Beijing- People in China are enjoying "much better" religious freedom than
before and over 70 percent of those attending services at the Beijing Haidian
Christian Church are young people, says Pastor Wu Weiqing of the newly-built
The all-white building looks like an exhibition studio than a religious
institution, with long white beams encircling the structure. A tall white cross
stands in the covered stairway to the entrance to the church, while a sign on
top says "Christian Church". Off to the side is a tall bell tower, also in
Beijing Haidian Christian Church, was
originally built in 1933, but the number of attendees grew so much that it was
knocked down and a new church was put into use on May 31 this year in
Zhongguancun, also known as China's Silicon Valley.
A general view of Beijing Haidian
Christian Church July 8, 2007. [Sun Yuqing/chinadaily.com.cn]
old Beijing Haidian Christian Church [Courtesy of Liu
It's also close to China's top learning institutes, like the Tsinghua
University and Peking University, and situated among grand commercial buildings
for China's leading IT companies, like Sina.com. As a result, most of the
churchgoers are young people, explains Wu.
An open Bible
Church visitors appreciate the design of the church a lot. A middle-aged
migrant worker surnamed Zhao said the church looked beautiful. He turned to
Christianity in 1997 when he worked as a farmer in his hometown in North China's
Hebei Province. Now he works in a furniture factory in suburban Beijing and
needs to ask for a leave on weekends to go to the church. "It normally takes me
two hours to come here by bus, but I go to other churches too," said Zhao with
gray hairs and a thin face.
However, not everyone admires the new church and thinks the original one
should have remained standing.
Liu Yang, an expert in church studies from
Yuanmingyuan (Old Summer Palace) Administration, said, "It's a pity to see the
old church demolished. With a history of 70 years, the old church should have
been preserved and protected as a relic. "
But in an exclusive interview with China Daily Website, Wu explained that the
old church was deteriorating in a dirty and noisy street, and it was becoming
too dangerous to hold services in it. He added that the original church was too
small to hold the increasing number of Christians attending services there.
"The old church didn't suit the development and the surrounding commercial
buildings," he said. "The style of old church was neither baroque nor Roman, and
it wasn't like a church," explained Wu.
Church administrators welcomed architect firms to submit designs for the new
church, and German company GMP International GmbH came up with the all-white
structure. Wu said the church made clear its interior and exterior requirements,
including ways to cut operating costs.
"I am 150 percent satisfied with the new church's design, and the placement
of cross, bell tower and the appearance are beyond my expectations," said Wu
with a smile. "The church appears like an open Bible and the ascending stairs
make people feel the sense of being a Christian."