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 (General Information)

The Exchange Program:
China has become the second largest economy in the world. At the same time, Christianity and other religions 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. LEAP also includes the opportunity for the participants to invite religious leaders from China to visit their communities or institutions on a return exchange. LEAP will offer two tours in 2015, one in the Spring for 10 persons, and another in the Fall for 10 persons. Selections will be made through an open application process on a competitive basis. 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 a two-week tour that will include Beijing in the north, Lanzhou in the west, and Shanghai in the south. The participants will participate in seminars with Chinese specialists on religion in China. They will also visit religious sites (churches and temples), and have discussions with local religious leaders. Site visits will include the five approved religions in China: Christianity (Protestant), Catholicism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Islam. Focus will be on the fast growing religions (Christianity and Buddhism) in various rural and urban 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.


The Return Exchange Program:
The U.S. exchange participants will be able to recommend 1-2 Chinese religious leaders they meet in China for a return exchange visit to their community or institution. LEAP will select the recommended candidates and bring them to the United States on the return exchange. They will also be able to participate in workshops and seminars with American religious leaders. The return exchange participants will be hosted by LEAP at Purdue University providing them with readings and lectures to prepare them for their visit in America. They will stay with their host institution for two weeks where they will be enriched by their experience and will contribute to the host institution by giving presentations. Prior to their return, they will visit Purdue University for debriefing and discussions about their experience in the United States and plans for the future in China. The participants are required to submit a report of observations and reflections within one month after their exchange visit with the American church or institution.


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 both economic development and Christian growth. An increasing number of Americans have experienced China 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 GlobalChristianity , 2011). How do Christians manage to thrive in China? How have they been contributing in positive ways to modern life in Chinese society? These are important questions for American religious leaders in the era of globalization. Given the strong interest in the United States in this particular issue, the exchanges will focus especially on this phenomenon. Through the LEAP exchanges and return exchanges, American and Chinese religious leaders will learn from each other’s experiences, enhance mutual understanding, and enrich their lives and professional work. This would 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:
Dr. Fenggang Yang, CRCS Director and Professor of Sociology, is President-Elect of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. He has given many invited lectures and presentations at major universities in the US, China, Asia, and Europe. He has also been interviewed about religion in China by major media organizations, including the National Public Radio, ABC Radio International, the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times.


The CRCS 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:


  • The CRCS has developed an extensive network of scholars and religious leaders in various parts of China.
  • 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.
  • 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 fee includes all expenses at Purdue, in China (airfare, lodging, meals, tours, reading materials, etc.), and for the return exchange of a Chinese religious leader (airfare, lodging, meals, etc.):

Option 1: $26,842 if the participant lives in driving distance to Purdue and the exchange Chinese leader stays with a host family for the two-week visit;

Option 2: $30,792 if the participant lives in driving distance to Purdue and the exchange Chinese leader stays at a hotel for the two-week visit;

Option 3: $27,062 if the participant needs to fly to Purdue and the exchange Chinese leader stays with a host family for the two-week visit;

Option 4: $31,012 if the participant needs to fly to Purdue and the exchange Chinese leader stays at a hotel for the two-week visit.


LEAP (Exchange Dates and Sites)

Schedule: The three-week 2015 LEAP exchanges will take place in May and October with the following schedule:

Day 1 May 8 October 3 Arrive at Purdue University
Day 2-3 May 9-10 October 4-5 Orientation and seminars at Purdue University
Day 4-5 May 11-12 October 6-7 Depart for Bejing. Arrive in Beijing
Day 6-9 May 13-16 October 8-11 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 10 May 17 October 12 Flight to Lanzhou
Day 11-13 May 18-20 October 13-15 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 modern Protestant and Catholic churches, and mosques; as well as seminars at the Institue of Dunhuang Studies at Lanzhou University.
Day 14 May 21 October 16 Flight to Shanghai
Day 15-18 May 22-25 October 17-20 Visit the Shanghai Area that will include: historic and new Protestant and Catholic CHurches; Jewish heritage sites; Buddhist and Daoist temples, as well as seminars at prominent universities in Shanghai.
Day 19 May 26 October 21 Return flight to USA. Arrive in USA and Purdue University.
Day 20-21 May 27-28 October 22-23 Debriefing at Purdue University
Day 22 May 29 October 24 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





Application: cover letter, resume, narrative about yourself, your church or institution, and your desire to participate in this exchange, preference for spring or fall LEAP, and two letters of recommendation. Deadline for application is: May 1, 2014.  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 347

700 W. State Street

Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN 47907


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


Print flyer