Florence Li Tim-Oi was born on May 5, 1907; little is known about her childhood. But, in 1931, she was present at the ordination of Deaconess Lucy Vincent at St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong when the preacher had asked for women to give their lives to work for Christian ministry. Inspired by this, Florence went to Canton Union Theological College where she received her theological education then returned to Hong Kong in 1938. After working for two years in All Saints Church, in Kowloon, helping escaped refugees in Hong Kong from mainland China in the midst of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Florence was sent by Bishop Ronald Hall to help with refugees in Macau at the Macau Protestant Chapel. Six months into her new post, she returned to Hong Kong to be ordained as a deaconess on 22 May 1941 by Bishop Hall at St. John’s Cathedral, where she received her first call to ministry.

Bishop Ronald Hall

The Japanese occupation of Hong Kong and of parts of China had made it impossible for Anglican priests to get to neutral Macau, where there was no resident Anglican priest; Florence was, despite not being ordained a priest at that time, given permission by Hall to give the sacraments to Anglicans. Hall explained to the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, William Temple: “I have given her permission to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. If I could reach her physically I should ordain her priest rather than give her permission … 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.”

In January 1944, she traveled through Japanese-occupied territory to Hsinxing, as yet unoccupied by the Japanese, to meet with Hall; from there they proceeded to Shaoqing where he regularised her administration of the sacraments by ordaining her as a priest on January 25, 1944. William Temple confided to others his conflicting views but he felt compelled to take a public stand against it. It was to be 30 years before any Anglican church regularised the ordination of women; to avoid further controversy she resigned her license (though not her priest’s orders) after the end of the war.

The Communist government in China closed all churches from 1958 to 1974, during which time Florence was compelled to work on a farm and then in a factory. She was forced to undergo political re-education because she was designated as a counter-revolutionary. Li Tim-Oi went to the mountains to pray during that era because she was scared to be seen with her fellow Christian friends. She said that she nearly committed suicide during those long years of persecution. The Red Guards even forced her to cut up her own church vestments with scissors.

When Hong Kong ordained two other women priests (Joyce M. Bennett and Jane Hwang Hsien Yuen) in 1971, she was officially recognized as a priest in the diocese. She was appointed an honorary (nonstipendiary) assistant priest in Toronto in 1983, where she spent the remainder of her life.

In 2003, the Episcopal Church fixed 24 January as her feast day in Lesser Feasts and Fasts, based on the eve of the anniversary of her ordination. In 2007, the Anglican Communion celebrated the centennial of her birth. In 2018, she was made a permanent part of the Episcopal Church’s calendar of saints.

Biographies

  1.  Harrison, Ted (1985). Much Beloved Daughter. London: Darton, Longman & Todd, Limited. pp. 16–40. ISBN 978-0-232-51632-6.
  2.  Jump up to:a b Rose, Mavis (1996). Freedom From Sanctified Sexism – Women Transforming the Church. Queensland, Australia: Allira Publications. pp. 129–149.
  3.  Li, Florence Tim Oi (1996). Raindrops of my Life. Toronto: Anglican Book Centre. pp. 20–21. ISBN 1-55126-128-6.
  4.  “Li Tim-Oi’s Story”http://www.ittakesonewoman.org. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  5.  Harrison. Much Beloved Daughter. pp. 41–53.
  6.  “Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi — First Woman Ordained in Anglican Communion 25 January 1944”.
  7.  “Homepage”.
  8.  Wai-Ching Angela Wong; Patricia P. K. Chiu, eds. (2018). Christian Women in Chinese Society: The Anglican Story. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. p. 139. ISBN 9789888455928.
  9.  “Holy Women, Holy Men Celebrating the Saints” (PDF).
  10.  “Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018”.
  11.  “Ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi”satucket.com. Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  12.  Schjonberg, Mary Frances (4 May 2007). “Communion to celebrate first woman priest Li Tim-Oi on anniversary of birth | Episcopal Church”. The Episcopal Church. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  13. Frances, Mary (13 July 2018). “Convention makes Thurgood Marshall, Pauli Murray, Florence Li Tim-Oi permanent saints of the church – Episcopal News Service”. Episcopalnewsservice.org. Retrieved 2018-07-28.

*Information retrieved from Wikipedia.com 2022-01-24.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

98 – Emperor Nerva, died suddenly on January 25 and was succeeded by his adopted son, Trajan. Who, after sending Pliny the Younger to Bithynia received, what is now known as the famous letter in which he described Christianity as “a depraved and extravagant superstition.” And went on further to say “This superstition has spread not only in the cities, but in the villages and rural districts as well.

1959 – Walter Lefa Mochochoko, who had been a notable leader in the Anglican Church of South Africa, and then a bishop in the African Church; died in South Africa. He had spoken out vigorously against the racism practiced in churches.

1980Frederick Donald Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury, retired. He was involved in the translation of the New English Bible and was an advocate for the ordination of women.

1986Oswald J. Smith, founder of the People’s Church in Toronto; died in Toronto. He raised millions of dollars to support missions and wrote thirty-five books that were translated into one-hundred-and-twenty-eight languages.

*Information retrieved from ChristianHistoryInstitute.org and Rhemalogy.com. 2022-01-24.

*Photo in header is the Canton Union Theological College between 1917-1917 from Duke University.

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