China: Huge new church to open in Guangzhou city as elsewhere pastors are imprisoned

Guangzhou's new Tianhe Church will be the largest ever built in the city.CCC & TSPM

The largest church ever to be built in Guangzhou, capital of China's Guangdong province, is to open its doors soon.

Combining modern features with traditional Chinese architecture, it is described by the China Christian Daily as "a landmark of Christianity in China".

It is set to be opened at some time during the first half of this year.

Tianhe Church is the first new church building to be erected in the province since the Revolution of 1949 and the creation of the People's Republic of China.

Taking 10 years to contruct, it is designed to be a multi-purpose building with a hall, chapel, bell tower and administrative buildings. It will have an underground parking area covering 2,493 square metres.

Yang Yongchun, Pastor of Tianhe Church, told China Christian Daily the opening of the church had "great religious and social significance". He said it was not only useful for its members but could set the standard for a religious building that would promote harmonious social development in wider Chinese society.

While the Church in China is under pressure in some areas, particularly in Zhejiang Province where churches have been demolished, crosses torn down and pastors and lawyers imprisoned, elsewhere it is allowed to flourish relatively unhindered. 

Guangzhou has several large and historic Christian churches, including the spectacular Gothic Sacred Heart Cathedral. Built in 1863, it is one of only four Gothic-style churches in the world to be built entirely of granite.

Another large church, Guangxiao, was built in around 1924 and was funded by Chinese Christians rather than Western missionaries. Like the new Tianhe Church, it also shows Chinese architectural influences.