Christ Church of China Archives
Christ Church of China History & Milestones (1911-1970)
(Take from Christ Church of China 100th Anniversary Commemorative Publication, pp.11-13, used by permission)
Sourced from the ledgers of the Church’s committee/deacon board meetings, correspondence files, and Sunday worship bulletins – By Dr. Stephen Lee, 1911-1986
God’s Beginnings for Our Church, 1911 to 1930
The Church is shown on record as being founded in 1912, although we were actually established in 1911. Miscalculations may have occurred during the turbulent period from 1937 to 1941, when church anniversary celebrations were cancelled in response to unrest and war in China and elsewhere. Today, we celebrate our 100th anniversary, having witnessed the gracious guidance of our LORD God through the past century.
The church’s first founders meeting took place at the Chinese Benevolent Association in Vancouver, BC and was attended by over a hundred overseas Chinese Christians. Within a year’s time, the new Church was holding services at 143 Pender Street in Chinatown. It bore the name “Chinese Christian Church”, had 28 executive members, and was an indigenous, independent and self- supporting church with no denominational or missionary affiliations. Its ministry included Sunday worship, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, educating the illiterate, cultivating the virtues, helping the poor, and being loyal to the nation of China.
The church was later renamed the Christ Church of China. According to 1917 regulations, there was an executive committee comprising 14 different posts. The president and vice-president were responsible for conducting church services, “except when the church had a designated minister”. All general or committee meetings were chaired by a moderator, and no one was permitted to speak on the same subject more than twice. Monthly meetings were held at 9 P.M. every first Sunday of the month and it was set out that “all meetings should last no more than 90 minutes.”
Detailed minutes of the church executive committee had been kept since July 13, 1921. At that particular meeting, the committee resolved to set up a sub-committee to look after the matter of “hiring a pastor to restore the church’s ministry”. Pastor Wong Pak-yau was subsequently employed to assume preaching responsibilities, and to oversee the Sunday school, prayer meetings, and evening classes. In February 1928, due to the church’s lack of funding, the contract with Pastor Wong was terminated.
Through 1921 and 1922, the Church helped raise funds for the Chinese government in her expedition against the warlords, and for the relief work that followed massive flooding in various part of British Columbia. (Such collections for relief efforts became a regular practice of the church over the decades.) To cover regular expenses, the Church turned to local residents and shop owners in Chinatown for donations. The usual contribution was one or two dollars per person although, at one particular meeting, $180 was raised. Sacramental duties were carried out by Rev. Tam Yuk-sum and Rev. Urn Chor-yin. In July 1922, the committee had a heated debate over whether the Holy Communion should be received while kneeling or standing and the matter was finally resolved through a casting of votes.
On July 7, 1929, church records reported that the first group outing was to Hastings Park, thus beginning a long tradition of annual Church picnics.
神對教會的創始 1911 – 1930
God’s Molding of Our Church, 1931 to 1950
The 1930s and 1940s were periods of upheaval in China, and Christ Church of China, though located on the other side of the Pacific, did not remain unaffected. In 1931 and 1932, the Church once again helped raise funds for relief work and church-planting in China. The idea of constructing a church sanctuary was raised during 1938, but was laid aside as peoples’ attention focused on the war in China. A glimpse of the diverse spiritual maturity of the church membership at that time was revealed by a motion raised on June 5, 1938, “to ban all smoking in the Church hall”.
The issue of needing a full-time minister persisted. In 1933, the church appointed elders; and, from 1934 to 1939, two ministers arrived to help but each stayed less than two years. In 1948, the church committee members elected amongst themselves a lay-pastor, Mr. Leung Tao-ming, but that arrangement was also discontinued after six months.
神對教會的塑造 1931 – 1950
God’s Expansion of Our Church, 1951 to 1970
The Church celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 1951. In March of that year, Rev, and Mrs. Lam Chor-yin came to serve as the honorary minister and pastoral assistant. In October 1952, Rev. Shui Chiu-chung was also appointed to a similar post. At that time, all the pastors as well as the church members resided in the rooms on the top floors of the church building on Pender Street.
In May 1954, funds were raised to reconstruct the front portion of the building and seats were added to the church hall. A cross, along with the Chinese characters for “Faith, Hope, Love”, was hung behind the pulpit. The Apostles’ Creed and the Ten Commandments were placed on both sides of the hall, all beautifully written in Chinese calligraphy. The construction work was completed in time for a dedication service on the 44th Anniversary in 1955.
Rev. Liu Kan-san came to minister during 1962 and 1963. In 1964, the Church learned about reconstruction plans for Chinatown which encompassed the removal of buildings on the entire block where the church premises were located. In response, the committee sought grants and loans from both the federal and provincial governments in order to erect a new church hall and senior citizens residence (China Villa) at the junction of East Pender Street and Gore Avenue. During the construction of the new facilities, church services and programs were held at 767 Keefer Street.
神對教會的擴展 1951 – 1970