Methodist Chinese Mission and the Chinese Rescue Home (Oriental Home)
The Methodist Church pioneered mission to the Chinese in Canada since 1885 with the establishment of the Chinese Rescue Home. The Home was founded in 1887 by John Endicott Gardiner from San Francisco, son of a missionary to China. The Rescue Home was a one-storey, eight-roomed frame building situated on Frederick Street.
The setup of the Rescue Home in 1887 has 4 objectives:
- To break up the “villainous traffic” of human trafficking for immoral purpose (a value of $1,000 to $1,500 per Chinese girl at that time).
- To Christianize and civilize the residents
- To provide basic education and training in handling household duties for marriage
- To train some potential girls to become “Bible Women” (J. E. Starr Report)
Between 1888 and 1902 the home rescued forty Chinese girls and women between the ages of seven and twenty-four, all of whom converted to Christianity during their stay. Of these twenty-two later married Christian Chinese men, fifteen returned voluntarily to China and but three returned to prostitution. (Wang, p. 702)
The high quality of education offered at the Home attracted many Chinese parents (especially wealthy merchants) to enroll their children in the Mission School. Many young students could enter denominational colleges and receive training to become professionals. “It was preposterous to think that a Chinese girl, without money could ever get a University education.” (They Came Through, p. 7) The stories of Victoria Cheung and Agnes Chan were representational to how lives could be completely transformed through the ministry of the Chinese Rescue Home.
The year in which the Chinese mission was begun in Victoria, Chan Sing Kai from Hong Kong was commissioned to start a Chinese Mission in Vancouver. Chan became the first ordained Chinese clergyman in the Methodist Church of Canada. His brother Chan Yu Tan succeeded Gardiner’s ministry in 1896. The Chinese Mission in New Westminster was established in the early 1890s.
The Methodist Chinese Mission was at its peak in the mid-1890s with a total membership of over two hundred. However, the mission hit a serious decline in the following years due to the new wave of anti-Chinese agitation by both the government legislature and the Caucasian community. The Chinese mission finally regained its momentum in the early 1910s when China established a republican government which was friendly towards Christianity.
By 1923 the Methodist Church had sent missionaries to almost every Chinese community in the country. In 1910, in cooperation with the Presbyterian Church, a Chinese mission was opened in Winnipeg, in 1911 in Moose Jaw, in 1917 Calgary and in 1919 in Toronto. (Wang, p. 702)
Following the union of churches and the formation of the United Church of Canada in 1925, the story of the Methodist Church Chinese mission continued within the history of the Chinese United churches.
Starr, J. E. “A Report Upon “The Home” for Rescued Chinese Girls in Victoria, B.C.: The Origin.” (a letter sent to Mrs. E. S. Strachen, President, W. M. S.), September, 1887. United Church of Canada, B.C. Conference Bob Steward Archives.
Whiteley, Marilyn Fardig, ed. The Life and Letters of Annie Leake Tuttle: Working for the Best Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1999.
Newspaper clipping kept in the Record Book of Oriental Home & School, 1888-1901. United Church of Canada, B.C. Conference Bob Steward Archives
Wang, Jiwu. “Organised Protestant Missions to Chinese Immigrants in Canada, 1885-1923.” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 54, no. 4: Oct. 2003.
Woman’s Missionary Society, They Came Through: Stories of Chinese Canadians. Toronto: Literature Department of the Woman’s Missionary Society of the United Church of Canada, 194-?. University of British Columbia Libraries, Special Collection.
循道會是加拿大華人宣教事工的先鋒，始於一八八五年，中華救援之家(英華女館)的事工，由來自三藩市的John Endicott Gardiner 所設立。救援宿會位於Frederick 街，樓高兩層，有八間房間。
根據一八八七年 J.E. Starr 的報告所顯示，設立中華救援之家共有四個目的。首先是為打擊偷運及買賣女孩 (每個價值一千至一千五百加元) 從事不道德行為的罪惡活動。其次是盼望救援之家所收容的女孩有機會信主及受西方文化薰陶。 第三個目的是讓宿舍內的女孩子有機會接受基本教育及日後家務訓練，以備日後建立家庭。 最後，是盼望其中部份女孩會受訓成為女宣教師，能帶給其他華人婦女正面的影響。