Artist impression of the planned new church and Christian training centre in Suqian city, Jiangsu province, China
View of the congregation at 8am service at central church in Suqian.
Choir at Suqian church
Today was an early start for our group visiting China. There was time only for a frugal breakfast; which was all that was needed after the generous dinner we’d feasted on the evening before at the central church in Suqian. It was to that church we returned for the 8am Sunday service. Despite the early hour it was the main service of the day; about 250 packed into the main body of the church, a straightforward hall with rows of benches facing forward, with maybe another 100 in an overflow linked by CCTV. Two lecterns for the two service leaders were on a raised stage together with a robed choir, almost all women, sitting at the rear of the stage facing the congregation.
It was a service of the Word consisting only of hymns, bible reading, sermon, and finally prayer by the senior pastor who led the service. The sermon was the single largest element of the service and was given by a lay preacher, one of the Jiangsu Christian Council staff (the provincial church newsletter editor) who had accompanied us from Nanjing. The choir sang three pieces, one as an introit and two pieces together later, before the sermon. The third piece contained one member who sang solo between the verses. The choirmaster conducted the choir pieces. About two congregational hymns were sung. Our group sang three short songs led by Noel Robinson, one of our group who is a musician and worship leader, and I was honoured to be invited to give the closing benediction.
After the service we were taken across the city to the site of a proposed new church and training centre with a seating capacity of 5000. Currently it is a field of mud but a tower crane is in place and apparently half of the funds needed have been raised already. It’s planned to be ready in 2 years by which time it will be surrounded by new apartment blocks and a new station on the high speed railway to Beijing will be built only 1km away.
Finally we returned to the home church for a delicious lunch prepared by church members.