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Posted 26 Mar 2001   For week ended March 23, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 24Mar01

By Mark Wright

Provo Chinese Ward Celebrates First Anniversary

Provo Chinese Ward Celebrates First Anniversary

PROVO, UTAH -- BYU has a strong international flavor and is known as a place where people from all around the world can find someone else who understands their culture. This is due in large part to the many returned missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have served missions in all parts of the world. These missionaries typically return to BYU with a deep love and respect for the culture and the people of the countries where they served. Additionally, there are significant numbers of foreign nationals pursuing their educational objectives at BYU.

One noteworthy collection of international students is found in the BYU Chinese Ward. The only ward at BYU of its kind, this ward conducts all weekly meetings in Mandarin Chinese. The Chinese Ward was formed from three Asian wards that had originally been created for students from China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam and other Asian countries. Having been created just one year ago, the Ward is currently celebrating it's first birthday with a month-long celebration.

While there are 47 Chinese-speaking wards located outside of Asia proper, the BYU Chinese ward is the largest group with about 140 members. The purpose of the Chinese Ward is simple. The Ward is designed to give native Chinese members from mainland China an opportunity to see how the Church runs and to prepare them for future leadership positions in their native country. According to Alan Cheung, a doctorate student from Hong Kong and first counselor in the Chinese Ward, "We need to take care of the new Chinese members because as mainland China opens (to the Church), these members will be able to return and build the Church there."

In addition to serving as a training ground for future Church leaders, the Chinese Ward is fertile ground for making new friends and nourishing converts. Membership in the Ward is up more than 50% from one year ago and the membership roster includes both native Chinese members and returned missionary couples (husbands and wives) like the Robinsons, who both served missions in Taiwan. "Because we both speak Chinese, we want to serve the Chinese people," Robison said. "We can't serve in China yet, so I guess this is the next best thing." Interestingly, not all of the regulars in attendance are baptized members of the Church. For example, Xing Kan, 30, an MBA student at the Marriott School of Business, said his wife is a non-member who "is more active than many of the members." Kan explained his wife's enthusiasm for Church meetings by noting that "She really enjoys being with the other Chinese members."

Hopefully, the Chinese Ward will continue to serve as a gathering place for those who share the common heritage of the Chinese language, no matter where they're from.


Chinese Church of Jesus Christ members find haven in Provo
BYU NewsNet 20Mar01 D1
By Stephen Snow: NewsNet Staff Writer


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