Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Church in Shanghai

I had the opportunity to spend eight of the last ten weeks in China on business (two trips, four weeks each). While there I attended the Shanghai Pudong Branch in the Shanghai China International District. And my last Sunday I was able to attend a district conference of the Shanghai China International District, as well.

The Chinese government allows for religious freedom, but places some restrictions on the church there. Like other denominations, expatriate branches of the church are open only to holders of foreign (non-Peoples Republic of China) passports, or the spouses of holders of such passports. Church members are not to disseminate church literature to Chinese nationals, nor are they to proselyte in any way. In the branch I attended, an announcement in the bulletin and also from the stand at the beginning of sacrament meeting made this policy clear.

Non-LDS friends in China also indicated that their experience is the same at their churches. (They attend different denominations in different languages: English, German, Spanish and Mandarin (Taiwanese).)

I'm impressed (but not surprised) that the church is so cautious. Until sometime last year, the church was recognized by the national government, but not by the local Shanghai government, so they could not rent a public space for meetings. With the official recognition in Shanghai, the church can now rent a beautiful conference center for Sunday services of the two Shanghai branches. There were two other branches represented at the district conference: Nanjing and Suzhou. I didn't count noses, but I'd estimate we had over 500 people there for the Sunday session of conference.

One of the things I noticed early on in my visits to the Pudong Branch was the absence of full time missionaries. When we lived in Taiwan, we met in a stake center next to the temple, and shared our building with five wards, and there were full time missionaries in the building throughout the day on Sunday. Not having missionaries in regular church meetings was strange to me. (The last time I attended a ward without missionaries was in Provo while I was at BYU.)

Of course, lessons and topics are common, though the population of these branches is more diverse than my suburban ward in Southeast Michigan. In the branch I attended, over the course of my visit I heard speakers from the US, Japan, Korea, Australia, the Philippines and Italy. Many (including Americans) have been in China for years. A young man of Korean birth spoke in district conference. He said his family had been in China for ten years which meant he's probably attended all his schooling in China. And others were from close to home. I sat next to someone from my home stake in Michigan during conference.

It's a rich blessing for the saints to be able to meet wherever they find themselves. I know I was glad to have the Pudong Branch to call my own for the weeks I was in Shanghai.

UPDATE:  Because this particular post generates a lot of traffic, I'm adding a link to my more recent post on the Church's website on the Church in China.  You can read the post here.


  1. Paul,

    Do you have the addresses of both PuXi and PuDong branches? What are the meeting times?

    Please email me at jbrown@petmate.com. I am scheduled to head back to China this on 4/11 and the last time I was in Shanghai on Sunday they split the Shanghai Branch into PuXi and PuDong, so I am no longer sure of the addresses and times.

    Joe Brown

  2. I found the following addresses and phone numbers.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
    Puxi Branch
    1720 Hong Qiao Road,
    House #7 Shang Mira Garden
    Tel: 5257-0256

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
    Pudong Branch
    The Emerald Forest #41
    The Emerald
    2888 Hu Nan Road
    Kang Qiao Area.
    Tel: 1331-185-2233

    Unfortunately no meeting times but I guess I can call when I arrive. If someone can post meeting times it would be great.

    Do they speak English in the meetings or Chinese?

    Best Regards,

  3. Dave (and others), if you go to lds.org and choose tools/maps/find a meetinghouse, you can locate the meetinghouse in Shanghai:

    2/F Conference Center, Yongda International Tower
    2277 Longyanglu, Pudong

    Both the Shanghai (Puxi) and Pudong branches meet in the same building.

    Here's the link to the map:


    If you click on the address at the church website, a pop-up box tells you what times the branches meet. Both are in English and are for holders of non-Chinese passports and their families only.

    Clicking on either branch name will give contact info for the unit leader.

    When I was there, I was able to take a cab very easily by having the concierge at my hotel write the name and address in Chinese. I learned quickly to take the subway (the building is less than a 10 minute walk from the nearest station).

  4. Hi, my name is Nick Elliott. I am 22 and will be attending Shanghai JiaoTong University in September. I just wanted to get some information about the branch as well as any advice about apartments or homestays near the University. I'm not sure you know how to answer my questions, but if you can't maybe you could connect me with someone who could. Phone:(801) 979-2420, email: medicimansion@gmail.com. thanks for your help!