Resolution Number: A173

Subject: Addition to BAS Calendar of Holy Persons – Florence Li Tim Oi

Moved By: Peter Wall from the Diocese of Niagara

Seconded By: Fred Hiltz from the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

Note: The mover and the seconder must be members of the General Synod and be present in the House when the resolution is before the synod for debate.


That this General Synod authorize the inclusion of the Rev’d Florence Li Tim Oi in the Canadian Calendar of Holy Persons in the Book of Alternative Services, as a Memorial on February 26, the date of her death.


At her birth in 1907 Li Tim-Oi's father called her “Much Beloved”. When she was baptised as a student Tim-Oi chose the name Florence from ‘The Lady of the Lamp’. Florence is celebrated world-wide for the witness to Christ that she lived out as the first female priest in the Anglican Communion. In 1931 at the ordination of a deaconess, she heard and responded to the call to ministry. She was made Deacon in 1941, and was given charge of the Anglican congregation in the Portuguese colony of Macao, thronged with refugees from wartorn China. When a priest could no longer travel from Japanese-occupied territory to preside for her at the eucharist, the Bishop of Hong Kong asked her to meet him in Free China, where on 25 January 1944 he ordained her “a priest in the Church of God”. To defuse controversy, in 1946 she surrendered her priest's license, but not her Holy Orders, the knowledge of which carried her through Maoist persecution. For the next 39 years, she served faithfully under very difficult circumstances, particularly after the Communists took over mainland China. In 1983, arrangements were made for her to come to Canada where she was appointed as an honorary assistant at St. John's Chinese congregation and St. Matthew's parish in Toronto.

The Anglican Church of Canada had by this time approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and in 1984, the 40th anniversary of her ordination; Ms. Li was, with great joy and thanksgiving, reinstated as a priest. This event was celebrated not only in Canada but also at Westminster Abbey and at Sheffield in England even though the Church of England had not yet approved the ordination of women.

From that date until her death in 1992, she exercised her priesthood with such faithfulness and quiet dignity that she won tremendous respect for herself and increasing support for other women seeking ordination. She was awarded Doctorates of Divinity by General Theological Seminary, New York, and Trinity College, Toronto.

The very quality of Ms. Li's ministry in China and in Canada and the grace with which she exercised her priesthood helped convince many people through the communion and beyond that the Holy Spirit was certainly working in and through women priests. Her contribution to the church far exceeded the expectations of those involved in her ordination in 1944. She died on 26 February 1992.

The Ministry and Worship Working Group of Faith, Worship and Ministry applied the principles and guidelines for Calendar Revision adopted by the Anglican Consultative Council in 1993 in discerning the inclusion of Mother Emily Ayckbowm in the BAS Calendar of Holy Persons.


Source: Faith Worship and Ministry Committee
  (name of committee, diocese, etc.)
Submitted by: Stephen Andrews, Chair