A symposium entitled, "Christianity and the Liberation of Women in Modern China" was held in Shanghai University's College of Arts from October 26-27, 2019. The event was organised by Shanghai University’s Religion and China Social Research Center, Shanghai University's Highland Chinese History, the American "China Christian Studies" magazine and Los Angeles' "Center for Christianity and Chinese Studies”. It was jointly organized and included more than 40 scholars from universities and institutions in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States, New Zealand and Japan.
The conference was chaired by Xiao Qinghe, Director of the Religion and China Social Research Center at Shanghai University. Professor Tao Feiya, Academic Director of the Religion and China Social Research Center, Dr. Li Ling, Director-General of the Center for Christianity and Chinese Studies in Los Angeles, and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Chinese Christian Studies who delivered welcome speeches. Subsequently, Professor Hu Weiqing of Shandong University's School of History and Culture and Professor Tao Feiya of Shanghai University delivered keynote speeches on the symposium's theme.
Professor Hu Weiqing introduced the activities of the Anglican Church, the Church of the Holy Way and the British Presbyterian Church, highlighting three women missionaries in North and South China, and included missionary, educational and medical work under a speech's title, "Liberation and Discipline: A Comparative Analysis of the Activities of Modern British Female Evangelists in North and South China".
Through historical analysis, Professor Hu believes that female missionaries were more concerned with the salvation of the soul as well as had clear concerns about education, occupation and marriage of local women. But the church was generally more cautious about the "liberation" of local women and wanted women to be godly, disciplined, obedient, clean and family-oriented, reflecting a cautious attitude of female British missionaries against the trend of the separation of professional women and families after the Industrial Revolution.
Professor Tao Feiya, who delivered a speech entitled, "Whose Influences: Chinese in the Local Church of the Republic of China and the American Female Missionaries", talked about the Chinese in the Chinese Church (represented by Jing Dianying) and the American female missionaries (represented by Nora Dlienbeck) in the context of Jesus family. Professor Tao's analysis of historical data suggests that there existed a relationship in which the two had affected each other. Dlienbeck's influence was great in leading Jing to Christianity and family management. Jing had the stronger opinion in making Christianity adaptable to China's countryside. At the same time, Professor Tao also hoped to find Lin Mei's own written work so that more comprehensive and objective narrative of this story of encounter between the Chinese and the American could be told and used to understand the Sino-American Christians in that era of similarities and differences.
More than 30 theses were received at the conference with group presentations and discussions in five sessions. The theses mainly focused on topics such as Christian education and women, the anti-Japanese War effort and Christian women, female Christian missionaries, Christian and gender construction, and the Christian female image".
- Translated by Charlie Li