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Cheung, David (2002) Ecclesiastical Devolution and Union in China: The Emergence of the First Native Protestant Church in South Fujian, 1842-1863. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study of the history of earliest Protestantism in South Fujian covers the period from the arrival of the first missionaries to the ordination of the first Chinese pastors. The two missions concerned were the Reformed Church of America and the English Presbyterian Mission. Established by the RCA at Amoy in 1856, the first organised church also happened to be a 'self-governing' native church. This study demonstrates that the oldest RCA blueprint for church formation was consciously pro-devolution; that the RCA mission methods succeeded in producing a body of converts whose general Christian quality was found satisfactory by the missionaries; that the RCA methods were adopted wholeheartedly by the EPM; that various limitations on the part of the missionaries allowed the Chinese to further prove their Christian worth by way of both paid and voluntary involvement in the religious enterprise; that the Chinese inland initiatives of 1853 onwards which constituted virtual self-propagation brought about a major change in missionary thinking; and that all these factors interacted in an interesting fashion so as to result in the emergence of the first Chinese church in Fujian as well as in the whole of China during the spring of 1856. In 1862 the churches connected with the EPM joined with those associated with the RCA to form the Tionglo Taihoey. As the first union church in China, this body was regarded a devolutionary necessity for the pastoral ordinations of 1863. This progress of events was nothing but the continued pursuit of the native church ideal first expressed in the 1840s. For the Missions, the union was made possible and desirable by their historical cooperation, common vision of the native church, denominational compatibility and methodological similarity. Thus while devolution was part of the earliest church theory, union was triggered mainly by historical happenstances.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:19

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