Hopei Mission (1918–1951)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: May 11, 2022

Seventh-day Adventist mission work began in the Hebei 河北 (or Hopei) Province in 1915. In 1918 it was constituted as the Peking Mission 北京区会, later renamed the Chihli Mission 直隶区会. The province was formerly named the Chihli1 Province but when the name was changed to Hopei Province the mission entity underwent a further change, becoming known as the Hopei Mission 河北区会 (now Hebei Mission). It always remained a part of the North China Union Conference with its headquarters in Peking (now Beijing).

Preliminary Efforts

Peking, China’s capital, was an imposing walled city of politicians, bankers, businessmen, professionals, secretaries and servants. The Seventh-day Adventist mission first entered the city when Dr. Arthur Selmon 施列民醫師 travelled there from Henan Province in 1915 to explore the possibilities for evangelism. On arrival he met a cloth merchant, a member of another Christian group, who located a suitable house for Selmon’s national associates to stay. Selmon left evangelist Su Dien Ching 蘇殿卿 and two colporteurs to sow the Adventist message in the vast metropolis and returned to Henan.2

In the winter of 1917/1918 Milton Conger 孔宗道 and Clarence Davis 戴天德 travelled by train from Yancheng 偃城, Henan, to Peking in order to canvass the elite on behalf of the Harvest Ingathering. They returned with generous donations.3

Peking Mission

An official start to the evangelism of Peking was made when the Peking Mission was constituted in 19184 and Roy Cottrell 康盛德 was placed in charge to direct the enterprise. He located there in the Fall of 1918. Soon after, in February 1919, an urgent call was made for him to transfer to Shanghai and teach in the training school. Harold Blunden卜倫敦 was appointed to replace Cottrell, serving as superintendent of both the Peking Mission and the North China Union Conference. He had just begun when his health failed, and he took an early furlough back in Australia. Frederick Lee 李寶貴 was then chosen to take over Blunden’s roles. Lee’s appointment proved to be a stable start for the venture. By 1920 it was reported that a church of twenty-two members was established in Peking.5

Chihli Mission

Peking was located in the Chihli (or Zhili) Province. From 1921 the mission enterprise was more appropriately referred to as the Chihli Mission6 because the intent was to expand beyond Peking and into the entire province. The first extension was into the city of Tientsin 天津 (Tianjin) where a chapel was opened. A tent crusade, a novelty in China, was held in Peking in 1924 to boost numbers in the three chapels already established in that city.7 An elementary school was opened in Peking and a helpful ministry for the mothers of the students was started, offering health lectures and lessons in the Chinese phonetic system of reading.8 The Chihli membership at the close of 1925 was 133.9

War conditions swept the province in 1926. Many refugees fled from their villages to Tientsin, three hundred of them being fed there at the mission chapel.10 During these adverse conditions the first sizeable church in the province was built in Peking. The church building had school rooms and an annex chapel for public evangelism.11 Statistics for early 1929 reported four centers where services were held in Peking. Additional mission centers were at Tientsin in the west and Shenchow in the south. Baptized believers numbered 232.12

Hopei Mission

Despite floods in the south of the province and war conditions in the northern portion the mission cause continued to grow in the early 1930s. At the close of 1933 there were five organized churches and a baptized membership of 462. Sabbath School membership was 588 among thirteen groups.13 A co-educational central school had 115 students.14 Twelve months later the church membership had risen to 559, some evangelistic series attracted a thousand people each evening, five church schools were functioning and twelve colporteurs were busy as a group in every corner of the province in what was called the “bicycle corps.”15 Civil unrest continued but the mission director wrote in 1939, “Political conditions have prevented a strong aggressive work being done…but in spite of disturbances our organization as a whole is intact.”16 He reported membership had risen to 695.17

National leadership maintained the momentum during the Second World War years and, except for a short time, they were also in charge during the restoration after the war. The highest numbers reported were ten churches and two companies with a combined membership of 1,177 in 1950.18 These figures dropped in 1951 to eight churches and a membership of 863.19 With the takeover by communist forces all further reports ceased.20

Directors of the Hopei Mission

Roy Cottrell (康盛德1918-1919); Harold Blunden (卜倫敦1919); Frederick Lee (李寶貴1919-1923); William J. Harris (瑞賜義1923-1928); George Appel (愛培爾1929); Cleon Green (葛林1930-1938); William J. Harris (瑞賜義1939); Chaio Wen Li (焦文理Jiāo Wénlǐ 1940-1941); Go Chaio Liang (葛肇諒Gé Zhàoliàng 1941-1946); Shan Lo Tien (單樂天Shan Lètiān 1947); Avery Dick (迪克1948); Meng Wan Shu (孟萬書Mèng Wànshū 1949-1951).

Sources

Appel, George J. “The Chihli (Hopei) Provincial Mission.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August/September 1929.

Conger, Milton G. “Entering Peking, China.” ARH, August 22, 1918.

Evans, Irwin H. “The North China Union Mission.” ARH, March 4, 1920.

Green, Cleon B. “Hopei: A Vast Field.” China Division Reporter, April/May 1933.

Green, Cleon B. “Hopei Provincial Mission-1933.” China Division Reporter, May 1934.

Green, Cleon B. “The Hopei Mission.” China Division Reporter, May 1935.

Harris, William J. “The Chihli Provincial Meeting.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, March 1926.

Harris, William J. “The Hopei Annual Meeting.” China Division Reporter, April 15, 1940.

Harris, William J. “The Hopei Mission.” China Division Reporter, May 1939.

“In Chihli.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1927.

Lee, Frederick. “News From the North.” Asiatic Division Reporter, March 1, 1924.

“North China.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1926.

Selmon, Arthur C. “China’s Capital City.” Asiatic Division Mission News, September 1, 1915.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920-1952.

“Statistical Summary.” China Division Reporter, June 1934.

“The North China Union.” Asiatic Division Outlook, August 15, 1921.

White, Margaret R. “Peking Women’s Uplift Club.” Asiatic Division Outlook, January 1, 1924.

Notes

  1. The word Chihli (or Zhili) in Chinese is “直隶” which means “directly ruled”. It refers to the administrative region around Beijing (Peking) directly ruled by the imperial government of China. It was the former name of the Hebei Province.

  2. Arthur Selmon, “China’s Capital City,” Asiatic Division Mission News, September 1, 1915, 2.

  3. Milton G. Conger, “Entering Peking, China,” ARH, August 22, 1918, 15.

  4. “Peking Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920), 168.

  5. Irwin H. Evans, “The North China Union Mission,” ARH, March 4, 1920, 14.

  6. “The North China Union,” Asiatic Division Outlook, August 15, 1921, 13.

  7. Frederick Lee, “News From the North,” Asiatic Division Outlook, March 1, 1924, 3-4.

  8. Margaret R. White, “Peking Women’s Uplift Club,” Asiatic Division Reporter, January 1, 1924, 6-7.

  9. William J. Harris, “The Chihli Provincial Meeting,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, March 1926, 4-5.

  10. “North China,” Far Eastern Division Outlook,” July 1926, 12.

  11. “In Chihli,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1927, 10.

  12. George J. Appel, “The Chihli (Hopei) Provincial Mission,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August/September 1929, 4.

  13. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, June 1934, 12.

  14. Cleon B. Green, “Hopei Provincial Mission-1933,” China Division Reporter, May 1934, 9.

  15. Cleon B. Green, “The Hopei Mission,” China Division Reporter, May 1935, 15-16.

  16. William J. Harris, “The Hopei Mission,” China Division Reporter, May 1939, 5.

  17. Ibid.

  18. “Hopei Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1950), 100-101.

  19. “Hopei Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1951), 105-106.

  20. “China Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1952), 104.

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Hook, Milton. "Hopei Mission (1918–1951)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. May 11, 2022. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BHPI.

Hook, Milton. "Hopei Mission (1918–1951)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. May 11, 2022. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BHPI.

Hook, Milton (2022, May 11). Hopei Mission (1918–1951). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BHPI.