Washington exhibition traces history of the Bible in China - Word&Way

Washington exhibition traces history of the Bible in China

WASHINGTON — Ask most American Christians where the largest Bible printing facility in the world is and they might imagine Nashville, Dallas or London to hold that honor. Few would guess the correct answer: China.


Donald Barnes, a former English teacher in China and a member of Groveton Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., studies a display at the Bible exhibit. (Photo by Jim White)

On Sept. 28, opening ceremonies were held in Washington for the first of a four-city tour of “Thy Word is Truth: The Bible Ministry Exhibition of the Protestant Church in China.” Chinese dignitaries and invited guests assembled at Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church to celebrate the exhibition’s opening.

Addressing the assembly were representatives of most American Protestant denominations. Speaking for Baptists were John Upton, president of the Baptist World Alliance and executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, and Daniel Vestal, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, who also served on the event’s advisory committee. 

Referring to the diverse denominations present, Upton told the group, “It is ironic, that it has taken the church in a distant part of the world to bring us all together [in support of this exhibition].” Upton – a former missionary who served in Taiwan — concluded his remarks in Mandarin to the delighted murmurings and applause of the crowd.

The event was organized by the China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, both components of the registered church in China, to tell the history of the Bible in China and the influence the Scriptures have had in Chinese life and art. Through museum-quality displays, the exhibition covers a period from the entry of Nestorian Christianity in the eighth century until today.

Among the guests at the opening ceremony were Donald and Karen Barnes, members of Groveton Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va. Together they spent eight years in China teaching English and sharing their faith as they had opportunity.

“It is really well done,” said Donald of the exhibition. “In terms of both quality and quantity it is much more than I expected.”

The exhibition is free and may be viewed through Sunday, Oct. 2, at Wesley Theological Seminary’s downtown campus located at 908 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., in Washington, at the following times:
Thursday and Friday, Sept. 29-30, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 2, from 2 to 6 p.m.

Conferences will be offered Saturday, Oct. 1, on “Church Ministries and Church Life in Urban Churches in China” (10 a.m. to noon) and “Theological Education in China” (2 to 4 p.m.)
From Washington  the exhibition travels to Chicago (Oct. 12-16); Dallas (Oct. 30-Nov. 3); and Charlotte, N.C. (Nov. 8-19).

Jim White (jwhite@religiousherald.org) is editor of the Religious Herald.