Tuesday, June 30: A Visit to Jiangsu Provincial Seminary
by Rob Weingartner
On Tuesday we began the day with a visit to the Jiangsu Provincial Seminary where we were welcomed by vice-president Rev. Fan Jingfang and other members of the faculty and staff. The school, founded in 1998, currently has 300 students in a four-year bachelor’s program that provides theological education and practical ministry training. The Outreach Foundation has had a relationship with the school for many years.
The need of the church far outpaces at present the ability of the Chinese Church to train leaders, and this was made clearer when we learned that there are 2 million believers in the province, 4,000 congregations and 1,000 pastors. That’s one pastor for every 2,000 believers! This summer the school is adding a fourth floor to its main building so that they can expand their ministry. Just a few days before the end of the semester, we found students taking final exams.
An important part of the seminary community’s life is regular chapel on MWF mornings and T/Th evenings; a Sunday service is open to the public, and Rev. Fan hopes that the large cross that they are putting atop the building will draw new people into the service.
After a tour and lunch with our hosts, we headed to the Nanjing South train station for the trip to Ningbo. All the group members were impressed with the large, new train station, the speed of the train and the comfort of train travel. As we sped across the countryside, we saw huge new apartment complexes rising in the distance beyond the rice paddies along the rail route.
We were met in Ningbo by several church representatives including Rev. Morris Chen, Ningbo Church Council general secretary and pastor of the Ningbo Holy Church. We were hosted most graciously at dinner by the most senior church official with whom we will meet on this trip, Rev. Shan Weixiang, vice president of the national China Christian Council. Another wonderful meal and warm fellowship.
Rob Weingartner for the team