Story behind Daowai Church of Harbin

Daowai Church
Daowai Church
By Jotham Dai March 30th, 2018

Founded in 1936, Daowai Church of Harbin once belonged to the Baptist Church. 

In 1920, the North-China Baptist Mission of Northern (American) Baptists sent Yang Meizhai, a Chinese preacher, to start a church in Harbin. Three years later, an American pastor named Martin came to assist him. Afterward, the Chinese church gained independence.

Martin returned to the city in 1930 and purchased a land in Beidaliudao Street of Daowai District in 1935, where a Baptist church, the former Daowai Church, was built. The church construction fund didn't come easily. He sold the former church property bought by believers two years ago and borrowed money from Citibank, also receiving donations from the congregation. 

The new two-story church was completed one year later, along with two bungalows inside. 

In 1939, the church ordained John Cai as pastor. Li Zhihua worked as a preacher in 1953. Five years later, the fifteen churches from ten denominations were united and allocated to hold services in three churches including Lutheran Ni-ai-la-yi Church and the Baptist Church.

The Baptist Church was closed during the Cultural Revolution and resumed services in the 1980s.  

Recalling the history, almost the first batch of kindergartens in Harbin were founded by the church and a large percentage of them become renowned public kindergartens in the city.  

One of the earliest nursery school is Congde Kindergarten founded by Rev. Liu Dianhe from Daowai Church in 1936.The school located on the first floor of the church was renamed as "Aisheng Nursery" in 1949 and taken over by the local authority three years later. It was relocated in Congjian Street in 1959 and changed its name to "Chonglian Kindergarten" three years later.    

In 1926, a Lutheran church set up a nursery school which is now called Nanxun Kindergarten. Shangzhi Kindergarten was a former school initiated by a Methodist church in 1938. Jingyu Kindergarten used to be a nursery school established by "Baiyun Church" in 1946. 

Translated by Karen Luo

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