Archbishop's China Itinerary - Further Details
Friday 6th October 2006The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams is to begin a two-week visit to China this weekend (8th October 2006). The visit is at the invitation of the senior leadership of the post-denominational Protestant Churches in China and is being hosted jointly by the Three Self Patriotic Movement/China Christian Council and the State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA).
Dr Williams' visit will take place from 8-23rd October 2006, starting in Shanghai before continuing inland to Nanjing, Wuhan, and Xi'an before ending in Beijing. Dr and Mrs Williams will be accompanied by the Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, who has recently succeeded Bishop John Austin as the Archbishop of Canterbury's Episcopal Link with China.
The visit is intended to provide a deeper understanding of the Christian communities in China and the varied context in which it is developing. The wide-ranging programme will include opportunities to engage with religious leaders, academics, local and national government officials, NGOs and business leaders. The Archbishop's key concerns are to engage with the Church in China and its changing context, the challenges posed by development and accelerated economic activity, the environmental agenda in the region and the debate about constructing a "harmonious society" in China and the contribution of religion within this process.
During his visit, Dr Williams will meet with Church leaders in a variety of contexts and visit a range of Church-related institutions and initiatives. He will deliver three main sermons - at Mu En Church in Shanghai, Glory Church in Wuhan and Chaoyang Church in Beijing. He will also be delivering lectures and taking part in dialogues at various academic institutions, including Wuhan University and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Contact with the business community will include a visit to an electronics factory and a meeting with business leaders in Shanghai.
Meetings with senior local and national government representatives are planned but, as is customary in the region, details of these will not be finalised until much nearer the time. He expects to meet with the State Environmental Protection Agency in Beijing, as well as with representatives of various NGOs. The visit will also include contact with the Catholic Church and with leaders of the other registered religions in China, including a visit to the Great Mosque in Xi'an.
Dr Williams visit builds on the visits of his predecessors: Dr Runcie visited in 1983 and Dr Carey in 1994.
Dr Williams said of his visit:
"I am greatly looking forward to my first direct encounter with China. I very much welcome this opportunity to come alongside the Church in China, as well as to gain a fuller appreciation of China's remarkable development in recent years and its unique cultural heritage. I am most grateful to Minister Ye Xiaowen of. the State Administration of Religious Affairs, and to Presbyter Ji Jianhong, the Chairperson of the National Committee of the Three Self Patriotic Movement, and Revd Cao Shengjie, the President of the China Christian Council, for this invitation.
Note to editors:
The Archbishop's Press Secretary, the Revd Jonathan Jennings is travelling as part of the delegation. The Archbishop is due to preach and speak in a number of locations; texts, however, are most unlikely to be immediately available but we hope will as the visit progresses.
We are advised that there will almost certainly be no media access to these meetings and events, with the exception of the final press conference.
It is anticipated that there will be a press conference in Beijing, probably hosted by British Embassy, on the final morning of the Archbishop's visit to the country. It is currently scheduled for 0800 hrs, on the morning of 23rd October). The arrangement will be confirmed and invitations issued as soon as we can establish the details.
Summary of the Archbishop's programme
Shanghai - 8 - 10 October
Whilst in Shanghai the Archbishop will hold meetings with the Three Self Patriotic Movement / the China Christian Council, with Christian pastors and leaders, attend worship and preach at the Mu En church, visit an environment NGO - 'Roots and Shoots', and meet business leaders.
Nanjing - 10-12 October
Whilst in Nanjing, the Archbishop will attend a reception for Chevening Scholars hosted by the British Consulate. He will also visit the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary and take part in a service. He will also visit the Amity Foundation (website: www.amityfoundation.org) and its publishing arm, the Amity Press. Mrs Williams will also address seminary students. The Archbishop will visit the Panda Electronics Group and attend an Official Dinner hosted by the Jiangsu Government.
Wuhan - 13-15 October
Whilst in Wuhan, Dr Williams will meet with Christian leaders and pastors, visit academic institutions including Wuhan University, the Mid-China Seminary (a regional Protestant Seminary) ; the Yu Baowei Zhongnan Catholic Seminary. He will visit the Glory Church in Wuhan, and a rural church at Daye City and church projects including a clinic and an elderly peoples' home. Mrs Williams will conduct a retreat for women church leaders. There will be an official Dinner hosted by the Wuhan and Hubei Government.
Xi'an - 16th - 18th October
Whilst in Xi'an, Dr Williams will meet with Christian leaders and pastors, visit the Grand Mosque and pay a courtesy call on the Imam, attend an official Dinner hosted by the Shaanxi Government and see the Terracotta Warriors.
Beijing - 18th - 23rd October
Whilst in Beijing, the Archbishop meet with representatives of Government, the State Administration of Religious Affairs, the State Environmental Protection Agency, the Beijing Christian Council and the Three Self Patriotic Movement, and attend Official Dinners. He will meet with Christian leaders and pastors and with academics at the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences. He will visit the Catholic Study Centre and the tomb of Matteo Ricci, visit the Chaoyong church and see the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.
The Archbishop will return to the UK on Monday 23rd October.