After four years' waiting, Northeast China Theological Seminary (NCTS) owns its own church--- the Panshi International Church which can hold up to 960 people. Pastor Kou Youguo, President of NCTS, explains his three expectations toward this new church:
No. 1: To Build It as a Theological Church
Panshi International Church sits in the Shenyang Qipan Mountain scenic spot, away from the residential areas. Kou says that he never thinks there will be lots of audiences but as a church inside the seminary, he hopes it can be a traditional Christian church representative in terms of worship.
No. 2: To Satisfy the Spiritual and Worship Needs of the Teachers and Students
The new church can be a place that provides worship services for its teachers and students. Learning about theology and spiritual life is important to seminary students for it is one’s spiritual life that trains one’s quality. If a seminary student does not have a true spiritual life then he fails. Seminaries are not only there to teach, but to also help students improve on their faith.
No. 3: To Connect Local Churches and Promote the Unity of Churches
Since restarting its operations in 1982, the Northeast China Theological Seminary has trained over 2,000 theological talents for Chinese churches. When alumni come back, there is no church to hold religious services to unite them. When the new church is completed, Kou hopes the church can carry out activities to unite the pastors who have graduated and the current students as a team to build up one another and to revive churches.
Kou says worship life is more cohesive to us, we are together for faith, not depending on social communities or in the operations of other organizations. Christianity is special in that Christians needs faith to connect, sympathize, tolerate, and accept each other. If there is no faith, many worldly things will flow in, depending on the power of the rules or groups.
He hopes the services in the Panshi International Church can unite all the churches existing in different forms in Christ as one.Chinese churches are currently facing one problem: churches reject another for various reasons. Kou thinks we should get over the estrangement and rejection in Christ and continue to build united churches.
He shares, "Chinese churches are still the vulnerable group in the society so we should strengthen them. This means solving internal problems. Having been in a church for over 30 years, I've seen churches that are growing, the outer policies are loosening but there are lots of problems inside churches."
"The seminary students of this generation are not under that historical background so churches shouldn't continue the estrangement and really need mutual acceptance and unity. The Non- Religious Denonimation Period should not just be a slogan. Churches should not be divided into your church or my church, but our church."
"We only have one Savior and one Church, I think. I have been working here for I know most preachers in grass-roots churches want to see mutual acceptance, affirmation, but not denial or belittlement."
When preaching on the Dedication of Panshi International Church held on Oct. 20, Kou stressed in his sermon, "I believe there is only one church, Christ's church." In the communion, he mentioned the unity in Christ once again. He said, "Although we are many, we remain in one body and one church, living a united life. 'A peaceful family will prosper.' (Chinese proverb) Let's hope Chinese churches revive and bless China through our unity."