It is the 6th of April 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I'm Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1956.
Let's start by jumping back four years to 1952. In that year, the naturalization Act of 1790 was finally, at least officially, exorcized with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. That 1790 Act, while amended, replaced, and recapitulated, stated that immigration to the United States was allowed to "free white persons" of "good moral character." We have discussed this show the plight of those German Protestants, Irish Catholics, etc., coming to America and re-founding European Christian traditions in America. While language would be a barrier, this would only become an issue if you opened your mouth. It was rough, but you could slowly assimilate, and in a generation, no one could know of your foreign roots.
These groups also formed in the American North East, where large immigrant populations could rely on each other for mutual aid and solidarity. We've noted that the steam engine's widespread use changed American demographics by allowing cheaper and faster travel not limited to the standard transatlantic route. Coming up the Mississippi, new immigrant groups found the wide-open mid-west an appealing alternative to the crowded coasts.
And then there was immigration to the west coast from Asia. Unlike Europeans, it was as tricky to find a ship, blend in, and get a job. The story of Chinese Christians in America is our theme for today, but in 1830 the US Census noted that there were precisely 3 Chinese people in America. In 1844 the Chinese and American governments signed the treaty of Wangxhia, allowing for increased trade and relations between the two countries. And wouldn't you that just as a large population was permitted to travel to the United States, preferably to the West Coast. And it was the Gold Rush that kicked off. And while that petered out, those who had stayed were able to find work in the bustling track and train game that would spread post-Civil War America from coast to coast. Thus by 1860, the official Chinese population had ballooned from 3 to over 60,000.
Many Chinese people would also find work in the Pacific Islands, most notably Hawaii. And that is where we find Ng Ping in the 1880s. Ng Ping, also known as Gee Ching Wu, was about 5 when he came to Hawaii, although he couldn't be sure. He had been kidnapped off the streets of Shanghai at about 5, enslaved, and eventually taken to Hawaii. It is here that he met the Deaconess Emma Drant. She taught him English, and he taught her Chinese. He would be baptized as Daniel Gee Ching Wu. By 1905 Emma's Chinese was good enough to get her a call from a Chinese mission in San Francisco. The following year, 1906, saw the devastation of the Chinese mission and the rest of San Francisco by the great earthquake and fire of that year.
Drant called on Daniel to come work beside her amongst the Chinese refugees in Chinatown and across the Bay in Oakland. Daniel would serve these two missions while attending seminary in Berkeley. In 1913 he was ordained and oversaw both Chinese missions in the bay area. A local paper recorded the following:
"On the morning of the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, in the chapel of the San Francisco mission for Chinese, the newly ordained priest in charge celebrated his first Eucharist. It was, perhaps, the first time a Chinese priest had offered the Holy Mysteries in the Chinese language on the Pacific coast."
Daniel and his wife, King Yoak Won, spent decades setting up opportunities in the churches to teach English and sewing to local Chinese immigrants. He took care not to offer Christianity as something "American." His vision was to integrate into American culture while developing a distinctive Chinese American culture and stressing that all culture is subordinate to our identity in Christ.
Wu and his wife ministered for over 35 years to the same churches in the bay area. In 1952 he saw the passing of the American Immigration and Nationality Act. However, he would not see the growth of the Chinese-American demographic to over 5 million in America, with some 2 million of those being Christians. Ng Ping baptized Daniel Gee Ching Wu, the first Chinese episcopal priest in America who died on this, the 6th of April in 1956.
The reading for today, the last month of readings on this show before the format change, and so I am picking and rereading my favorites. This is the "Apologist's Evening Prayer" by C.S. Lewis.
From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seemed to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.
Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle's eye,
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 6th of April 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a free white person of Good moral character, Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. And remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true. Everything is going to be ok.