The son of a Free Church of Scotland theological professor, Gibson had a distinguished academic record at the University of Glasgow before training for the ministry in the Free Church Divinity School. With his lifelong friend and future brother-in-law Thomas Barclay, he was accepted by the English Presbyterian Mission for service in China, and they sailed together in 1874, Gibson to work in the Swatow (Shantou) field, and Barclay in Taiwan.
Gibson shared with Barclay a profound belief in the virtues of the romanized script to achieve a Bible-reading church and became its chief protagonist throughout China. But he also played a major role at the national level in the Easy Wen-li translation of the New Testament. His Duff lectures of 1898, published as Mission Problems and Mission Methods in South China (1901), detail his experience of evangelism and the building up of a Chinese church. Both as a joint chairman of the 1907 Shanghai Centenary Missionary Conference and as chairman of the Commission on The Church in the Mission Field, reporting to the 1910 Edinburgh World Missionary Conference, he stressed the right of the Chinese church to unity and independence from foreign control, The Presbyterian Church of England elected him its moderator in 1910, and in 1919 he was called to preside over the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in China.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- George A. Hood, Mission Accomplished? The English Presbyterian Mission in Lingtung, South China (1986), chap. 3 (contains a full bibliography); P. J. Maclagan, J. Campbell Gibson, D.D., A Biographical Sketch (1920).