Farnham and his wife Mary Jane reached China in 1860 and established the Qing Xin (Pure Heart) Church, the first Presbyterian Church in Shanghai. He also took in the refugee children of the Taiping Rebellion and taught them at the Qingxin Shuyuan (Lowrie Institute), of which he was principal for 24 years. Mary Jane set up the Qingxin Girls’ Middle School (later, the Mary Farnham Girls’ School). The two schools later became the most prestigious mission schools in Shanghai. With another missionary, Farnham helped establish the Meihua Shu Guan (American Presbyterian Mission Press) in Shanghai. In 1878, he resigned from all of his posts with the Presbyterian Church to become secretary of the Chinese Religious Tract Society. He broke off from the Presbyterian Church in 1888 and set up his own chapel.
Farnham compiled one of the earliest Chinese dialect hymnals, the Shanghai Hymn Book (1864). In 1891, he established the Chong Xi Jiao Hui Bao (Chinese Christian Review) and served as its editor.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, copyright © 2001 by Scott W. Sunquist, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.