Presbyterian Church in Taiwan
|Presbyterian Church in Taiwan|
Tâi-oân Ki-tok Tiúⁿ-ló Kàu-hoē
|Moderator||Rev. Abus Takisvilainan|
|Associations||World Council of Churches, Christian Conference of Asia, National Council of Churches of Taiwan, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Council for World Mission|
|Founder||James Laidlaw Maxwell and George Leslie Mackay|
|Hospitals||3 (incl. Mackay Memorial Hospital)|
|Tertiary institutions||6 (incl. 3 seminaries and 1 bible college)|
The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tâi-oân Ki-tok Tiúⁿ-ló Kàu-hoē; Chinese: 臺灣基督長老敎會) is the largest Protestant Christian denomination based in Taiwan. PCT is the member of World Council of Churches, and PCT's flag is "Burning Bush," which signified the concept of burning yet not being destroyed.
The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan was started in the 19th century by James Laidlaw Maxwell of the Presbyterian Church of England in the Southern Taiwan, and George Leslie Mackay of the Presbyterian Church in Canada in the Northern Taiwan. In Taiwan, Presbyterians have historically been active in promoting the use of the local vernacular Taiwanese, both during the Japanese colonial period, as well as after the transfer of rulership to the Republic of China (ROC), during which the exclusive use of Mandarin was legally mandated. Also, the church has historically been an active proponent of human rights and democracy in Taiwan, a tradition which began during the Japanese colonial period and extended into the martial law period of the ROC.
When Maxwell and Mackay arrived at Taiwan, Taiwan was under the control of the Qing dynasty from the mainland China, and at the beginning, the Taiwanese mission works were not smooth, but the missionaries persevere and continue their works. In 1895, due to the failure of the First Sino-Japanese War, Taiwan was taken over by Japan, and the Japanese colonial period started. The PCT continued their mission work during the Japanese colonial period and dedicated themselves to the human rights of the Taiwanese people under the colonization. The Presbyterian Church is heavily involved in the evangelization among the aborigines since the 1930s. Today about 30 percent of the native Taiwanese belong to the Taiwanese Presbyterian denomination.
In 1945, WWII ended, and Japan lost to China. Therefore, the Kuomintang (KMT) party, which controlled the Chinese government at that time took over Taiwan. Since the KMT party and the government of the Republic of China (ROC) took over Taiwan from Japan in 1945 and retreated to Taiwan in 1949, the churches in Taiwan was experiencing the conflicts because of the linguistic and cultural differences. The most rapid church growth was experienced from 1955 to 1965 during the Double Church Movement. From 1978 the denomination was engaged in an extensive evangelization effort known as the Ten plus One Movement aimed at 10% increase of the communicant membership each year.
Conflicts with the KMT government for WCC membership
The Kuomintang government forced the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan to withdraw from the World Council of Churches in 1970, as the WCC began supporting China's admission to the United Nations, and admitted Chinese religious organizations to its ranks. The WCC, which is more liberal and left-wing on many issues, was condemned by the KMT as a supporter of communism, and thus standing on the same side with the CCP party. Therefore, the KMT party strongly urged the PCT to withdraw from WCC membership, which the PCT rejected at first but gave in later to political pressure. However, because of the PCT’s ongoing disobedience with the KMT government, the PCT was still condemned as disloyal to the country even after they left the WCC.
Three important statements
The fate of Taiwan dramatically changed in the 1970s because of the gradually global recognition of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which was under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s control. The KMT government in Taiwan felt extreme pressure, especially when the PRC replaced the ROC as the representative of China in the United Nations in 1971. Considering the global situation and diplomatic challenges, the PCT between 1971-1977 released three important documents in PCT history. Led by General Secretary Kao Chun-Ming, the PCT released the Statement of Our National Fate by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan in 1971, which asked the KMT government to give Taiwanese people the rights to decide their own future. Reverend Daniel Beeby was expelled from Taiwan in 1972 due to his support of Taiwan independence. Following the confiscation of the church's Hoklo materials in 1975, the PCT published a second statement, which stressed the importance of religious freedom. The statement is called Our Appeal by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan-Concerning the Bible, the Church and the Nation, in which the PCT proposed 5 ways that the PCT could help the government in that time. The PCT did not formally advocate for the Taiwan independence movement until a third statement was released in August 1977, A Declaration on Human Rights by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. It asked the KMT government to declare Taiwan as a novel and independent country. These three documents brought much tension between the PCT and the KMT government, but at the same time they also reflected the PCT’s deep involvement in Taiwanese society beyond the religious community. 
Taiwanese democratic movement
From the 1980s, the church formed strong ties with the Tangwai movement and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Although the PCT was never officially involved in the Taiwanese democratic movement by the name of the church, many of the PCT members and clergies dedicated their lives to the Taiwanese democratic movement. Rev. Kao Chun-ming, the General Secretary of PCT from 1970 to 1989, is one of the most prominent figures. The KMT government imprisoned Rev. Kao in 1979 because of his help to the leader of the Meilidao movement, Shi Ming De. At the same time, Elder Lin Wen-Cheng was also arrested because of her help during the process of Shi’s hiding from the KMT government. The Meilidao movement is considered one of the most important events in the history of the Taiwanese democratic movement.
After the end of martial law in Taiwan
In 1987, the KMT government finally ended the 38 year-long marital law, and the Taiwanese society entered the time of the truly democratic era. Even after the democratization of Taiwan, the PCT still is deeply involved in social movements, including human rights and other issues. The PCT is still playing a significant position in Taiwanese society today.
The PCT has also been a consistent and conspicuous proponent of indigenous rights:
… over 64 percent [of Taiwanese aborigines] identify as Christian… [For decades, the PCT] has used its organizational strengths to mobilize its people for repeated campaigns, and has provided a continuing solid institutional base for most Aboriginal political initiatives …organizations like the Alliance of Taiwanese Aborigines – and even the DPP itself – have often fallen back on the Church as a ready-made resource. (Stainton 2002)
In terms of governance, the PCT has a general assembly, and only one synod (the Northern Synod); the presbyteries connect directly to the general assembly. It has 23 presbyteries and four districts[clarification needed]. In the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, session is composed of the pastor and elders. Elders must have served two terms as deacon before becoming elders.
The church subscribes to:
Announcements & Declarations
- Our Appeal by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan-Concerning the Bible, the Church and the Nation(11.18.1975)
- A Declaration on Human Rights by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (08.16.1977)
- Recommendations from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan- Concerning the Present Situation (05.15.1990)
- The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan-A Public Statement on the Sovereignty of Taiwan (08.20.1991)
The PCT is a member church of the World Council of Churches and the World Communion of Reformed Churches. It is also a member of the Council for World Mission through which it is linked in mission with 30 other churches around the world.
Immigrants from Taiwan to the United States and Canada have also started Taiwanese-language churches which are closely related to the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. While most of these churches are affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), or the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the United Church of Canada, the liturgy and church practices are rooted in the Taiwanese Presbyterian tradition, and the pulpits are usually filled by ministers trained in the PCT.
The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan has a number of affiliated institutions.
Colleges include Aletheia University, Chang-Jung Christian University, Mackay Medical College and Mackay Junior College of Medicine, Nursing and Management. The PCT has three theological institutions: Tainan Theological College or Seminary in Tainan, Taiwan Graduate School of Theology (also known as Taiwan Theological College or Seminary) in Taipei, and Yushan Theological College and Seminary in Hualien. Secondary schools include TamKang Middle and High Schools and the related Sun-Tek Elementary School in Tamsui and Chang-Jung High School and Chang-Jung Girls' Senior High School in Tainan.
The Mackay Memorial Hospital, Changhua Christian Hospital and Sin-Lau Hospital are affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.
In 2004, the PCT established the News Eyes Television, which aims to serve the Christians in Taiwan and abroad, and at the same time, News Eyes Television visions to be help the global mission works.
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