The LDS Church has formally established a relationship with China in which the Church as well as its members will have greater freedom in operating and worshiping in the most populous country in the world. This is a huge breakthrough for the LDS Church. KSL is reporting that the the two parties have chosen to call the expansion of religious freedom for Mormons in China a "regularizing" of Church activity in that country:
While the Church makes it clear its agreement with Chinese leaders does not mean LDS missionaries will go to China, it appears there will now be fewer restrictions for members of the Church who live in China as they practice their faith.At a meeting held Aug. 24 at LDS Church headquarters, the First Presidency met with a senior official of the People's Republic of China. Together they established a relationship, which the Church expects will lead to "regularizing the activities of the Church in China.""The Church deeply appreciates the courtesy of the Chinese leadership in opening up a way to better define how the Church and its members can proceed with daily activities, all in harmony with Chinese law," LDS Church spokesman Michael Otterson said MondayBoth sides agreed to publicly acknowledge the meeting. LDS members with connections to China believe the announcement is a major breakthrough for the LDS Church.
What does regularizing of Church activity mean in China? The LDS newsroom has the answer:
“It is important to understand what the term regularizing means, and what it does not mean,” Church spokesman Michael Otterson said. “It does not mean that we anticipate sending missionaries to China. That issue is not even under consideration.“The Church deeply appreciates the courtesy of the Chinese leadership in opening up a way to better define how the Church and its members can proceed with daily activities, all in harmony with Chinese law.”Otterson said that many details need to be worked out in further discussions with Chinese officials but that the pending developments were the result of 30 years of building mutual trust with the Chinese.“They have become thoroughly familiar with us through numerous contacts, and they have seen how we and our members operate in China. They know that we are people of our word when it comes to respecting Chinese law and cultural expectations,” he said.
What is interesting is that the Church claims that John Huntsman played no role in the discussion and that no other U.S. government official were involved in the discussion. While John Huntsman may not have had any official role in making this historic agreement happen, I think the Chinese government were impressed with him as a person who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that it may have had some bearing on their decision to regularize Church activity in China.
Regardless, the Lord does work in amazing ways to get countries to open up to the Gospel.