"American Orthodox Messenger" Vol. VI. № 14. August 1-14, 1902. pg. 313-314.
page image from the archives of All Saints of North America Orthodox Church
Mission in China

English translation by Katherine Ilachinski

The question of elevating the Beijing Mission chief to the rank of bishop emerged in the past year and meant only to meet the religious needs of many Orthodox residents in China, in Beijing, and along the Chinese Eastern Railway. There are currently already seven priests and there is an urgent need for the appointment of at least three new priests. Because of distance of neighboring Manchuria diocesan offices and special terms of the situation in this province of the Orthodox congregation, the Holy Synod decided to entrust the administration of church affairs in Manchuria and generally within China, to the chief of our spiritual Mission, elevating him to the rank of bishop.

In judgments on this subject, the Holy Synod drew attention to the fact that the need to have in China an Orthodox bishop was realized by state power even at the very beginning of XVIII century, when, at the precise decree of Emperor Peter I and the election of the Holy Synod, St. Innokenty was elevated to the rank of bishop in preparation for sending him to China. Also that in the past century, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs instituted the question of appointment of the Beijing Mission chief as bishop, and that now, under changed circumstances, the implementation of the idea of appointing the Beijing Mission head as bishop was regarded to be an urgent need, because of the installation of Chinese Eastern Railway, except for a significant number of employees at the railway line and working people, thousands of Russians settled in the area of exclusion, but over time their number should increase even more.

Having in mind that among the many Orthodox residents in China there inevitably will be raised this kind of urgent cases, which by canonical rules are allowed only by the power of diocesan bishop, for instance, arising between parishioners and pastors misunderstandings permission of marriages in the 5th and 6th degree of blood relations, divorces, etc., and that, in addition to this, the present need in parishes, construction of churches, ordination of priests for them and the establishment of schools for Orthodox children, the Holy Synod proposed: Chief of the Beijing Mission to be elevated to the rank of Bishop, with his administration of church affairs and archpastoral care for meeting the spiritual needs of Orthodox Christians living in Beijing and even within the Chinese Empire, with the attribution to him the name of Pereslavski, to be in line with the name for the prelate Innokenty, the first bishop appointed to China in 1721.

Based on informational reports in 1898 under the authority of the Chinese mission, there were 5 churches and a prayer house for the accomplishment of memorials in Russian at the Russian cemetery near Beijing. Total number of parishioners - the Russians, temporarily living in Beijing, 120 and Albazins and 458 native Christians of both sexes. During the last popular uprising in China against Christians and Europeans, which happened in May, June and July 1900, more than 300 Orthodox believers were beaten by rebels (known as Yihetuan or Boxers). According to Chinese reports, burned: 1) Compound of our spiritual Mission in Beijing with libraries, schools (male and female) and hospice; 2) Russian cemetery in Beijing, the monuments were destroyed, graves were desecrated and the bones of buried people thrown from the graves, 3) the Orthodox Church with metochion in the village of Dongding’an, 4) Orthodox Church with the metochion in city of Kalgan and 5) prayer house with metochion in Beidahe. Survived from the pogrom - the church in the diplomatic mission in Beijing, though, during bombardment of embassy roof of the bell tower and church was broken in several places by grenades; a church with metochion in the city of Hankou and Mission House on Leulin acquired by the Mission at the request of Russian merchants, land for summer cottages for Russian colony in Hankou.

In 1901, based on the account information of the Mission chief, again there were built or acquired by purchase: 1) in favor of Orthodox victims from Boxers donation money bought 36 Chinese Fangzi with Metochions, located around Beiguan for the settlement of the Orthodox, living so far, because of Boxers destruction of their homes, with mission metochion; 2) exchanged from the Chinese government for shops belonging to the Mission in the southern city of Beijing, princely palace Siyefu, located across the destroyed metochion of spiritual Mission for putting there the members of the Mission, the Mission School and Imperial Meteorological Station, 3) built in rented long-term lease dilapidated buildings owned by the Chinese General Xie, Mission metochion with the house church in the city of Tianjin, where, on the highest behest, was the spiritual Mission transferred after the taking of Beijing by Europeans, 4) the newly rebuilt shattered branch mission in Beidahe, 30 versts from the city of Shanghai-Guangya and 5) purchased with funds of the Mission chief masonry house with land in the city of Shanghai and with it was built two story house for school location. In addition to this school open by the end of 1901, there was another school opened in Beijing for Orthodox children.

In the Mission there were in 1901: 1) Archimandrite Innokenty, now bishop of Pereslavsk, 2) a member of the Mission Hieromonk Avraamy, acting priest at the embassy church in Beijing; 3) a priest in the Church of Hankou N. Shastin; 4) assigned to the Mission Hieromonk Platon and 5) S. Butikov, accepted by the head of the Mission as a teacher of Russian language and church singing.