June 23rd, 2018


A Baptist chapel in the old town (1886)

'Yesterday in the Chinese City near the west gate, there took a place an interesting Christian ceremony which it may be pleasing to many of your readers to hear of.'

This slightly convoluted sentence begins an article in the NCDN, in September 1886, that describes the dedication of a new Baptist chapel in the old town (probably, the Seventh Day variety). The local resident Wong S. S. initiated the founding of this church and saw it to its completion using his own money ($600), public donations and foreign funds.

'The building with its front high wall and heavy black doors is purely Chinese. It is fourteen feet wide. Passing the gate and the courtyard you enter the chapel, which is 14 X 20. The room is divided into two, with moveable doors as partitions, the front for preaching and the rear for instruction of catechumen. The pulpit, the benches, the guest chairs, the melodeon are all neat and appropriate. In the front wall on the outside are the Chinese characters "The Baptist Church. The Preaching Hall" and on the inside, which is artistically ornamented, are "Love men as thyself." There are three outside rooms for the evangelist. The whole is a gem.'

The concluding paragraph describes the 150-strong crowd at the opening ceremony; not everyone was able to get in. Ten foreign priests also attended. What is this chapel and where exactly was it? Plenty is know about the foreign-run chapels of the American and English missions, this one needs additional investigation.