JINAN -- The hometown of China's great philosopher, Confucius, in east China's Shandong Province, is scheduled to build its first large Christian church.
Holy Trinity Church, covering 2667 square meters, will be located in Yuzhuang Village of Qufu City, 3 km from Confucius' Temple. The Gothic style church will be 41.7 meters high, as shown on its blueprint.
"It will be the first 'real' church in Qufu, since the one we have now is a makeshift building. It can only hold seven or eight hundred people and is not big enough," said Feng Zongjie, head of the Qufu Municipal Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China.
Qufu has nearly 10,000 Christians, said Feng.
Although building a church in China is nothing new, it means a lot since the Christian church is to be built in Confucius' hometown, a symbol of Chinese civilization, said pastor Kong Xiangling, a 75th generation of Confucius.
An exchange center for Christianity and Confucianism will also be built here as a venue to hold forums for the exchange and dialogue between the two civilizations, said pastor Gao Ming, head of the Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches and the Christian Council of Jining City, which administers Qufu.
"The building of the church shows the spread of Christianity, while the exchange center will facilitate Christianity to blend in China and have an impact on China," said Gao.
Yang Guoqing, a Christian, said: "To build a church here means it will be a place where two different civilizations meet and mix."
The church is expected to cost 20 million yuan (US$3 million) and one third of the investment has been raised. The land use has been approved by the local authorities and the blueprint is under review, said Feng.
"The new church will be able to hold 3,000 people. And the church construction is expected to be completed in two years," said Kong Wei, head of Qufu Municipal Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau.
Christianity has spread rapidly in China with over 55,000 churches and 23 million Christians now in the country.
Confucius, of the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC to 476 BC), advocated morality, honesty and good manners. His teachings were found in the "Analects of Confucius", compiled by his students many years after his death.
At the Nishan Forum on World Civilizations, which were held in Qufu on September 26 and 27, 2010, domestic and overseas scholars drew upon the wisdom of the ancient sages, Confucius and Jesus, to broaden the possibilities for peaceful solutions of life' s daily issues.