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Russian Orthodox Mission in China

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[[Image:RusMissionChina.jpg|right|thumb|300px|Compound of the Russian Orthodox Mission in Beijing, China]]
 The '''Russian Orthodox Mission in China''', also known as the '''Russian Ecclesiastical Mission''', was the effort by [[Church of Russia]] to bring Orthodox Christianity to China. The mission originate originated in the seventeenth century after the forces of Chinese Emperor Kangxi (Kang Hsi) brought Russian captives, including an Orthodox [[priest]], to Beijing, China after their the capture of the Russian fortress Albasin. The Mission continued until the [[Church of China]] formed in 1956 after the Communist Chinese government required the departure of non-Chinese church officials.
==History==
{{OrthodoxyinChina}}The Russian Orthodox Mission in China had its beginnings with the capture of forty-five Russians when the Chinese Emperor Kangxi (Kang Hsi), of the Qing dynasty, captured Albasin, a Russian fortress on the Amur River. Among those captured was Fr. [[Maxim Leontev]], an Orthodox priest. He was brought with the prisoners to Beijing late in the year 1685. There he settled in the ambassadorial quarters in the north eastern section of the city and served his small community for twenty years, using a converted Chinese temple as his [[chapel]]. The [[chapel ]] was [[consecration of a church|consecrated]] to the [[Holy Wisdom]] of God. In 1695, Fr. Maxim received documentation from the [[Metropolitan]] of Tobolsk recognizing the consecration of the church and directed Fr. Maxim to commemorate the Chinese emperor and to begin preaching to the Chinese. Fr. Maxim reposed in 1712, thus ending his informal mission.
With Fr. Maxim’s passing, a formal Orthodox Mission was formed that acted as the official representative of the Russian government. The activities of the mission were subordinated to the Russian government diplomatic and political interests . This period lasted until 1860. During this period the composition and head of the mission changed about every ten years and was generally composed of four [[clergy]] and six [[laity|laymen]]. The laymen were usually students whose duty was to learn the Chinese and Manchu languages and then became interpreters and eventually consuls for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The mission was financed by , and received direction from the government. This situation directly affected the [[missionary]] activities of the clergy. As the relations between Russia and China were defined formally, the work of each member of the mission was clearly defined. Under such circumstances, the missionary efforts of the Mission were greatly hindered and the number of conversions, hence evident in the small number of baptisms , was not significant.
Each change of the head of the mission has been identified serially. During the period to 1860 the number of changes was thirteen. Beijing being on the end of a long caravan route, communications with Russia were infrequent, only two to four times each year. This hampered the receipt of funds for the operation of the Mission.
Although hampered as missionaries by the political limitations, the succession of [[archimandrite]]s and [[bishop]]s who headed the Mission successfully introduced the cultural, ethnographical, and statistical information to Europeans through translations of Chinese literature. Among these works were the translations and compositions of Fr. [[Iakinf (Bichurin) of Beijing|Ioakinf (Bichurin) ]] and a Chinese dictionary by Fr. Daniel Siviloff, . During this 150 year period the Russian Orthodox Mission was confined to the mission center in Beijing. This confinement resulted in less than two hundred conversions of Chinese which included many who were descendants of the Albasin prisoners.
The Treaty of Tianjin (Tientsin) in 1858 changed the situation of the Beijing mission radically. The treaty admitted to China representatives of foreign governments and rights of residence in China to Christian missionaries. In the new period diplomatic and religious activities of the Beijing Mission were separated. Translations of the Scriptures began to appear. The Mission head, Archimandrite [[Gury (Karpov)]], participated actively in the negotiations of the Beijing Treaty of 1860 under which Russia gained lands along the Amur River. Having studied Chinese for many years he was active also in translating the New Testament into Chinese, as well as collecting earlier translations of Orthodox books for re-translation into the Chinese spoken language. He expanded preaching and lecturing in church, reaching areas beyond Beijing.
[[Image:MitrophanJiJul1882.jpg|left|thumb|150px|Fr Mitrophan Ji at the All Japan Council of 1882 after his ordination as priest]]
While the literary and translation efforts continued through most of the later part of the nineteenth century, the missionary work in the later part of the century lagged due to inadequate funding for preaching outside of Beijing , as well as the arrival of new missionaries whose Chinese language skills were inadequate. The era of an all-Russian [[clergy]] ended when a Chinese priest, Fr. Mitrophan Ji, was [[ordination|ordained]] in Japan by [[Nicholas of Japan|AbpBp. Nicholas]] of Tokyo on [[June 29]], 1882. Fr. Mitrophan died a [[martyr]] in the [[June 11]], 1900 Boxer uprising in China. The about nearly 500 baptisms that had been performed by the Mission and the establishment of two new churches, one each in Hankou and Kalgan (Zhangjiakou) had not contributed significantly to the Mission’s missionary efforts.
With the arrival of Archimandrite [[Innocent (Figurosky) of Beijing|Innocent]] in March 1897 the situation change changed abruptly. Fr. Innocent immediately undertook reforms in the Mission: he established a monastery, instituted daily services in Chinese, established support for Albasins with business abilities, organized parish activities, dispatched preachers to the hither lands outside Beijing to spread the [[Gospel]], and established charity efforts among the local poor. While Fr. Innocent’s arrival began a period of active missionary efforts, the beginning of the twentieth century also brought serious troubles for the Russian Orthodox Mission, as it did for other Christian missions. The Boxer (Yihetuan Movement) revolt in 1900 resulted in the destruction of the buildings in Beijing, Dongdingan, and Kalgan (Zhangjiakou). The riots caused the death of more than 200 Orthodox faithful. The losses also included the extensive library in the Beijing compound begun by Archimandrite Peter during the tenth mission. The Mission survived, and by 1902 there were 32 churches in China with nearly 6,000 members
Rising out of the ruins of the Boxer revolt, a new Mission attitude was established through the efforts of Fr. Innocent and with the support of the [[Holy Synod]] in Russia. Having been recalled to St. Petersburg for consultations concerning the mission, Fr. Innocent was consecrated bishop and returned to Beijing as Bishop of Beijing in August 1902, with jurisdiction over all the churches along the Chinese-Eastern Railway.
Rebuilding the mission began immediately, funded by the Chinese government in payment as compensation for the damages caused by the Boxer Revolt. Additionally, nearly all of China was opened to missionary work. New churches and chapels began to appear. A church and school were opened in Yongpingfu in Zhili province. Also in Zhili province some twenty chapels were opened by a Chinese priest. In Weihuifu, a church and school were founded through the gratitude of a Henan province official who had received protection from Russians during the revolt.
By 1916, the Russian Orthodox Mission in China had grown greatly. In Beijing, three monasteries were established: Dormition Monastery, the Hermitage of the Exaltation of the Cross in Xishan (Western Hills near Beijing), and a women’s monastery. There were nineteen churches including four in Beijing and 32 missions including 14 in Zhili province, 12 in Hebei, four in Henan, one in Xi’anfu, and one in Mongolia. The Mission also controlled 17 schools for boys and three for girls. In addition the Mission maintained a number of institutions relate relating to the publication of books, and various work shops.
Evangelization of Chinese increased, and by 1916 the number of baptized Chinese numbered 5,587, including 583 who were baptized in 1915. The vast majority of teachers in the Mission schools were Chinese.
==Heads of mission==
===Period of diplomatic representatives===
*First mission (1716-1728). Archimandrite [[Ilarion (Lezhaisky) ]] Reposed in Beijing in 17281717.
*Second mission (1729-1735). Archimandrite Antony (Platkovsky).
*Third mission (1736-1745). Archimandrite Illarion (Trusov). Reposed in Beijing in 1741.
*Eleventh mission (1830-1840). Hieromonk (later Archimandrite) Veniamin (Morachevich).
*Twelfth mission (1840-1849). Archimandrite Policarp (Tugarinov).
*Thirteenth mission (1850-1858). Archimandrite [[Pallady (Kafarov)of Beijing|Pallady (Kafarov)]]. Also led the fifteenth mission.
===Period of limited missionary activities===
==See also==
*[[Church of China]]
 
==Sources==
*[http://orthodox.cn/localchurch/1610romc_en.htm Russian Orthodox Mission in China]
*[http://www.cs.ust.hk/faculty/dimitris/metro/orth_china.html Orthodoxy in China]
*[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodoxy_in_China Wikipedia: Chinese Orthodox Church]
==External links==
*[http://www.orthodox.cn/localchurch/1685-1745.txt Russian Mission in China 1685-1745 ]
*[http://www.orthodox.cn/localchurch/beijing/18thcentmission2_en.txt Russian Mission in China 1745-1755]
 
==Further Reading==
* Eric Widmer. [http://books.google.ca/books?id=3ZjnRS1g6zkC The Russian ecclesiastical mission in Peking during the eighteenth century]. Harvard Univ Asia Center, 1976. 262 pp.
: (ISBN 0674781295; ISBN 9780674781290)
 
==Sources==
*[http://orthodox.cn/localchurch/1610romc_en.htm Russian Orthodox Mission in China]
*[http://www.cs.ust.hk/faculty/dimitris/metro/orth_china.html Orthodoxy in China]
*[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodoxy_in_China Wikipedia: Chinese Orthodox Church]
[[Category: Dioceses]]
[[Category: Church History]]
[[Category: Orthodoxy in China]]
 
[[ro:Misiunea Ortodoxă Rusă în China]]
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