A graduate of Emory University Georgia, Young John Allen was appointed as a missionary by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. With his family, he arrived in China in July 1860.
His initial missionary activity was to preach in Shanghai and nearby villages. But the financial straits of his mission during the American Civil War forced him to combine his Christian ministry with secular employment in a government school in Shanghai, where he taught English and science. This educational experience helped him see that preaching alone would not meet China’s needs.
In May 1868, he became editor of the Chinese-language periodical Shanghai xinbao (Shanghai Daily News). He also founded the Jiaohui xinbao (Church news), which was designed to bring general news to Chinese Christians, to help Chinese know more about the West, and to print religious news. These experiences in journalism led him in 1871 to help the government-run Kiangnan Arsenal translate into Chinese material on history, current events, geography, and other subjects. In 1874 Allen changed the name of jiaohui xinbao to Wanguo Gongbao (Globe Magazine) to reflect the fact that it now included more local and world news than church news. The magazine became increasingly secular as it expanded its readership to include officials, gentry, merchants, and foreigners living in China.
During his later years, Allen continued to edit Globe Magazine and to work with his mission board, serving until 1895 as superintendent of its China mission and as director of a system of schools in Shanghai that he called the Anglo-Chinese School. Throughout his long period in China, Allen creatively combined both religious and secular activity to bring the Christian faith to the Chinese. Shortly before his death, he attended the China Centenary Missionary Conference in Shanghai (1907).
Covell is formerly a professor of World Christianity and Academic Dean, Denver Seminary, Denver, Colorado, USA.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved. It is taken, with permission, from the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity:
Adrian A. Bennett, Missionary Journalist in China: Young J. Allen and His Magazines, 1860-1883 (1983);
Warren A. Chandler, Young J. Allen: “The Man Who Seeded China” (1931).