At first glance Sunday in Guangzhou, China, looks like every other day of the week. The place is bustling and open for business. But Sunday does have its rituals — church being one. The official Catholic Church (i.e., state supervised, does not answer to Rome) is packed with worshippers. Mass is so well attended that there is not enough room for everyone inside. It’s beyond standing-room only. Chinese, Filipinos and Africans from a number of countries spill out onto the parvis.
After mass, a few people remain behind to pray and tourists take photos. Many of the Africans head next door for the Charismatic Catholic service, which, this Sunday at least, was a 100% African affair.
There are also dozens of Protestant churches catering to different communities scattered across Guangzhou. Most of these churches are not recognized by the state. Sunday services begin around noon, last most of the afternoon and end with a meal. It’s an important time to take a (short) break from business, get a spiritual recharge and connect with the community.