R. O. Hall's Account of the Confirmation and Ordination of Dr T C Chao, Sunday, 20th July, 1941, Saint Paul¡¯s College Chapel, Hong Kong

Compiled by Michael Poon (ÅËÄËÕÑÕûÀí£©

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Letter from the Bishop

Very near Meridian 180, Pacific Ocean.

17 September, 1941

Dear Friends of South China,

This letter is mainly to say "thank you" for your continued support, interest in, and prayers for South China. I have always been drawn to the story of the ten men who were lepers. The man who returned to give thanks is one of the few people in the gospel story who gives something to Our Lord. There is a deep bond between Our Lord and this man, as there was between Him and the woman who anointed His feet. Our Lord, after each experience, must have felt a new song in His heart.

It is my hope that each one of you will catch from these rather elaborate words something of the song that is in my heart, and will find a new song echoing in your own as I try to say once more what we owe in South China to your help. We are grateful, and thankful to God for it all.

During the past year a woman has been put in sole charge of a congregation, and two men have been ordained deacon and priest in one service; the woman, Lei Tim Oi (Florence Lei) was ordained Deaconess on Ascension Day, the men are Roland Koh (Hui Pik Cheung) and Dr. T. C. Chao of Yenching University. Quite a long story is attached to each of these events, and they are illustrative of a great deal more that is going on under the Spirit of God in China and making the Episcopal Church¡ªand your share in it¡ªincreasingly important and significant. In addition, a new Bishop for Singapore has been consecrated in HongKong Cathedral.


Some of you will remember that on the first occasion of my meeting the V.D.A. on the afternoon of S. Simon and S. Jude, in 1932, Dr. T. C. Chao was there (as he had been present in St. Paul's in the morning) and that he spoke to us. I confess that I have forgotten what he said. But I can vividly remember what it meant to me to have him there. Since that time Dr. Chao has received world-wide recognition as a theologian (not that recognition anywhere but in Heaven matters to him or to you). He was an outstanding figure at the Madras Conference, and has taken a large share in the theological side of the reports of that conference. In 1928 he was at the Jerusalem Conference, where he sat next to the Archbishop of York. Since that time he has been drawn increasingly into understanding of the Episcopal Church, its order and its liturgical heritage. The V.D.A. has had a hand in the furtherance of this spiritual pilgrimage. It was the special fund you raised in 1937-1938, your answer to Japan's invasion of China, that made possible the special student church (Wen Ling Tang "Forest of Learning Church") in Kunming, and this gave Dr. Chao a chance to spend a most profitable sabbatical year filling that church every Sunday morning and every Thursday night with students and staff from some of China's most distinguished universities. He was a layman then in the Methodist Church, and also Head of the Department of Religion at Yenching University. He worked in the Episcopal Church with a special license from the Bishop, and with the devoted help of Gilbert Baker, who found the site and started the student Church, so that everything was ready when Dr. Chao arrived .(Gilbert has just gone back to Kunming with his new and altogether "lovely" wife¡ªin the American sense of that word "lovely" which with typical American sense, includes a lot, lot more than good looks). And Gilbert Baker, remember, is also part of our thank you to the V.D.A. For five years he was your special gift to us.

I was surprised when, in Kunming in 1939, Dr. Chao spoke to me about the possibility of his joining the Episcopal Church. Since that time through his contacts with Bishop Scott and David Paton in Peking, where he is now back at Yenching, this sense of call has deepened and clarified.

The rest of the story goes a long way back in history, to the founding of S. Paul's College in HongKong, by the joint efforts of the first Colonial Chaplain, the Rev. Vincent Stanton, in 1845. He established an Anglo-Chinese School on the site with a view to securing a Chinese ministry for the conversion of China. When the first Bishop, the Rev. George Smith, was appointed, Vincent Stanton handed over to him the site. The original document is still in London, unless destroyed in the last year. In it he states that it is his desire that the site should be used for a College " for the training of native clergy and teachers for the propagation of the gospel in China." To-morrow, as I write, is the 35th anniversary of the drowning of Bishop Smith's most distinguished successor, Bishop Hoare, in a typhoon. With him were drowned several theological students of S. Paul's College. This shock, combined with the obvious sense in centreing Theological education in the more natural environment of Canton, plus the very successful movement for union theological education, which resulted in the Canton Union theological College, left S. Paul's College vacant for the time being. The brilliant foresight and vision of. the Rev. Arthur Stewart saw the possibility of using the buildings for another Anglo-Chinese School, with the hope that more educated men from wealthier families might be drawn in to that native ministry for which the Bishop held the buildings in trust. S. Paul's Boys' School resulted, a school which might well be called Stewart College, for Arthur Stewart very quickly secured the help of his brother Evan and his sister Kathleen (now Mrs. Ernest Martin), and in 1932 Evan succeeded Arthur as Headmaster. But the school only in part fulfils the purpose of the trust, though it has provided us with half a dozen devoted Chinese clergy of exactly the type Arthur Stewart envisaged. New premises are being sought now for the school, and the oldest theological foundation outside the Roman Church in the Far East is trying to find its feet again as a college for the training of a Chinese ministry for the propagation of the gospel in China. When the College was founded a boys' school would not be called a "College." Now in HongKong it is almost an insult to call it anything else. Moreover, the change in the educational and religious position of the Church in HongKong since the founding of "Stewart College" is very considerable indeed. It is possible now for the original S. Paul's College to fulfil its century-old function by becoming once more a college in the original sense of a "Collegium" band of scholars and thinkers with an associated company of apprentices. (Dr. Manson tells us that the Greek word we translate "disciple" probably represents an original Aramaic word meaning "apprentice," so there is a double appropriateness in the use of the word and ideal of apprenticeship in the Ministry of Christ.)

Dr. T. C. Chao is now the first Honorary Clerical Fellow of the reconstituted S. Paul's College and has given the first course of public lectures under what we have called "S. Paul's College Foundation." These lectures will be published in HongKong this winter. I hope they may be reprinted in England. Their general title was " Some Reflections on the relation of the Christian Faith to Chinese Thought "; and these are the sub-headings:

"Can God be known in His Universe?"

"Is Christ an Emergent Saviour?"

"Can Man redeem himself?"

"Does Society need a soul?"

Behind Dr. Chao's ordination there is so much generous and understanding love from others, and to me such a moving contact as it were with the early Christian Church, in its depth and simplicity, and frank vision of essentials, that it is a little difficult for me to write of it. But I do want to say publicly how overwhelmingly grateful I am to Bishop Scott, our Bishop in Peking and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in China, for his share in it all, and for the special arrangements he has made by which Dr. Chao is to continue his work at Yenching without change. And then to Dr. Leighton Stewart, the President of Yenching University, for his generous co-operation and encouragement of the whole scheme throughout. I have, as you would expect, blundered and hurried, seeing only the rightness of the goal, but their forgiveness and co-operation has made up what was lacking from the Spiritual end.

St. Ambrose was our precedent for the service in S. Paul's College Chapel on Sunday morning, July 20th. St. Ambrose was a layman who was made Deacon, Priest and Bishop in one service. Dr. Chao had not been confirmed. Confirmation is not 'required even for Episcopal Consecration, though for that service one must produce evidence of baptism and of ordination to the two lower orders in the Church. In the case of Wu Sheng Te (of whom more anon), he was ordained without Confirmation, on the .assumption that the greater includes the less. But I regret that this was done in his case, for it has given opportunity to the ungodly, including a missionary and a Chinese priest, to blaspheme.

Dr. Chao was therefore presented first by two sponsors for Confirmation. They were in a sense his peers¡ªMiss Bao Swen Tseng and Dr. Ma Kiam¡ªboth educationalists and members of the Episcopal Churcn. Miss Tseng must be well known to many of you. She also was at Madras, and was, 1 think, the first Chinese woman to attend a university in England (Westfieid College, London). She is the granddaughter of Marquis Tseng, one of the old Empress Dowager's most distinguished Prime Ministers. She is most well-known for the establishment and conduct of the I Fang Girls' School in her ancestral home in Changsha. She is also, when she is well enough, a remarkable preacher of the Word of God. Dr. Ma Kiam was at one time a colleague of Dr. Chao in Yenching. He is now on the. staff of the Chinese department at HongKong University, and is a vestryman of our S. Stephen's Church. For ordination .Bishop Song of West China and Gilbert Baker were the two presenters, and Bishop Mok shared in the laying-on of hands for the priesthood. (By my own thoughtlessness Bishop Binsted of Manila did not share in the service, though he was present at it.) Bishop Song has an old friendship with Dr. Chao and shares a great deal of his outlook on the relation of Chinese culture to our Faith. Gilbert Baker had been associated with Dr. Chao in Kunming.

We sang some hymns that Dr. Chao had himself translated, including one written by a one-time Governor of Hong Kong, Sir John Bowring, " In the Cross of Christ I glory," and two translations made especially for the Service by Dr. Chao himself, " Come Thou Holy Paraclete," and a hymn written by him who was our precedent for the service, St. Ambrose himself, "Splendour of God's glory bright," including those lovely lines:

"And Christ for us for food shall be,

From Him our drink that welleth free,

The Spirit's wine that maketh whole,

And, mocking not, exalts the soul.

"Rejoicing may this day go hence,

Like virgin dawn, our innocence,

Like fiery noon our faith appear,

Nor know the gloom of twilight drear."

SO BE IT. Amen.

[Outpost (November 1941-March 1942): 2-4]