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In 2014, Friends of the Church in China (FCC) celebrated its 30th anniversary – three decades of developing partnerships with Christians in China! How did this link begin?

In the early 1980s, after decades of isolation, China once again opened its doors to the outside world. Churches in China began to re-open too and the possibility of re-establishing contact between Christians in China and UK became a reality. This was particularly welcomed by former UK missionaries who had dedicated years of service to China in the first half of the 20th century and who had been anxiously praying for Chinese friends and colleagues during the dark years of China's Cultural Revolution.

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The FCC was largely the brainchild of one such former missionary, David Paton, who had himself worked in China in the 1940s. Following the exchange of formal delegations between the China Christian Council and the then British Council of Churches in the early 1980s, David Paton and the staff of the China Study Project saw the need for a means by which individual grassroots Christians and congregations in China and the UK could come to know about, understand and relate to one another more directly and informally in friendship. The Friends of the Church in China thus came into being in September 1984.

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It was sponsored by several different UK church bodies and initially boasted the Presidents of the China and British Christian Councils, Bishop KH Ting and Archbishop Robert Runcie, as its patrons. Bishop Ting has remained a patron throughout the 25 years. Relating at first to the Protestant church in China, FCC later became fully ecumenical, engaging with both Protestant and Catholic churches in China and UK. Catholic Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of the Shanghai Diocese became one of FCC's patrons in 1998.

From the start, the FCC has sought to bring Chinese and British Christians together by facilitating numerous conferences and bi-lateral exchanges, as well as Study Visits by UK Christians to China, and by helping to host or offer hospitality to Chinese visitors to the UK. It has provided thoughtful information on developments in China and its churches through the publication of a regular Newsletter containing news, updates, and analysis, as well as reflections and meditations to help UK Christians keep their Chinese counterparts in their thoughts and prayers. In 1999, the FCC also established a presence on the Internet and has just launched this re-designed web site.

Over the years, the FCC has also identified areas where it can be of practical assistance to those in need in China. The Chinese Christian-initiated development agency, the Amity Foundation, was founded a year after the FCC in 1985, and the FCC has supported various Amity projects as the two have grown up together. These have included earthquake and flood relief projects, education-related and rural development initiatives, assistance for China's AIDS orphans, as well as sending people to teach in China with Amity's Summer English Programme. FCC also supports projects run by the China Christian Council’s Social Service Department and the Catholic Jinde Charities.

At the outset, many of FCC’s members were former China missionaries, but over the years FCC has sought to enthuse a new generation of UK Christians with a commitment to the churches in China, as well as making contact with the growing number of Chinese Christians now living and working in the UK. Being a voluntary organisation, the FCC has always functioned primarily through the involvement and dedication of its members, many of whom have served on its committee over the years.
We hope you will join us!