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Pioneer Chinese Christian Women: Gender, Christianity, and Social Mobility

Pioneer Chinese Christian Women: Gender, Christianity, and Social Mobility (Hardback)

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Chinese Christian women before the New Culture Movement and the May 4th Movement of 1919 have been largely invisible in the records of China missions and Chinese Christianity. We have known little about them either as individuals or as a group. The contributors of this volume have scoured a variety of sources to recreate the role of early Chinese women Christians in the life of the church and in Chinese society and to illustrate how gender affected their understanding of Christianity and their career choices. How did the Chinese context alter their relations with the church and with Christian and non-Christian communities? What was the legacy of pioneer Chinese Christian women? Essays on Chinese Christian educators, doctors, nurses, and evangelists show how the missionaries and the church made mobility and broadened horizons possible for women. They reveal also the contributions of these women and homemakers to a changing China. Although a minority of church membership, Chinese women before 1919 were the mainstay of the church: the most faithful in attendance at worship services and Mass, responsible for teaching Sunday School, leading the choir, and organizing Bible study classes.

They visited the sick, engaged in charity work, prepared the altar for services, and fulfilled various other needs. Indeed, Roman Catholic Virgins, Protestant Bible women, and church workers were primarily responsible for evangelizing among women and children. After all, Western male missionaries found it almost impossible to proselytize among women in Chinese gender-segregated society. Missionaries soon realized that establishing Chinese Christian families was essential to the stability and continuity of congregations, and Christian wives and mothers were vital to creating Christian homes and rearing children in the faith. Particularly during periods of persecution, the Catholic Virgins and Christian families can be credited with the survival of Chinese Christianity. With liberalization during the 1980s many of these Christian families emerged as the basis for a growing Chinese church. The Christian church and Christian missions provided avenues for women's social mobility as well. Missionary wives founded girls' schools, and eventually most central stations included a primary and secondary school for girls. Virgins and Bible women memorized or learned to read religious texts.

Thus, a significant proportion of female converts attained literacy and new self-confidence. The first women's colleges prepared women for new careers and economic independence, while the establishment of hospitals opened up careers for women as doctors and nurses.

Philosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesReligion & BeliefsChristianityReligion & BeliefsReligion: generalHistory of religion Publisher: Associated University Presses Publication Date: 01/01/2010 ISBN-13: 9780980149685  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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