Fall 2001
Volume 6 Number 1

A History of Exchange | Remembering Connections through War and Peace | Jewels in the Crown of Korea | A Wartime Connection Lasts a Lifetime | Where Edges Meet |

Within months after the Seminary was founded in 1812, the students organized a Society for Missionary Inquiry, writing letters around the world inquiring about religious and physical needs. The students not only responded to the replies with prayer, they also began to recruit volunteers for service abroad. The first missionary to go from Princeton Seminary was Henry Woodward, Class of 1818, who sailed to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and served there until his death in 1834. 
Woodward was soon followed by other Princetonians going to Asia. In 1838 John Mitchell, Class of 1830, went as a missionary to China, which began a procession that included 173 Princeton Seminary alumni by 1950. Among these were Walter M. Lowrie, Class of 1841, who, with his wife, served in China until 1847 when they were thrown overboard by river pirates, becoming Princeton’s first martyrs. John L. Nevius, Class of 1853, served in China until his death in 1893. A brilliant thinker, he devised a system of missionary policy called the three-self plan—self-government, self-support, and self-propagation—for the local church. His plan was used in China, but had a more significant impact on the rapid growth of the Korean church, with whom Nevius spent a year consulting. He was also deeply impressed with the phenomenon of demon-possession, which he observed about him in China, and wrote a balanced, careful study of the subject after years of firsthand investigation. Henry Luce III’s grandfather, Henry Winters Luce, Class of 1896, was an educational missionary in China from 1897 until 1927, and was a leading developer and vice president of Peking University, China’s Harvard. 
Western medical service and a hospital were introduced in Siam (now Thailand) through the mission begun by Princeton alumni Stephen Mattoon, Class of 1846, and his friend Stephen Bush, Class of 1848. Their leadership extended beyond evangelism, education, and medicine. In 1870 the regent of Siam remarked, “While it took British and French guns to relate China to the West, Siam was peacefully introduced through the efforts of Presbyterian missionaries.” Twenty-nine other Princeton alumni followed them to Thailand through 1950.

Shortly after Japan opened its doors to the West, Princeton Seminary graduate Edward R. Miller, Class of 1870, arrived and remained there until a few months prior to his death in 1915; he taught in a theological college. He was soon followed by ten other Princeton alumni, and by 1950, sixty-nine Princeton alumni had gone to Japan.

The Presbyterian church was begun in Korea in 1886 with the triple emphasis on evangelism, education, and medical work. The mission grew rapidly, despite severe government opposition, and was reinforced by a Princeton alumnus, William B. Hunt, Class of 1897, who went out to Korea within months of his graduation. In 1892, Samuel A. Moffett, father of PTS professor Samuel H. Moffett, went to the north of Korea where the church enjoyed rapid success. There are today in Korea more Presbyterians than in any other nation in the world, including the United States. 
PTS professor emeritus Samuel H. Moffet in Korea

Several Presbyterian churches in Seoul have more than 50,000 members.  One of them, the Youngnak (Eternal Life) Presbyterian Church, has a congregation of more than 75,000. It was founded by Princeton alumnus Kyung Chik Han, Class of 1929, and he served as its pastor until 1972. He was followed there by David Kim, Class of 1954. In all, sixty-five alumni of the Seminary through 1950 have served in Korea.

The traffic between Asia and Princeton did not flow one-way only. Within fifteen years of the arrival of the Reverend E. R. Miller in Japan in 1870, our first student from the Far East, Naomi Tamura of Tokyo, enrolled at the Seminary. He was followed by 131 Japanese students who came to the Seminary through 1950.
Toyohiko Kawaga with PTS president J. Ross Stevenson (left) and PTS Professor Charles Erdman in Miller Chapel in 1933

One of the most distinguished of these was Toyohiko Kagawa, Class of 1915. He was born a Japanese aristocrat and was converted to Christ by a street preacher; on his return to Japan, Kagawa enjoyed an extraordinary ministry as evangelist, labor union organizer, poet, and pacifist.

Japan has the distinction of sending the first women students from the Far East. Keiko Obara and Yoshiko Yamamuro came to Princeton in 1950, where they studied Christian education. Obara became a pastor after her return to Japan, and Yamamuro-Watari became the editor of one of the largest women’s magazines in Japan. The two women translated and published a collection of PTS president John Mackay’s sermons and conference talks. Also at Princeton Seminary at the same time was Sachi Shimomura, who with her family had come to Princeton from California. After one year as a student at the Seminary, she became a librarian, becoming PTS’s first Japanese American employee. There she met a Japanese doctoral student, Yasuo (Carl) Furuya, who had come to the Seminary in the fall of 1952. They were later married and have worked together for almost fifty years at the International Christian University in Tokyo. (Furuya was the Seminary’s 1998–1999 John A. Mackay Professor of World Christianity.)

Our first student from Korea was Syngman Rhee (not related to the recent moderator of the PCUSA), who came here in 1908 as a student both at the Seminary and at Princeton University. He eventually earned a Ph.D. in political science from the university and became in 1948 the first president of the Republic of Korea. By 1950, seventy-three Koreans had followed him to Princeton.

In 1909 our first student from China, Zung-Ziang Kway, came to Princeton, and he was followed by eighty-seven other Chinese students through 1950.  Exchanges between Asia and Princeton have enriched the Seminary immeasurably—and continue to do so today.

William Harris is Princeton Seminary's librarian for archives and special collections.

 

A History of Exchange | Remembering Connections through War and Peace | Jewels in the Crown of Korea | A Wartime Connection Lasts a Lifetime Where Edges Meet |


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Meeting at the Edge of Continents
Proclaiming the Gospel in a Wired World

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