Jiang Changchuan, or Z. T. Kaung, was the eldest child among four boys and two girls. His father was a wealthy contractor in Shanghai. At age 14, Jiang was sent to a Methodist middle school in Shanghai. Under the influence of a teacher, Clara E. Steger, he became a Christian at age 19, over the protests of his family, who disowned him.
Between 1905 and 1909, Jiang supported himself by teaching and studying at the Anglo-Chinese College in Shanghai. He directed the church school at Moore Memorial Church, which was the largest Protestant congregation in Shanghai, and he preached at neighborhood meetings sponsored by the church. He was one of the first three students in the experimental theology department of Suzhou University. When he graduated in 1912, he became the only person ever to receive a bachelor of divinity degree from Suzhou University. (The theology department merged with Nanjing Theological Seminary in 1913). During this period, Jiang was reconciled with his family, who were eventually converted to Christianity.
Jiang was ordained in 1912, served as the assistant minister at Moore Memorial Church, and became a full-fledged pastor a year later. Ill from overwork, he was transferred in 1917 to a smaller church in Huzhou, Zhejiang, where he served for three years. In 1921, he was concurrently the presiding elder of the Suzhou district and the chaplain of Suzhou University. He was a trustee of the university (1927-31) and a board member of Nanjing Theological Seminary (1936-40). He was also chairman of the Student Volunteer Movement (1920-30), chairman of the Chinese Home Mission Society founded by Cheng Jingyi for evangelism in the interior of China, especially in the southwest (1923-41), the head of the Executive Council of the Methodist Episcopal Church (South)(1934-41), and the director of the China Sunday School Union (1937).
In 1923, Jiang became pastor of Allen Memorial Church in Shanghai, whose members included the well-known Sung (Soong) family. Jiang baptized Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jie Shi) in October 1930. In the early 1930s, Jiang worked mainly among university students at St. John’s in Suzhou. He returned to Shanghai in 1936 to pastor Moore Memorial Church, then the largest Protestant congregation in East Asia. He did a lot of work among the poor and the refugees. In 1941, he was elected the bishop of North China. He was under constant surveillance during the Japanese occupation of North China because of his close ties with the Sung family and Chiang Kai-shek. His diplomatic skill was manifest in his ability to resist the Japanese insistence on a union of the Chinese and Japanese churches. When the Communists came into power, Jiang was among the 19 Protestant leaders who met with Chou En-lai in Beijing in April 1950. He supported the formation of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, copyright © 2001 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- Boorman, Howard L., ed., Biographical Dictionary of Republican China, Vol. 1 (1967).