Scholarship on nineteenth-century missionary encounters emphasizes either how native converts “indigenized” Christian doctrine and practice, or how missionaries acted as agents of Western imperial expansion. These approaches, however, overlook the ways both missionaries and converts understood Protestant Christianity as a call to transnational community. This essay examines the ways that American Protestants and East Asian Christian converts looked for ways to build a transpacific communion. Despite radically different understandings of Christian scripture, and despite the geopolitics of empire, U.S. and East Asian Protestants nevertheless strove to bring together diverse theologies and experiences into a loosely defined, transnational Protestant community.

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