Beijing: Churches in China are all set to present their first overseas Bible Ministry exhibition in the US to promote religious exchanges between the two countries.

Reverend Cao Shengjie, president of the China Christian Council, said Tuesday that the exhibition will be held from April 27 to June 12. The announcement came as President Hu Jintao started his first state visit to the US.

Cao told a press conference that the exhibition focuses on "how God is working in China and how the Chinese Christians spread the Bible in China."

Entitled "A Lamp to My Feet, A Light to My Path", the event features the early history of the Bible in China, Bible publication and distribution since 1980, Bible Ministries for Ethnic Minority churches, Bible and church life as well as Christian art works from six galleries.

Sponsored by the council along with the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China, the exhibition will be held at the Crystal Cathedral in Los Angeles from April 27 to May 4.

It will then be staged at the Second-Ponce De Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta from May 19 to May 24, and at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City from June 5 to June 12.

Cao described it as a "historic event" in Sino-US religious exchanges.

"I hope the exhibition will help create greater dialogue and strengthen friendship between Christians in China and the US," Cao said. "It will also help promote a better understanding between Chinese and Americans."

Honorary chairpersons for the exhibition include former US president Jimmy Carter, who will address the Atlanta opening. Over 80 local Christian organisations have sponsored the event.

"I am looking forward to supporting the exhibition in everyway I can. I believe the exhibition will be a good learning experience for the Americans to see more and more of what is going on in China," Carter said in a recorded TV message.

The Protestant church on the Chinese mainland is one of the fastest growing in the world today, with the number of Christians having reached more than 16 million. There are now 55,000 churches and meeting points in China, with 36,000 pastoral personnel.

In the last two decades, more than 40 million Bibles in 475,605 different editions have been printed and distributed across the Chinese mainland.


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