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Born in Virginia, in 1840, Charlotte Diggs (Lottie) Moon was the child of pious, and affluent, Baptist parents. Precocious in schooling, she received an M.A. in Classics, thereby earning one of the first graduate degrees awarded a woman in the South. She had a gift for languages, learning first the Biblical and Romance languages—and then later, and famously, Mandarin.
Lottie Moon’s piety lagged behind her learning, and through her teens she remained indifferent to her Baptist heritage. During a revival at age eighteen, she experienced a powerful conversion and devoted the rest of her life to Christ.
After college, Moon taught school in Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia, one of the few occupations open to educated women in the South. Another vocation became available to her when Southern Baptists began to appoint women as foreign missionaries in 1872, and the following year, at age 33, Moon accepted an appointment in China.
Moon settled in Northern China and continued her work of education for girls. She soon became restless in teaching and she began evangelizing among adults, particularly women. Her supervisors disapproved of her initiative, but Moon quickly gained credibility because of her ease in relating, woman-to-woman.
Lottie Moon’s ceaseless correspondence with Baptist women in the United States, seeking their support and encouraging would-be missionaries, was instrumental in the denomination’s burgeoning missionary movement. She appealed to women for a special offering for missionaries at Christmastime in 1887. Her influence led to the formation of the Women’s Missionary Union in 1888, which continues the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering as a hallmark of Southern Baptist practice.
On arriving in China, Moon remained aloof from the Chinese, thinking them her cultural inferiors. Over time, however, she found a deep respect for Chinese culture, adopting not only their language but their dress and customs. As she wrote, “It is comparatively easy to give oneself to mission work, but it is not easy to give oneself to an alien people. Yet the latter is much better and truer work than the former.”
Lottie Moon died on Christmas Eve, 1912.
I O God, who in Christ Jesus hast brought Good News to those who are far off and to those who are near: We praise thee for awakening in thy servant Lottie Moon a zeal for thy mission and for her faithful witness among the peoples of China. Stir up in us the same desire for thy work throughout the world, and give us the grace and means to accomplish it; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
II O God, in Christ Jesus you have brought Good News to those who are far off and to those who are near: We praise you for awakening in your servant Lottie Moon a zeal for your mission and for her faithful witness among the peoples of China. Stir up in us the same desire for your work throughout the world, and give us the grace and means to accomplish it; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Corinthians 5:16–21
Preface of a Saint (2)
Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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