Women and the Church in China -- By: Alvera Mickelsen

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 01:1 (Winter 1987)
Article: Women and the Church in China
Author: Alvera Mickelsen

Women and the Church in China

Alvera Mickelsen

The church in China is different from that anywhere else in the world. But then, China itself is also quite different from other countries. China, more perhaps than in any other place and time since of beginning of USA, is a nation trying to forge its destiny in new ways that are not really copied from anywhere else. It has made many mistakes, as its current leaders readily admit. That in itself makes it quite different from most other nations!

This summer I spent three weeks in the People’s Republic of China with a group of ten other people. Our primary interest, in addition to sight-seeing, was to learn as much as we could about the current church in China.

We attended church services in “open” (official) churches on the two Sundays when we were in cities where an open church was available. We visited pastors and Christians in several other cities. This was possible because we had as our tour leader Mildred Lovegren, who was born in China of missionary parents. She later returned to China as a missionary until the Communist take-over and then spent the rest of her life until retirement in missionary work in Hong Kong and Macau. Fluent in Chinese, and knowledgeable about Chinese culture, she brought us into contact with people in ways not possible for most American tourists.

What did we see in the churches? Crowds of people! One pastor told us that people began arriving at 6:30 a.m. on Sundays to get a seat for the 10 o’clock service! In the in-between hours, they taught hymns, Bible verses, had Bible studies. The two churches we visited each seated more than 500 people. People sat on stairs leading to balconies, stood in the aisles and against the walls. In one church, a canvas had been spread over the courtyard outside, and at least 150 people sat on little stools out there and listened to the service over a primitive public address system. Many people DID have Bibles—the Chinese government is now permitting Bibles to be printed, but the demand far exceeds the supply.

Most churches have several pastors, and we learned that most pastoral staffs included women pastors. In fact, one male pastor asked us, “Do you have women pastors in your churches in your country?” I swallowed hard and answered, “Some do and some don’t.” He went on to explain with pride that all pastors, male or female, carry the same kinds of responsibilities. All take turns preaching, leading the communion services, baptizing.

We wondered why Chinese churches were so far ahead of many churches in the USA. Perhaps they learned from the MODELS of missionary women and wives—most of whom did evangelizing, preaching, and teaching as well as child care and home-making.

Of course, the Chinese government makes a bi...

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