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Orthodox Chuch in China


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#1 Ryan

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 03:09 PM

Hi Jon-

I'm wondering if you could tell a little bit about what you've seen of the status of Orthodoxy in China. Maybe it warrants a new thread. I studied for 5 months in Beijing, though this was before my interest in Orthodoxy. Do local Chinese attend the services? Are there Chinese priests that you know of in Beijing?

#2 Father Anthony

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 05:18 PM

Hi Jon-

I'm wondering if you could tell a little bit about what you've seen of the status of Orthodoxy in China. Maybe it warrants a new thread. I studied for 5 months in Beijing, though this was before my interest in Orthodoxy. Do local Chinese attend the services? Are there Chinese priests that you know of in Beijing?

Dear Ryan,

If you try this website, it has a plethora of information dealing with Orthodoxy in China. http://www.orthodox.cn/index_en.html

The site is devoted strictly to this area, and does have a forum to answer up to the minute information requests.

I hope this helps.

In IC XC,
Father Anthony+

#3 Ryan

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 03:29 PM

Thanks a lot, Father Anthony. I had seen that site before but it seems to have expanded greatly since then.

#4 Deacon Jonathan

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Posted 29 December 2008 - 04:36 PM

Sorry for the lateness of this reply, Ryan. There is lots I could write here, but I don't know how much would be useful or not, so in the end, rather than just worrying about it too much I'll just jump in and write some things.

The site Fr. Anthony gave is very good, and actually that is how I found out about the Orthodox church in China. I had already been received into the Orthodox Church, but living in Beijing had no place to worship. I found that site, which back then was not so comprehensive, to try and find some information. I emailed the webmaster, who lives in America I think, and he gave me the contact details for the reader of the church inside the Russian embassy. This is the only functioning Orthodox church in Beijing, and effectively the only one within China. There is one in Harbin, north of Beijing, but I think the priest (who is Chinese) is too old to serve, and perhaps there is one in the Kazak (Cossack) region in the NorthWest. The other Orthodox church buildings, in Shanghai (where St. John the Wonderworker served), Tianjin, and a few other places, are effictively just historical buildings.

Because this church is inside the Russian embassy grounds, I need to show my passport to get in; the guards on the gate, who are Russian, don't always necessarily understand why a foreigner would want to go to a Russian church, and so I have been turned away on a number of occasions. No Chinese are allowed inside. This is according to Chinese law that prohibits foreigners from teaching religion to Chinese nationals, or for Chinese people to attend religious ceromonies where foreigners lead the service. In addition, Orthodoxy is not a recognized religion in China - unlike Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam and Buddhism - so it is even quite difficult to allow Chinese Orthodox (who may have converted overseas) from practicing inside the PRC. But... Chinese people do get baptized, secretly, here - or else in Hong Kong where Orthodoxy is legal and there is a Cathedral dedicated to St. Luke open to all (I have been there; it is actually on the 18th floor of a skyscraper, but a space has been consecrated and set aside with altar, icon screen, and icons around on the walls). I have not taken part in these baptisms, but I just know they have happened. As a layman, I just go to the church in the Russian Embassy, as part of the parish of the Dormition, which to all intents and purposes is a church for ex-pats. The priest is Russian, and lives in Hong Kong. He travels to Beijing for special feast days - sometimes he will come twice a month; but other priests from different areas also come here to serve. At Easter 2007, we were served by a heiromonk from Russia, and this year an Australian priest and deacon from the ROCOR served. Most of the time, I only find out who gave me the Holy Gifts by checking the English version of the site posted by Fr Anthony after the event! But the "regular" priest, the Russian who lives in Hong Kong, I know well and we keep in contact through email. His Chinese is very good, and it is he who does a lot to not only serve the Russians and other expats who find themselves in China, but also the native Chinese.

There was one deacon at the church I attend who was (ethnically) Chinese, though probably with a Russian passport. I haven't seen him for a while now, but that might be good news; it probably means he has gone to a seminary to continue training for the priesthood. There are a few Chinese people attending seminaries in Russia; hopefully they will be allowed to serve their own people the Liturgy soon. If God wills it, the hearts of the Chinese government will also be softened on this issue; we pray for it.

Oh, and a few months ago a young novice called Simeon from Siberia visited our church. He is learning Chinese and was set to go off to the Kazak region for missionary work. He couldn't speak English well, and I cannot speak Russian, so we spoke together in Chinese. Bizarre. I have his email so I will try to contact him again and see how things are going.

I'm sorry that all this seems so disconnected, as though I am not really in the loop. Truth be told, I am somewhat out of the loop, what with the parish of the Dormition being mainly Russian and Russian speaking. It is a one and a half hour journey to get to the church, so sometimes it is really all I can do to just prepare myself for confession and drag myself to church. To get involved in a fuller parish life is still beyond me at the moment. I'm also not a particularly sociable person, which is another failing that stops me from being very informed.

But from what little I know, this is the situation. The Chinese Orthodox Church was granted autonomy from the Moscow Patriarchate some time in the early 20th century, but it was crushed terribly during the Cultural Revolution. And at that time the Russian church was not in a position to help, of course. So the legacy of that is that things are hard now. But the seeds are there. China has her martyrs and saints. St. John was here, and St. Jonah of Manchuria, another Russian bishop, is buried in China; the relics of Holy Royal-Martyr St. Elizabeth rested in Beijing on their way to Jerusalem too. And of course, the Chinese people have their own martyrs in the form of St. Mitrophan, his family, and the 222 Chinese martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion. Their blood was spilt right here in Beijing. You may have walked over the spot where some of them gained their crowns, Ryan. And the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church, so even though now quite dormant, there is hope for the future that Orthodoxy will flourish here.

#5 Vasiliki D.

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Posted 29 December 2008 - 09:43 PM


Jonathan, is there nothing any of the other embassies can do? For example, is their a Greek embassy, a Serbian etc etc that collectively could all work together to set up tiny little chapels to make Orthodoxy perhaps a little more accessible?

This is a sad story ... For about a year now I have been thinking about missionary work to China but this story scares me a little. I didnt know that the Chinese government forbids the churches on their soil ... I presumed that the churches are permitted its just that it needs people to assist to build more ... but Im wrong - you can only build within an embassy because its politically not China.

Amazing! Its truly amazing! Why you would want to go back to England and not stay there and "martyr" for Orthodoxy is beyond me :)

#6 Deacon Jonathan

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 09:36 AM

Hello Vasiliki, please don't be scared!

I did try to get in contact with some other embassies before consulting the orthodox.cn website but didn't get any replies. That included the Greek embassy too. There are many Greeks who attend the Church of the Dormition at Easter, so it makes me think that they don't have a chapel of their own; if they do then it's a good sign that they would prefer to co-celebrate with their Slavic brothers, especially as the Greek and Russian practice is a little different (the Greeks usually disappear after midnight, whereas the Russians stay behind to take confess their sins and take communion; everything's usually finished at 5 or 6am). As a side-thought, the British Embassy in China has a Roman Catholic chapel with services (again for non-Chinese nationals) every Sunday morning; it always surprised me that the British embassy would have this, what with Queen Elizabeth being the head of the Anglican church).

As I have said in private, the opportunities to spread the faith are not quite so limited. People do speak openly about faith, and Chinese people are actively interested too. But the next logical step would be for me to take a truth seeking friend to an Orthodox church service, and it is this that is blocked to us.

I sometimes think a more effective way would be to return to England and share the Gospel with Chinese students there. At least that way I could let them "come and see". Then they would be more likely to return to China with a zeal to build their own churches for the Orthodox faith.

#7 Ryan

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 11:17 PM

Thanks very much for the most interesting details, John.

I think I read somewhere that the primary motivation for the PRC's non-acceptance of Orthodoxy is that they fear that it would be a purveyor of Russian influence. I wonder if it would make any difference if the Chinese church came under the oversight of a non-Russian patriarchate (I know Hong Kong and SE Asia are under the EP).

I can relate to your linguistic experience with the Siberian- in Beijing I had a Korean friend who spoke no English, and I spoke no Korean, so we communicated in our equally broken Mandarin.

When it comes to political or religious questions, I find that people in Beijing tend to be pretty open in expressing their opinions. It's only when someone organizes or publishes something, that one must be very cautious.

#8 Kusanagi

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 09:30 AM

Hi Jon-

I'm wondering if you could tell a little bit about what you've seen of the status of Orthodoxy in China. Maybe it warrants a new thread. I studied for 5 months in Beijing, though this was before my interest in Orthodoxy. Do local Chinese attend the services? Are there Chinese priests that you know of in Beijing?


God willing the theologians currently studying at Holy Trinity St Sergius Lavra would come back to China one day as priests.

There are other Russian priests that come other from Russia to help with services at times either in HK or the mainland.

best to speak to Fr Dionysy the priest of St Peter and Paul's church in HK for more details.

#9 Deacon Jonathan

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 08:25 AM

Thanks very much for the most interesting details, John.

I think I read somewhere that the primary motivation for the PRC's non-acceptance of Orthodoxy is that they fear that it would be a purveyor of Russian influence. I wonder if it would make any difference if the Chinese church came under the oversight of a non-Russian patriarchate (I know Hong Kong and SE Asia are under the EP).

I can relate to your linguistic experience with the Siberian- in Beijing I had a Korean friend who spoke no English, and I spoke no Korean, so we communicated in our equally broken Mandarin.

When it comes to political or religious questions, I find that people in Beijing tend to be pretty open in expressing their opinions. It's only when someone organizes or publishes something, that one must be very cautious.


Hello again, Ryan.

I said before that I was out of the loop, and now I realize how much! Since my last post I finally signed up to Facebook after more than a year of receiving invites into my inbox (usually from people I don't know so well). After identifying myself as being in China and also being Orthodox, I was given the details of a Chinese Orthodox man living right here in Beijing! We have talked through MSN and exchanged phone numbers, and will meet up soon for coffee. His experiences are definitely more hopeful. I'm not sure how much I should talk about it though. All I know is that God is good and is working here as everywhere.

But obviosuly, Chinese Orthodox Christians concelebrating with other Orthodox Christians is still totally unacceptable to the PRC and you are right, Ryan, that the history between China and Russia (or the PRC and the USSR) is part of the reason. I don't think having the EP send missions here would necessarily help though; China is wary of any sort of national or foreign cultural movements within their borders; there are many canonical problems for Roman Catholic priests and bishops in China for this very reason, even though Catholicism is a recognized religion. Also, the Russian Orthodox church specifically has strong ties with East Asia: the Autonomous Japanese and Korean Orthodox Churches both sprang from Russian evangelism. The Chinese man that I will meet is the spiritual child of Fr Damascene of Platina! So here too there is a strong affiliation between Russian Christians and Chinese Christians at odds with secular society. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is present in Hong Kong though, and the lovely Fr. Dionysy mentioned by Kusanagi, under the MP, is very happy to work together with the Greek Orthodox church in Asia. As Kusanagi says, Fr. Dionysy will be able to give you more information.

Anyway, sorry for being a bit misleading in my previous posts. Hopefully the above is a more accurate (and hopeful) reflection of Orthodoxy in China.

#10 Vasiliki D.

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 09:53 AM

Russian and China ..... two countries prophecied in the Bible ... reading this thread .. I am starting to see a lot of "red" come into my mind ........... I want to find the Scripture that I am trying to remember .....

#11 Kusanagi

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 09:07 AM

Russian and China ..... two countries prophecied in the Bible ... reading this thread .. I am starting to see a lot of "red" come into my mind ........... I want to find the Scripture that I am trying to remember .....


Don't know it but if you remember I would love to be able to read it.

I do know the St Nikolai Velimirovich prophecy though ;)

#12 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 03:28 PM

Which prophecy?

#13 Kusanagi

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 03:53 PM

The prophecy is when Europe completely abandons Christianity and because of that are in trouble, the people with yellow skins will come to the rescue. Something along those lines, sorry I am paraphrasing because this is quoted from his book "Through the prison window" about his times in Dachau concentration camp. I am not sure if it is released in English, in Romanian it is for sure. Great book though.

#14 Deacon Jonathan

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 05:05 PM

I'd like to find "Through the Prison Window" in English, but I only found a few extracts online.

I know among non-Orthodox Christians, especially evangelical groups, there are a lot who train especially to go to the Middle East and spread the Gospel. They feel that because they are not Western, there is less hostility; but of course that's not necessarily the case - especially in countries with Shariah law. This was my 100th post.

#15 Vasiliki D.

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 11:05 PM

Hello my dear brothers in Christ, the prophecies are not from anywhere else but The Book itself! If one reads the Old Testament prophecies with the guidance of the Spiritual Fathers who have interpreted it throught the Holy Spirit we will be amazed at the things that the books ahve to say that are relevant to the political life we have today and obviously in the future - which would be hard for us to see because of our spiritual sinfulness ... the Book of Daniel and the Book of Isaiah are probably the places to start :-)

#16 Kusanagi

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 04:26 PM

Hello my dear brothers in Christ, the prophecies are not from anywhere else but The Book itself! If one reads the Old Testament prophecies with the guidance of the Spiritual Fathers who have interpreted it throught the Holy Spirit we will be amazed at the things that the books ahve to say that are relevant to the political life we have today and obviously in the future - which would be hard for us to see because of our spiritual sinfulness ... the Book of Daniel and the Book of Isaiah are probably the places to start :-)


And Concerning prophecies from other saints?

#17 Vasiliki D.

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 10:46 PM

And Concerning prophecies from other saints?


The next logical step after the Bible! Although, true prophecies only elaborate on the Bible and do not sway from the theme set out in the Holy Scripture. So your best source is always the Holy Scripture!

For at the end of the day, His Word is the Truth. Humanity will not continue on forever their will come a time when our history will be fulfilled and complete. It is only in the Book of Truth that our history has already been recorded for us - as GOD sees it (Has seen it) - and we fight in vain if we wish to go against or prevent His Words, as recorded in the Book, from being fulfilled ... it is His living Word that permits our (past, present and future) ...

IMHO

:-)

Edited by Vasiliki D., 05 January 2009 - 11:08 PM.


#18 Olympiada

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 10:07 PM

I just started reading a new book yesterday, "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See. Its a fictional account of women, marriage, footbinding and more set in rural 19th century China. I just read on the author's website that British priests tried to stop the practice of foot binding. I had been thinking that apparently that area was not Christianized, for that is not a Christian practice. Actually reading about it, as an Orthodox Christian now, gave me a whole new appreciation for my religion. It is good to have the Christian standard with which to measure the world by now. Anyway, I would like to dig back into the Chinese Orthodox church. I know we have the Boxer Revolution, and St. John of Shanghai, and many Russian immigrants who passed through Harbin. Can anyone tell me more about these fascinating subjects, from their own studies? Thank you, Olympiada

#19 Olympiada

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 02:36 AM

Hello again, Ryan.

I said before that I was out of the loop, and now I realize how much! Since my last post I finally signed up to Facebook after more than a year of receiving invites into my inbox (usually from people I don't know so well). After identifying myself as being in China and also being Orthodox, I was given the details of a Chinese Orthodox man living right here in Beijing! We have talked through MSN and exchanged phone numbers, and will meet up soon for coffee. His experiences are definitely more hopeful. I'm not sure how much I should talk about it though. All I know is that God is good and is working here as everywhere.

But obviosuly, Chinese Orthodox Christians concelebrating with other Orthodox Christians is still totally unacceptable to the PRC and you are right, Ryan, that the history between China and Russia (or the PRC and the USSR) is part of the reason. I don't think having the EP send missions here would necessarily help though; China is wary of any sort of national or foreign cultural movements within their borders; there are many canonical problems for Roman Catholic priests and bishops in China for this very reason, even though Catholicism is a recognized religion. Also, the Russian Orthodox church specifically has strong ties with East Asia: the Autonomous Japanese and Korean Orthodox Churches both sprang from Russian evangelism. The Chinese man that I will meet is the spiritual child of Fr Damascene of Platina! So here too there is a strong affiliation between Russian Christians and Chinese Christians at odds with secular society. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is present in Hong Kong though, and the lovely Fr. Dionysy mentioned by Kusanagi, under the MP, is very happy to work together with the Greek Orthodox church in Asia. As Kusanagi says, Fr. Dionysy will be able to give you more information.

Anyway, sorry for being a bit misleading in my previous posts. Hopefully the above is a more accurate (and hopeful) reflection of Orthodoxy in China.

A lot of my neighbors are Korean, and I used to want to go on mission to Korea. Can you talk a little about the Korean Orthodox church?

#20 Ryan

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 03:49 AM

We all know about the martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion- I would be curious to hear any information about Chinese new martyrs during the Communist period, as I know that the Orthodox were persecuted, especially in the Cultural Revolution.

I'm also curious about the current status of the Chinese Orthodox Church. Last year, Constantinople expanded the EP's Hong Kong metropolis to include mainland China. In this statement, the Russian Synod protests this move as "an infringement on the rights of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church." They are treating the Chinese church as a vacant but still existing seat. Does a church maintain autonomy, even after it has basically been destroyed, except for a few small pockets?




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