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Lottie Moon

A Southern Baptist Missionary to China in History and Legend

Regina D. Sullivan

Publication Year: 2011

Legendary Southern Baptist missionary Charlotte “Lottie” Moon played a pivotal role in revolutionizing southern civil society. Her involvement in the establishment of the Women’s Missionary Union provided white Baptist women with an alternate means of gaining and asserting power within the denomination’s organizational structure and changed it forever. In Lottie Moon: A Southern Baptist Missionary to China in History and Legend Regina Sullivan provides the first comprehensive portrait of “Lottie,” who not only empowered women but also inspired the formation of one of the most influential religious organizations in the United States. Despite being the daughter of slaveholders in antebellum Virginia, Moon never lived the life of a typical southern belle. Highly educated and influenced by models of independent womanhood, including an older sister who was a woman’s rights advocate, an open opponent of slavery, and the first Virginian female to earn a medical degree, Moon followed her sister’s lead and utilized her extensive education to successfully combine the language of woman’s rights with the egalitarian impulse of evangelical Protestantism. In 1873 Moon found her true calling, however, in missionary work in China. During her tenure there she recommended that the week before Christmas be designated as a time of giving to foreign missions. In response to her vision, thousands of Southern Baptist women organized local missionary societies to collect funds, and in 1888, the Woman’s Missionary Union was founded as the Southern Baptist Convention’s female auxiliary for missionary work. Sullivan credits Moon’s role in the establishment of the Woman’s Missionary Union as having a significant impact on the erosion of patriarchal power and women’s new engagement with the public sphere. Since her initial plea in 1888, the Missionary Union’s annual “Lottie Moon Christmas Offering” has raised over a billion dollars to support missionary work. Lottie Moon captures the influence and culminating effect of one woman’s personal, spiritual, and civic calling.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Series: Southern Biography Series


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pp. c-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xiv

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pp. 1-6

The open defiance of authority expressed in the quotation above was notable in the writing of a female missionary, certainly. But this was not any missionary. This was the Southern Baptist icon Charlotte “Lottie” Moon, who had left for China in 1873 and, as I remembered, had starved herself to death...

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01 "A Girl of the Old South": 1840-1873

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pp. 7-35

Today Charlotte Digges “Lottie”1 Moon lives on the popular imagination of millions of Southern Baptists across the United States and around the world, yet her popularity is difficult to explain to those outside the Southern Baptist subculture. How did a nineteenth-century missionary who died quietly in...

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02 "Responsible to God and Not to Man": 1873-1885

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pp. 36-64

Lottie Moon made the journey across the continent and the Pacific in the company of her friend Anna C. Safford and an entourage of Presbyterian missionaries bound for the Far East. After a brief stop in Japan, the group reached Shanghai in late September 1873. Moon’s seasickness did not lessen her enthusiasm or her...


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pp. A-H

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03 The "Disorderly" Walk: 1886-1891

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pp. 65-113

By 1886, Lottie Moon had completely abandoned the “woman’s work for woman” policy that had allowed her to receive an appointment as a Southern Baptist missionary. She renounced the strictures of her culture and the assumptions that prevented her from living and evangelizing...

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04 Creating a Female Public: 1889-1899

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pp. 114-143

The Woman’s Missionary Union began advertising the Christmas offering for North China only months after forming in 1888. Their first collection allowed the Foreign Mission Board to send three women to Shantung province, but Lottie Moon would not leave China for three more years. Although her...

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05 Creating the "Lottie Moon Story": 1900-1912 and Beyond

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pp. 144-174

From 1890 to 1900, the Southern Baptists in Shantung province continued to recover from the losses that resulted from the Gospel Mission debacle. During this period, circumstances in China began to change markedly as well. In 1891, organized antimissionary violence erupted in southern China, and in 1895,...


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pp. 175-178


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pp. 179-218

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 219-242


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pp. 243-254

E-ISBN-13: 9780807139318
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807137253

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Southern Biography Series