Zhang Guangxu, also known as Jia Cong, 字位辐? English name Michael Chang, was born January 8, 1898, in Yangtou Village, Feizhu Township, Luoyuan County, Fujian. His, father, Zhang Youxin, was a minister of the Tianyi Episcopal Church of Shanyang Township, Gutian County. Zhang Guangxu was the eldest son of a poor family, with seven younger brothers and two sisters. Zhang Youxin and Chen Yongen (the first co-adjutor bishop of the Fujian Diocese of the Episcopal Church, consecrated in Shanghai, 1927) were good friends of his. Chen gave his daughter Chen Yuzhi to Zhang Guangxu in marriage, and they had three sons and three daughters.
When Zhang Guangxu was eight years old (1906), he returned to Gutian County with his father, entering the private school of the Shanyang Township founded by his father. Because of his diligent study and excellent marks, he was admired by the church, and especially spoiled by the British missionary Lu Shigu, who treated him as a grandson. Since he was taught in British English from childhood, his resulting fluent English laid a good foundation for his later lecturing in English. After graduating from primary school, he entered the eight-year program at Fuzhou Hanying College (the predecessor of Trinity Middle School, presently the Fuzhou Foreign Language School), financially sponsored by the church. After graduating in July, 1917, he served as a secretary of the Cangxia Zhou YMCA of Fuzhou for half a year. In the spring of 1918, he went to the United States, entering Harlan College in Ohio to study.
In September the following year, he transferred to Kenyon University to study English literature and theology. In June 1921, he received a Ph.D. from Kenyon University. He returned to China in August and served as an officer of the Fuzhou YMCA, as well as an English teacher and chaplain of Fuzhou Chinese English College. In 1922, he was ordained as archdeacon of the Episcopal Church, and the next year became rector.
During the 30 years after his return to China in 1921, Zhang Guangxu met with and preached to Fukien Christian University (1916-1951) students at least once a year. In 1932, he was especially invited to become a board member of Concord University, as well as being elected as the secretary of the board until 1945.
From 1938 to 1939, the Episcopal Church of the Fujian Diocese sent Zhang Guangxu to study at St. Peter’s College in Oxford, England, where he also pastored St. Peter’s Church in London. It was a challenge to do both at once. In the same year, the Chinese Episcopal Church accepted the invitation of the Anglican Church to appoint Zhang Guangxu, as the attending priest to the Archbishop of York (one of the two archbishops in the UK) as his advisor for ceremonies.
In February 1940, Zhang Guangxu completed his studies and returned to China to serve as the director of the Education Department of the Episcopal Diocese of Fujian. He continued to teach at Trinity Middle School. From 1941 to July 1943, he was the director of the Senior Seminary of the Episcopal Diocese of Fujian.
In 1941, the British bishop of the Diocese of Fujian died an untimely death from the plague. Under condition of considerable duress, interim governance for the Diocese was administered by the bishop of Hong Kong, He Minghua. At the beginning of 1942, the Chinese Episcopal House of Bishops Executive Council sent Bishop He Minghua to Fujian to preside over elections for a new bishop, and Zhang Guangxu was elected as bishop of the diocese. In September of that year, the Japanese army invaded Fuzhou, so he relocated the Diocesan office to Xinyi Mountain in Gutian County. On October 10, 1943, St. John’s Church in Guilin, Guangxi, held a ceremony officially consecrating him Bishop of the Diocese of Fujian, thus making him the first Chinese bishop of the Episcopal Church in Fujian. He also continued to supervise the education work of the diocese.
In September 1944, Fuzhou fell to the Japanese army for the second time, and Zhang Guangxu retreated with the diocesan offices to Gutian County. On March 8, 1945, a special meeting of the Board of Directors of Fujian Concord University in Liudu, Minqing County, elected him board chairman. In June, the heads of the Chinese Christian Church, the Chinese Methodist Church, and the Chinese Episcopal Church met in Liudu, Minqing County, and decided to establish the Fujian Concord Theological Seminary, and appointed Zhang Guangxu chairman of the board. In September, after the victory in the Anti-Japanese War, the diocesan offices returned to Shipu, Fuzhou. The Fujian Concord Theological Seminary was also established on Cangshan Maiyuan Road, and began to accept students. Yang Changdong was president.
From February to December 1948, which was also the 150th anniversary of Anglican Church’s foreign missions, the decennial Lambeth Conference (of the worldwide Anglican Communion) was held. The meeting was hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and attended by three Chinese bishops, Zhang Guangxu, Zheng Hezhen and Chen Jianzhen. After the conference, Zhang Guangxu was invited to preach at Westminster Abbey in London. He spoke with such brilliant insights, impeccable accent, and beautiful rhetoric that some scholars assumed he was a British academic. Queen Elizabeth encouraged the whole nation to tune in to his radio broadcast. She held a reception for him, at which he gave a speech.
After the Lambeth Conference in the spring of 1949 the American Episcopal Church invited Zhang Guangxu to give one week of lectures during Passion Week. The former US president and then current president of Columbia University, Dwight Eisenhower, conferred upon him an honorary doctorate. In May of the same year, he returned to Fuzhou to preside over the diocesan convention, and began to re-translate the Anglican Church’s Book of Common Prayer, of which more than 6,000 copies were printed.
On April 12, 1951, Zhang Guangxu, on behalf of the board, handed over Fujian Concord University to the newly created Fuzhou University of the People’s Government.
In April 1955, Zheng Jianye, the General Secretary of the Standing Committee of the National General Council of the Chinese Episcopal Church, led a working group to Fuzhou to assist the Fujian Diocese to “rectify” itself. At the same time, nominated by Zhang Guangxu, Liu Yucang and Xue Pingxi were elected as co-adjutor bishops.
Zhang Guangxu’s character was kind and gentle, warm and enthusiastic. He never put off the farmers from the countryside, always trying his best to solve their problems, such as requests for medical advice. In the autumn of 1948, when his fellow villager Zhang Shishun went to Fuzhou to sell chickens, he was arrested by the Kuomintang special police. Horrified at the news, his family rushed to Fuzhou and begged for mercy, but to no avail. Then they thought of Zhang Guangxu and enlisted his assistance for this emergency. Zhang Guangxu negotiated with the relevant departments for days and argued successfully for the authorities to release Zhang Shishun unconditionally.
Zhang Guangxu led a frugal life, donning black robes in winter and long white ones in summer. Books were as life to him; his rooms were brimming with them. His dedication to study never wavered.
After the formation of the People’s Republic of China, Zhang Guangxu joined the “China Christian Three Self-innovation Movement” and published a “Critique of ‘Trans-Political Thought’” in the Fujian Daily That led the entire jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church Fujian, comprising 13 districts and 20 cities including Fuzhou, Minhou, Gutian, Pingnan, Jianye, Jianyang, Chong’an, Pucheng, Songxi, Zhenghe, Lianjiang, Luoyuan, Ningde, Fu’an, Shouning, Xiapu, Fuding, Fuqing, Putian, Xianyou, to engage about 10,000 believers to sign the “Three Self-Reformation Declaration.” In July 1951, on behalf of the Fujian Diocese, he officially dispatched a telegram to the Missions Department of the Anglican Church in England, proclaiming “the cutting off all organizational and economic relations with imperialism.”
In October 1951, the preparatory office of the Fuzhou Christian Oppose-America, Aid Korea Self-Reform Movement Committee was established, with Zhang Guangxu as chairman. In the same year, he was elected as a representative of the Fujian Provincial People’s Congress and a member of the Provincial Political Consultative Conference. In 1954, he served as the director of the preparatory department of the Fuzhou Christian Three-Self Innovation Movement Committee and a standing committee member of the National Christian Three-Self Patriotic Association. In June 1956, he served as deputy director of the China Christian International Liaison Committee. In the same year, the Fuzhou Christian Three-Self Patriotic Association was formally established, and Zhang Guangxu was appointed honorary chairman. In 1958, he served as the chairman of the preparatory meeting of the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Association of Fujian Province; in 1961, he served as the chairman of the Fujian Three-Self Patriotic Association. After the “Cultural Revolution” began in 1966, the church came under attack. He was also criticized unfairly. His books (filling a large truck) were taken away and burned by the Red Guards.
On May 12, 1973, Zhang Guangxu died of a heart attack at the age of 76. He did not leave anything to bequeath as an inheritance to his children.
Information provided by Zhang Guangming, the eldest daughter of Zhang Guangxu, and Zhang Tianyou, the son of Zhang Guangxu.
Zhang Guangxu, “The Founding of Fujian Concord University.”
Fujian Christian Association, “Unforgettable Course.”