Group hopes to establish Barnsley as pilgrimage destination for Chinese believers

A Heritage trail is being developed which will bring big-spending Chinese tourists into Barnsley town centre, a new group hopes.

The James Hudson Taylor group wants to erect up to 12 plaques in his honour around the town, reports the Barnsley Chronicle, as well as featuring the China Inland Mission founder in a new museum opening in the town hall in July.

Hudson Taylor, a 19th century Christian missionary, is little known in Barnsley but is hailed as a spiritual leader by more than 70 million Christians in the Far East, said group chairman John Foster.

John runs Foster's Bakery and is chairman of the Barnsley Work and Skills Board. He insists the trail is more than a pipe dream and believes the economic spin-off could revitalise the ailing economy.

He said: "More than 50 per cent of the overseas tourists visiting Britain are Chinese and they are already visiting places like York and Haworth.

"They've got spending power and are visiting in massive numbers. There are more Christians in China and the Far East who owe their heritage to James Hudson-Taylor than there are people in Britain."

Some Chinese pilgrims have already visited Barnsley to pay homage to Hudson Taylor. One kissed the ground outside Boots where he was born.

Hudson Taylor left for Shanghai in 1853 at the age of 21, and by the time of his death in 1905 some 125,000 Chinese Christians were part of the China Inland Mission, later to become OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship). Conservative estimates today put the number of believers in China at a minimum of 70 million.

 

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