For the past 5 years, the Changlepuo Church in Baqiao District, Xi'an City, has been holding worship meetings in the ruins of an abandoned building. Now, the renovation project of their new church is about to be completed. On November 18, 2018, they will host their first Sunday worship service at the new location.
The new church is located diagonally opposite the old church and is on the third floor of a shopping center. Stepping into the new church, the whole church looks very bright - white walls and white ceilings, various chandeliers, and wall lamps. Behind the podium is a cross on the wall with the engraved word "Emmanuel". It's a great contrast to the old dark church.
With a floor area of more than 650 square meters (0.16 acres), the building includes a chapel, a poetry room, a room for the worship band, a reception room, a kitchen, a study room, and a bathroom. Due to the shortage of funds for this new venue, the church has adopted the approach of both semi-purchase and semi-rental. The purchase costs more than 5 million yuan. After the down payment, it will pay 100,000 yuan per month. The other half (rental) will cost more than 130,000 yuan per year for 10 years. Within the ten years, the venue can be purchased at any time at the current price.
The Changlepo Church began in 1965. In its more than 50 year history, it has experienced four different stages of gathering as a church. Today, the congregation finally has its own stable place it can call home.
At first, churchgoers gathered in a cave that belonged to the father-in-law of the current church leader, Jia Shuqin. During the stage when the church was at its peak, there were about 100 people in the cave. At that time in the cave, people were everywhere--in different rooms or on the heated brick bed. In 1991, the congregation moved to the east bank of the Weihe River and rented a piece of land to set up its own meeting place. At that time the rent was 1,000 yuan per year. This stage was when the church thrived and was at its peak. Ten rooms were built and when joined together had a length of 30 meters and could seat up to 1,000 believers.
On December 3, 2006, after the 15-year lease contract had expired on the land at that location, the church was forced to move to the warehouse for its gatherings. The warehouse had 8 rooms which covered more than 400 square meters. At that time, the church had between seven and eight hundred believers.
Later, the warehouse was not permitted to be used and thus demolished. So the church started looking for a new location for its gatherings. On October 20, 2013, after more than two months of cleaning and preparation, it moved into the abandoned building that they had used up until recently for worship prior to relocating to the new church. On November 11, the church held the last Sunday service in the old church, and will then move into the new church building. On November 18, the first Sunday worship will be held in the new venue, and the celebration will be held on November 30th.
- Translated by Jake Jason