from the book
courtesy of the
author Boris Alexandrov
"West of Beijing stretches the Western Hills (Xishan). Thanks to its high elevation, wonderful climate and healthy air, this area since ancient times has served as a place for outings in the hot summer months. In these mountains many ruins, temples and other monuments of antiquity are to be found. In 1910 a piece of land totaling 162 acres (60 Russian desyatina) with a temple was purchased by the mission 10 versts [1.06 kilometers] west of the west wall of Beijing and one and a half versts from the nearby village of Mentou. Its secluded location among the hills at the foot of the mountains makes it suitable for prayer and spiritual reflection, and hence, it an ideal place for a skete. On 26 November a house church in honor of the Elevation of the Holy Cross was consecrated here. In 1911 on the Feast of the Nativity, the church and buildings (of the former temple) burned down. In the following year a church was constructed in another building and services are held there when the superior of the Mission comes; from time to time he visits the skete for solitude or to work on his scientific projects. In 1912 in the village of Mentou an estate with 36 rooms was purchased where a lecture hall, a weaving shop and a school for 20 students were contructed. There are already more than 100 baptized Orthodox in this area. The people are poor and ignorant of any trade; they are desendents of the Manchus who were formerly supported by the Imperial Qing government.
In Zhezhou, 70 versts along the Hankou road, 18 people were baptized by Fr Sergei Chang in 1912. In the following year 17 people were baptized. The catechists here are the seminarians Theophan Rui and Nikolai Li.
In the village of Yageying (about 20 versts from Beijing) a certain Alexei prepared 35 people who were baptized in 1912.
 Actually, the Qing dynasty was ruled by the Manchus, an ethnic group from Northeastern China; they had their own language and customs. By the end of the dynasty, many of them had been reduced to penury.
 Father Sergei Chang was the son of St Mitrofan, the first Chinese hieromartyr. Two of his granddaughters still live in Beijing. Like other Orthodox believers in Beijing, they long for the day when an Orthodox church will be opened there.