Friday, March 15, 2013

Church Launches New Website to Improve Awareness of the Church in Mainland China

In a historic and long overdue move, the Church has launched a new website designed to help members from mainland China baptized abroad find the Church in China when they return home.  The website can be found at: http://mormonsandchina.org/.  The website provides basic information on the Church's policies for operating in China such as the segregation of nationals and foreigners and bans on open proselytism and has good potential to improve awareness of the Church's presence in China for ordinary members.  The website explains that Chinese converts may share the gospel with their families and can locate locations with branches and groups through contacting church leaders at: caudir@ldschurch.org.  The website contains sections for commonly asked questions by church leaders, Chinese nationals living outside of China, and nonnative members visiting or moving to China.

The website also marks the first time that the Church has publicly acknowledged the operation of the China Administrative Unit (CAU) - a special region of the Asia Area that administers church affairs for Chinese nationals in mainland China.  The CAU has appeared to function for several years.  Although the Church does not publish any statistics on membership, congregations, and districts in mainland China, I estimate that there are approximately 10,000 members and branches and groups operating in as many as 200 cities and towns based on member reports and ascertaining the difference in Asia Area membership from all other countries with reportable church membership that pertain to the Asia area. 

Church-wide awareness and proper use of the new website has enormous potential to maximize church growth and new convert accountability for mainland Chinese members within the bounds of religious freedom restrictions.  Church leaders have acknowledged that thousands of Chinese nationals have been baptized abroad primarily in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.  Use of the website can provide for proper coordination between local church leaders, mission leaders, and area presidencies around the world in their stewardship for Chinese converts who frequently return to China after foreign study or temporary employment.  This comes at a critical time to establish a basic church infrastructure in the world's most populous country.

For more information on the Church in China, visit our country profile on cumorah.com for China.

3 comments:

Christopher Nicholson said...

I am surprised it took so long, because it's not a very big website. But could it be a result of the talks to "regularize" church activities in China a couple years ago? Maybe it wouldn't have been permitted before then.

Mike Johnson said...

I am pretty sure the Church would not have started the web site without the approval of the Chinese government. They are taking steps slowly and reiterating at each step the principle of being subject to law.

I wonder how many Chinese branches/wards there are outside of China. In the eight stakes in Washington DC South Mission, there is a single Chinese speaking branch covering all the stakes. At our youth dance festival last summer with youth from seven of the eight stakes, there was a segment for a dozen or so youth with Chinese heritage.

I imagine there are dozens of Chinese branches or wards in the US. I also think that knowledge about the Church in China and how to integrate with it has been resident in those branches.

The website offers a direct portal for all citizens of the PRC that join the Church while a student or working temporarily outside of China, regardless of whether there was a local Chinese branch.

I am glad there is a website--in both English and Chinese (traditional or simplified Chinese options), now for all of them wondering if the Church will be there for them when they return to China.

John said...

According to CDOL, there are eighteen Chinese- or Mandarin-speaking units in North America: a ward and a branch in New York City, two wards in Utah (one each in Provo and Salt Lake), a branch in Texas (outside Houston), two wards and six branches in California, and two branches in greater Washington DC (one each in Maryland and Virginia). There are also a ward and a branch in greater Vancouver, British Columbia, a ward in greater Toronto (which also has a Cantonese-speaking ward besides its Mandarin-speaking ward), and branches in Calgary and Montreal. There is also an "Asian" YSA ward in Provo.