dictionary is intended for those who are unfamiliar with subjects
contained in the various sections of this website. As such, it is
not intended to be inclusive of Thai church history or any other
subject. While the majority of entries have to do with the history
of the church and missions in Thailand, especially historical northern
Siam, there are also entries on other subjects. Please note that,
as elsewhere on this website, Thai names are alphabetized by first
name and that new entries are being added to this dictionary as
I began work
on this dictionary in August 2003 and continue to add new entries
to it, as time permits.
The Rev. Carl Blanford was born 17 June 1922 in Newport, Idaho, graduated from Whitworth College in 1943 and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1946. He married Muriel Ausink on 14 June 1946, and they were appointed as Presbyterian missionaries to China in January 1947. They sailed for China in January 1948 and served on Hainan Island. They transferred to the Presbyterian Thailand Mission in 1951. They served as missionaries in Hat Yai from 1951 to 1963. In 1963, Blanford temporarily served as the director of the Bangkok Institute of Theology and then remained in Bangkok as the head of the Institute of Theology. He also carried out pastoral duties at the Sapanluang Church, Bangkok, until 1977. Muriel died of cancer on 25 August 1965. She and Carl had four children, three sons and a daughter. While serving with the Sapanluang Church, Blanford help found and taught at the Thai Christian School. In 1968, he married Lily Chia, a Malaysian woman,a nd together they had two daughters. In 1977, they moved to Singapore where he served as senior pastor of the Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church where he served until 1982. In 1982, he became an associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Seattle, Washington and remained in that position until 1990. Carl Blanford died on 13 April 2012.
Link: In Memory of Rev. Carl Edwin Blanford
Boon Mark is one of the most important figures in 20th century Thai Protestant history. He was born in Rat Buri on 1 September 1898 and graduated from the Bangkok Christian College (BCC) in 1921. He converted to Christianity while at BCC. In 1923, he married Muan Suphaphun. After graduation, he became an American Presbyterian Mission evangelist in the Pitsanuloke Station. He graduated from McGilvary Theological Seminary in 1930, and in 1933 he became station evangelist for the Presbyterian Bangkok Station. The first General Assembly of the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT), April 1934, elected him Assistant General Secretary, and in August 1934, he was installed as Pastor of Second Church, Bangkok. In 1938-1939, he was the translator for the controversial Chinese revivalist, Dr. John Sung and became Sung's most outspoken supporter. The CCT elected him General Secretary in 1938. During World War II Boon Mark traveled extensively encouraging CCT churches and helping them withstand pressure and oppression; after the War, however, Boon Mark left the CCT in 1948 and became associated with the founding and early development of Pentecostalism in Thailand. In 1957, he founded Thailand's first independent church, Bangkok Church, and he also founded the independent "Association of Free Churches" with himself as General Secretary. He played a central role in the evangelistic campaign of the American Pentecostal preacher, T. L. Osborn, in Bangkok in 1956. He subsequently associated himself with the United Pentecostal Church (UPC), an American group. Although the UPC in Thailand experienced significant growth at first, it declined rapidly when he withdrew from active leadership in the late 1960s. He then remarried and joined the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Boon Mark died 20 May 1987.
Link: "The Finnish Free Foreign Mission and the Origins of Pentecostalism in Thailand, 1946-1960" in HeRB 6.
Link: "Boon Mark Gittisarn & the CCCA"
Link: "Boon Mark Gittisarn & the CCT"
Bradley was an American missionary doctor, printer,
and evangelist who is the most important individual Protestant
missionary to serve in Thailand. He was born on 18 July 1804,
in western New York, and after an informal education he graduated
from New York Medical College in 1833. He married Emelie Royce
on 5 June 1834. The Bradleys arrived in Bangkok in July 1835 and
served as missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners
for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). He played an important part in introducing
Western medicines and medical practices into Siam, including the
promotion of small pox inoculation and vaccination, and he also
played a role in the introduction of printing as well. His press
produced an important Christian literature including tracts, scriptures,
hymnals, and theological works. He also edited both English and
Thai-language newspapers including the Bangkok Calendar
and the Bangkok Recorder.
Bradley was ordained in 1838, but the ABCFM removed
him and his colleague, Rev. Jesse Caswell, from the mission in
1848 because they held certain unacceptable theological views.
His wife, Emelie, died on 8 August 1845, and on a subsequent trip
to the United States Bradley married Sarah Blachly on 3 November
1848. He returned to Siam to found a mission under the American
Missionary Association. Bradley remained a deeply admired figure
in Bangkok in later years and continued to have an influence in
mission work. His vision for mission stations in Phet Buri and
Chiang Mai were both fulfilled in the 1860s by his daughter, Sophia
Bradley McGilvary, and her husband, the Rev.
Daniel McGilvary. He died on 13 June 1873 in Bangkok.
Link: "Thailand's Pioneer Missionary, Dan Bradley"
Sarah Bradley is largely known as Dr.
Dan Beach Bradley's second wife. She was born on 17 December 1817, in Weathersfield Township, Ohio, into a well-educated and devout Presbyterian family. She attended the Oberlin Collegiate Institute (Oberlin College, today) from 1841 to 1845, and was one of the first women in the United States to earn a B.A. degree. She then migrated with her family to Dane, Wisconsin in the summer of 1846. She taught school in Dane for a period of time, after which she married Bradley on 3 November 1848 and returned with him to Bangkok. In addition to rearing two stepchildren, she raised five children of her own. In 1851, she and two other missionary women were invited by King Mongkut (Rama IV) to teach English to palace women, which work continued for about three years. It is supposed to have been the first "zenna work" conducted by Protestant missionaries anywhere in the world. After Bradley's death in 1873, she remained in Bangkok, where she continued to run his press and conducted missionary work. She was highly respected, particularly by the royal family. She died on 16 August 1893 in Bangkok.
Link: "Sophia Bradley McGilvary and Sarah Blachly Bradley: Notes Towards a Family Biography"
The Buells were the first Presbyterian missionary
couple to serve in Siam. William Buell was born 18 June 1815 near
Marietta, Ohio, but he later considered himself a resident of
Virginia. He graduated from Union Seminary, Virginia and was ordained
a minister by the Presbytery of East Hanover. Seignoria Buell
was from Petersburg, Virginia. They were married 6 February 1840,
sailed for Siam in March of that year, and arrived in Bangkok
in August 1840. They served there until late 1843 or early 1844,
when ill health forced them to return to the United States, where
they arrived in December 1844. They then resigned from missionary
Campbell was a Presbyterian missionary in northern
Siam. He was born in Moniteau, Pennsylvania, 12 October 1866 and
graduated from Grove City College in 1891. He graduated from Western
Theological Seminary in 1894. In June 1894, he married Sarah Elizabeth
Carlon (1864-1920). The Campbells arrived in Bangkok in November
1894 spent their entire missionary career in Chiang Mai. Campbell
served as pastor of First Church, Chiang Mai, for most of that
career. Sarah died in February 1920, and in May 1920, Campbell
married Mary Carnahan Shellman (née Guy) (1883-1962), the
widow of Dr. Carl Shellman. Campbell died 14 October 1957.
Mary Campbell and Edna S. Cole
were the first single women to serve as members of the Laos
Mission and together founded the Chiang Mai Girls' School
(Dara Academy) in 1879. Campbell was born on 20 March 1858. Her
father was a Presbyterian minister serving in Lexington, Indiana,
when she died in 1881. She and Cole were classmates at the Western
Female Seminary, graduating in 1878. They came to Siam together,
arrived in Chiang Mai in April 1879, and immediately undertook
their educational work, which had great success. Campbell drowned
in the Mae Nam Chao Phraya on 8 February 1881, and her death had
a profound effect on the mission and on her many friends in the
The first Catholic missionaries to serve in Siam
were the Dominicans Friar Jéronimo da Cruz and Sabastio
da Canto. They arrived in Ayudhya in 1567, where they were warmly
received but da Cruz and two other missionaries were killed by
the Burmese in 1569. Franciscan missionaries first arrived in
1582, and the first Jesuit reach Siam in 1607. By 1662, there
was a Christian community of roughly 2,000 people in Ayudhya,
served by 1 Spanish and 10 Portuguese priests.
August 1662, the Catholic Missions ÉtrangEeres de Paris
(MEP) sent three missionaries to Ayudhya, including Pierre Lambert
de la Motte, who was an apostolic vicar as well; and in 1664,
a second apostolic vicar, François Pallu, also was sent
to Ayudhya along with a group of companions. Also, in 1664, the
French missionaries in Ayudhya held a synod in which it was agreed,
among other things, to open a seminary. In 1669, a papal bull,
Speculatores, was issued giving the apostolic vicars
full authority over all Catholics in Ayudhya, which they had not
had before. That same year the mission opened its first hospital,
and in the ensuing years the work of the mission prospered so
that by 1674 there were roughly 600 Thai Catholics. There were
many more Catholics of other nationalities in the Kingdom of Ayudhya,
including Vietnamese, Portuguese, and Japanese Christians. In
1688, however, the apparently pro-Catholic King Narai of Ayudhya
was deposed and the new king, Phra Phetracha, engaged in a severe
oppression of Christianity. From that point onwards, the church
suffered under several periods of repression and Catholic missionaries
were closely regulated in their work.
improved with the establishment of the Chakri Dynasty in 1782,
and in 1785 King Phra Phutthayotfa (Rama I) invited Catholic missionaries
to return to Siam. Catholicism began to grow, slowly, with about
2,500 Catholics in Siam in 1802 and roughly 3,000 by 1811. In
1838 Msr. Jean-Baptiste Pallegoix was consecrated as bishop for
Siam, and in 1841 the Vatican established the Mission of Oriental
Siam, including Siam and Laos with Pallegoix as its apostolic
vicar. By 1875, the Siam Mission had roughly 10,000 Christians,
20 European missionaries, and 8 Thai priests. From this point
onwards, the mission's work continued to grow rapidly. In 1885,
it established its first modern Western-style school in Bangkok,
Assumption College. St. Louis Hospital was founded in 1898. After
1910, Catholic work began to spread quite rapidly into new areas
of the country, particularly in northern Siam.
in Thailand expanded in a number of other ways, including the
establishment of many new dioceses, and the entry of numerous
religious orders. In 1965, the Vatican established two archbishoprics
in Thailand, Bangkok and Thare-Nongaseng, and in 1983 Archbishop
Joseph Kiamsun Nittayo was consecrated by Pope John Paul II as
Thailand's first cardinal. By 2000, there were roughly 300,000
Catholics in Thailand. (this entry is based largely on A Dictionary
of Asian Christianity, s.v. "Thailand, Roman Catholic
Link: "Siam." The Catholic Encyclopedia.
The Chiang Mai Mission Press was established
in early 1892 by the Laos Mission, after several abort efforts dating from the 1860s to introduce
a printing press into northern Siam. Dr. S. C. Peoples of the
Lampang Station successfully acquired the fonts for the press
in 1890, and when the press began in 1892 the Rev. D. G. Collins
became the press manager. He remained in that position until his
death in 1917, when his wife Ada Collins assumed management of
the press until her own death in 1923. Beginning in small, cramped
quarters, the press grew under the Collins' able management, and
it remained the largest and most commercially viable press in
the North. The press had to be closed temporarily in 1926 for
the lack of a manager, and although opened again in later years
it declined in importance. In 1936, the Presbyterian Mission finally
took action to rent the press to a local Chiang Mai Christian.
The press was the first and for much of its history
the only press printing in the northern Thai script and language.
It produced large volumes of Scripture portions, textbooks, and
tracts and did substantial job work for local government agencies
Link : The section, "Printing
and Literature Distribution" in Chapter
VI of my dissertation, "Prelude to Irony."
The Church of Christ in Thailand was founded
in 1934 as the "Church in Siam" with the express intent
of forming a single ecumenical denomination to include all Protestant
churches in Thailand. Other than a small number of American Baptist
and British Churches of Christ congregations, all of the original
member churches were originally Presbyterian congregations. The
C.C.T. originally had seven districts, six geographical and one
ethnic Chinese. Except for a brief period during World War II,
Presbyterian missionary influence remained predominant in the
C.C.T. until the late 1970s. Since 1990, the denomination has
experience a major demographic shift. Tribal churches, mostly
Baptist in origin, now account for about one-half of its total
number of roughly 100,000 communicant members. The C.C.T. is a
member of the World Council of Churches and the Christian Conference
of Asia and is generally recognized to be a "mainline,"
ecumenical denomination. Its church government is a relatively
centralized mixture of Presbyterian, Disciples, and Baptist polities.
Cole was an American Presbyterian missionary educator who played an important role in the development of women's education in Siam. She was born in Illinois on 1 January 1855 and graduated from Western Female Seminary in Oxford, Ohio, in 1878. She served principal of the Chiang Mai Girls' School in the Laos Mission's Chiang Mai Station from 1878 until 1883. Working initially with her close friend, Mary Margaretta Campbell, she developed this school from the small girl's literacy class started by Sophia McGilvary. It was the first permanent Western-style school in northern Siam.
In 1885, Cole became principal of the Bangkok Girls' School under the Presbyterian Siam Mission, and she turned it into the leading girls' school in the nation. This school was officially called the Harriet House School and popularly referred to as the Wang Lang School because of its location. The school prospered under her long, capable leadership and became an important source of women teachers for government schools, as well as for mission school in both the Laos and Siam Missions. At the end of her career, she initiated the Cole initiated the removal of the school to its present location in 1921, where it is now called the Wattana Wittaya Academy. After a long period of illness, she officially retired in 1923 and died on 23 Nov 1950 in the United States.
Dean pursued a long and productive missionary career in Siam and in China, and was one of the most capable pastors and evangelists to serve the Baptist Mission in Siam. He was born June 21, 1807, in Eaton, New York in 1807 to Joshua and Mary Dean. He graduated from the Hamilton Academy and Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution (Colgate University) and was ordained in 1834. That same year he and his first wife, Matilda Conan Dean, were appointed by the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions to work in Bangkok, Siam, where Dean began work with Chinese immigrants. They arrived in 1835. Unlike many missionaries of that era, Dean worked closely and collegially with the converts he gained, and as a result he was an effective evangelist and pastor. Matilda died in 1835. Dean became ill in 1842 and had to leave Siam for Macao. While in Macao, he met Theodosia Ann Barker, a British missionary, and they were married. She died in 1843 just a few months after their return to Bangkok in 1843. Dean then returned to the United States. He returned to Bangkok in 1862 to again take up Chinese work, and he found that much of what he had accomplished previously had been lost. He was again able to build up the work, founding churches and expanding the number of converts. His third wife, Maria Brown Dean, died in 1882, and Dean retired and returned to the United States in 1884. He lived out his last years in San Diego, California, where he died in 1895. He is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New York.
Link: "Dean, William." Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions.
Link: "Dean, William. D.D.." The Baptist Encyclopedia (1881).
Link: "Dr. William Dean." Findagrave.com.
Born in Marion, Iowa in 1857, Dodd graduated from Parsons College in 1883 and McCormick Theological Seminary in 1886. He arrived in Chiang Mai to work under the Laos Mission in 1886 and remained a member of the Chiagt Mai Station until 1891. He married Isabella Eakin in 1889. Dodd founded the mission's training school for evangelists in 1889, and in 1891 the Dodds established the Lamphun Station near Chiang Mai. In 1897, they helped found the Chiang Rai Station where they stayed until 1902. In 1904 they founded the Kengtung Station, in Burma, which was the first Laos Mission station outside of Thailand. When that station was closed in 1907, the Dodds returned to Chiang Rai.
Dodd belonged to the "expansionist party" of the Laos Mission, which advocated expasion of the mission's work to reach all of the "Tai" people of Siam, Burma, and China. In pursuit of that goal, Dodd took several exploratory trips into eastern Burma and southern China and collected large amounts of data dedicated to advocating mission expansion. His long trip through southern China to Canton in 1910 generated considerable interest in Tai missions and eventually led to the Dodds' founding of the Laos Mission's Chiangrung (Kiulungkiang) Station in Yunnan, China, in 1917. Dodd died there on 18 Oct 1919. He was one of the first ethnologists of the Tai race and accumulated an impressive array of data on the extent, numbers, and culture of the Tai. He is especially known for his book The Thai Race: The Elder Brother of the Chinese, published posthumously in 1923 by his wife from his letters, papers, and reports.
Issued on 8 October 1878, the "Edict of
Toleration" was issued in response to an appeal to the King
by Presbyterian missionaries of the Laos
Mission, northern Siam for permission to allow Christians
to marry without having to pay the traditional "spirit fee,"
which was taken to be legal confirmation of the marriage by the
officials of the semi-independent tributary states in the North.
The missionaries refused to allow converts to pay the fee with
the consequence that local officials used these fees to limit
Christian conversion and expansion. The immediate cause of the
edict was the demand that a young Christian couple pay the spirit
fee in order to be married. The King referred the petition back
to his viceroy in Chiang Mai who issued the edict on his own authority,
although with implicit approval from the King. The edict was addressed
to three of the northern states, Chiang Mai, Lamphun, and Lampang.
It affirmed the right of people to convert to Christianity, the
right of Christians to observe the Sabbath, and the right of American
citizens (the missionaries) to hire as servants anyone they wanted.
Although something of a historical icon among
northern Thai Christians, the edict had only limited consequences
at the time. It did give greater freedom for people to convert
in some places, but in others persecution of and pressure on Christians
continued as before. The edict also had political consequences,
as it marked a step in Bangkok's gradual expansion of power over
the Northern principalities.
Link: A translation of the
Edict of Toleration is located in the Appendices
of my dissertation, "Prelude to Irony."
The E.F.T. is an umbrella organization of evangelical Protestant churches that originated out of as informal body of missionaries, meeting under the name of the "Evangelical Fellowship" sometime before 1956. In 1969, the fellowship created a more formal structure and changed its name to the E.F.T. The Thai government, in September 1969, recognized it as one of the five legal Christian religious bodies that have permission to accept missionaries. In practice, the E.F.T. functions as a "congress" of missions, independent churches, and groups of churches. The Thailand Christian Directory for 2003 lists 37 missions and groups of churches as members of the E.F.T.
Gützlaff was one of the first two Protestant missionaries to take up work in Siam, first arriving in 1828. For further details, see Lutz, Jessie G. “The Legacy of Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research (July 2000): 123-128. (here).
House was a pioneer and leading member of the Siam Mission of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. He was born in Waterford, New York on 16 October 1817. He graduated from Union College, Schenectady, New York, with a bachelor's degree in 1837 and a master's in 1840. He received the M.D. degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City in 1845. He was appointed to the Siam Mission in April 1845 along with the Rev. Stephen Mattoon and his wife to reopen the mission, although they did not finally arrive in Bangkok until March 1847. Although appointed as a physician, by 1852 he had abandoned medical work to undertake full time evangelism and, later, to engage in educational work as well. During his first furlough, 1855-1856, he married Harriet M. Pettit on 27 November 1855 and was ordained as a minister in January 1856. The Houses resigned left Siam in 1886 because Harriet's health was poor, and they resigned from the mission in 1887. She died in 1893, and Dr. House died on 13 August 1899.
The most famous incident in House's life took place in 1868 on a trip to Chiang Mai. House was gored by an elephant, leaving him with a massive wound in his stomach. Although in shock, he had the presence of mind to sew himself up and send for help to Chiang Mai. Recovery required some six weeks, during which time he participated in the founding of the first church in northern Siam, the "First Presbyterian Church of Chiang Mai."
Irwin was a Presbyterian missionary who served with the Laos Mission. He was born on 5 September 1859 in Garafraxa, Ontario and graduated from Pardee College, Missouri in 1887. He graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1890 and was ordained by Platte Presbytery in June 1890. He arrived in Bangkok in September of that same year. He married Dr. Mary Alameda Bowman (1864-1954) in July 1898. His ministry with the Laos Mission was marked by controversy because of his faith in the northern Thai churches to lead themselves. In 1894-1895, he played a key role in an attempt to place pastors in most churches, an attempt that led to misunderstanding and reluctance on the part of the Laos Mission to engage in such an experiment again. While stationed at Nan from 1895 to 1900, he developed a plan for new church development that would encourage churches to take responsibility quickly for themselves; that plan came to an end with the mission transferred the new Christian groups involved to the care of other stations. In 1903 to 1905, Irwin prepared the Phrae Church to run its own life without missionary supervision, which it then did until 1912, when the Laos Mission reopened the Phrae Station. The Irwins resigned from missionary work in February 1906, but they returned to Bangkok in 1911 where Irwin was manager of the American Bible Society agency until 1932. He died in December 1943.
Chao Kawilorot Suriyawong was the sixth Prince
(chao luang) of Chiang Mai after Chiang Mai was freed
from Burmese rule and Chao Kawila, his father, became the Prince
of Chiang Mai in 1781. Chao Kawilorot ruled from 1856 to 1870.
Before his accession, he was the chao muang kaeo of
Chiang Mai, one of the chief administrators of the state, from
1827 to 1856. Chao Kawilorot is often called the "last king
of Chiang Mai," meaning that he was the last chao luang
to exercise virtually full, independent rule over Chiang
Mai. He was a strong, at time ruthless ruler who was widely respected
and feared by the people of Chiang Mai. He played a key role in
the early history of the Laos Mission,
first by giving permission for the mission to be established and,
second, for his attempt to suppress it by the execution of Noi
Sunya and Nan Chai, two of the first seven Christian converts.
Link : The section, "Martyrs' Blood" in Chapter 5 of my dissertation, "Prelude to Irony."
The Laos Mission (also, North Laos Mission, North
Siam Mission) was founded by the Rev. Daniel
and Sophia McGilvary in April
1867 as a mission of the Board of Foreign Missions, Presbyterian
Church U.S.A. The original vision for the mission, however, came
from Dr. Dan Beach Bradley, who himself
once proposed starting a mission in the North. The Laos Mission
included, at one time or another, six stations in northern Siam:
Chiang Mai (founded 1867); Lampang (founded in 1885 and originally
known as the Lakawn Station); Lamphun (founded 1891 and made a
sub-station of Chiang Mai in 1897); Phrae (1893): Nan (1895);
and Chiang Rai (1896). In addition, the mission founded a station
in 1903 to work with the "Tai" peoples of eastern Burma
in Kengtung, which was closed in 1907; and if founded another
station, the Chiang Rung Station, in Yunnan Province, southern
China in 1917.
The mission founded its first church, Chiang
Mai Church, now known simply as First Church, Chiang Mai, in 1868. After a brief period of evangelistic success, the mission
underwent a time of persecution in 1869, during which two converts
were martyred. The mission did not fully recover until the late
1870s. In 1880, it founded three congregations including the Mae
Dok Daeng Church, known today as the Suwanduangrit Church, Ban Dok Daeng. By the 1890s, the mission increasingly emphasized
medical and educational institutional work, founding boarding
schools, hospitals, and dispensaries in each of the stations.
The churches, meanwhile, numbered 37 by 1920, the last year of
the mission, and communicate membership numbered 6,649 that same
year. In 1885, the mission sponsored the founding of the Presbytery
of North Laos, officially under the Synod of New York, to give
oversight to the churches. The presbytery continued in existence
until 1934, when it was incorporated into the Church
of Christ in Thailand. Beginning in the 1890s, the majority
of the mission's members campaigned for mission expansion into
the Shan States of Burma, which brought it into a protracted,
time-consuming territorial dispute with the American Baptists
in Burma. For a brief period from 1911 to 1914, the mission's
church grew rapidly in the wake of malaria and small pox epidemics
in various parts of northern Siam.
Beginning as early as 1910, discussions began
concerning closer cooperation and an eventual merger with the
Presbyterian Siam Mission, located in central and southern Siam.
Improved transportation rendered it unnecessary to have two separate
missions, and in 1920, the Board voted to merge the missions,
then known as the North Siam and South Siam Missions; the process
was not completed until 1921, when the Laos Mission ceased to
Although a Mormon missionary resided in Bangkok
for some four months in 1854, the work of the Latter-day Saints
(LDS) did not begin in Thailand until 1961 when two American couples
unofficially formed its first group in Bangkok. That group was
given official recognition in 1962 and grew steadily during the
influx of American military and civilian personnel during the
Vietnam War. In 1966, the LDS baptized its first Thai convert
in Thailand, Nangnoi Thitapoora, and in that same year it organized
the Thailand District of the Southern Far East Mission. The Bangkok
group was also reorganized as the Bangkok Branch, the first branch
in Thailand; the branch purchased the first SDA property in Thailand
in 1967. In February 1968, the first group of full-time Mormon
missionaries arrived in Bangkok, and by the end of the year they
had initiated a program for translating and publishing SDA literature.
The team soon began to win a number of converts, most important
among them was Srilaksana Gottsche, known as "Sister Sri,"
in 1968. She played a key role in the translation of numerous
SDA publications, esp. the Book of Mormon, which was published
in Thai in 1976. The SDA opened Thailand's first chapel, the Asoke
Chapel, in 1974.
Meanwhile, in June 1972, an SDA missionary was
photographed sitting on the neck of a Buddha image in Sukhothai
by another missionary. The photograph came into the hands of the
Thai press, and a national scandal occurred, which proved to be
a disaster for the SDA in Thailand. The two missionaries were
jailed and then deported, and all hope for the SDA becoming officially
registered with the government was lost.
The SDA organized its Thailand Mission (renamed
Thailand Bangkok Mission) in 1973, and during the 1970s, the SDA
took various steps to improve its images, and in 1980 it initiated
work in the refugee camps in the Northeast, which were then rapidly
growing in numbers. Theological work began in the late 1970s.
In 1988, Anan Eldridge became the first Thai President of the
Thailand mission, and during the lated 1980s and the 1990s the
SDA began experienced increased growth so that by 1995 it numbered
over 6,000 members. In that same year, the SDA formed the Bangkok
Stake, the first stake in Thailand, with Thipparat Kitsaward as
its first president and Pornchai Juntratip as its first patriarch.
Source: Britsch, R. Lanier. From the East: The
History of the Latter-Day Saints in Asia, 1851-1996. Salt Lake
City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1998, pages 14-33 and 374-407.
Daniel McGilvary was an American Presbyterian
missionary who played an important role in the expansion of Protestantism
into northern Thailand. He was born 16 May 1828, in North Carolina,
USA and, after a largely informal education, taught school until
he entered Princeton Theological Seminary in 1853. He graduated
from Princeton in 1856 and returned to NC to pastor two rural
churches. He was ordained in 1857. He arrived in Thailand in 1858
as a member of the Bangkok Station, Siam Mission, PCUSA, and married
Sophia Royce Bradley in 1860. In 1861, the McGilvarys participated
in the opening of the Phet Buri Station, the first Protestant
missionary station outside of Bangkok. In 1867, the McGilvary
family moved to Chiang Mai, the chief city of Thailand's northern
dependencies, and founded a new Presbyterian mission, the Laos
McGilvarys worked alone for one year and were chiefly responsible
for the conversion of six men by early 1869. A persecution of
these Christians in September 1869 led to the execution of two,
the scattering of the others, and the threatened closure of the
Laos Mission. McGilvary's perseverance prevented the lapse of
Protestant work in northern Thailand. From 1870 until roughly
1890 McGilvary was the unofficial leader of the Laos Mission and
took the leading hand in expanding its work including establishing
several rural Christian communities which became important Christian
centers. In 1878 he played a leading role in obtaining the so-called
"Proclamation of Religious Toleration" from the
Thai central government, which gave certain civil rights to northern
Thai converts. McGilvary took a number of exploratory tours, beginning
in the 1870s, going as far as the Shan States in Burma and Yunnan
Province in southern China in the 1890s. Those tours inspired
the Laos Mission with the vision of a greater mission to the Tai
peoples of China and French Indochina, which vision dominated
mission work until the 1920s. He is credited with introducing
Western medicine into northern Siam. McGilvary supported theological
training for northern Thai evangelists and pastors, and he played
an important role in promoting mission boarding school education,
particularly for women. He took a leading role in promoting central
Thai literacy among the northern Thai. McGilvary continued active
evangelistic work, including visiting established Christian groups,
up until his death on 22 August 1911, in Chiang Mai. Throughout
his life, his colleagues and the general public held McGilvary
in great esteem, and businesses and government offices in Chiang
Mai were officially closed in mourning on the day of his death.
Evander McGilvary was a Presbyterian missionary
with the Laos Mission and the
son of Daniel and Sophia McGilvary. He was born 19 July 1864 in Bangkok, received
a B.A. degree from Davidson College, North Carolina in 1884, gained
an M.A. from Princeton University in 1888, and graduated from
Princeton Theological Seminary in 1891. He married Elizabeth Ann
Patton in June 1891 and left for Siam that same year. He was appointed
to the Chiang Mai Station; his main task was to translate the
New Testament in northern Thai. In 1893, however, the Presbyterian
Church's General Assembly gave a verdict in the famous Briggs
Heresy Case that declared as heretical views that Evander himself
held. He felt constrained to resign from missionary work and studied
philosophy at the University of California, where he graduated
in 1897 and was appointed as an assistant professor. He then taught
at Cornell (1899-1905) and the University of Wisconsin (1905-1924). McGilvary enjoyed a distinguished career in philosophy, and served as president of the American Philosophical Association in 1912-1913. He published numerous lectures, and his 1939 Carsus lectures were published posthumously in 1956 as Toward Perspective Realism. He died in September 1953.
Link: Jan Blodgett, "Davidson’s First Student from Asia." Original available on line at Davidson University Archives (here).
Link: Khrischak Muang Nua, Chapter 5, "The Case of Evander McGilvary."
Sophia McGilvary was the first woman missionary
to serve in the Laos Mission and played
a key early role in the introduction of women's education into
northern Siam. She was the daughter of Dr.
Dan Beach and Emelie Royce Bradley and was born in Bangkok
on 8 October 1839. Her mother died in August 1845, and in 1847
her father took her and her two siblings to Oberlin, Ohio, where
she went to school for a period. Her father, while in the United
States, married Sarah Blachly in November 1848, and the family
returned to Bangkok, where Sophia was home schooled by Sarah Bradley,
one of the first women in the United States to receive a B.A.
In 1860, Sophia married the Rev. Daniel
McGilvary, a Presbyterian missionary; and in 1861, they joined
the S. G. McFarlands in founding a mission station in Phet Buri.
In April 1867, the McGilvary family founded the Laos Mission when
they moved to Chiang Mai. Sophia conducted women's literacy classes,
assisted in the translation of the Gospel of Matthew, and in about
1875 started a small class for Christian girls that was the seed
for the founding of the Chiang Mai Girls' School in 1879. The
McGilvarys had five children, three of whom became members of
the Laos Mission.
Nan Inta was the first baptized Christian convert
in northern Thailand, baptized by the Rev. Daniel
McGilvary of the Presbyterian Laos
Mission. He taught northern Thai to the missionaries, wrote
Christian tracts, and worked as an evangelistic assistant to the
missionaries. He was the first ordained northern Thai elder. Nan
Inta was born in 1804 in the Sarapee District of present-day Chiang
Mai Province, studied for the Buddhist monkhood, and served as
the abbot of a temple. He married Chunpeng.
When the McGilvarys, the first foreign missionaries
to northern Thailand, arrived in 1867, Nan Inta began to visit
them frequently and gained a knowledge of Christianity from them.
He resisted conversion, however, until McGilvary correctly predicted
a solar eclipse for 17 August 1868, which prediction convinced
Nan Inta that traditional Buddhist cosmology was incorrect. He
was baptized on 3 January 1869. In September 1869, Nan Inta fled
from the persecution of Christians, which took place in Chiang
Mai that month. In 1871, he resumed an active Christian life,
and in 1873, the Siam Presbytery took him under care for preparation
for ordained ministry. On 1 May 1875, First Church, Chiang Mai
ordained him an elder, and the following year his wife and children
converted to Christianity. In 1878 Nan Inta's daughter, Kham Tip,
wanted to marry a young man training for the ministry, but influential
relatives insisted the ceremony follow northern Thai animistic
traditions. The Laos Mission appealed to the King of Thailand
for redress, and the king's viceroy in Chiang Mai issued what was later called the "Edict of Religious Toleration" on 8 October
On 4 July 1880, the Laos Mission founded the
Bethlehem Church in Sarapee District. Nan Inta's family and another
family formed the core of this church with Nan Inta serving as
the leader and first elder. In May 1882, he moved to the area
of the Mae Dok Daeng Church, where he died on 27 August 1882.
SEELY, REV. FRANCIS McLAIN 87, was born 13 February 1917, Aurora, Illinois. He was the son of Edmund Hills and Elisabeth (Merrill) Seely. He graduated from Maryville College (B.A., 1942), Tennessee, and McCormick Theological Seminary (B.D., 1946), Chicago, Illinois. He married Ruth West on 5 June 1940. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1946, and the Seelys moved to Thailand in 1947 where they served as missionaries of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. During his missionary career, Seely served in Chiang Mai, Lampang, and Pitsanuloke. Although he served in a variety of capacities, he made a special contribution in biblical translation, working on the team that produced the widely accepted standard version of the Thai Bible. Later in his ministry, he became deeply involved in interfaith dialogue and started the Foundation for Inter-Religious Dialogue and served as director for the Dharma Logos Project sponsored by that Foundation. He retired in 1978 and the Seelys returned to the United States because of Ruth's failing health. She died on 27 January 1978. Seely married Jean (Maguire) Thompson on 27 January 1979. They lived in North Carolina, and she died on 7 July 2004. Ruth and Francis Seely had eight children, six daughters and two sons. He died on 12 September 2004 and is buried in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Source: Obituary, Knoxville News Sentinel, at Seely Genealogical Society.
Sung was a Chinese evangelist and revivalist
who studied in the United States, including a period at Union
Theological Seminary, New York City. He returned to China in 1927
and was married Yu Chin Hua in 1928. A Methodist, he eventually
became an itinerating evangelist, and in 1931, he joined the Bethel
Worldwide Evangelistic Band led by Andrew Gih. He edited the Bethel
magazine, Guide to Holiness. The Bethel band was disbanded
in 1933, and Sung again became an independent evangelist. Between
1935 and 1939, Sung conducted numerous crusades in Taiwan and
Southeast Asia. In 1940, Sung began to suffer from cancer and
tuberculosis, and he died on 18 August 1944.
Sung conducted his first revival in Siam in Bangkok
in 1938, and in early 1939 he returned for a more extended series
of revivals at the personal invitation of the Rev. Boon
Mark Kittisarn in spite of the objections of other church
leaders. Visiting nearly all of the Christian centers in northern,
central, and southern Siam, Sung's revivals sparked an intense
period of church renewal and aggressive evangelistic activity
among the churches of the Church of Christ in Thailand. Pentecostals
see Sung as laying the groundwork for the post-World War II emergence
of Thai Pentecostalism. The Sung revivals also generated serious
controversy and division, and supporters and detractors of Sung
differ as to whether his revivals strengthened or weakened the
churches as they entered a period of persecution before and during
the War. Sung, in any event, had a strong impact on a generation
of Thai church leaders, and his revivals stand as one of the key
events in 20th century Thai Protestant church history.
Margaretta Burr Wells (Mrs. Kenneth E.), was born May 15, 1902, in Bottineau, N.D., and was the daughter of Scottish immigrants. Her father, A. G. Burr, became chief justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court. She graduated from Jamestown College, N.D., and earned a master's degree at the University of Michigan.
She was married in 1926 to the Rev. Kenneth E. Wells, Ph.D., a college classmate, who died in 1981. In 1927, they went as missionaries to Thailand, where they served for 40 years. She taught English in Chiang Mai at The Prince Royal's College, and in Bangkok at Wattana Academy. She founded and taught at the Chiang Mai International School, was a writer and editor of The Siam Outlook mission magazine and was the first manager of the Bangkok Christian Bookstore. She was fluent in both Thai and northern Thai and saw brief service for her language skills with the federal government in Washington, D.C.
Her six published books are A Guide to Bangkok, A Guide to Chiang Mai, "Thai Fairy Tales, Good Manners Abroad, Florence Nightingale and Siam Story. Her articles appeared in numerous American magazine, including the National Geographic, and she was invited to present lectures before the Southeast Asia Society of Washington, D.C. She served as the only foreigner on the National Cancer Society Board in Thailand and was president of the American Women's Club in Bangkok. In May 1987, there was an exhibition of her fine arts collection at the 1846 Courthouse Museum, Portsmouth, as "Arts From the Golden Triangle."
Source: Copied and edited from "Margaretta B. Wells" obituary from the Daily Press, 2 January 2000.