On 25 January 1944 history was made when the Rev'd. Florence Li Tim-Oi was made a 'Priest in the Church of God'.
The Ordination in the Anglican Diocese of Hong Kong and South China took place in the Free China village of Shui Hing during the Sino-Japanese War. It was conducted by Bishop R O Hall in order that Anglican Christians in Tim-Oi's parish of Macao, the Portuguese island colony, could receive the sacrament of Holy Communion properly authorised.
Li Tim-Oi's Story
At her birth in Hong Kong on 5 May 1907, Li Tim-Oi's father called her "Much Beloved" because he valued her as a daughter even if others preferred sons.
When she was baptised as a student, Tim-Oi chose the name Florence after Florence Nightingale, the famous 19th century English nurse known as 'the Lady of the Lamp'. In 1931 at the ordination of a deaconess in Hong Kong Cathedral, she heard and responded to the call to ministry. She took a four-year course at theological college in Canton. She was made Deacon on Ascension Day 1941, and was given charge of the Anglican congregation in the Portuguese colony of Macao, thronged with refugees from war-torn China.
When a priest could no longer travel from Japanese-occupied territory to preside for her at the eucharist, for three years Tim-Oi was licensed to do so as a deacon. Bishop Hall of Hong Kong then asked her to meet him in Free China, where on 25 January 1944 he ordained her ''a priest in the Church of God''.
He knew that this was as momentous a step as when the Apostle Peter baptised the Gentile Cornelius. As St Peter recognised that God had already given Cornelius the Baptismal gift of the Spirit, so Bishop Hall was merely confirming that God had already given Tim-Oi the gift of priestly ministry, but he resisted the temptation to rename her Cornelia.
To defuse controversy, in 1946 Tim-Oi surrendered her priest's licence, but not her Holy Orders, the knowledge of which carried her through Maoist persecution.
She resumed the practice of her priesthood in the Church in China, and in Toronto when she retired in 1981. She was awarded Doctorates of Divinity by General Theological Seminary, New York, and Trinity College, Toronto.
Tim-Oi died on 26 February 1992 in Toronto and is buried there.
In 1994, on the Golden Jubilee of Li Tim-Oi's priesting, Archbishop Donald Coggan launched the Li Tim-Oi Foundation in St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London. You can find out more by visiting the website.
On 24 January 2004 an icon of the Rev Dr Florence Li Tim-Oi was dedicated at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Church. It had been written by the Rev Dr Ellen Francis Poisson, Order of St Helena, New York. The icon can be visited in the Dick Sheppard Chapel in the undercroft of the recently re-ordered St Martin's building in Trafalgar Square.
As the summer break draws closer I am spending some time reflecting on what I have been involved in this year, where I have been privileged to see God at work in what I have done, looking in faith to the following Methodist year, and seeking God’s guidance for the future. Over the coming months as a Church we will be seeking people’s ideas and views on how as a Church we can develop our faith both individually and in groups. Maybe you can consider the following questions:
1. Does God matter to me?
2. If so how am I going to learn more about him?
3. How as Frodsham Methodist Church can we help you grow in faith?
Perhaps during the summer you will find the time to stop and appreciate God the Creator, by noticing creation around you in the places we visit over the summer; A God who cares - by helping others this summer or allowing others to help you; A God who loves you by finding time to read the Bible or Christian books; Spend time in prayer or by talking to others about God.
September brings the start of a busy few months - a Harvest Festival, the children cooking a meal to commemorate the 100 years since World War One in October, and the coming Christmas Tree festival in December. There is talk of a sleepover event and other new events for children/families to get involved in. Watch this space!
Over the summer holiday Messy Mice and Toddlers will continue as usual.
As Churches Together we welcome the opportunity to run a Messy Church at Weaver Vale School once every half-term after a successful beginning in June.
May God surprise you and refresh you this summer.
Young Families Worker
We're almost at the start of a New Year, so if you are reading this article (late) around 1st September then Happy New Year!
The Methodist year ends on 31st August, and our New Year begins on 1st September. If you haven't got children or grandchildren in school then this time of year may well pass you by, but it marks a new beginning there too.
For Churches, Circuits, Districts, Presbyters, Deacons and Lay Leaders it marks endings and beginnings. For Revd Claire Heald (Wesley, Christleton and Rowton) and Revd David Ray (Hoole) it marks the start of them 'sitting down' from the active ministry. Their ministry amongst us in the Circuit has been a gift to us all, and they will continue to exercise ministry amongst us in the future, still living within the Circuit, but without pastoral responsibility for any church community. We also bid farewell to URC minister Revd Martin Hardy (Caldy Valley and Garden Lane) as he moves onto pastures new. Please would you commit yourself to praying for Claire, David and Martin in this new phase of their ministries?
For Revd David Goodwin (Hoole, Garden Lane and Caldy Valley) and Revd Christine Dutton (Wesley, Christleton and Rowton) it marks a new beginning in the Chester and Delamere Forest Circuit as we welcome them as staff at a Circuit Service at Hoole (Hamilton St) at 7.30pm on 1st September. Please would you also commit yourself to pray for David and Christine as they prepare to move to a new (or in the case of Christine, first) appointment? And if you felt able to join with many other folk from around the Circuit in offering a warm welcome, then come and join us on that evening, to wish them well and offer them your prayers.
What does a New Year usually invoke? Resolutions, reminiscing, regrets? We are in good heart in Frodsham, with our brothers and sisters in faith in this community, and within the Circuit with all those who represent our churches, and serve us in many ways (particularly thinking about and giving thanks to God for Church and Circuit Stewards who are starting, continuing or completing terms of office). Let's resolve to serve God afresh in this coming year together, let's reminisce about what God has done in us and through us and despite us, and let's not regret any new or renewed opportunity that God places in front of us in the year to come.
God bless you, and Happy New Year!
Rev'd. Denise Harding
Blog posts written by the Minister and Members of Frodsham Methodist Church.