Partnership: The Hope of Chinese American Churches -- By: Grace Ying May

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 019:3 (Summer 2005)
Article: Partnership: The Hope of Chinese American Churches
Author: Grace Ying May

Partnership: The Hope of
Chinese American Churches

Grace Ying May

GRACE YING MAY did her undergraduate work at Yale University, received her M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and earned her Th.D. at Boston University. She is currently Ranked Adjunct Assistant Professor of World Missions at Gordon-Conwell. Dr. May’s research and interest have focused on the church in China, the Chinese diaspora, the Asian American church and women in ministry. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), she has pastored a Chinese church and served in an African American church. She has contributed to The Global God: Multicultural Evangelical Views of God (Baker 1998) and Priscilla Papers. She travels regularly to China.

Women in CACs

Vibrant, faithful women have helped to establish and build the Chinese church. Their robust faith and their engagement with the Scriptures empowered them to evangelize, preach, nurture and teach generations of Chinese Christians. In keeping with the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), Chinese women committed themselves to bringing the gospel to people both near and far. In obedience to God’s creation mandate (Gen. 1:28), many dedicated themselves to the reform of China and the social uplift of Chinese in the Diaspora. In 1944 the Anglican Communion ordained a Chinese woman named Florence Li Tim-oi. Yet, at the dawn of the second millennium in the United States, women only constitute a fraction of the clergy in evangelical Chinese American churches (CACs).

In June 2001, seventeen Chinese women attended the first Fullness of Christ conference in Dallas, Texas. All of them were active in ministry, and thirteen had received masters degrees from seminary. Solidly grounded in the Scriptures, gifted and well-educated, these women were serving as writers and editors, directors of Christian organizations, teachers, speakers, and pastors; yet only one individual was ordained. In the same year in a broader survey of Chinese women ministers in North America, only six out of sixty-three were ordained. In Ambassadors for Christ’s 2002-2003 Directory of Chinese churches, approximately 6.8% of the ministers listed were women and only 3.7% were ordained. Generally the churches that recognized the ordination of women fell into three categories: they were independent churches with more charismatic leanings; they belonged to mainline denominations that proactively supported women; and/or they were small churches which were eager to call a pastor regardless of gender.

Chinese American Churches (CACs) regularly encourage men and women to dedicate themselves to missions and a life of service but are slow to confer offic...

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