Pentecostal Hong Kong: mapping mission in global pentecostal discourse, 1907-1942
Mayfield, Alex R.
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This dissertation utilizes archival research and digital methodologies to examine the birth and development of pentecostal mission in Hong Kong between the years 1907 and 1942. Current attention to Hong Kong has tended to focus on the first few years of pentecostal activity in the colony, the growth of early Chinese leadership, and the ways in which pentecostals were different from their evangelical peers. This study takes a longitudinal approach to the pentecostal movement in the colony by viewing it as a form of transnational discourse uniquely related to the local and regional contexts of Hong Kong and southern China. As such, this study is not interested in simply recovering the story of who went where. Instead, it is focused on tracing the changes of pentecostal mission in Hong Kong and understanding how those changes were entangled with the development of global pentecostal self-perception. The dissertation relies upon a broad survey of over six thousand pentecostal periodicals and the creation of a database that enables a meta-level analysis of trends in pentecostal mission. Particular attention is given to five themes: the spatial relationship between pentecostals and the colony, the structural dimensions of the pentecostal movement, common missionary practices, pentecostal spirituality, and pentecostal approaches to gender. By tracing these five themes, the dissertation shows that pentecostal missionary discourse changed dramatically during the first thirty-five-year period in the colony and that changes in missionary ideas, perception, and practices grew from pentecostals’ dialogue with their local environment, global context, and evangelical heritage. This study of pentecostal mission in Hong Kong is divided into three main time periods. From 1907 to 1913, pentecostal missionaries fit the mold of faith missionaries, arriving in China with no formal system of financial support. These missionaries embraced a Sino-Western leadership model and transformed Hong Kong into a transurban center of global missionary outreach. From 1914 to 1928, however, the unified model broke apart, and pentecostal mission, like the broader pentecostal movement, became denominational. As denominational frameworks took hold, missionaries began emulating larger evangelical missionary organizations as they sought to expand their influence into the “interior” of China. From 1929 to 1942, however, the political unrest on the mainland forced pentecostals back to Hong Kong, where they discovered a bevy of new opportunities for mission. Throughout these organizational and spatial changes, pentecostals in Hong Kong were also adapting to the religious marketplace of Hong Kong, negotiating evangelical conceptions of gender and mission and reformulating their place in the global pentecostal movement.