Henry Appenzeller

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Henry Appenzeller

Rev. Henry Gerhard Appenzeller (February 6, 1858 – June 11, 1902) was a Methodist missionary. He and four other missionaries, including Horace N. Allen, Horace G. Underwood, William B. Scranton, and Marion F. Scranton introduced Protestant Christianity to Korea from 1885 to 1902. His mission trip to Korea was motivated by three reasons, including: to transform Koreans to Methodism, convert Korean society with Christian teachings, and to establish democracy, modernization and independence in Korea. He was known by his three contributions to Korean, the Paichai College Hall, the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Seoul, and the translated New Testament[1][2]

Background and early life[edit]

Henry Gerhard Appenzeller was born in Souderton, Pennsylvania, in 1858. His mother was Swiss Mennonite, while his father was from Pennsylvania. His parents went to the German Reformed Church. His mother played an important role in his life. She influenced the faith of Henry and his two brothers by reading the German bible on Sunday afternoons with them. His mother spoke German but little English, therefore, German was his first language. Henry was transformed due to a personal spiritual experience on October 6, 1876. He celebrated this day as his spiritual birthday every year. He studied at Franklin and Marshall College, a school that is based on the Reformed Church.[3]

He joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in Lancaster at the age of twenty- one, three years after his conversion. Then he served in the church as a Methodist preacher. After that, he attended Drew Theological Seminary, a theological school. During his studies at Drew Theological Seminary, he joined the overseas missionary service. Before Appenzeller sailed to Korea, he married Ella Dodge. They had three children together. Their daughter Alice Rebecca Appenzeller was the first American born in Korea.[4][5]

Work in Korea[edit]

Appenzeller arrived in Korea on April 5, 1885, an Easter Sunday morning, with his wife Ella Appenzeller. During that period, Seoul was in political struggle. Missionaries could not set up a church, nor preach in public. Evangelism had to be done secretly. Appenzeller focused on preparing a missionary residence in the first two years. In 1887, worship in public became possible, therefore, a chapel was established for services. His goal was to transform Pagan Korea into Christian Korea.[6]

Appenzeller was the founder of a boy school, Paichai Hakdang in Korea in 1887. He spread the Gospel, introduced Western culture, and trained the students in the Methodist faith. He was one of the founder of the first Korean Methodist Church in Seoul, Chong Dong. and he also established many Protestant institutions. He served at Chong Dong as a pastor in 1887 until his death in 1902. In 1886, Appenzeller was on the Board of Bible Translators with the other Methodist and Presbyterian missionaries and other Korean translator. He helped to translate the bible into Korea.[7]


In 1902, at the age of 44, Appenzeller was traveling to a southern port city, Mokpo, to attend a meeting for the Bible translation. While at sea he drowned trying to save a Korean girl. A cenotaph in his honor was erected at the Yanghwajin Foreigners' Cemetery, the gravesite of over 300 foreigners including over 80 missionaries from many denominations including those sent by the United Methodist Church, and its predecessor denominations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Since its founding in the 19th century, the Korean Methodist Church has dramatically developed as one of major Protestant denominations in Korea. In 2001, the denomination comprised 5,262 churches, 1,394,514 members, and 7,298 ministers. There were six universities established under the Methodist model, including Pai Chai. In addition, the denomination had its own theological seminary, the Methodist Theological Seminary in Seoul. It also had six theological institutes and 54 junior high and high schools.

Rev. Dr. Sehyoung Lee, Dean Javier Viera, Bishop John Schol, Rev. Ki-Sung Song, Arist Changgon Kim, and other dignitaries celebrate the installation of a bronze bust of Appenzeller at Drew Theological School.

On October 21, 2016, a bronze bust of Appenzeller was dedicated on the campus of Drew Theological School as a gift from the Chungdong First Methodist Church in Seoul, South Korea. Rev. Dr. Sehyoung Lee, the English Ministry Pastor of Chungdong, said: "For the people of Chungdong and Methodists in Korea, it’s as if Appenzeller came to Korea, gave himself up, and now 130 years later, we’re expressing our deep gratitude by bringing him back."[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Henry Gerhard Appenzeller : His Contribution to Korean Independence , Democracy , and Modernization". 1988. 
  2. ^ "The Legacy of Henry G. Appenzeller". International Bulletin of Missionary Research. October 1994. 
  3. ^ "A Century After: The Legacy of the Appenzellers, Pioneer Missionaries to Korea" (PDF). Journal of the Historical Society of the EPA Conference. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-08-03. 
  4. ^ Davies, Daniel (1992). "Henry G. Appenzeller: Pioneer Missionary and Reformer in Korea" (PDF). Methodist History. 30 (4): 195–205. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  5. ^ "The Legacy of Henry G. Appenzeller". International Bulletin of Missionary Research. October 1994. 
  6. ^ "Building a City on a Hill in Korea: The Work of Henry G. Appenzeller". Cambridge University Press. December 1992. JSTOR 3167795. 
  7. ^ "The Legacy of Henry G. Appenzeller". International Bulletin of Missionary Research. October 1994. 
  8. ^ Kinney, Josh. "Chungdong First Methodist Church, Drew and GNJ Remember Appenzeller". United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey. The Relay. Retrieved 11 August 2017. 
  • Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1963.
  • Davies, Daniel M. (1988). The Life and Thought of Henry Gerhard Appenzeller (1852-1902), Missionary to Korea. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen Press. ISBN 978-0889460690. OCLC 15550759. 
  • Griffis, William Elliot (1912). A Modern Pioneer in Korea: The Life Story of Henry G. Appenzeller. London and Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell. OCLC 2538206. 

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