A missionary of the Presbyterian Church, USA, Kepler and his wife, Jeannette (Fitch), served in evangelistic work in Chekiang (Zhejiang) Province (1901-1909), arid in institutional work in Hunan Province (1910-1921). He was general secretary of the Nantao Institute, Shanghai (1921-1924) and organizing secretary for the National Convention of Young People’s Societies of Christian Endeavor. Deeply committed to interchurch cooperation and church union, he was asked at the close of the 1922 National Christian Conference to take charge of organizing a general assembly to formally establish the Church of Christ in China (CCC). At the constituting general assembly’ of the CCC in 1927, Kepler was elected both stated clerk and general secretary of the CCC, the latter position continuing until his colleague Ch’eng Ching-yi (Cheng Jing-yi) assumed responsibility in 1934. Thereafter, until his death, he served as associate general secretary, and served concurrently as executive secretary of the Missions Cooperating Council (1940-1942).
Kepler traveled widely in China and abroad, preaching the cause of church unity in China. In the early years of the war with Japan (1931-1945) he was asked by the Chinese Red Cross and other service agencies to organize help for wounded soldiers. He became the director of the National Christian Service Council for Wounded Soldiers, which by 1939 had nine regions and 973 full-time staff, plus thousands of volunteers. A colleague in a memorial tribute said, “From the beginning of his service, Dr. Kepler had a peculiar singleness of purpose, the upbuilding and strengthening of the church.”
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.
- Articles by A. R. Kepler appear in the Chinese Recorder. Arthur Judson Brown, One Hundred Years: A History of the Foreign Missionary Work of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. (1950); Wallace Merwin, Adventure in Unity: The Church of Christ in China (1974); Reginald W. Wheeler, ed., The Crisis Decade: A History of the Foreign Missionary Work of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., 1937-1947(1950).