A few years ago, Andrew Walls told me that he had once hoped to become a missionary to China. However, with the rise of the Chinese communist revolution, those plans were dashed, and he eventually made his way to Sierra Leone in 1957, followed by Nigeria in 1962. One wonders how the study of World Christianity would have been different if the doyen of the academic field spent his formative missionary years in China instead of Africa. Would he have had the same epiphany in Beijing or Shanghai or Wenzhou that he was ‘actually living in a second-century church’? When considering Confucianism or Daoism, would he likewise speak of the place of ‘primal religions’ in shaping the consciousness of another faith, be it Christianity or Buddhism? Both are undoubtedly possibilities. But perhaps, in this parallel universe, the area less likely to have developed would have been his recognition of the importance of oral cultures – a pervasive characteristic in his beloved Africa, but scantly recognised in China.
The Anglo-Chinese College and the Beginnings of Chinese Protestant Christianity
In 1818, Robert Morrison, the first Protestant missionary to China, established the Anglo-Chinese College (Yinghua Shuyuan 英華書院, ACC) in Malacca with the help of his colleague William Milne. According to the deed of the ACC, its objective was ‘the cultivation of English & Chinese Literature in order to the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ’. During its years of presence in Malacca, the ACC not only offered an opportunity to Chinese youths to receive a general liberal education, it was also a school for Europeans and Americans to study Chinese regardless of whether they were missionaries or not, the alma mater of pioneer Chinese Protestant evangelists, and a press printing Chinese Bibles and Christian tracts as well as sinological works. Shaped by a missionary approach concerned with cultural reconciliation or adaptation, the ACC’s activities and achievements were part of the beginnings of Chinese Protestant Christianity and laid the foundation for its subsequent development, as illustrated in this special issue of Studies in World Christianity, which consists of the revised versions of selected papers presented at ‘Sino-Western Cultural Exchange and the Development of Christianity in China: A Conference in Celebration of the Bicentenary of Ying Wa College’, which was held at Hong Kong Baptist University, 12—13 October 2018, co-organised by the Centre for Sino-Christian Studies of Hong Kong Baptist University and Ying Wa College, and sponsored by Tin Ka Ping Foundation.
As part of this year’s online Yale-Edinburgh conference, we are releasing a series of pre-conference videos prepared by partners from around the globe. You can subscribe and see it on our YouTube channel playlist or on our MediaHopper playlist. Here’s the first of our videos:
If you have trouble accessing the YouTube, you can also watch this on MediaHopper.
Oral, Print, and Digital Cultures in World Christianity and the History of Mission On-line, from New College, University of Edinburgh, 22–24 June 2021 Proposals due: 20 March 2021 29 March 2021 Social media hashtag: #YaleEdin2021
The next meeting of the Yale-Edinburgh Group on World Christianity and the History of Mission is to take place on-line, from New College, University of Edinburgh, from 22-24 June 2021. More information about the on-line format will be provided later.
We anticipate that the on-line format will increase the number of paper proposals that are submitted. Yet we will also be working with a condensed time schedule due to the multiple time zones we will be spanning. We will prioritise early career scholars and offer two options for paper presentations: (1) a short oral presentation in real time (15min + Q&A time) and (2) a presentation in the form of a pre-recorded 3 min video with a single slide.
When submitting an abstract please ensure that:
it is close to the theme of the conference,
you state the year you gained your PhD, or your student status
your preference for short oral presentation or pre-recorded 3 min video. Depending on demand, you may not be offered your first choice.
The theme of the meeting is the same as that of the cancelled 2020 conference.