Presiding bishop spends Ash Wednesday in Shanghai

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori imposing ashes on the Rev. Peter Koon, provincial secretary general of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (Anglican Church in Hong Kong) following a devotion that took place Feb. 22 at the Shanghai headquarters of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China and the China Christian Council. ENS Photo/Lynette Wilson

[Episcopal News Service – Shanghai, China] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori met with leaders of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) of the Protestant Churches in China and the China Christian Council (CCC) here Feb. 22. The presiding bishop later worshiped with Chinese Christians at the TSPM and CCC headquarters.

In China, Protestant Christian worship is post-denominational, meaning no one form of Protestant expression exists; Ash Wednesday is not celebrated as it is in the West. Following the devotion marking the beginning of Lent, however, in keeping with the Episcopal tradition, the presiding bishop imposed ashes on the Rev. Peter Koon, provincial secretary general of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (Anglican Church in Hong Kong), and members of her staff.

TSPM is the patriotic Christian organization in China, and along with the China Christian Council (CCC) it forms the official, government-sanctioned Protestant church in China. (“Three-self” stands for self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating.)

Jefferts Schori is in China as part of a three-week visit to Anglican Communion provincial churches in Asia, including the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. She is in China at the invitation of the CCC. The Rev. Gao Feng, CCC president, and Elder Fu Xianwei, chairperson of the national TSPM, facilitated the Feb. 22 meeting.

The presiding bishop is joined in China by Peter Ng, the Episcopal Church’s global partnership officer for Asia and the Pacific; Alex Baumgarten, the Episcopal Church’s director of government relations; the Rev. Chuck Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop, and Richard Schori, the presiding bishop’s husband.

The TSPM/CCC headquarters is located on the campus of the former Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral, which is in the process of being restored.

– Lynette Wilson is a reporter/editor for Episcopal News Service. A more comprehensive account of the presiding bishop’s visit to China and meetings with officials will follow.

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