Quick Overview of Xiamen Church History
Christianity in Xiàmén.
Xiàmén has 54 pastors in 40 registered churches, including the oldest Protestant Church in China, built in 1848. But the first Christians may have arrived over 1,000 years ago.
A stele in a Xī’ān museum was erected on Jan. 7, 781 to celebrate the arrival of Nestorian Christianity, the “Luminous Religion (Jǐngjiào ) in 635 A.D. The stele also lists the names of 70 Assyrian missionaries. Nestorians may have arrived in South Fújiàn about the same time as the Muslims. The photo to the right is of one many Nestorian tombstones in the Quánzhou Maritime Museum (which I’ve visited literally dozens of times). And in the late 1800s, an ancient stone cross was discovered at the foot of a hill in Zhāngzhōu, just 40km west of us.
In the 1300s Marco Polo reported that Fúzhōu had a large group of Christians with roots going back hundreds of years. By the early 1300s, Quán-zhōu had 3 Franciscan cathedrals, as well as a Jewish community. And given that Xiàmén had the best port, it is not unlikely that Xiàmén was frequented by Muslims, Manicheans, Nestorians, Franciscans, or Sòng Dynasty Scientologists.
Xiàmén—Birthplace of Chinese Protestantism
Whether or not Xiàmén had Muslims, Nestorians and Franciscans, it was certainly the “Birthplace of Modern Protestantism,” with China’s 1st Protes-tant church.
Xīnjiē (Sin Khoe A) — 1st Church of China
Every two-horse-town in America has a First Baptist or a First Methodist, but there is only one First Church of China—right here in Xiàmén. China’s first Protestant church was built in 1848 for the princely sum of $3000. Today the church has services of different kinds almost every day of the week. Sunday services are in Mǐnnán dialect and Mandarin.
Tel: 2072383. Address: Near corner of Zhōngshān Lù and Sīmīng Lù , across from the Trust-Mart & KFC.
(Bamboo Church (Zhūshùtáng) was built in 1849 and cooperated closely with Xīnjiē, even sharing elders and deacons. The Zhūshù actually began services on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 19th, 1847, in the Bamboo House . They added an upper room with a capacity of 100 worshippers in July, 1850. The church burned down in 1903, was rebuilt with the help of American donations in 1904, and the present church was built in 1935 under the guidance of a Chinese member who had graduated from engineering school in the U.S. Church membership fell during the Japanese occupation but by the mid 1940s was back up to over 600. Services were suspended from 1966 until Dec. 20th, 1981.
By 1983, attendance was up to 700. Zhūshù now has 3 pastors, 24 deacons, attendance of 3,000, and programs virtually daily.
The 391.5m2 red and white brick church is on a 2,751m2 lot on the small market road just off Xiàhé Lù near the harbor.
Add: #129 Kāihé Lù Tel: 29877381 (2) www.zhushu.org/
Gulangyu Foreigners' Graves
Foreigners’ tombstones on Gǔlàngyǔ dated back to the 1600s, but the cemetery was destroyed in the 1950s in protest of Britain’s invasion of Egypt. The only foreign tombstone still remaining on Gǔlàngyǔ is of an Indian from Bombay. Fortunately, Giles’ “A Short History of Koolangsu” (1878) records a few of the inscriptions for us:
“The following inscriptions will be found quite close to the residence of Dr. Manson:--”
Here lieth the body of Capt. Stepn. Baker who Was late Commandr.
Of ye SUCCESS who Departed this life Ob. Sep. 6 Anno
Octob. Ye 18, Ann. 1700. Aged 49 years.
Here lieth the body of John Duffield Son of Henry Duffield, Comr. of ye TRUMBULL Dom. Et. XIIL annos Dom. 1698
Sepultura De Domingo FANGII INAN Y otros dos Indios de Philipinas que falleeie- Ron en Oct. ano de 1759. Sacred To the memory of Augustus Percival Greene, F.R.A.S. Lieut. Of H.M.S. “Plover” Who died on board that Vessel on Dec. 2, 1844.
Aged 26 years 9 months 3 days.
This Monument was erected In memory of those who perished In the British schooner “Pearl”Lost in the Typhoon off Chapel Island On the night of the 12th June 1866.
In memory of Richard A. Breck Late a master in the U.S. navy. Who on Sep. 22, 1874 Was drowned while bathing Aged 26. Erected by his brothers Officers of the U.S.S. “Yantic”