China Mission

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China Mission

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Dates of existence



At its annual Board of Directors meeting in 1834, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society passed a resolution to establish a mission in China, and appointed its first missionaries the following year. Over the next decade, the missionaries worked to establish schools to include religious training, all while continuing their own study of the people they wished to serve.

After the appointment of the Rev. William J. Boone in 1844 as the first Bishop of China, the American Church Mission at Shanghai was established. Education remained the main focus. A boys' school was founded in 1846 followed by one for girls a short time later.

Over the next several decades, the Missionary District of China would be served by four additional Bishops and witness the establishment of several medical institutions including St. Luke's Hospital and St. Elizabeth's Hospital, both in Shanghai, as well as what would become St. John's University, later the most influential higher educational institution in China.

Soon after the end of the Boxer Rebellion in 1901, which attempted to purge China of Western influences but spared the Episcopal missions from serious harm, the General Convention restructured the Mission by defining the coastal Province of Kiangsu as the Missionary District of Shanghai, while the rest of the original missionary territory became the Missionary District of Hankow. Growth dictated yet another division in 1910, and the Missionary District of Wuhu (later renamed Anking) was created, comprising the Province of Anwhei and the northern portion of Kiangsi.

After many years of political conflict, the Communist Party, headed by Mao Zedong, won control of China in 1949, ushering in atheist policies and anti-American sentiment that prompted the foreign Episcopal missionaries to gradually vacate their stations. The National Council formally recalled all its workers from China in December 1950 at the same time that the United States made it illegal to send money to China, rendering it impossible for the General Convention to fund the China missions.

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