Seventh-day Adventist world church President Ted N. C. Wilson will maintain a cooperative relationship with China's officially recognized Protestant organization.
"Although the Adventist Church has distinct doctrines, we are certainly open to cooperating with fellow Christians who are lifting up Christ," Wilson said following a meeting with representatives of the China Christian Council at Adventist Church headquarters on July 6.
The China Christian Council/Three-Self Patriotic Movement is the officially recognized religious organization that oversees the activities of Protestant churches in mainland China.
While the Adventist Church established a relationship with the China Christian Council in the mid-1990s, Council representatives for the first time attended a General Conference Session, meeting in Atlanta, Georgia last week.
The visit helped cement the China Christian Council's perception of Adventists as a "mainstream" Protestant denomination, said world church General Vice President Eugene Hsu, a native of China.
"Even though China doesn't recognize denominational structure internally, the fact they allowed a delegation to attend Session shows they are aware of the global scope of the Adventist Church," Hsu said.
Maintaining "cordial relationships" and constructive dialogue with other denominations' leaders facilitates mutual understanding among faith groups, leaders from the church's Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department said at this week's meeting.
The China Christian Council delegation included Xuebin Shen, vice chairperson of the organization's National Committee; Jun Wang, chairperson of its Shaanxi chapter; Zhiming Zhu, vice president of the Wuxi Christian Council; and Meiying Shi, secretary of the Overseas Relations department of the China Christian Council.
The delegation asked how Adventists relate to other denominations, and whether Adventist-run seminaries enroll non-Adventist students. Shen was impressed with the church's commitment to healthy living, adding that he might try a vegetarian diet for a year, Hsu said.
During the meeting, Wilson accepted an invitation to meet with China Christian Council officials in China.