From our 30th floor balcony, we look straight down into the courtyard of the Pure Heart Church (from Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. During Easter week and Easter Sunday, the church was even more active than usual. So I was inspired to tell you what I’ve learned about the Pure Heart Church.
Besides compiling one the first Chinese-dialect hymnals and publishing religious tracts, John and Mary Jane developed a successful educational program and introduced radical changes in educational methods. “Instead of rote memory the Farnhams emphasized reason and logic. Even more revolutionary was the merger of the boys’ and girls’ schools. The girls cooked for the boys as well as for themselves.” (G. Thompson Brown, Earthen Vessels and Transcendent Power, p. 49) Mary Farnham Girls’ School and the Lowrie Institute, a boys’ school where John was principal for 24 years, later became the most prestigious mission schools in Shanghai.
With the start of the Cultural Revolution in autumn 1966, church activities were suspended. In 1979 Pure Heart Church was the second church in Shanghai to reopen. “Shanghai Christian Three-Self Patriotic Committee” appointed its pastors. A photo in the church’s English language brochure shows Rev. Billie Graham preaching to a standing-room-only crowd.
Every Sunday morning at 7:30am and again Sunday evening the church bell sounds, oddly without resonance, tolling 20 times. Looking down from our balcony, we can see throngs of people entering through the church’s two gateways and moving about in the courtyard. Again on Wednesday evening, the church opens for services.