Project Canterbury

Forward in Western China

By Deaconess Emily Lily Stewart
C.M.S. Missionary in Szechwan

Foreword by the Archbishop of Sydney

London: Church Missionary Society, 1934.

Chapter I. The Way Prepared
Chapter II. The Way Reviewed
Chapter III. New Prospects
Chapter IV. Apparent Retreat--And an Advance
Chapter V. General Conditions
Chapter VI. The Outlook of a Student
Chapter VII. The Conflicts of a Student
Chapter VIII. The Church and the New Freedom
Chapter IX. The Training of Leaders
Chapter X. Life in a Szechwan Parish
Chapter XI. Some of Our Chinese Friends
Chapter XII. What of the Future?



Deaconess Stewart will have a fascinating story to tell. I am sorry that, owing to my removal from Western China to Australia, it has not been possible for me to read it before writing this preface. Her previous writings have shown that she has the gift of vivid description, combined with an understanding sympathy with the Chinese people and an insight into the problems of the Chinese Church. The years she has spent in China have prepared her for telling this story. They have been years full of change. When she came out to us in 1925 there were still missionaries at work who had been members of the first pioneer party in the early 'nineties. The Chinese Christians still thought of the Church as synonymous with the European missionaries. In 1928 their point of view was revolutionized. The missionaries had been withdrawn in 1927 and the Chinese clergy had carried on. When the missionaries returned, they came, not to resume their leadership, but to act as helpers to their Chinese colleagues.

Deaconess Stewart was among the first women to be able to return. She had early shown her gift of being able to draw out powers of leadership in the Chinese workers, and to get them to undertake responsibility. She was now located by a Chinese synod and not by her fellow-missionaries to her sphere of service, and she became the first English secretary of the Synod. She was present at the consecration of the first Chinese bishop. On her furlough, in order to help the growing numbers of educated Christian girls, she successfully passed the Archbishop of Canterbury's examination for the Diploma in Theology, and was ordained as the first deaconess in the diocese.

The Church, of which she writes, is the result of the labours of past years. Although still young and inexperienced, many of the leaders have grown rapidly in spiritual stature. The bulk of the membership is, however, still bowed down by the stern struggle for daily food under increasingly difficult conditions. Ideas have changed rapidly and some Chinese workers are no longer able to be the help they once were. But the large numbers of young people give bright hope for the future. Christian schools and a Christian university are producing vigorous young churchmen and churchwomen who are now taking their place as leaders of the Church. The changes have also brought a fuller realization of the meaning of membership of a worldwide Church. The growth of the Church in Western China still largely depends on the experienced missionary help as well as the prayers and support given by other parts of Christ's family. Knowledge and sympathy are the first requisites, and I believe this book will help to supply that need.

Howard Mowll

Project Canterbury