Zhang Guangxu(1898-1973), The first Chinese bishop of the Fujian Diocese of the Episcopal Church.
Biography of the first Chinese bishop of the Fujian Diocese of the
Zhang Guangxu (1898-1973), Michael Chang ,
About the Author:
Huang Shiyu, Teacher and preacher of Fujian Theological
Guangxu, also known as Jia Cong, 字位辐? English name Michael
Chang, was born January 8, 1898, in Yangtou Village, Feizhu Township, Luoyuan
County, Fujian. His father, Zhang Youxin, was a minister of the Tianyi
Episcopal Church of Shanyang Township, Gutian County. Zhang Guangxu was the
eldest son of a poor family, with 7 younger brothers and 2 sisters. Zhang Youxin
and Chen Yongen (the first co-adjutor bishop of the Fujian Diocese of the
Episcopal Church, consecrated in Shanghai, 1927) were good friends of his. Chen
gave his daughter Chen Yuzhi to Zhang Guangxu in marriage, and they had three
sons and three daughters.
When Zhang Guangxu was 8
years old (1906), he returned to Gutian County with his father, entering the
private school of the Shanyang Township founded by his father. Because of his
diligent study and excellent marks, he was admired by the church, and especially
spoiled by the British missionary Lu Shigu, who treated him as a grandson.
Since he was taught in British English from childhood, his resulting fluent
English laid a good foundation for his later lecturing in English. After
graduating from primary school, he entered the 8-year program at Fuzhou Hanying
College (the predecessor of Trinity Middle School, presently the Fuzhou Foreign
Language School), financially sponsored by the church. After graduating in
July, 1917, he served as a secretary of the Cangxia Zhou YMCA of Fuzhou for
half a year. In the spring of 1918, he went to the United States, entering
Harlan College in Ohio to study.
In September the
following year, he transferred to Kenyon University to study English literature
and theology. In June 1921, he received a Ph.D. from Kenyon University. He
returned to China in August and served as an officer of the Fuzhou YMCA, as
well as an English teacher and chaplain of Fuzhou Chinese English College. In
1922, he was ordained as archdeacon of the Episcopal Church, and the next year
During the 30 years after
his return to China in 1921, Zhang Guangxu met with and preached to Fukien
Christian University (1916-1951) students at least once a year. In 1932, he was
especially invited to become a board member of Concord University, as well as
being elected as the secretary of the board until 1945.
From 1938 to 1939, the
Episcopal Church of the Fujian Diocese sent Zhang Guangxu to study at St.
Peter’s College in Oxford, England, where he also pastored St. Peter’s Church
in London. It was a challenge to do both at once. In the same year, the Chinese
Episcopal Church accepted the invitation of the Anglican Church to appoint
Zhang Guangxu, as the attending priest to the Archbishop of York (one of the
two archbishops in the UK) as his advisor for ceremonies.
In February 1940, Zhang
Guangxu completed his studies and returned to China to serve as the director of
the Education Department of the Episcopal Diocese of Fujian. He continued to
teach at Trinity Middle School. From 1941 to July 1943, he was the director of
the Senior Seminary of the Episcopal Diocese of Fujian.
In 1941, the British
bishop of the Diocese of Fujian died an untimely death from the plag.e. Under
condition of considerable duress, interim governance for the Diocese was
administered by the bishop of Hong Kong, He Minghua. At the beginning of 1942,
the Chinese Episcopal House of Bishops**what is the proper term for Executive
Council sent Bishop He Minghua to Fujian to preside over elections for a new
bishop, and Zhang Guangxu was elected as Bishop of the diocese. In September of
that year, the Japanese army invaded Fuzhou, so he relocated the Diocesano
office to Xinyi Mountain in Gutian County. On October 10, 1943, St. John’s
Church in Guilin, Guangxi, held a ceremony officially consecrating him Bishop
of the Diocese of Fujian, thus making him the first Chinese bishop of the
Episcopal Church in Fujian. He also continued to supervise the education work
of the diocese.
In September 1944, Fuzhou
fell to the Japanese army for the second time, and Zhang Guangxu retreated with
the diocesan offices to Gutian County. On March 8, 1945, a special meeting of
the Board of Directors of Fujian Concord University in Liudu, Minqing County,
elected him board chairman. In June, the heads of the Chinese Christian Church,
the Chinese Methodist Church, and the Chinese Episcopal Church met in Liudu,
Minqing County, and decided to establish the Fujian Concord Theological
Seminary, and appointed Zhang Guangxu chairman of the board. In September,
after the victory in the Anti-Japanese War, the diocesan offices returned to
Shipu , Fuzhou. The Fujian Concord Theological Seminary was also established on
Cangshan Maiyuan Road, and began to accept students. Yang Changdong was
From February to December
1948, which was also the 150th anniversary of Anglican Church’s foreign
missions, the decennial Lambeth Conference (of the worldwide Anglican
Communion) was held.. The meeting was hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury,
and attended by three Chinese bishops, Zhang Guangxu, Zheng Hezhen and Chen
Jianzhen. After the conference, Zhang Guangxu was invited to preach at
Westminster Abbey in London. He spoke with such brilliant insights, impeccable
accent, and beautiful rhetoric that some scholars assumed he was a British
academic. Queen Elizabeth encouraged the whole nation to tune in to his radio
broadcast. She held reception for him, at which he gave a speech.
After the Lambeth
Conference in the spring of 1949 the American Episcopal Church invited Zhang
Guangxu to give one week of lectures during Passion Week. The former US
president and then current president of Columbia University, Dwight Eisenhower,
conferred upon him an honorary doctorate In May of the same year, he returned
to Fuzhou to preside over the diocesan convention, and began to re-translate
the Anglican Church’s Book
of Common Prayer, of which more than 6,000 copies were
On April 12, 1951, Zhang
Guangxu, on behalf of the board, handed over Fujian Concord University to the
newly created Fuzhou University of the People’s Government.
In April 1955, Zheng
Jianye, the General Secretary of the Standing Committee of the National General
Council of the Chinese Episcopal Church, led a working group to Fuzhou to
assist the Fujian Diocese to “rectify” itself. At the same time, nominated by
Zhang Guangxu, Liu Yucang and Xue Pingxi were elected as co-adjutor bishops.
Zhang Guangxu’s character
was kind and gentle, warm and enthusiastic. He never put off the farmers from
the countryside, always trying his best to solve their problems, such as
requests for medical advice. In the autumn of 1948, when his fellow villager
Zhang Shishun went to Fuzhou to sell chickens, he was arrested by the
Kuomintang authorities special police. His family were horrified on hearing
this news, rushed to Fuzhou, and begged for mercy, but to no avail. Then they
thought of Zhang Guangxu and enlisted his assistance for this emergency. Zhang
Guangxu negotiated with the relevant departments for days and argued
successfully for the authorities to release Zhang Shishun unconditionally.
Zhang Guangxu led a
frugal life, donning black robes in winter and long white ones in summer. But
books were as life to him, his rooms brimming with them. His dedication to
study never wavered.
After the formation of
the People’s Republic of China, Zhang Guangxu joined the “China Christian Three
Self-innovation Movement” and published a “Critique of ‘Trans-Political
Thought’ ” in the Fujian
led the entire jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church Fujian , comprising 13
districts and 20 cities including Fuzhou, Minhou, Gutian, Pingnan, Jianye,
Jianyang, Chong’an, Pucheng, Songxi, Zhenghe, Lianjiang, Luoyuan, Ningde,
Fu’an, Shouning, Xiapu, Fuding, Fuqing, Putian, Xianyou, to engage about 10,000
believers to sign the “Three Self-Reformation Declaration.” In July 1951, on
behalf of the Fujian Diocese, he officially dispatched a telegram to the
Missions Department of the Anglican Church in England, proclaiming “the cutting
off all organizational and economic relations with imperialism.”
In October 1951, the
preparatory office of the Fuzhou Christian Oppose-America, Aid Korea
Self-Reform Movement Committee was established, with Zhang Guangxu as chairman.
In the same year, he was elected as a representative of the Fujian Provincial
People’s Congress and a member of the Provincial Political Consultative
Conference. In 1954, he served as the director of the preparatory department of
the Fuzhou Christian Three-self Innovation Movement Committee and a standing
committee member of the National Christian Three-Self Patriotic Association. In
June 1956, he served as deputy director of the China Christian International
Liaison Committee. In the same year, the Fuzhou Christian Three-self Patriotic
Association was formally established, and Zhang Guangxu was appointed honorary
chairman. In 1958, he served as the chairman? of the preparatory meeting of the
Christian Three-Self Patriotic Association of Fujian Province; in 1961, he
served as the chairman of the Fujian Three-self Patriotic Association. After
the “Cultural Revolution” began in 1966, the church came under attack. He was
also criticized unfairly. His books (filling a large truck) were taken away and
burned by the Red Guards.
On May 12, 1973, Zhang
Guangxu died of a heart attack at the age of 76.. He did not leave anything to
bequeath as an inheritance to his children.
1. Information provided by Zhang Guangming,
the eldest daughter of Zhang Guangxu and Zhang Tianyou, the son of Zhang
Zhang Guangxu, "The ZFounding of Fujian Concord University."
Fujian Christian Assciation, "Unforgettable Course."