Norwich church inspires China's Olympic city
By Mike Wiltshire
The King’s Centre
has inspired a similar development in Olympic host city Beijing
in a central business district within half a mile of the famous Tianamen Square
One of the leaders from the 1,500-strong Beijing International Christian Fellowship (BICF) visited the King’s Centre in Norwich “and loved what he saw”, says Goff Hope, lead elder of King’s Community Church.
Goff (pictured right) and his wife, Angie, were also in Beijing for six months last year to encourage the international Christian community in the Olympic city and whilst there helped design the Crosspoint project as a mini-conference centre with adjacent internet coffee shop which together creates a facility designed for a variety of uses including cultural exchange and languages classes for overseas visitors. It has yet to reach its full potential as they seek all the necessary approvals.
There are, of course, restrictions about the location of larger BICF services, which began over a decade ago and now attract at least 1,500 people from 70 nations. They are allowed to meet in three locations around Beijing, slightly further away from the city centre and services are in English and several other languages.
Only foreign-passport holders are allowed to attend BICF meetings, but local believers in Beijing (officially numbered at 40,000) do have places of worship and are even allowed to build new ones.
Beijing, now home to 11 million people, is the political, cultural and diplomatic centre of China.
The Norwich church also has a great regard for China and has sent funds for relief work following the earthquake that destroyed 15 million homes and killed 69,000 people in May this year.
Goff was invited to China by Rob Glover who heads up Care for Children, and works with the government in the areas of child care, orphanages and fostering work.
The leaders of BICF's Central Business District congregation were inspired by the Norwich centre which is active seven days a week “seeking to connect with the community, 24/7.”
“The new and very modern Bejing facility is a mini King’s Centre, planned along the same lines as our own conference centre in Norwich,” says Goff.
Half a million foreign visitors, including more than 20,000 foreign media personnel are heading for the Chinese capital to cover the Olympics which begin on August 8 - “it seems the whole world is coming to Beijing, ” said Goff.
He adds: “It’s an incredibly stimulating place, a city in a hurry, but not without its challenges.”
King’s Church is part of the New Frontiers international family of churches: “Our passion and privilege is to help the church at large in any way we can,” says Goff, who will shortly be visiting the Middle East to assist a New Frontiers church in Dubai.
Pictured above are members from BICF and Goff Hope from Norwich's King's Centre.