Chinese Church Voices

A Bell That Was Not Silenced

Chinese Church Voices is an occasional column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.

The city of Qingdao made news this past week as a small outbreak of the coronavirus was discovered.

Perhaps better known for its colonial past, the city includes several historic churches that were built in the early 20th century. China Christian Daily recently reported on one church and its historic bell that has survived over the decades.

To read more fascinating stories of historic Chinese church buildings and the bells they contain, be sure to check out The Bells Are Not Silent by our own Joann Pittman.

The Story of the Century-old Bell in St. Paul’s Church, Qingdao

Established nearly 70 years ago, St. Paul’s Church in Qingdao, Shandong is an important local Christian church. However, few know that the church’s bell is 120 years old and has a tortured tale behind it. An article in the “Liaocheng Evening News” tells the story.

The bell was sent to a scrap company during the Cultural Revolution. Twenty years later, when St. Paul’s Church was renovated, the missing bell left a void that could not be filled. Li Lingming, a Christian in Qingdao, had been searching hard for the bell for nearly two decades. In 2007, he accidentally heard that the bell was in the possession of the Liaocheng Shuangli Group. On March 3, 2009, the original bell, which had been missing for nearly half a century, finally returned to St. Paul’s Christian Church, undamaged.

Li Yucai, a 62-year-old retired employee of Liaocheng Shuangli Group, said that he was born in Qingdao and believed in Christianity when he was a teenager. He and his friend Li Lingming used to sing hymns at the church in the North District of Qingdao. He was deeply impressed by the melodious and striking bells in the church. 

According to Qingdao Culture and Tourism, there were once many churches in Qingdao.  Among them, the three most famous ones are the Catholic Church (also known as St. Michael’s Church), Jiangsu Road Christian Church, and St. Paul’s Church.  St. Paul’s Church was built in 1938 and completed on Christmas Day 1939. The dedication ceremony was held on Easter 1940. The church was built on the site of the German Club by the American Lutheran Church between 1938 and 1940. Russian architect Yourieff designed the building, imitating an Italian style.  The church is at the foot of Guanxiang Mountain, a famous landmark of the island city.

Original Article: Case Study: The Story of the Century-old Bell in St. Paul’s Church, Qingdao by China Christian Daily.
Edited and reposted with permission.

Image credits: Joann Pittman.

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