Memorial Service for Chinese Theologian Chen Zemin Held in Nanjing

By Grace Zhi, June 13, 2018 11:06 AM

On June 8, 2018, the funeral for Professor Chen Zemin were held in Nanjing.

The memorial service for Professor Chen Zemin was conducted in Nanjing Saint Paul's Church on June 8, 2018.

On June 8, 2018, the funeral and memorial service for Professor Chen Zemin were held in Nanjing.

Last Monday, the renowned Chinese theologian died at the age of 101.

Rev. Chen Yilu, the standing vice-dean of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary(NUTS), said in the funeral sermon that the retired NUTS honorary president was a lover of learning who still learned how to use a computer at an old age. His theology was practical rather than a tower of ivory.

Rev. Lv Dezhi, president of Heilongjiang Theological Seminary, said in the memorial service sermon that Professor Chen was sent to a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution, but often rejoiced by the mercy of the Lord. Since 1991, Chen was the senior pastor of St. Paul's Church. After the retirement, he often answered theological students' questions and encouraged them to explore further Chinese theology. 

Professor Zhang Xianyong from Sun Yat-sen University stated that the liberal theologian maintained good relations with academia, who participated in the compilation of the book An Introduction to Science of Religion, a popular university textbook.

Rev. Ma Jianhua from Anhui witnessed the senior's contribution to theology and love for students.

Hailed as one of three pillars of NUTS along with Bishop K.H.Ting and Professor Wang Weifan, Chen was a systematic theologian who dedicated his life to Chinese theology and ecclesiology. In later years, he started to study etiquette and traditional sacred music.

Meanwhile, he really cared about students. Rev. Ma recalled that knowing that she was fond of Chinese instruments erhu and guzheng, Chen hired a student of a local art university to teach her. After she graduated from the seminary and served in Huangshan in 1988, Chen took the initiative to extend greetings to her many times and helped her raise money for her church construction.

Born in Shantou of Guangdong in 1917, Professor Chen received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Shanghai in 1941. Three years later, he got a diploma of theology from NUTS. In 1995, he was granted a doctoral degree of theology by the University of the Philippines. Since 1952, he taught systematic theology, historical theology, church music in NUTS. Later he became the provost and vice president of the seminary and the senior pastor of Nanjing St. Paul's Church.

In the 1950s, Chen and former church leaders like Bishop K.H. Ting put forward the claim that "theology is that the church is thinking". He emphasized on letting Chinese theology make a dialogue with western theology, Chinese cultures, and the era. Also a lover of music, Chen wrote many catchy hymns with Chinese characteristics, including Easter Morning and The Miraculous Pen of Divine Work.

In 1979, he started to supervise the postgraduate students from a religious institute of Nanjing University. He was also one of the editors of the religion volume of China's Encyclopedia of Religion.  

- Translated by Karen Luo 

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