Preaching and Churches

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. -- 2 Timothy 3:16

This is the twelfth chapter of Rev. R. S. Maclay’s book Life Among the Chinese. All footnotes were added by me.

Changchau Island - First Methodist Episcopal Mission Premises

The first and great effort of the missionary, on reaching his field of labor in China is to acquire, as rapidly and perfectly as possible, the power to communicate orally with the people. The possession of this power places him at once on high vantage ground with reference to the native population. It goes far toward shielding him from the impositions which natives are so ready to practice upon foreigners, gives him free access to the people, and invests him with a prestige and influence which prove invaluable to him in the prosecution of his work. The Chinese are fond of listening to public discourse. One everywhere meets with restaurants, in connection with which you almost invariable find the public audience room, where the lecturer holds forth to the people on topics of popular interest. This custom supplied at once the precedent and type for the Christian congregation and pulpit, and we proceeded immediately to avail ourselves of the suggestion. Our first chapels were ordinary Chinese houses, which, by a little scrubbing, painting, joinery, and efforts at improved lighting and ventilation, were, after a fashion, adapted to our purposes.

Soon after its organization in 1847, the mission recommended to the Board of Managers at New York the erection of a substantial church edifice in Fuhchau. The board cordially approved the suggestion, and the Methodist Churches of New York, Brooklyn, and Williamsburgh generously contributed the sum of five thousand dollars for the accomplishment of the desired object. The mission succeeded in purchasing a plat of land on one of the chief thoroughfares of the city outside the walls, and there, toward the close of 1855, began to lay the foundations of a solid Christian church building. The erection of this structure constitutes an era in the history of the mission. The event convinced the Chinese that we expected to remain permanently in Fuhchau, that we believed the Gospel would triumph over all opposition in that city, and that consequently the mendacious slanders of their officers against us, to the effect that we were to be tolerated at Fuhchau only for a brief period, and that the Gospel could never enter China, were utterly without foundation. The blessing of God was promptly vouchsafed to the enterprise; for scarcely had we completed this edifice of brick and stone, when the Holy Spirit began to furnish “living stones” for the spiritual temple of the Almighty in Fuhchau. The accompanying drawing will give some idea of this interesting building.

Iongtau Church

The position of this church is admirable. It stands on the main street leading to the south gate of the city. Within a few steps of it is a very large tea-pavilion[1], or restaurant, where travelers stop for refreshment. On one side of the church, distant perhaps three quarters of a mile, lies the city within the wall, containing a population of about four hundred thousand. On the other side of the church, and at about the same distance, lies the immense southern suburb of the city, stretching to and beyond the river, and containing a population of about three hundred thousand. The only direct communication between this vast suburb and the city within the wall, is by the street which passes in front of our church. From morning till night this street is thronged with people, and by simply opening our church doors we can usually obtain a congregation at any hour of the day.

The building is of a very substantial character. The foundation is of stone, and is raised five feet, to avoid the annual flood that submerges the greater part of Fuhchau. Upon this solid foundation the edifice rests. It measures thirty-eight feet wide by seventy-six deep, and has twenty feet between the floor and the ceiling. The building contains a vestibule, measuring ten feet deep by thirty-four wide, in the clear; an audience-room, forty-seven feet by thirty-four, with twenty feet height of ceiling; and (back of the audience-room) four rooms, two on the lower floor, measuring respectively twenty-one feet by twelve, and thirteen feet by twelve; and two on the second floor of similar dimensions. The ceiling of the lower rooms is twelve feet high, and of the upper rooms it is ten feet high. The walls are of brick, the outer walls being two feet thick, the inner one eighteen inches. The side and rear walls are built of common brick, and plastered white inside and gray outside. The front is built with handsome red brick, neatly painted and whitelined. Each side of the building has six high windows, measuring in the clear ten feet by four feet four inches. Of these windows two open into the audience-room, (four on each side,) and two open into the rear lower rooms. The upper rooms are lighted by two smaller windows in the sides, directly over the large ones in the lower rooms, and by two windows in the rear of the building.

The front of the building presents an imposing appearance. As the floor of the church is five feet above the street, it was necessary for us to provide a flight of steps for entering the church, and thus the front wall of the building was placed back eight feet from the street, making a pretty court between the street and the church. In order to make the street front as wide as possible, we built on each side, from the corner of the church front to the street, a wall flaring outward six feet, thus making the street front fifty feet, whereas the church front is only thirty-eight feet wide. For the present we have put up a neat wooden railing, ten feet high, on the street front, in the middle of which is a gateway eight feet wide, opposite to the flight of steps by which you ascend to the entrance of the church. This little court we have sodded on each side of the stone steps, and its greensward adds much to the beauty of the building.

There is only one opening in the front wall of the church. This is the door-way, measuring eight feet wide and eleven high. The door-jams flare outward, and are faced by a pilaster on each side. On these two pilasters rests a pretty wooden façade or entablature, spanning the door-way, and painted white. On each side of this door-way are two large pilasters rising from the stone foundation and reaching an elevation of twenty feet. These four pilasters also are built of the red brick which compose the entire front surface of the wall; they project about two inches from the wall, and measure three and a half feet at the base. The brick work rises only to the top of the pilasters; above this point there is a wooden façade or entablature similar in design (but of course on a larger scale) to the one over the door-way. It also is painted white. This façade conceals the gable of the roof, and rises a foot above the comb of the roof. A pretty cupola, about thirteen feet high, rises from the front part of the roof, and in it we have placed our bell, which was cast to our order in the city of Fuhchau. The bell is suspended from the ceiling of the cupola, and is rung by pulling quickly against the outer rim a wooden billet suspended by ropes. The bell weighs three hundred and thirty-three and a half pounds, and, with the hangings, cost twenty-four and a half dollars. The tone of the bell is soft and pleasing. The sound, however, is not loud, and it cannot be heard beyond a very limited circle.

The audience room is neatly fitted up with pulpit, alter, and seats, and will contain about three hundred persons at one time. The seats and the entire interior woodwork of the building are of a mahogany color; the exterior woodwork, except the cupola and part of the front, is of the same color. There are two aisles, each three and a half feet wide, and communicating with the vestibule is paved with stone, the audience-room is floored with plank two inches thick, and the rear rooms with plank one and a half inch thick.

The accompanying drawing presents the interior of the church at Iongtau[2].

We have named the church “Ching Sing Tong[3],” that is, “Church of the True God.” A tablet of handsome porphyry, four by one and a half feet, is inserted perpendicularly in the wall, just over the front door-way, and on it are carved the three Chinese characters representing the name of the church. The letters are gilded, and being large they present a fine appearance, and are read daily by thousands of Chinese who pass along the street.

The church was dedicated on Sunday, August 3, 1856, the exercises commencing about a quarter past nine o’clock A. M. The church was filled with an orderly and attentive congregation of Chinese. All the teachers, scholars, and servants connected with the three missions in this city were present. We were also favored with the presence of Revs. C. C. Baldwin, J. Doolittle, and C. Hartwell, of the American Board Mission; and of Rev. Mr. M’Caw and Rev. Mr. Fearnley of the Church of England Mission. We were also gratified to notice several members of the foreign mercantile community present on the occasion.

Interior of the Church at Iongtau

In the chapel at Iongtau the congregations are of a floating, miscellaneous character. The doors of the chapel are thrown open as an invitation to come in, and generally the room is soon filled with people. The smith comes from his anvil, the tradesman from his shop, the cake-vender enters boldly with his tray on his head, the rustic marches up the aisle with his poultry on his shoulders, and coolly lays down his burden at the door, and all take their positions, either sitting or standing, to hear what the foreigner has to say.

The preacher commences, and perhaps his first sentence elicits from some one of his auditors a rather loudly auditors a rather loudly expressed approval or dissent. Disregarding, or, perhaps, hurriedly chiding the objector, the speaker goes on with his remarks. Presently one or more spring to their feet and move to another part of the chapel, or, muttering some words, (usually not very complimentary to the speaker,) retire from the congregation. While this winnowing process is going on the preacher continues his discourse, and sometimes is gratified to observe that a goodly number are sitting quietly and listening attentively to what he is saying. Encouraged by this attention, the preacher grows more anxious to impart to them a knowledge of “the truth as it is in Jesus;” his enunciation, at first faltering, becomes more distinct and confident, his manner waxes more earnest, one and another of his restless auditors become quiet, the idlers about the door gradually draw toward the pulpit, and, amid general stillness and attention on the part of the congregation, the preacher closes his discourse, feeling in his hart that it is blessed to sow beside even these waters; and that “he that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Dr. Wentworth writes: “It is exceedingly trying to be in the midst of a heathen people, and see them going on in the practice of all manner of superstitions, without being able to tell them fully the folly of their courses.  If we begin, the newly acquired words and accents halt and falter upon our foreign tongues, and provoke derision rather than produce conviction or turn attention to the truth. At our August mission meeting we resolved to keep our chapels open every day, and, ‘preach or no preach,’ to go to the pulpits, and from thence distribute books and make the best effort we could to talk to the people of ‘Jesus and the resurrection.’ In accordance with this resolve I repaired, on the afternoon of the first of September, to our little wayside synagogue at Chong Seng[4], with something like the trepidation I used to feel in approaching a school-house congregation in the days of my exhortership. The door was shut and the sexton ‘gone to dinner.’ I placed my back against the outer gates of the chapel, and a crowd instantly gathered, choking up the narrow street and impeding all passage. ‘Are you going to preach?’  ‘Are you going to preach?’ was the cry from all quarters. ‘Not much; I do not understand enough of the language to make a regular sermon.’ And then followed the usual shower of questions suggested by the curiosity and allowed by the impertinent and tiresome courtesy of this inquisitive people: ‘How old are you?’ ‘How long have you been here?’ ‘Where do you live?’ ‘Are you American or English?’ ‘Do you come here to buy tea?’ and the like.

“One offered me fruit; another, tobacco and a pipe; another, a couple of papers of the vile betel-nut to chew; another, a stool to sit upon; another, to break open the door; another, to go for the sexton. There was no end to their kindness. Among others a young man living near our new church paused to ask me if I ‘had been to dinner,’ the Chinese ‘How do you do?’ I told him I was glad to see him so decently dressed and looking so well. The last time I saw him, some weeks since, his clothes hung about him in filthy and disgusting tatters, and his countenance wore the ghastly hue and expression of the confirmed opium-smoker. He replied: ‘I had no money; I dress well when I can get the means.’ I told him I fancied he smoked opium and was idle. The crowd said, ‘Yes, he smokes opium, and is idle.’ He denied it vigorously. I told him if he worked he would get means, and if he had means he could clothe himself well, if he did not squander his earnings in a fatal indulgence. This was my first sermon in Chinese. My auditor bade me ‘sit quietly,’ the Chinese ‘good-by,’ (I was standing withal,) and went his way.”

Gratified and encouraged by the successful completion of our church edifice at Iongtau, the mission next proceeded to purchase an eligible site for a church in the ward in which the majority of our houses are situated, the situation being just in front of the lot I occupy. When we purchased this lot it was not our intention to proceed at once to erect upon it a church edifice, though we all felt the importance of having such a building at the earliest possible date. In conversation, however, with some of the foreign residents at this port, it was proposed that our mission erect on this lot a church edifice containing two audience rooms, one being for Chinese, the other for English worship. In view of the increasing foreign community in this city, it was felt to be important to provide at once a place for public religious worship in the English language, and our mercantile friends offered to place at the service of our mission one thousand dollars to aid in erecting the building. Under these circumstances we decided to erect the church, availing ourselves of the subscription tendered to us by the foreign community in Fuhchau, which in the end amounted to the handsome sum of thirteen hundred dollars.

The Chinese portion of this church edifice in the Tienang[5] (that is, Heavenly-rest) ward, was dedicated to the worship and service of God on Sunday, October 18, 1856. The Rev. Messrs. Peet, Doolittle, and Hartwell, of the American Board Mission in this city, united with us in conducting the services. The building is a neat and substantial structure of brick, resting on a stone foundation. The outer face of the walls is of red brick, lined with white. A very pretty wooden finish, painted white, runs round the entire building, underneath the eaves of the roof, and imparts to it a fine appearance.

English and Chinese Church at Tienang

The interior of the audience-room is twenty-five feet by thirty-four, height of ceiling twenty feet. A vestibule eight feet deep extends across the front of the building, faced by four wooden columns, fluted and painted white. The windows are ten feet high by four and a half wide.

The pulpit, altar, and seats are of hard wood, varnished. An aisle three feet wide passes up the middle of the audience-room. The building stands immediately in front of the premises I occupy, and abuts on our new road leading from the street to the foreign residences on the hill. The situation is quiet and accessible.

We regard this as our normal church. In it we conduct public religious worship in a formal manner, thus furnishing to this people at once a model for worship, and an answer to their ever-iterated interrogatory, “How do you worship Jesus?” We hold public religious service in this church every Sunday morning at nine o’clock, and we hope to be able, before a great while, to have two services in it on Sunday.

On Sunday, the 28th of December, 1856, we dedicated the English portion of our Tienang church edifice. The services on the occasion were conducted by the Rev. Dr. Wentworth, who delivered, from 1 Kings ix, 3, a most appropriate and able discourse to a highly gratified audience. This church is designed for public worship in the English language. The foreign community here have very generously aided in its erection, and we devoutly pray that it may prove to be a perpetual blessing to them. It is the first Christian church ever erected in this ancient city for the worship of God in the English language. It is opened twice every Sunday for public worship, and we transferred to it the English Sunday service we had hitherto held in private houses.

We cannot be sufficiently grateful to God for bringing us into the possession of these beautiful churches. It would be difficult, indeed, to exaggerate the importance of these sacred edifices in connection with our work. The church at Iongtau fully meets our expectations, and we believe that the Tienang church also will be an invaluable acquisition to our mission. For myself, I cannot express the solid satisfaction these churches afford me. After years of desultory and wearing toil in the alleys, dark rooms, waysides, and places of public resort in this city, I feel it a glorious privilege now to stand up in these noble buildings, and tell to these erring heathen the story of the cross. I feel, indeed, as if our mission had only commenced efficiently to deliver its message to this people. Not that I believe we, as a mission, have been derelict as to our duty in the past. I am satisfied that, according to our ability and opportunities, we have from the first borne a faithful and unfaltering testimony against the sins of this people. But when I compare our past disadvantages with our present facilities for making known the truth as it is in Jesus, I cannot repress the jubilant feelings excited by the contrast. I fancy at times that the light, the long expected, blessed light, is now breaking upon this dark land. I find my heart thrilling with emotions which indicate victory rather than stern, protracted conflict. I am not singular in this experience; it is participated in by every member of the mission. We all breathe more freely, and tread with a firmer step to the solemn music of our life-labor, as we look on these sacred structures.

The annual report for 1857 says: “We continue to make the public preaching of the Gospel our distinguishing work; and in this department of our labors we have derived incalculable advantage and comfort from the noble church edifices which the liberality of the friends of missions at home enabled us to erect the previous year. Our congregations in them have been uniformly orderly and respectful. Not one instance of disorderly conduct has occurred in these congregations during the year. We note this fact as furnishing ground for great encouragement. What people are induced to respect, we may suppose they will finally imitate; and we are convinced that these orderly religious exercises are doing much to prepare the way for the general introduction of Christianity in Fuhchau. The seed, we believe, is now falling into good soil, and we are earnestly praying and looking for the glorious harvest. We have three public services every Sunday in these churches, and generally two other services during the week.”

On Sunday, July 14, 1857, we baptized our first convert in connection with our mission. The convert’s name is Ting Ang[6]. He was forty-seven years of age, and had a wife and five children. His home was within a few minutes’ walk of the viceroy’s palace in the city of Fuhchau. He stated that about two years before his conversion he began to drop in at our Iongtau chapel to hear what the foreigner had to say. This happened as he was passing in and out of the city on business, and it seems that he was interested in what he heard. He obtained some of our books, and perused them. Subsequently he began to call in at our boys’ day-school in the ward where we live, and not long afterward the teacher of the boys’ school brought him to our Sunday morning service in the Tienang church. This was our first acquaintance with the man, and we at once invited him to attend the weekly inquiry meeting which we had just established on Friday afternoon. He continued to attend the inquiry, and we were much pleased with his deportment. He was not familiar with the written character, and could not read very well, but he at once commenced the Commandments and Apostles’ Creed, and soon he was able to read and explain them quite correctly. We instructed him carefully in the doctrines of Christianity, and he expressed his fixed purpose to live according to its principles. He commenced private and family prayer, and frequently spoke of the delight he felt in the service of God. One day Brother Gibson and I called to see him at his house. Our visit was unexpected to him, but he received us very cordially. On entering the house we were pleased to notice on the table a number of Christian books, which, it was evident, he had been reading. We looked in vain for any traces of idolatry, and we felt thankful that from at least one house in this city the idols had been cast out. Some six weeks before our visit the man had brought out and given to us all his household gods, and one object of the present call was to ascertain whether he had really cast out his idols. Our examination fully satisfied Brother Gibson and myself on this point. We conversed with his family, and found that they understood and approved of the course he intended to pursue. After conversing some time I read a part of the fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, and prayed with them. It was not without emotion that I thus offered prayer, for the first time, in a Chinese house within the walls of this proud city, and that, too, almost under the shadow of the viceroy’s palace. The man continued to attend our meeting, gave us every evidence of sincere determination to lead a Christian life, and after a rigid examination our mission decided that he was, in our judgment, a proper subject for baptism. The ordinance was administered in the Tienang church, in the presence of the congregation, at the afternoon service. After suitable introductory remarks, explanatory of the nature both of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the candidate was requested to stand up and repeat, in an audible voice, and Commandments and Baptismal Covenant. I then explained them, sentence by sentence, the candidate audibly expressing his cordial belief in them, and his determination faithfully to keep and obey them. I then proceed to baptize him, sprinkling the water on his head while he kneeled at the altar. After his baptism he united in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper with the members of our mission, and the Rev. Mr. M’Caw, of the Chuch of England mission, who was present on the occasion.

Since his baptism the convert has given us great satisfaction by his meek, confiding spirit, and his consistent conduct. We cannot but feel that his heart has been changed by the Holy Spirit, and that he is indeed a new creature. We would earnestly solicit for this our Chinese brother an interest in the prayers of God’s people.

On the 18th of October, 1857, the wife of Brother Ting Ang and two of their younger children were admitted to the ordinance of baptism. About the same time Brother Ting Ing Ko, the Fuhchau youth whom the Rev. Mr. Colder took to America and educated for some years, returned to Fuhchau, and having his certificate of church-membership, given him by Mr. Colder, we judged it proper to receive him, and he accordingly became a member of our infant Church. The annual report of the Mission for 1858 states:

“We would refer with profound gratitude to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon this people which we have witnessed in connection with our labors during the past year. Since the date of our last annual report we have baptized thirteen adults and three infants. All the adults remain with us in Church fellowship, and give encouraging evidence that they have indeed become the children of God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. On the seventh of August, 1858, we organized our first class of Chinese converts in this city. The class is attached to the Iongtau appointment, and now has fifteen members. Rev. Otis Gibson takes charge of the class for the present, with Brother Hu Po Mi[7] as assistant leader. Three stewards were appointed, of whom two are Chinese. Arrangements were made for class-meetings, quarterly meetings, monthly collections for the poor, and quarterly collections for the support of the Gospel. A Sunday-school was organized for the children of Church members and others. The school is conducted by our native members, and at the present time contains seven pupils.

“Brief notices of some of our converts may perhaps be interesting to the friends of the China mission. I note them in the order of baptism:

“1. Hu Po Mi, aged 31. He has a good common education, is a soldier by profession, has taken the lowest military degree, and is entitled to hold office in the army. Baptized January 17, 1858, he has given us much satisfaction by his humility, zeal, courage, and desire for a thorough knowledge of the Bible. He is a fluent speaker, and has rendered us efficient aid in the public preaching of the Gospel. His wife also has been baptized and received into the Church.

“2. Ngu Teng Hai, aged 37. He is a scribe by profession, and has been connected with missionaries three or four years. His education is respectable, and he possesses some ability as a public speaker. He was baptized March 21, 1858, and renders us important help in public preaching. His mother, aged sixty-nine years, has also been baptized and received into the Church.

“3. Wong Cheng Kuong, aged 50. He is a common day laborer, but has sufficient knowledge of the written character to enable him, with a little study, to read our books. He was baptized March 21, 1858, and exhibits good evidence of the genuineness of his conversion.

“4. Hu Ngieng Seu, aged 57. He is the father of Hu Po Mi, is a man of more than ordinary talent, has a common education, and has filled some inferior offices in the government service. He has attended our preaching for nine years, and has treated us with uniform courtesy. During the past four years he became more frequent and regular in his attendance on our preaching. It was evident the Holy Spirit was striving with him, and many prayers were offered for him. About a year ago his eldest son became interested in Christianity, and the father encouraged him, saying: ‘Go forward, and I will follow.’ May 9, 1858, he, together with his wife and two younger sons, was admitted to baptism.

“5. Wong Tai Hung, aged 35. He belongs to the literary class, and is our first convert from this influential body. He has been connected with the missionaries nearly eleven years as a teacher, first, of the Rev. J. D. Collins, of our mission; then, and for much longer time, of the Rev. J. Doolittle, of the American Board Mission in Fuhchau. During all these years he had the respect and confidence of all who knew him, though he remained a proud and persistent idolator. It seemed as though nothing could subdue the pride of his heart. Even after his mind opened to receive, one by one, the cardinal truths of Christianity, his pride still seemed to present an insuperable barrier to his conversion. But grace triumphed at last; his proud heart yielded, and after counting the cost he publicly announced his purpose to become a Christian, and on September 10, 1858, he was baptized and received into the Church.

“It may be profitable to notice more particularly this work of grace. We select a few points for brief reference:

“1. The outpouring of the Spirit was preceded by months of the most pointed and earnest preaching we could bring to bear upon our public congregations, accompanied by the most direct and persevering exhortations in private. The work seemed to commence in the hearts of the missionaries, the Holy Ghost filling them with great searchings of heart and with intense yearnings for the salvation of this people.

“2. The work, in its inception and progress, was unaccompanied by any extraordinary manifestations. So gradually and quietly has it gone forward, that at times we fancied it had ceased and were gratefully surprised when new inquirers came to us seeking religious instruction and advice.

“3. We think it a noteworthy fact that so large a proportion of the converts are of mature years, while some are even in advanced age. There are those who affect to consider the conversion of aged and adult heathen as impracticable, if not impossible. We have cherished the opposite belief, and have received according to our faith.

“4. The growth of the converts in Christian knowledge and grace has been very gratifying. So marked in many cases has this been, that the converts refer to it with astonishment. Whether we kept the candidates on a long course of training, or, as in one or two cases, admitted them into the Church after a shorter trial, the result is the same. We think it would be difficult to find converts who surpass those of our mission in their desire for a thorough knowledge of the blessed Bible. This has greatly encouraged us.

“5. Another trait in the character of our converts is their boldness in confessing Christ before the world. This, under God, we attribute partly to the character of the Fuhchau Chinese, who all seem to be naturally eloquent, but mainly to our system of training. Our entire operations are public, our inquiries are public, our baptisms are public, and we aim at training every one of the converts to do something toward the spread of the Gospel.”

The Report for 1860 says:

“The principal facts of our operations during the year may be presented very briefly. We have seven appointments in our regular work. During the year we have baptized thirty-eight adults, and nine infants; total, forty-seven. Three probationers have been dropped, and one Church member has died in the faith. Our native membership, including probationers, is forty-nine, showing an increase of thirty-six during the year. In our mission class there are seven members (wives of missionaries and teachers in our girl’s school) whose names are not elsewhere reported in the statistics of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and hence we have deemed it proper to report them in this connection. This gives us fifty-six as the membership of this mission at this date.

“Appointments in the regular work:

“1. Iongtau. – This appointment is on an important thoroughfare a short distance outside the south gate of the city. We have an excellent church edifice at this point, the first building of the kind ever erected in this city, and worth to us $2,500. The class at this appointment contains eighteen members, all of whom seem to be sincerely trying to ‘follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.’ One of the brethren is a licensed exhorter in the service of the mission, and gives himself to the work of preaching the Gospel. Two others are much exercised in mind with reference to engaging in the same blessed work; and during the year, after working in their shops all the secular days of the week, they have devoted their Sundays to preaching the word both in the city and in the country villages. There is a Sunday-school connected with this appointment, and it has been attended by the adult membership as well as by their children.

“2. Tienang. – This appointment is in the ward where our mission compound is situated. It has an excellent church edifice, and a class of nine members. This class has been organized during the past year, and is doing as well perhaps as could be expected. All the members give good evidence of the genuineness of their conversion to Christianity, and appear to be making encouraging progress in the knowledge and practice of the Gospel. One of the members of this class, a licensed exhorter in the Church, died September 21, 1859. His end was very peaceful and satisfactory. He had been one of our most laborious and efficient helpers, and his death is a heavy stroke upon us. We are hoping to organize a Sunday-school at this appointment.

“3. City. – This appointment is in the western part of the city, within the wall. One of our members lived there, and through his influence we rented a small building for a chapel. The front part of the house we use as a chapel, and the rear portion is occupied by the family in charge of the premises. We have not ventured to change the form of the house, and our services are conducted in a quiet way, so as not to excite the apprehensions of the people of the neighborhood. Thus far we have not had any difficulty in visiting the place and holding our meetings. The room is usually filled whenever we preach there, and the people seem interested in our message to them. We have not yet organized a class at this appointment, but shall do so as soon as possible. We consider the appointment a very important one, and look to it with great interest as the commencement of a glorious work in this proud heathen city.

“4. Ato[8]. – This is another appointment that has come under our care during the past year. It is in a populous suburb of this city, and is situated about half a mile southeast from our mission compound. The place had been for some years under the care of our brethren of the American Board mission here. They built a neat little chapel, and kept up regular preaching in it. These brethren are now concentrating their mission on the northern bank of the Min, and accordingly transferred this chapel to our mission. We hope to occupy efficiently, and look for God’s blessing on our labors. The chapel is worth $275. Annual ground rent, $18.

“5. Kuaninchang[9]. – (Goddess of Mercy’s Well) This appointment also has been transferred to our mission during the past year by our brethren of the American Board mission. It is a small chapel quite close to our mission compound, and is useful as a place for meeting the people and distributing books. The building is worth about $60. Annual gournd rent, $10.

“6. To-cheng[10]. – (Peach Farm.) This is our first country appointment, and has a class of thirteen members. Our meetings at this place have been held in a private house, and we are much encouraged by the deportment of all who have united with us here in Church-fellowship. The neighborhood in which this appointment is located is sparsely inhabited, and yet if the good work spreads among the people we could soon have a large congregation at this place. We are laboring and praying in faith for the accomplishment of this object.”

The expansion of our work into the country westward from Fuhchau, constitutes an important and auspicious era in the history of our mission in China. The success of the Gospel among the more ingenuous rustics in country towns and hamlets gave a most opportune and powerful impetus to our faith and zeal. It furnished, also, to the Chinese a striking illustration of the Gospel’s power, and a most intelligible indication of our plans and expectations as missionaries among them. The village in which the Ngu-kang[11] personage is situated is perhaps twelve miles west of Fuhchau.

The accompanying cut represents the residence of the first native Methodist circuit preacher sent forth in China. The ends and back are built of pounded mud, the front of boards and plaster. It has no floors but the bare ground. The left hand door opens into a room probably ten by fifteen feet, where we have often slept on a few raised boards with a billet of wood for a pillow. The center room, the grand reception hall, or guest room, of every Chinese house, is about twenty feet square, with a dirt floor, and once furnished with a high altar and huge pictures of grim household gods; it is now hung around with large sheets, or charts, containing the Ten Commandments, and extracts from the Old and New Testaments. Here we assemble every Sunday at two o’clock for service – preaching and class-meeting; and here, every evening in the week, our new circuit preacher catechises and teaches the poor ignorant natives the Scriptures of divine truth. You must not imagine that our preacher has all this grand house to himself. He has only one room, entering by the right hand door of the house, and over it is a low, smoky loft, which we intend to paper or whitewash, and furnish with a bedstead, chair, and table for our own convenience hereafter. At the right is the cook-shed, always full of choking, blinding smoke, as the Chinese seem to prefer sore eyes to chimneys. We have had some pleasant times in the Ngu-kang parsonage, and hope it may be one of the centers from which light and truth shall radiate far and near upon the minds of this dark people.

Ngu Kang Parsonage

The Annual Report for this mission, dated September 30, 1860, and prepared by the Rev. Dr. Wentworth, makes the following showing:

Revs. Robert S. Maclay, Superintendent, Erastus Wentworth, D.D., Otis Gibson, Stephen L. Baldwin, Carlos R. Martin, Nathan Sites.

Mrs. Henrietta C. Maclay, Mrs. Phebe E. Wentworth, Mrs. Eliza C. Gibson, Mrs. Nellie M. Baldwin, Mrs. Mary E. Martin, Mrs. –– Sites, Miss Beulah Woolston, Miss Sallie H. Woolston.

Hu Po Mi, exhorter, and teacher of girls’ school.
Uong Tai Kung, exhorter, and teacher of boys’ school.
Uong Kiu Taik, exhorter, stationed at Pavilion Church.
Hu Iong Mi, exhorter, stationed at Ngu-kang.
Tang Ieu Kong, exhorter, stationed in the city.
Ting Seng Mi, exhorter, stationed at Ato Chapel.

Our mission will soon have six substantial and comfortable dwelling-houses and a church in the same general inclosure or “compound,” bounded on the south by the open country, across which we get the sea-breezes; east and west by the foreign community, and north by the city and suburbs of Fuhchau, with its living masses of idolaters. It seems quite providential that our mission secured so reasonably such valuable premises, as it is now next to impossible to get building lots here on any terms.

The “Church of the True God,” at the Tea Pavilion, has been opened for preaching every Sabbath, and nearly every day in the year. Extra meetings were held at New Year’s, and during the cool weather evening services were kept up quite regularly. Class number one meets here every Sunday after the morning services, and consists of sixteen members, one of whom, an old man, “died in peace” on the 15th of August last.

“Heavenly Rest Church” is opened every Sunday at nine o’clock and two o’clock for divine service in Chinese, and at eleven and five for English. Class number two meets here immediately after the nine o’clock preaching, and consists of ten members.

The chapel in the city, and the two in the southern suburb, have been opened as often as the health and strength of the brethren would permit.

Class number three, consisting of thirteen members, meets at Koi-Hung[12] every Sunday morning. This appointment is visited by a native pastor every Sunday, and by one of the missionaries once in two weeks. The brethren are growing in grace and in the knowledge of God.

Ngu-kang. – Brother Hu Iong Mi was stationed here by Brother Gibson at the beginning of the year, and the result has been most favorable. Men, women, and children are learning to read, and sing, and pray with the greatest avidity. A hamlet of ignorant and degraded idolaters is being converted into a civilized and Christianized community, observing the Christian Sabbath, abstaining from the miserable vices of their countrymen, and walking carefully before the Lord. The class at this place consists of fifteen members. Both these appointments have asked for aid in building suitable chapels for public worship. We intend to assist them during the coming year in the erection of places of worship. A couple of plain Christian synagogues will serve to distinguish these simple-minded disciples form the masses of idolaters who worship in the costly temples with which the country is everywhere supplied.

Quarterly collections for the poor, and class penny collections, have been successfully instituted among the members during the past year.

Brother Tang was apprehended by the authorities a month since and imprisoned, for assisting in renting a chapel in the city by the English Church mission. The English and American consuls promptly applied to the prefect for his release, which was speedily affected by the former threatening to stop payment of the duties on exports in case the man was not set free. The gentry have hitherto succeeded in preventing access to the city except in the way of street-preaching. What the victories of the British at Tien-tsin will do for us remains to be seen.

Funds have been provided for the establishment of a printing office with Chinese and English type; the Chinese type to be obtained in China, and the English type, press, and cases to be sent from America. We have good hope that this establishment will be in operation speedily. The object is chiefly to print the Holy Scriptures in the colloquial language of the province; also books of instruction for the mission, and tracts and religious books ere long. This printing establishment will be a great addition to the ability of our mission.

Brother Gibson has baptized ten adults and fourteen infants during the year. This is a respectable increase; but the most encouraging feature is that our converts increase in grace and knowledge as fast as they do in numbers.


Native Helpers
Churches in Fuhchau
Other preaching places in city and country
Baptisms: Adults, 62; Children, 26
Died in the faith, males
Dropped, for various causes
Present adult membership
Increase in adult membership this year
Members in English Class
Pupils in Boys’ Boarding School
Pupils in Girls’ Boarding School
Scholars in Girls’ Day School
Foundings in Asylum


James Dick, Esq.
Mrs. E. Wentworth
Rev. O. Gibson
Rev. S. L. Baldwin
Rev. C. R. Martin
Miss B. Woolston
Dr. H. B. Gibson
W. Gregory, Esq.
W. C. M’Cue, Esq.
E. G. Hedge, Esq.
G. F. Weller, Esq.
Thomas Dunn, Esq.
J. H. Nichols, Esq.
A. B. Neilson, Esq.
Lieutenant Beaumont, U. S. N.
Mr. Higgs
W. H. Medhurst, Esq., H. B. M. Consul
W. H. Chapman, Esq.
Rev. B. W. Gorham, through Rev. S. L. Baldwin


W. S. Sloan, Esq.
D. O. Clark, Esq.
M. G. Moore, Esq.
G. F. Weller, Esq.
G. W. Schwemann, Esq.
H. King, Esq.
A. B. Neilson, Jr., Esq.
John Odell, Esq.
Thomas Dunn, Esq.
E. G. Hedge, Esq.
W. H. Green, Esq.
William Brand, Esq.
John O. Lent, Esq.
John Forster, Esq.
H. Lowcock, Esq.
Thomas K. Ashton, Esq.
Arthur Smith, Esq.
Thomas Smith, Esq.
D. N. Bottlewalla, Esq.
Jairaz, Fazul & Co.
W. H. Chapman, Esq.
George Wordsworth, Esq.
Thomas L. Larken, Esq.


[1]: 茶亭 (Dà-dìng)
[2]: 洋头 (Iòng-tàu)
[3]: 真神堂 (Cĭng-sìng-dòng)
[4]: 仓前 (Chŏng-sèng)
[5]: 天安 (Tiĕng-ăng)
[6]: 陈安 (Dìng Ăng)
[7]: 许播美 (Hṳ̄ Bŏ̤-mī)
[8]: 下渡 (Â-dô)
[9]: 观音井 (Guăng-nĭng-cāng)
[10]: 桃田 (Tò̤-chèng)
[11]: 牛坑 (Ngù-kăng)
[12]: 贵锋 (Gói-hŭng)

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Last updated: 2009/08/23