Chinese Presbyterian Mission’s 50th Anniversary

Publication Year: 1903

Chinese Presbyterian Mission. Fiftieth Anniversary Historical Sketch (San Francisco: s.n., 1903)
PHS Call number: PAM BV 2787 .C55 1903

Reading suggestions

See especially pages 1-11.

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Source note

The Presbyterian mission to the Chinese in California held its 50th anniversary celebration on June 3rd and 4th, 1903, at the Presbyterian Church of San Francisco in what was then, and still is, the Chinatown neighborhood. This document briefly describes the anniversary festivities and events, and reprints the speeches and papers presented during the two-day celebration. Ira M. Condit (1833-1915) then the head of the San Francisco Mission, gave a speech recalling the history of the Mission to the Chinese in California and noting the mission’s accomplishments since it was founded in 1853. Condit and his first wife worked as missionaries in Canton, China from 1860 to 1865, and both became fluent in Cantonese. In 1870, Condit joined the superintendent of the Chinese Presbyterian Mission, Augustus Loomis, and worked in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland until his death in 1915.

Historical context

In his speech, Condit mentions colporteurs and how they helped in the early history of the mission. Colporteurs were people who carried bibles or religious tracts throughout the mission area to share them with potential converts.

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Reading questions

1.    Who is the author of this document? Who is their intended audience?

2.    What is the tone of the document’s introduction (pages 1-4)? What attitudes towards the Chinese participants does the writer display?

3.    Given the context, what was unusual or special about this anniversary gathering?

4.    On page 6, during Ira Condit’s speech, he says that Augustus Loomis “had stood like a wall and battled with this trying, unresponsive work until the iron of inflexible strength entered into the very fiber of his nature.” Given what Condit has already said about the mission work, what part of it did he deem “trying” and “unresponsive”?

5.    How did setting up schools and other educational opportunities connect to the religious work of the California missionaries to the Chinese (page 6)?

6.    Who are the four Chinese ministers ordained by the Presbyterian Church in California, and what work do they do in the U.S. and China (page 9)?

7.    Condit notes that most Chinese people who immigrate to American eventually return to their homeland. Given this fact, why does he argue the missionary work in California is particularly important (page 11)?

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Source type
History Topics
Chinese American History
Mission History
Presbyterian History
Time Period
Slavery, Sectionalism, and Social Reform (1815-1861)