An Exchange Program for Religious Leaders
in the United States and China

Leadership Enrichment and Access Program (LEAP)

Organized by the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University


LEAP Tour (General Information):
 China has become the second largest economy in the world. At the same time, religious institutions in China are thriving. LEAP is a unique enrichment program designed to give religious leaders in the United States access to Chinese religious sites, leaders, and universities through a study tour program. In May 2016, LEAP will offer a tour of China for 10 persons. Selections will be made through an open application process on a competitive basis.


Travel in China: First, LEAP will host these leaders at Purdue University providing them with an orientation of readings and lectures by experts and preparing them to visit China. The participants will leave from Purdue on an 18-day tour that will include Beijing in the north, Lanzhou in the west, and Shanghai in the south. The participants will participate in seminars on Chinese religions. They will also visit religious sites (e.g., churches, temples, monasteries), and have discussions with local religious leaders. Our site visits will focus on the most rapidly developing religions (Christianity and Buddhism), but will also include visits to Catholic, Daoist, and Islamic venues. Upon their return, LEAP will host the leaders at Purdue University for debriefing and discussions. All participants are required to submit a report of observations and reflections within one month after the study tour.


Why do Religious Leaders in the United States Need to Experience the New Religious Growth Going on in China Today?
 China is a new frontier of economic development, and an increasing number of Americans have encountered Chinese culture through business and other opportunities. Religious leaders in the United States need to better understand this new frontier so that they can be equipped to speak meaningfully about it based on China-related experiences.These experiences will also equip religious leaders to open doors of communication with Chinese business leaders and college students whose numbers in the United States are growing. Indeed, Christianity has been growing fast in China to the point that it is now on the list of the top ten countries with largest number of Christians (Pew Report of Global Christianity, 2011). How do Christians manage to thrive in China? How have they been contributing in positive ways to modern life in Chinese society? The LEAP tour of China will focus on the roles American religious leaders can contribute to a productive dialogue between American and Chinese societies. We are committed that we can learn from each other’s experiences, enhance mutual understanding, and enrich our lives and professional work. This will help American religious communities, organizations, seminaries, and universities become more enriched and well-informed concerning the globalization of religion in the 21st Century.


Center on Religion and Chinese Society (CRCS) at Purdue University: has become recognized as a preeminent center for the study of religion in China in the United States. Through the organizational work and research activities, CRCS has become a bridge for scholars and peoples across the Pacific and around the globe (see for more information). Since officially established in 2008, CRCS has organized annual conferences, workshops, lectures, public forums, and research projects. Particularly pertinent to LEAP are the following:


• Making Connections in China. The CRCS has developed an extensive network of scholars and religious leaders in various parts of China.


• An International Forum. The annual Summer Institutes and Conferences have regularly involved religious leaders and scholars from the US and Europe in addition to scholars from various parts of China.


• Fostering Change. In summers of 2011 and 2012, the CRCS hosted a group of 20 scholars from various universities in China at Purdue for a month-long workshop, along with a number of well-known scholars as guest speakers, and visited churches and social service organizations in the area.


• The CRCS sponsors visiting scholars, journalists, lawyers, and artists.


Cost: The LEAP program costs $17,500. This includes all expenses at Purdue and in China (airfare, lodging, meals, tours, reading materials, etc.). Eligible religious leaders should apply for funds through the Lilly Endowment Renewal Programs ( to defray the cost of this trip. Applicants for the 2016 LEAP tour will need to apply for the Lilly Endowment funds by April 15, 2015.


Schedule: The first three-week LEAP tour will take place in May 2016. Participants will arrive at Purdue on May 4, and will depart for China on May 7. We will return to the U.S.A. on May 23. Participants will stay in West Lafayette for two-day debriefing.


Day 1 May 4 Arrive at Purdue University
Day 2-3 May 5-6 Orientation and seminars at Purdue University
Day 4-5 May 7-8 Depart for Shanghai.
Day 6-9 May 9-12 Visit the Shanghai Area that will include: historic and new Protestant and Catholic Churches; Buddhist and Daoist temples, as well as seminars at prominent universities.
Day 10 May 13 Depart for Lanzhou
Day 11-14 May 14-17 Visit the Lanzhou Area that will include: historical sites of the ancient Silk Road such as ancient Nestorian Christian Churches, and Buddhist and Zoroastrian sites, as well as churches and mosques.
Day 15 May 18 Flight to Beijing
Day 16-19 May 19-22 Visit the Beijing area that will include: historic and new Protestant and Catholic churches, the Buddhist Temple of Yong-he-gong, the Temple of Heaven, the White Cloud Daoist Temple, as well as seminars at the prominent universities in Beijing.

Day 20 May 23 Return to the U.S.A.
Day 21-22 May 24-25 Debriefing at Purdue University
Day 23 May 26 LEAP participants return Home


Beijing Haidian Christian Church



National Seminary of Catholic Church in China



Beijing Yonghe Lama Temple



Beijing Baiyun Daoist Temple



Lanzhou Catholic Church



Lanzhou Shanzishi Christian Church



Lanzhou Xiguan Mosque



Shanghai Xujiahui Catholic Church



Shanghai International Community Fellowship



Shanghai Jade Buddhist Temple



Download flyer


Application: cover letter, resume, narrative about yourself, your church or institution, and your desire to participate in the LEAP tour. You must also arrange for two letters of recommendation (to be included with your application) materials. Deadline for application is: February 1, 2016. The completed application may be emailed as attached files to or sent through postal mail to:



Center on Religion and Chinese Society

Stone Hall, Room 306

700 West State Street

Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN 47907


For more information, please visit, or send an email to, or call 765-494-5801.