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Christian Women in Chinese SocietyThe Anglican Story$
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Wai Ching Angela Wong and Patricia P. K. Chiu

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9789888455928

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888455928.001.0001

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Deaconesses in the South China Missions of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), 1922–1951

Deaconesses in the South China Missions of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), 1922–1951

(p.85) 4 Deaconesses in the South China Missions of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), 1922–1951
Christian Women in Chinese Society

Peter Cunich

, Wai Ching Angela Wong, Patricia P. K. Chiu
Hong Kong University Press

The ancient Christian order of deaconess, reintroduced into the northern European churches from the 1830s, had grown to include nearly 60,000 women around the world by the 1950s. The Church of England set aside its first deaconess in 1862, but the potential benefits of deploying deaconesses in the southern China missions was not appreciated so quickly by the Church Missionary Society. The Fukien mission ordained the first six deaconesses for southern China in 1922, and another three were ordained in the Kwangsi-Hunan diocese in 1932, but these were all European women. Seven Chinese deaconesses were ultimately ordained in Fukien before 1942, but the only other mission field where the female diaconate rose to prominence was Hong Kong, where Florence Li Tim-oi’s ordination as a deaconess in 1941 led to her controversial ordination to the priesthood in 1944. This essay examines the slow growth of the deaconess movement in the CMS south China missions up to 1950 and evaluates the achievements of these women before the closure of China to Western missionaries. It also suggests some reasons why the widespread hopes that the female diaconate would provide an ‘enlarged sphere of service’ for women missionaries in south China ultimately proved elusive.

Keywords:   Deaconess, Kwangsi-Hunan Diocese, Fukien Diocese, Chung Hwa Sheng Kung Hui, Church Missionary Society, Female missionaries, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Florence Li Tim Oi

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