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Christian Tsung-Tsin Church

Source: Changjiang Weekly 03/09/2016 04:03:08

Griffith John, a Christian missionary sent by the London Missionary Society to China who traveled from Shanghai to Hankou, built the first church in Hubei Province in July 1864. Christian Tsung-Tsin Church, is a mission located in Gejiaying, Wuchang. The 150-year-old Christian Tsung-Tsin Church was the first church built in Wuhan.

Christian Tsung-Tsin Church, situated on Tanhualin Street, has an inconspicuous front gate. Travelers strolling westward along Tanhualin Street, if they are paying attention, might catch a glimpse of the iron front gate of the oldest remaining Christian church in Wuhan, possibly China.

An example of gothic architecture, this one-story church is made of wood and brick with gently sloped roofs. An aerial view of the facility shows that the layout is a cross. Pointed arches are characteristic of its gates, as well as its windows, which are made of stained glass. The church is big enough to house a congregation of 200 people. Beside the church is a small garden, a Western-style residence structure for the pastor, and two large classrooms for private schooling, which at the time of establishment was free. The front gate of the private school, which opens to Tanhualin Street, was once adorned with a plaque inscribed with three Chinese characters, "男学堂," which meant "all-boys school." The plaque was removed a few years ago.

Griffith John first arrived in China in 1855. In 1864, he bought land in Gejiaying, Wuchang, so that he could construct a church. The establishment of Christian Tsung-Tsin Church was a signal that Hubei and Central China were open to Christianity. Liu Qiandin, a famous folklorist, said, "In the years prior to the 1911 Revolution, Tanhualin was the cradle of revolutionaries. At that time, Christian Tsung-Tsin Church served as a gathering place for intellectuals because it promoted open-mindedness and democracy." At Christian Tsung-Tsin Church, the gatherings were organized independently by Chinese people with revolutionary ideas and ambitions.

He went on to explain that although there were foreign missionaries at Christian Tsung-Tsin Church, the chief priests were always Chinese. This is an important chapter in the history of Wuhan.

In 1951, this church became one of the patriotic movement centers in Wuchang. In 1958, all religious activities at Christian Tsung-Tsin Church stopped, and the buildings were used as storage rooms for a paper mill. In 2000, the church resumed its religious activities; since then, mellifluous piano music and choir singing can often be heard there. In 2005, Christian Tsung-Tsin Church was listed among the second batch of outstanding historical buildings.

The establishment of Christian Tsung-Tsin Church highlights the openness and diversity of Wuchang culture. What is even more remarkable is that this little-known church has survived the changes of the last century, so Christian Tsung-Tsin Church is a precious cultural site that represents an important period in the history of Wuhan.

Christian Tsung-Tsin Church's front gate can be found at No.2 Tanhualin Street. Travelers can walk inside freely. At the back of the church stands a bookcase full of Bibles, some used, some new, some large, some small.