group photo with Fr Michael Tang
from the book "Beiguan"
courtesy of the author
In Yongpingfu and its environs, missionary work began in 1904 when in the summer several Chinese from this area came to Bishop Innokenty (Figurovsky) in Jinshanzui with a request to receive them into the Orthodox Church, to send them a preacher and open a school. Earlier missionary journeys had been undertaken by hieromonk Simon Kremnev with the catechist Michael Tang and there had been baptisms of some small groups. The bishop himself made a trip to Yongpingfu and there he acquired a piece of property in the middle of the city. Hieromonk Pallady, the Chinese deacon Michael Tang, the psalomshchik Ivan Fan and the artist F. Vlasov visited the mission there. Soon they managed to adapt the yard of one of the houses for the building of a church; an iconstasis was painted and the church was consecrated in honor of St John the Baptist. A school was opened and the mission at Yongpingfu became a center for missionary work in the whole region. Later schools were opened in Taiying and Jianchanying which lasted for several years. In 1907 Fr Deacon Michael Tang was made a priest; he began to work independently to enlighten his fellow countrymen. He began to travel around the neighboring villages to hold lectures about the faith, all the while looking capable and zealous people who could instruct their fellow villagers in the truth of the faith. Thus Stephen Cao, Sergei Chu, Panteleimon Sun and his son Ermolaos were attracted. They gathered around themselves catachuments in the villages of Wangjiezhuang. In Beijia Wopu a school was opened. In Luanzhou 30 people gathered to hear the word of God and were prepared for baptism by the teacher Theofan Li; at present 108 people have already been baptized there. Fr Michael visits them on holidays. In Changgezhuang 25 people assemble around Methodius Bao for prayer and instruction. In Luweishang in 1913, Peter Chang donated a plot of land and another Christian donated material; others helped with thier labor and in this way a small stone church was constructed and consecrated in 1914. Altogether the number of Christians under Fr Michael number 600 people living in different places.