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Get me to the church on time, Beijing style
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Zhongguancun Christian Church is located among the skyscrapers in the Chinese Silicon Valley district. [Wang Jing] 

Dongjiaominxiang (St. Michael's) Church

Address: No 14, Taijichang Street; Dongcheng district; Tel. 65135170

Built in 1901 by a French missionary, the church is located in Dongjiaominxiang, which evolved into the main diplomatic enclave and international concession in Beijing after the soldiers from eight imperialist nations ravaged Beijing in 1900.

After 1949, the countries that established diplomatic relations with New China first opened their embassies in Dongjiaominxiang but started to move out of the area in 1959.

The church, however, remained and underwent a major renovation in 1986. Gao Hong, the church's priest, participated in the Beijing leg of the Olympic torch relay last Wednesday. 'I am a Chinese and the Games are all about participation,' he said.

Chongwenmen Christian Church

Address: No 2-D, Hougou Hutong, Chongwenmennei Street; Tel. 65133549

A favorite among diplomats working in Beijing, this Protestant church holds services in English. It has also attracted foreign dignitaries and celebrities, including former US President Bill Clinton.

With stained glass windows, it was built as an American Methodist Church in 1870. Called Asbury Church, its scale was quite small, designed to hold only 400 to 500 people. As the number of parishioners increased, the Methodist church began its expansion and the new building was completed in 1882. During the Yihetuan Movement (Boxer Rebellion) of 1900, the church was burned down. In 1902, the Qing Dynasty Government appropriated money to rebuild it and it was completed in the spring of 1904.

Xuanwumen Catholic Church

Address: No 141, Qianmen Xidajie, Xuanwu district

Most churches in Beijing still retain their original architectural style, and Xuanwumen Catholic Church is no exception. Now the seat of the Diocese of Beijing, it is the church where Bishop Li Shan celebrates Mass.

The gothic style church was built in 1605 under the auspices of the Italian Jesuit priest and missionary Matteo Ricci and expanded in 1650 by the German Jesuit missionary Johann Adam Schall von Bell.

Not only is it the oldest Catholic church in the city, but it is also the only

one that celebrates two Masses in English. Like the Chongwenmen Protestant Church, this Catholic church is often visited by foreign dignitaries.

Gangwashi Church

Address: No 57, Xisi Nandajie, Xicheng district; Tel. 66176181

With some 5,000 regular parishioners, the Gangwashi Christian Church holds four Masses on Sundays.

It was first rented for a hospital by the Christian and Missionary Alliance of London in 1863, and also used for religious services. In 1903, alliance members bought more land from a local landlord for expansion.

In 1922, it was rebuilt and members joined the Chinese Christian Society. The complex included a church, a hospital and a school.

Its services stopped during the 'cultural revolution' (1966-1976) but resumed in 1986.

In 1989, South Korean Christians in Beijing began to use the church for their own services.

(China Daily August 10, 2008)

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