The China Christianity Studies Group was founded by Professor Kathleen Lodwick in 1983 to provide scholars of China’s Christian history a venue for discussing their research on the history of Sino-Mission and Sino-Western exchange. Lodwick, professor emeritus of Chinese history at Pennsylvania State University, approached the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) in 1983 requesting a permanently affiliated society of scholars who would meet annually at the AAS to discuss the history of China’s Christian community and its relationship with the rest of the globe. The board of the AAS approved Lodwick’s proposal, and the “China Missions Group” (CMG) was established in the spring of 1983. 

Several scholars rendered enthusiastic support for this scholarly group, such as John K. Fairbank of Harvard University, Jonathan Spence of Yale University, and Frederick Wakeman, Jr., of the University of California, Berkeley. Lodwick served as the director of the China Missions Group until 2014, when she retired and passed leadership of the CMG to Professor Robert Entenmann, professor emeritus of Chinese history at St. Olaf College. 

Under Entenmann’s leadership, the members of the CMG discussed changing the name of the group from “China Missions Group” to the “China Christianity Studies Group” (CCSG). Daniel Bays was an important voice in that discussion, and the name was changed by unanimous vote. 

In 2017, the role of director was passed to Professor Anthony E. Clark, professor of Chinese history at Whitworth University. New bylaws were drafted and approved under Clark’s leadership, which were ratified on 17 March 2017. 

In 2020, Professor Joseph W. Ho, assistant professor of East Asian history at Albion College, was appointed the director of CCSG, with Professor Nathan Faries of Bates College serving as assistant director. In the spring of the same year, the CCSG extended its scholarly reach to include an affiliation with the Renaissance Society of America (RSA).

In 2022, Professor Naomi Thurston, assistant professor of theology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was appointed the director of CCSG, with Professor Stephanie Wong of Villanova University serving as assistant director.

Directors and Terms of Service
  1. Kathleen L. Lodwick (founder/director emeritus), 1983–2014
  2. Robert Entenmann (director emeritus), 2015–2016
  3. Anthony E. Clark (director emeritus), 2017–2019
  4. Joseph W. Ho (director emeritus), 2020–2022
  5. Naomi Thurston (director), 2022–present

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