G. Thompson Brown

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

G. Thompson "Tommy" Brown (April 30, 1921 - January 21, 2014) was the Professor Emeritus of World Christianity at Columbia Theological Seminary, a missionary, author, and the Director of the Division of International Mission for the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS).[1] He spent much of his life in Korea focusing on strengthening the Presbyterian Church there and had a dramatic impact not only on the church, but in many parts of the community.


G. Thompson Brown (1921-2014) was born in Kuling (now Lushan) Jiangxi province, China. His parents, Frank A. Brown and Charlotte Thompson Brown, were both Presbyterian missionaries, so he attended school and grew up in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China until he graduated high school. He then moved back to the United States and attended Davidson College, where he graduated with a BA in 1942. After a brief time in the army, he then attended Union Theological Seminary, where he earned a BD in 1949 and a ThD in 1963. In 1950 he also earned a ThM from Princeton Seminary.[2] Later in 2012 he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Honam Theological Seminary, the school he helped create.[3]


After Brown graduated from Davidson College, he served in World War II as a U.S. Army Signal Corps officer until the end of the war.[3] Then after his graduation from Princeton Seminary, he served as the pastor at Adams Memorial and Linwood Presbyterian Churches in Gastonia, NC for two years. He was then appointed as a PCUS missionary to Korea in 1952. During his time there he spent much of it working with a multitude of churches in southwest Korea, trying to help further educate their leaders. He believed that the primary role of a missionary was to train local church leaders and enable them pass these lessons on to others as well. He later founded the Honam Theological Academy (now the Honam Theological University and Seminary), which is one of seven seminaries in Korea. After its establishment he began working there as Professor of New Testament in 1955 and later as president from 1960 to 1967, while still serving his role as PCUS missionary. From 1967 until 1973, Tommy served as Area Secretary for East Asia, and later Field Secretary for Korea while lecturing in New Testament at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Seoul, Korea.[2]

In 1973, thanks in large part to his work in Korea and his experience with international missions, he returned to Atlanta and was appointment as Director of International Missions for the Southern Presbyterian Church. During his time he helped strengthen and build new international relationships with Presbyterian churches. He held this position until 1981, when he began teaching World Christianity at Columbia Theological Seminary, where he retired.

Brown was also the first president of Chinese Connection, a Christian-centered organization that over the past 24 years has provided medical and public health services to those in need in China. One of his largest projects he help coordinate was the outfitting of two mobile surgical clinics for use in the most mountainous areas of China.[4]


Throughout his career he built a wealth of experience and knowledge about international mission, especially in Korea and China, which he wrote about in several books.

  • Christianity in the People's Republic of China (John Knox Press, 1983)
  • Mission to Korea (and Korean Translation, Presbyterian Church of Korea, 1984)
  • Presbyterians in World Mission (CTS Press, 1995)
  • Earthen Vessels and Transcendent Power: American Presbyterians in China, 1837-1952 (Orbis Books, 1997)
  • Face to Face: Meditations on the Life Everlasting (Geneva Press, 2001)
  • How Koreans are Reconverting the West (Xlibris Corporation, 2008 and Korean Translation, 2009)