Related Letters - 1905.11.30 Mrs. Phillips to Baring-Gould


S. China.

Date: Nov 30 1905

My dear Mr. Baring Gould

Our conference is just over, & I want to write to you about one thing—it is in reference to the Resolution from P.C. about staff missionaries.

I feel that we, as a Ladies Conference have quite misunderstood the meaning to that memorandum sent to us.

When the letter from home, & that Resolution was read to us, the ladies were extraordinarily disturbed—thinking it would mean a system of espionage—criticism—real “staff” missionaries would constantly be “spying” into the deeds of their unfortunate juniors.

Five or six of the ladies protested & tried to show that the CMS was certainly meaning to help us—& that we should be wiser to accept what has been done at home, & send home suggestions as to the local authority etc.

The discussion was somewhat heated, & our meeting was adjourned that we might quietly read over the P.C. memorandum, or try & see its meaning more clearly.

We met again in 2 days, & I wished to propose various things—and Miss Barber had prepared a long paper which she read to us. It was so extreme that I think conference would never have passed it— & another lady proposed what you will is in our minutes.

I protested that we were not were not doing what the P.C. asked for—& pointed out that from the wording of the P.C. Resolutions, it seemed clear that the alteration had already been made at home, & all we were asked for were suggestions etc. as to detail.

I said I agree with the proposition that we should ask for no change in the existing state of affairs, but I felt it right & necessary that we should make suggestions in case the thing had already entered the CMS rules, as I believed it had.

I therefore voted for the proposition—hoping & meaning** that afterwards we might make suggestions. However, the Conference thought that to make suggestions (when we had asked that there might be no change) was a sign of weakness—& therefore nothing further was done.

I then asked to withdraw my vote, & so did two other ladies. This we were not allowed to do.

If Miss Barber has sent you her large number of reasons why she thinks there should not be staff missionaries (as she said she should) I think you will see how utterly the Ladies Conference must have misunderstood the actions of the Home Committee. Several ladies considered it would be “morally wrong” to consent to the P.C.’s Resolution!

Personally, the more I think of it, the more I feel it might be a real help to us—although perhaps it applies rather more to the gentlemen that to the ladies.

I expect to be coming home in the spring—& hope I shall see you then, that I may find out more about this matter, then I can write more fully to some of out senior ladies here.

At our Conference, I had thought of proposing that following—of course they are only my own ideas, & I do not know how far others would agree with me.

The 1st proposition I read three times, but it never really got a hearing?

“The CMS. members of the Ladies Conference would not ask for any change to be made in the existing status of the missionaries—but if the Home Committee have arranges for changes to be made—they would ask that…”

Then I said I thought we should discuss & forward suggestions. This, as I have said, before, was considered a sign of weakness, & therefore my proposition was rejected.

The following were what I had prepared to put before the meeting, but had no opportunity of doing so.

  1. The Local Authority to consist of one lady from each district. That each District Committee where CMS. ladies are working, annually appoint one of their number for that work, & that she each year consult with the senior CMS lady in Fukien—as to who is in her distract should be proposed as staff missionary.
  2. That no distinction be made, by giving the preference to married ladies, but that each case be decided on its own merits.
  3. That no lady be on the staff unless she has bee in China for 10 years. (Probably many would say only five years.)
  4. We wish to draw the attention of the P.C. to the fact that our conference consists of members of the C.E.Z. as well as of the CMS., & therefore we specially hope that the new regulations will in no way affect the power of our Ladies Conference.

    I had hoped when our minutes were read after having been subjected to the Men’s Conference that we should have had another opportunity of introducing the subject. However in some way it was not referred to again—& at this time I forgot to ask the reason, or to say more.

    I feel myself that we did not fairly discuss the question & One lady was so certain that the whole question was morally wrong & savoured of Rome!! that she got the proposition passed hurriedly, & without really allowing some of us an opportunity of saying what we wished to.

    I feel almost ashamed to make this statement—because it is not a usual thing in our Conference—but unless I do so, I think you will hardly understand why our Ladies Conference apparently ignored** part of what the P.C. asked us to do.

    I have not shown this to the secretary of our mission—as it only expresses my private opinions.

    On reading over our Conference minutes this morning I felt more than I ever that I do not agree with the proposition which was passed—& I am sorry that it was not recorded in the minutes that I and two other ladies wished to withdraw our votes.

    With very kind regards
    Yours very sincerely
    Alica M. Phillips

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