Proposed New Regulations
The New Regulations were proposed changes to the authority structure of the Fuzhou Mission. The C. M. S. sent these to the Men’s and Women’s Conferences of 1905 for consideration and to receive feedback. But their very mention exposed ambitions for gain from several parties. Previous to their mention, one of the senior missionaries described, “There has never been a more brotherly spirit manifest in our Mission than at the present” and that, “That spirit has already received a check by even the initial ventilation of the PC’s (Parent Committee’s) proposals both in public and private.” 1 He goes on to say that he would not even encourage his own children to join the C.M.S. if these rules were adopted.
At its core, the proposal sought to clearly categorize the missionaries into Staff and Probationary Missionaries. Much decision-making power was, in a sense, transferred from the Parent Committee back in England to the specific Staff Missionaries out in the field. Reetzke summarizes the specifics below:
- The principle of subordination already in effect by C.M.S.’s Regulations would be redefined as that between the Staff or senior (i.e., superior) missionaries and the junior and probationary (i.e., subordinate) missionaries,
- The present period of probation (from eighteen months to two years) for a junior to become Staff would be extended to an undetermined period of time.
- Only present voting members of Men’s and Women’s Conferences would be considered as Staff Missionaries.
- The local authority would be made up of a small, quiet select body of men and women for the evaluation of junior missionaries.
- An adverse report (evaluation) by the local authority would be sent, without discussion with the junior missionary, directly to the Parent Company. 2
M. E. Barber was among a vocal majority, in both the Women’s and Men’s conferences, to oppose these proposals, but the damage seems to have been done. Without much comment in her letters, two years later she returned to England and resigned from the C. M. S. Shortly after her return to England and before she resigned, Mr. Baring-Gould wrote to another committee member, “With respect to Miss Barber, on her return to England I found that the dealing of Conference regarding the question of the Status and Probation of Missionaries appeared to her to be the fons et orige (source and origin) of all her troubles.”
What was so drastic about these Proposed New Regulations? Miss Barber dissected them fully in front of the Women’s Conference of 1905 here: Letters - 1905.11 before the Fuh-Kien Women’s Conference
1 - Reetzke, James - A Seed Sown in China pg.79-80
2 - Reetzke, James - A Seed Sown in China pg.60