From December 22 to 25, 2019, the historic St. John Church in Suzhou held a series of activities to mark Christmas, including a Christmas baptism service and a Christmas eve worship.
On Christmas Eve, a special worship service of carols, songs, dances, and biblical plays was attended by around 500 people, according to the church.
A 37-year-old Christian, the director and writer of a stage play entitled "Full-Scale Memory", said that approximately ten believers performed the drama. It aimed at pointing out that the wisdom of life was to know the one true God.
He told CCD that he was touched by the members' attitude toward Christmas celebrations, namely that the festival was solemn and formal. The focus of Christmas should always be Jesus and the celebrations must take the theme to the heart of participants more deeply. He added that the Christmas Eve worship service had slightly fewer in attendance than before including students.
He hoped that more people would join the celebrations. His dream was that a national celebration of the birth of Jesus could be held in the future, filled with dances and songs.
A 40-year-old sister who became a Christian more than 15 years ago said that the forms and content of Christmas activities remained the same every year, but the expectation was different. She expected Christmas to focus more on repentance.
What moved her was not any program, but an elderly sister who joined a dance performance. In 2019, the latter lost her beloved only daughter and husband, but still seemed joyful when dancing to praise the Lord.
She suggested that before the celebrations take place, the church should be more specific in program preparation through a survey by finding out more about the basic interest and focus of believers and non-believers.
About 30 converts were baptized in the Christmas service held last Sunday after a systematic study in a catechism course.
Neighboring the Suzhou University which was founded by Methodists in 1900, Suzhou St. John Church was originally built by missionaries of the US Methodist Episcopal Church. Nobel Laureate Dr. Tsung Dao Lee's grandfather Rev. Dr. LI Zhongdao served as the first Chinese senior pastor. Covering an area of 2,500 square meters, it has 800 members with an average attendance of 500.