Orphanage in Liaoning Founded by Danish Missionaries

Orphanage Founded by Danish Missionaries in Liaoning in 1916
Orphanage Founded by Danish Missionaries in Liaoning in 1916
By Wu ZhongyiApril 5th, 2022

An orphanage in China’s northeastern Liaoning Province was established by the Danish Lutheran Church 106 years ago.

Besides the foundling hospital, there are several Christian sites with a history of more than a hundred years on the banks of the Yalu River in Dandong City, such as the Yuanbao Mountain Church (Dandong Church), Danguo Hospital, and Pitasaikou Highschool, being the first middle school in the city.

As a building combining Chinese tradition and Western modernity, the orphanage’s historic site is now owned by Dandong Church, as a Christian and historical relic site.

At that time, the Danish Lutheran Church carried out missionary work, medical care, education, charitable activities in Dandong, with more than 20 Danish missionaries in its heyday. Two people that made outstanding contributions were Rev. Johannes Vyff and Karen Gormsen, who was a pastor and deacon in Dandong Church founded by the Danish Lutheran Church, as well as a midwife of Danguo Hospital.

Karen Gormsen (1880-1960), the head of the orphanage, was an important person in the Danish Lutheran Church in Dandong at that time. According to a report written by her, as the youngest of adopted children was only one year old, Rev. Vyff and Ms Gormsen began to raise funds in 1916 to take better care of these children. With the approval of the government and the help of local Chinese people, they built a nursery in the Qinglong Street. Besides raising funds herself, Karen even used all the inheritance left by her parents for the expenses of the orphanage.

When Karen adopted an orphan, she wrote down the origin and name of the abandoned child in her registration book, naming the baby if they didn’t already have a name. In principle, they did not adopt children with parents. According to a pastor of Dandong Church, after the locals put the abandoned infants in a box outside the gate of the orphanage, they rang a bell connected to the inside. Hearing the bell ringing, the staff came out quickly to carry the abandoned baby inside the nursery, where three or four hundred orphans and abandoned children were adopted.   

Born on August 10, 1870, Rev. Johannes Vyff, died of typhoid fever and was buried in Dandong on September 9, 1932. Arriving in China in 1896, Vyff came to Dandong in September 1901 as a pastor, educator, gardener, and doctor. In addition to building Dandong Church, he also established many social welfare and charitable organizations. It was recorded that more than 70 Danish missionaries, doctors, nurses, horticulturalists, educators, and architects came to Anton to establish hospitals, schools, and orphanages, including Soren Anton Ellerbek and Kaj Johannes Olsen.

(The article was originally published by the Gospel Times.)

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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