Day 3: Jiangsu Province

Greetings from Jiangsu! Today the Team visited Jiangsu Theological Seminary, the regional seminary for training pastors in Jiangsu Province. Founded in 1998 to meet the need for pastors for the growing church in this province, Jiangsu Seminary has grown from approximately  100 students to a four-year, Bachelor’s level institution with more than 300 students on two campuses. New and upgraded facilities are prominent everywhere you look.  But like the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary we visited yesterday, what really excites the seminary, said the Rev. Fan, Jing Fang, Vice-President of the Seminary, is the increasing quality of students and faculty. Over 20% of the students at Jiangsu have already completed a bachelor’s degree in another field of study.

Dr. Fan, Ed Wood of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, and Jeff Ritchie with The Outreach Foundation
Dr. Fan, Ed Wood of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, and Jeff Ritchie with The Outreach Foundation

The faculty had six teachers in 1998 and now has sixteen. Two current professors have their doctorates.  Another is studying in Singapore for hers, and yet another will go abroad to begin a doctoral program next year.

A strong emphasis at Jiangsu is on the spiritual and practical preparation of the students for ministry. Faculty members are assigned to work closely with students outside of the classroom as mentors and coaches. They attend morning and evening devotions together with the students and they coach them in their sermon preparation as the students take turns preaching in these devotional times and on Sunday worship at the seminary chapel.

A significant upgrading of the library acquisitions was one factor in the seminary having been upgraded from a Bible School to a Theological Seminary. Now there is a Biblical Resource Center within the library that includes digital collections of books on three computers in the reading room. Much more needs to be done, but the sense of moving forward into the future is almost palpable.

The Rev. Zhang, Ke Yun, President of the Seminary, thanked The Outreach Foundation for its role in helping them upgrade to a four-year, degree-granting institution. He thanked us for our long years of friendship and hoped for more exchanges to come.

We had a change of pace in the afternoon as we went to a park where the Mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the founder of the Republic of China, is located. It was quite a workout to walk almost 400 steps up to this tribute to a man who is honored by both Taiwan and the Peoples Republic of China.

The Mausoleum, and all its stairs (!) of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen
The Mausoleum, and all its stairs (!) of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen

Our dinner guest was the Rev. Bao, Jia Yuan, a leader in the National China Christian Council until his retirement last year. The Rev. Bao was the person who suggested to The Outreach Foundation in 2001 that lay leaders and seminarians would benefit greatly in their ministry if they had some more resources to prepare for their ministry of the gospel. Thus was born the idea of the “mini-library,” a small collection of books that included study Bibles, commentaries, concordances, and practical ministry tools. To date The Outreach Foundation has enabled the Church in China to distribute upwards of 4,000 of these mini-libraries to leaders all over China.

The "mini library" is given to students and lay leaders as a resource for their ministry
The "mini library" is given to students and lay leaders as a resource for their ministry

Tomorrow, off to Jinan in the Shandong Province.  Thank you for your continued prayers for our team.

The China Heritage Team