Kiangsu Mission (1931–1951)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: June 1, 2023

Throughout the administrative history of the Seventh-day Adventist mission in China, the territory of Kiangsu (now Jiangsu, 江苏) province was divided into two regions:

  • Northern region – This territory is located north of the Yangtze River in the province, plus the Nanking district in the far west and the north-westerly arm of the province. It probably should more properly be titled the North Kiangsu region. Since 1919, the Nanking District had been incorporated into the Anhwei (now Anhui) Mission,1 where most of the Adventist mission efforts had been concentrated. But prior to 1931, the region immediately north of the Yangtze River was practically without any Seventh-day Adventist presence.2 Throughout the mission’s existence, reports of progress were rarely shared with church members at large. National evangelists were always in charge and worked diligently without fanfare. They were rewarded with good results in the face of war conditions, famine, and flood.

  • Southern region – This territory is located in the southern portion of Kiangsu and the northern portion of Chekiang province. In the church periodicals, this united entity was usually referred to as the South Kiangsu Mission, Su-Che Mission, North Chekiang Mission, or simply as Kiangsu Mission (江苏区会).3

Southern Portion of Kiangsu under Su-Che/Kiangsu Mission (1917-1951)

For a more detailed account of the history of this mission unit that combined southern Kiangsu with northern Chekiang, see the articles on Chekiang Mission, Su-Che Mission, or South Kiangsu Mission.

Northern Kiangsu and Nanking District under Anhwei Mission (1919-1951)

The northern portion of the Kiangsu Province and the Nanking District was formally incorporated into the Anhwei Mission since 1919, at which time H. J. Doolittle was the superintendent.4 This united combination of the Anhwei and Nanking was the reason why the proper Chinese name for Anhwei Mission is Wǎnníng Mission (皖宁区会) rather than Anhui Mission, because Wǎn is the abbreviated form of Anhui Province and Níng is the abbreviated form of Nanjing. This combined entity between Anhwei and Nanking continued until the end of the China Division in 1951. For the history of this mission entity, please see the article on Anhwei Mission. It should also be noted that China Training Institute (中华三育研究社, pinyin Zhōnghuá Sānyù Yán jiū shè), their highest educational institution, was located in this mission. For the history of this institution, please see the article on China Training Institute.

North Kiangsu Mission During the Two Decades (1931-1951)

In 1929, evangelist Swen Tsung Gwan (孫從光) was appointed to begin work in the territory. At the time, there were only 29 known believers scattered throughout the region. Three years later, he reported a membership of 219.5 His initial success prompted the formation of the North Kiangsu Mission in 1931. (The territory was previously a part of the Anhwei Mission.6) Headquarters were established to the north in Tsing Kiang Pu (now Qingjiangpu).7

Despite the fact that there were very few reports about the mission activities published in church periodicals, the progress or regress of the cause can be extrapolated from the annual statistical summaries. Published figures for the North Kiangsu Mission were:

1932: 9 churches, 258 baptized members, 689 Sabbath School members.8

1933: 12 churches, 411 baptized members, 950 Sabbath School members.9

1934: 14 churches, 465 baptized members, 1,137 Sabbath School members.10

1935: 17 churches, 624 baptized members, 1,431 Sabbath School members.11

1936: 23 churches, 570 baptized members, 1,552 Sabbath School members.12

1937: 18 churches, 418 baptized members, 745 Sabbath School members.13

1938: 12 churches, 531 baptized members, 921 Sabbath School members.14

1939: 15 churches, 531 baptized members, 932 Sabbath School members.15

1940: 23 churches, 570 baptized members.16

1941: 38 churches, 530 baptized members.17

Figures for the World War II years were increasingly unreliable because proper reporting was difficult to maintain, and often the transmission of any reports to headquarters was impossible.

Unlike some missions, the North Kiangsu Mission was a self-supporting entity during the early 1930s, with the operating expenses balancing the tithe receipts. A contributing factor to this ideal situation was the fact that rental had to be paid for only two of their chapels, with the remainder owned by the members as debt-free buildings.18 At least one elementary school was conducted,19 with successful students advancing to various training institutes elsewhere.20

The statistics of the late 1930s reflected a general downturn. One reason was the severe flood of 1938 that destroyed all the crops. Tens of thousands of people, including church members, were forced to flee to other provinces to avoid starvation.21 Another damaging factor was the invasion of Japanese forces. They made it difficult for any mission advances. From 1937 through 1940, no gathering could be held for the mission team of workers.22 On one occasion, the invading forces tried to burn the mission director’s home. Three times they doused it with gasoline and set a flame to it, but it would not burn. They left the director, Swen Tsung Gwang, still on his knees, praying for protection. He followed his deliverance with a praise service in the little chapel attached to his home.23

The World War II years were virtually ones of trying to maintain the status quo. Following the war, northern Kiangsu was ravaged by famine that continued until at least 1951. Despite some relief funds given to church members, their circumstances remained grim.24 The last statistics published about the North Kiangsu Mission, 1951, showed that numbers had plummeted to ten functioning churches and only 460 baptized members remaining in the territory.25 All reports ceased in 1951, the communist takeover completed.26

Directors of the Kiangsu Mission

Swen Tsung Gwang (孫從光, Sūn Cóngguāng) 1931-1945; Lee Keh Ying 1946-1948; Liu Fu An (劉福安, Liu Fuan) 1948-1949; Pan Shui Ru (潘水如, Pān Shuǐrú) 1950-1951.

Sources

Brewer, Nathan F. “Providences in the East China Union.” China Division Reporter, January 1, 1940.

“Evangelist Effort at Nanking.” China Division Reporter, June 15, 1940.

“From Pastor Swen Tsung Gwang.” China Division Reporter, December 1934.

Kuhn, Otto B. “Annual Report of the Anhwei Mission-1931.” China Division Reporter, April 1932.

Lin, David. “1951 in Retrospect.” China Division Reporter, First Quarter 1951.

“North Kiangsu Mission.” China Division Reporter, April 1935.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association. Various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Stafford, Francis E. “The Kiangsu Mission Annual Meeting.” China Division Reporter, June 1934.

“Statistical Summary.” China Division Reporter, June 1933, 1934, March 1935, April 1936, May 1937, August 1938, July 15, 1939, August 1940.

Strickland, Walter E. “Encouraging report from the East China Union,” China Division Reporter, December 1938.

Wood, Kenneth H. “East China Union Quadrennial Report 1931-34.” China Division Reporter, April 1935.

Notes

  1. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920).

  2. Kenneth H. Wood, “East China Union Quadrennial Report 1931-34,” China Division Reporter, April 1935, 4-5.

  3. Francis E. Stafford, “The Kiangsu Mission Annual Meeting,” China Division Reporter, June 1934, 17.; Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1918-1921, 1931, 195)2.

  4. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1920).

  5. “North Kiangsu Mission,” China Division Reporter, April 1935, 9.

  6. Otto B. Kuhn, “Annual Report of the Anhwei Mission-1931,” China Division Reporter, April 1932, 9.

  7. “North Kiangsu Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1932), 144.

  8. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, June 1933, 8.

  9. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, June 1934, 12.

  10. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, March 1935, 12.

  11. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, April 1936, 11.

  12. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, May 1937, 11.

  13. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, August 1938, 10.

  14. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, July 15, 1939, 10.

  15. “Statistical Summary,” China Division Reporter, August 1, 1940, 10.

  16. “North Kiangsu Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1940), 108-109.

  17. “North Kiangsu Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1941), 108-109.

  18. Kenneth H. Wood, “East China Union Quadrennial Report 1931-34,” China Division Reporter, April 1935, 4-5.

  19. “North Kiangsu Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1937), 106.

  20. “From Pastor Swen Tsung Gwang,” China Division Reporter, December 1934, 2.

  21. Walter E. Strickland, “Encouraging Report from the East China Union,” China Division Reporter, December 1938, 4.

  22. “Evangelist Effort at Nanking,” China Division Reporter, June 15, 1940, 8.

  23. Nathan F. Brewer, “Providences in the East China Union,” China Division Reporter, January 1, 1940, 6.

  24. David Lin, “1951 in Retrospect,” China Division Reporter, First Quarter 1951, 1, 7.

  25. “North Kiangsu Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1951), 104.

  26. “China Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1952), 104.

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Hook, Milton. "Kiangsu Mission (1931–1951)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. June 01, 2023. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=7HPX.

Hook, Milton. "Kiangsu Mission (1931–1951)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. June 01, 2023. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=7HPX.

Hook, Milton (2023, June 01). Kiangsu Mission (1931–1951). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=7HPX.