I read with interest this story about the new website about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in China. I have some connection to the church in China (a tiny one) only because I visited one of the expat branches in Shanghai a couple of years ago, and I used to attend church in Taipei when we lived there. And my daughter presently serves a Mandarin speaking mission in the US.
The story includes a brief video from Elder Oaks and a link to the website itself. The website is available in English as well as simplified and traditional Chinese characters. (Simplified characters are more common in the PRC; traditional in Taiwan.)
There are Q&A sections for folks who join the church outside of China and want to return to the PRC, and for priesthood leaders who have people in that circumstance. What a terrific resource!
I’m fascinated with the church’s presence in China and with our meticulous adherence to local regulations (expat congregations are separate from local congregations and no proselyting in the PRC, for instance). Those regulations, by the way, apply to all denominations, not just ours. I have expat acquaintances – both from the US and from Taiwan -- from other faiths who are subject to the same restrictions.
I’m thrilled that the website addresses the wild speculation of proselyting missionaries’ being sent to the PRC (not happening). And that there are clear Q&As for members who join the church outside of China but need information about how to find a congregation in China (the website provides contact information).
There are some fascinating opportunities and challenges already for the church in China. For instance, the Chinese culture’s keen interest in family history has made family history research for members a remarkable experience. When we did youth baptisms in the Taipei temple, it was not unusual to do work for people who were born “BC” – something I’ve never seen in western records. At the time we were in Taipei, we were told that Taipei and Hong Kong were the only temples handling the Chinese character names. (I imagine as Chinese converts increase in other major cities around the world that also have temples, perhaps some of those names could go to those temples, too, but I have no knowledge of that.)
What a terrific step forward the website is. Hopefully it will help PRC citizens who find the church overseas stay connected when they return home.