A Persistent Faith - Florence Li Tim-Oi - First Woman Priest In The Anglican Communion

John Hebenton's Podcast

Mar 6 2023 • 14 mins

·       Born 1907 in Hong Kong, an ethnic Chinese named Li Tim Oi, which means ‘Much Beloved’. Father chose this name because he valued her as a daughter even when other Chinese preferred sons

·       When she became an Anglican and was baptised as a student she took the name Florence

·       1931 aged 24 she was present for the ordination of Lucy Vincent as a Deaconess in Hong Kong cathedral and there was a call for women to give their lives to Christian Ministry. Minister asked, “Here is an Englishwoman who is offering herself to serve the Church. Might there also be a Chinese woman who feels called by God to serve as a deacon?’ Tim-Oi prayed and asked, 'God would you like to send me?' This was her inspiration.

·       Wanted to study for the ministry but her family couldn’t afford it. Others paid for her to do so

·       Theological College in Canton, China. 4 year course completed age 31

·       Worked 2 yrs in Hong Kong helping refugees from mainland China during 2nd Sino-Japanese War

·       Hong Kong Bishop Ronald Hall sent her to help refugees in neutral Macau. (about 60kn distance) She was in charge of the parish

·       6 months later recalled to Hong Kong ordained Deaconess May 1941 age 34 and given permission to administer the sacraments

·       Because of the war no Anglican priests could get to neutral Macau and there was no resident priest there

·       January 1944 Florence travelled through Japanese occupied territory to a small town, not taken by the Japanese, to meet her bishop. He ordained her priest 25 January 1944 age 37 so that the residents of Macau were not deprived of the sacraments.

·       Someone wrote of this: “Fearless Ang Bishop, discerning a match between wartime need and a uniquely gifted person, ordained a humble, yet steel-spined disciple of Christ into the priesthood.”

·       Bishop Hall was “merely confirming that God had already given Tim-Oi the gift of priestly ministry.”

·       He acknowledged that she was the only person willing to serve in the most dangerous of territories

· I have three Chinese priests in Hong Kong but they cannot now get permission to go to Macao. Her work has been remarkably successful.  My judgment is that it is only exceptional women who can do this kind of work.  But we are going to have such exceptional women in China and such exceptional need.  Moreover, working as a minister in charge of a congregation, Deaconess Li has developed as a man-pastor develops and has none of that frustrated fussiness that is noticeable in women who, having the pastoral charisma, are denied full exercise in the ministry of the church.

· Hall continued, ‘I'm not an advocate for the ordination of women. I am, however, determined that no prejudices should prevent the congregations committed to my care having the sacraments of the Church.’

·       30 years before any part of the Ang Comm regularised the ordination of women

·       End of the Sino-Japanese war 1945 there were protests about her ordination. She resigned her licence but not her priesthood

·       Returned to China to serve the church in Hepu County, not far along the coast from Macau but in mainland China

·       Communist govt closed all churches from 1958 to 1974.

·       Great Leap Forward 1958 – failed 5 yr plan

·       Cultural Revolution 1966-76 ended when Mao died

·       Fl