Wickeri, Philip L.: "Christian Encounters with Chinese Culture: Essays on Anglican and Episcopal History in China."(Book review)

Author:Reynolds, E. Bruce

Wickeri, Philip L. Christian Encounters with Chinese Culture: Essays on Anglican and Episcopal History in China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2015.

This study of the Anglican and Episcopal churches in China includes nine chapters, beginning with an overview by the editor, Philip L. Wickeri. The second chapter, "The Protestant Episcopal China Mission and Chinese Society" by Edward Yihua Xu, also takes a broad perspective, but the remaining chapters are more narrowly focused. Patricia P. K. Chiu looks at "Female Education and the Early Development of St. Stephen's Church, Hong Kong" and Fuk-tsang Ying discusses Bishop R. O. Hall's hopes for the Christian Study Centre on Chinese Religion, founded in Hong Kong in the late 1950s. Two chapters, by Chloe Starr and Feng Guo, describe efforts to create a universally acceptable translation of the Book of Common Prayer. Qi Duan examines the role of St. Peter's Church in Shanghai during the conflict with Japan beginning in the 1930's and Wickeri and Ruiwen Chen write on St. Mary's Church in Hong Kong during the period 1912-1941. Peter Tze Ming Ng introduces the thought of two prominent Chinese theologians associated with the Anglican church, T. C. Chao and Francis C. M. Wei. In the final chapter, Yongtao Chen further explores the theology of Chao, longtime dean of the Yenching University School of Religion in Beijing, who converted from Methodism to the Anglican faith at the age of fifty-three.

As the Archbishop of Hong Kong, Paul Kwong, acknowledges in the Foreword, despite a British and American missionary involvement that began in the 1840s the numerical strength of the Anglican and Episcopal churches in China was never large. The book makes the case, however, that their impact has been greater than mere numbers would suggest because of the special talents of their missionaries and an early commitment to education. This was particularly true of the American Protestant Episcopal China Mission (PECM), as Edward Yihua Xu argues that its "missionary enterprise ... began, succeeded, and ended with education," an evangelistic effort aimed at the urban upper classes in China, rather than the disadvantaged rural poor (26). The PECM sent several remarkable individuals to China in the nineteenth century, not least the Bishop Samuel Isaac Joseph...

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