[Church Series] Shanghai's Pure Heart Church

Firemen squadron of the Bund in Shanghai receiving gifts from Shanghai's Pure Heart Church on Aug 14, 2019.
Firemen squadron of the Bund in Shanghai receiving gifts from Shanghai's Pure Heart Church on Aug 14, 2019. (photo:WeChat account: Shanghai Christianity)
By CCD contributor: Paul Wu November 18th, 2019

A herring bone-shaped church stands at No. 30 Dachang Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai. She is the Pure Heart Church, formerly known as "The First Presbyterian Church of Shanghai".

In 1860, four missionaries, including Rev. Lowrle, from the Northern American Presbyterian Mission built a church. The following year the missionary couple of John Marshall Willoughby Farnham and his wife founded Lowrie Institute or Qingxin Shuyuan, which served displaced children during times of war as well as children of local Christians. Located inside the Institute, the church was renamed "Qingxin Church" (Pure Heart Church). As it should be, the new name has a deeper meaning taken from Matthew 5:8: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."  John Farnham was in charge of the institute and also worked as the church's pastor. The congregation consisted of the school's faculty, their family members, and students. 

It was not until 1882 that the first Chinese pastor Tang Zhizhong was employed and the Chinese believers started to be responsible for the church's administration. In addition, the church became financially independent. 

Later, it established two daughter churches, Hongde Church and Zhabei Church. The three churches were known as the three sister churches of the Presbyterian Church in Shanghai. 

In 1919, church leaders such as Rev. Li Hengchun launched a campaign to move the church out of the Institute. A piece of land was purchased solely from the donations of all in the congregation and new construction was begun on the current site. The new hall was dedicated on New Year's Day of 1923. 

The church was also involved in education. It established the Qingxin Middle School (now Shanghai Shinan High School), the Qingxin Girls' Middle School (the later Shanghai No. 8 Senior High School), a Bible school, and a Christian social work institute. Lowrie Institute recruited both boys and girls and offered them separate education. Girls mainly learned spinning, weaving, and cooking skills. The Girls' School was among the five female schools in China at the time. Enjoying a high reputation and influence in Shanghai, Qingxin Girls' Middle School hosted the first graduation ceremony in 1906. Many important individuals received their formative education in those schools before going on to fame.

In 1958, the church in Shanghai started combined worship. In keeping with the times, the Shanghai Heavenly Church merged with the Pure Heart Church. During the Cultural Revolution, the Pure Heart Church was closed. In 1979, it became the second church in China to reopen. Services resumed on September 9 of that year. In 1992, a facelift took place and a small hall was built on the second ground. Two years later, it was became the location of the Shanghai Municipal Building Protection Unit. 

- Translated by Karen Luo

related articles
LATEST FROM Church & Ministries