Cheng Ching-yi received his early education in mission schools and graduated from the theological school of the London Missionary Society, Tianjin, in 1900. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Knox College, Toronto in 1916. In 1929 Mr. Cheng got an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from St. John's University. He obtained an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Wooster College.
From 1900-1903 Mr. Cheng was a secretary of the London Mission Church, Peking. He went to England to assist in the revision of the Chinese New Testament and make a study of the Bible between 1903 and 1908. He was pastor of the London Mission Church and was in charge of three churches in Peking from 1908 to 1910. Cheng Ching-yi represented the Chinese churches of the London Missionary Society at the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910.
He was appointed chairman of the National Evangelistic Association Conference in Hankou since 1910. He travelled in China in the interest of church unity and religious toleration from 1910 to 1911. He attended Edinburgh Continuation Committee conferences in Edinburgh in 1913 and the same year was appointed Chinese secretary to the China Continuation Committee, which he held until 1922.
Cheng Ching-yi travelled in England in 1914. He founded the Chinese Home Missionary Society in 1918 and was its president for 10 years. In 1922 he was appointed chairman of the National Christian Conference. He studied in America and upon his return from the States he was appointed secretary to the National Christian Council of China, later became its general secretary until the end of 1933.
Mr. Cheng travelled in Europe and Canada between 1922 and 1924. He was elected moderator of the Church of Christ in 1927 and occupied that position till 1933. Cheng Ching-yi was a delegate to the International Missionary Council in Jerusalem in 1928 and was elected a vice-chairman. Mr. Cheng attended the International Missionary Council meetings in Williamstown, Massachusetts in 1929. Cheng Ching-yi attended the International Congregational Union in Bournmouth,England and several missionary meetings in Great Britain in 1930.
He went to America in 1981 to attend the Presbyterian World Conference in Lakeville, Connecticut. Mr. Cheng was elected general secretary of the Church of Christ in China at its Third General Assembly Meeting held at Xiamen in October 1934, with its headquarters later in Peking. During the past twenty years he has travelled extensively in China and abroad. Beside his work with the National Christian Council and the Church of Christ in China he also served on various Christian institutions such as the Shandong Christian University, the Central China University, the University of Nanjing, Medhurst College, Hangzhou Christian College, Christian Literature Society for China, the British and Foreign Bible Society and various other Christian organizations.