing, a major industrial city.
Preceding the visit to Ting, the Presiding Bishop and her group toured the new Nanjing Seminary, currently under construction.
When completed the 30-acre, 11-building campus will be seven times the size of the current seminary. The new facility, located outside the city, includes housing for 500 students, faculty quarters, library, classrooms, an auditorium for 400, a sporting area with a track and soccer field, administration building, and a huge, as yet-unnamed chapel.
Residency is expected on the new campus in spring 2008.
Also traveling with the Presiding Bishop is the Rev. Dr. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop.