The Social Contributions of a Chinese Anglican Woman Intellectual
The Social Contributions of a Chinese Anglican Woman Intellectual
The Life and Work of Kuo Siu-may
Abstract and Keywords
The author’s great-grandmother, Zhan Aimei, was born into a peasant family in rural Fujian and educated by British missionaries, becoming a Christian teacher, wife and mother. The trajectory of her life provides rare insight into the fruits of Anglican missionary work from a Chinese perspective. Zhan Aimei married a missionary-trained doctor, Lin Dao’an, and had ten children, the oldest of whom, Lin Buji, studied in the United States and became dean of Christ Church Cathedral and president of Trinity College Fuzhou. The author uses documents, interviews and missionary accounts to recreate the extraordinary life of an ordinary woman.
Keywords: Mission school education, Christ Church Cathedral, Social mobility of Chinese converts, Church Missionary Society, Missionary history Xiapu, Dublin University Fukien Mission, Church of England Zenana Missionary Society
Kuo Siu-may (郭秀梅, Guo Xiumei, 1916–1995) is best known as the wife of Bishop K. H. Ting (丁光訓, Ding Guangxun, 1915–2012). In previous studies she has generally been cast in the shadow of her husband. In this chapter, I will consider Kuo Siu-may as an independent individual in her own right and interpret her role as an Anglican woman intellectual in pre- and postliberation China from different perspectives.1 Kuo was educated in Anglican schools, and her life and work may be seen as part of the development of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui (CHSKH) and of Chinese history as a whole. But she also transcended this framework and developed her own role in society, which was inextricably part of her earlier education and experience. Historical materials on Kuo Siu-may are limited and scattered, and, up until now, few people have combed through the materials and studied her life. It is my hope that this case study of Kuo will offer a different perspective on the role of Anglican women beyond the confines of the church and open up a new area of scholarly research.
Early Life and Years Overseas
Kuo Siu-may was born in Wuhan on May 5, 1916. At that time, the CHSKH had been in existence for only four years, and in 1915 the second General Synod was held in Shanghai. Kuo’s father was from Guangdong, but he was employed by the Wuhan Steel Company as their head engineer. He had received his engineering education in Sheffield, England. According to Kuo Siu-may, “He was very English.” Siu-may’s mother died when she was not yet one year old, and her father remarried soon after. The family stayed in Wuhan for seven or eight years, after which they moved to Shanghai, the place she lived the longest when growing up.2 Her younger sister Kuo Chongmei (郭重梅) has written about her early years:
My older sister Siu-may had a heart-breaking experience when she was still in swaddling clothes: her birth mother Cao Rujin (蔡汝金, 1883–1917) died when she was only ten months old, and our father Guo Cheng’en (p.202) (郭承恩, 1884–1946), a 1903 graduate of St. John’s University, became preoccupied with funeral arrangements and the move back to Shanghai, so that his wife could be buried in the Guo family plot in the Cemetery of All Nations (萬國公墓). Fortunately, the wife of his colleague Mr. Wu Renzhi looked after little Siu-may. In 1951, after her return to China, her stepmother Zhou Shinan (周石南, 1895–1974) took her to see the elderly Mrs. Wu during the Chinese Spring Festival to thank her for her care during those early years of her life.3
Guo Chongmei goes on to describe an episode from Siu-may’s childhood:
My elder sister always had her own opinions, even as a little girl. She was only 3, before my mother gave birth to my third elder brother, when she took two fresh walnuts that she had hidden, and said she wanted to give them to the baby in mother’s belly to eat! After Third Elder brother Guo Musun (郭慕孫, 1920–2012) was born and grew teeth, the adults took these two walnuts, crumbled them up and gave them to him to eat.4
When Guo Chongmei was born in 1932, Siu-may was already a student at St. Mary’s Hall, an Anglican school that was founded by S. I. J. Schereschewsky (1831–1906) in 1881.5 In 1923, after St. Mary’s moved from Jessfield Road to Brenan Road, its name was changed to St. Mary’s Girls’ School, and it came to be regarded as “the forerunner of girls’ education in China, just as the middle school attached to St. John’s University was the pioneering school for boys.” It was a microcosm of the missionary education work of the American Episcopal Church in China.6
We have no detailed record of Kuo Siu-may’s time at St. Mary’s. But in 1935, the year she graduated, Siu-may was named the English editor of Phoenix (《鳳藻》), the school magazine. This magazine, founded in 1919, appeared annually and was compiled in both English and Chinese by the graduating class. The well-known author Eileen Chang (張愛玲, 1920–1995) had published some of her early short stories in the magazine, including “Unlucky Her” (〈不幸的她〉, 1932), “Evening of Life” (〈遲暮〉, 1933), and “Autumn Rain” (〈秋雨〉, 1936), all of which had been praised by her Chinese teacher at St. Mary’s, Wang Hongsheng (汪宏聲). The publication’s name, according to Chang, “symbolized the spirit of freedom, enterprise, liveliness, progress and steadfastness.”7 This is not only a comment on the school magazine, it also expresses the characteristic independence and freedom of Kuo Siu-may and all the graduates of Anglican girls’ schools in those years. One of the principals of St. Mary’s, Ms. Steva L. Dodson (孫羅以, 1860–1944), had chosen “Justice and Wisdom” as the school motto. Dodson had inherited the pioneering spirit of the Episcopal women missionaries and had served as teacher, general supervisor, and principal for a total of thirty-two years, helping the school move forward with the hope of developing a sense of women’s consciousness and autonomy to blend together with the Chinese tradition of womanhood. She believed that girls’ schools in (p.203) China should strive unrelentingly toward the goal of recovering Chinese womanhood, for women have been long neglected by society as the weaker sex.8
Compared with the motto of St. John’s College (founded in 1905)—“Light and Truth”—the St. Mary’s motto of “Justice and Wisdom” placed more emphasis on the character formation of women. Dodson returned to the United States in 1920 and was succeeded by Miss Caroline Amanda Fullerton (1873–1956), who remained principal until 1936 and was Siu-may’s principal during her years at St. Mary’s.9 The Phoenix editorial team was divided into four sections—Chinese, English, art, and organization—and all the upper class girls competed to be a member. As Kuo Siu-may was the 1935 English editor, we may surmise that her English was already outstanding and, in the years to follow, she would continue to develop her language skills to a very high professional level. In the 1935 magazine, one of her classmates wrote about the purpose of Phoenix: “Human life is a long journey, and our few short years as middle school students are but a very small part of it; but we see these years as the happiest, most beautiful and most memorable time of our lives, and so we do not want to set them aside without leaving a record of what we were about.”10 Judging from her future life, her years in middle school were perhaps the most carefree of her life.
The motto of the class of 1935 was “upright and pure,” the class color was azure blue, and the class flower was the white rose. The meaning of each was derived from the individual characters in the poetic line, “Upright and noble, like an azure sky, a pure white rose” (端正高潔，如蔚藍之天，清白之玫瑰也).11 All of these symbolized what the school sought to bestow upon its graduates, expressing the hope and expectations of Anglican education for the moral character of its women students. Kuo Siu-may’s graduation photo reveals the smiling expression of a bright and serious young woman. As a Protestant women’s school, St. Mary’s hoped that all of its students “would develop a character of confidence, autonomy and independence.”12 This spirit stayed with Siu-may her whole life. Though she came to understand Christianity and be baptized only when she was in university, it was the experience and atmosphere of St. Mary’s that laid the foundation for her life and faith. After her return to China in 1952, she became principal of St. Mary’s for a while, giving back to a new generation all she had learned when she was a student there.13
Gong Pusheng (龔普生, 1913–2007) had graduated from St. Mary’s in 1932, and her younger sister Gong Peng (龔澎, 1914–1970) had graduated in 1933. They had grown up in an Anglican family and both became active in the movement for national liberation, subsequently assuming important positions in the foreign ministry of the People’s Republic of China. In 1935, Gong Pusheng wrote a letter to her alma mater from Yenching University, where she was then a student. She wrote, “I had always felt that we Chinese were not equal to the Westerners, and the evidence was that our science and social science were not (p.204) as well developed as in Europe and North America. But at Yenching University I have come to see that intellectually and physically the people of our great Republic of China are not at all inferior to the Westerners, and although I cannot say we are more advanced, several Chinese are acclaimed scholars.”14 Siu-may had known the Gong sisters at St. Mary’s, and in 1936 she too went to Yenching University. This was the year in which the CHSKH dioceses of Sichuan East and Sichuan West were established. It was also the year in which the CHSKH joined with five other denominations in publishing the ecumenical hymnal, Hymns of Universal Praise, which became a symbol of church unity. Siu-may became better acquainted with Gong Pusheng at Yenching University. Gong Pusheng later worked with Siu-may and her future husband, K. H. Ting, at the Shanghai YMCA. According to Ting, it was Gong Pusheng that introduced him to Siu-May.15 The St. Mary’s connection was important for Kuo and the Gong sisters, and all three may be seen as representative of women educated in the Anglican/Episcopal institutions who assumed important roles in society.
Siu-may was at Yenching University for only a short time and, because of health issues, returned to Shanghai to recuperate at home. In the same year, St. John’s University began to admit women students, making it a fully coeducational institution of higher learning.16 After her return to health, Siu-may transferred to the education department, initially on a part-time basis at St. John’s University, to continue her studies and to be closer to home. The system at St. John’s was defined as “a university run by one denomination (the Episcopal Church in America), centering on Western studies, with English as the medium of instruction according to the American liberal arts education ideal.”17 Its purpose was “to give students a broad liberal arts education, first offering a thorough grounding in English literature. Subsequently, to educate them in the sciences giving students a clear understanding of scientific truth and its benefits for humanity. Above all, we want to inculcate in students a high moral character.”18 In 1940, during her studies at St. John’s, Siu-may chose to be baptized, in part as a result of the strong Christian atmosphere at the university. At that time, the Pacific War had already broken out, and the longstanding president of the university, Francis Lister Hawks Pott (1864–1947) had returned to the United States, although he briefly resumed his duties in 1946.19 Shanghai was occupied by the Japanese army in 1941, and the situation in the city grew increasingly repressive.
Siu-may graduated in 1942, the same year that K. H. Ting received his BD.20 In that year, as the movement for the indigenization of the Chinese church was growing stronger, the Chinese at St. John’s University established an emergency board of directors, which brought all administrative and governance under Chinese control.21 At the time, K. H. Ting and Kuo Siu-may were working together in the Shanghai YMCA and YWCA as well as in the Shanghai (p.205) Student Union (上海聯), a confederation of patriotic student groups in the city. Siu-may was head of the organization department in the Shanghai Student Union. This was a non-stipendiary position, “and by taking it up, she acted against her father’s wishes. In those days, there were not many young women just out of college who would take up a voluntary position and show her faith in public. In addition, there were not many women students from St. John’s who would do this, where the whole atmosphere was rather conservative.”22 So Siu-may showed her zeal for church and society as well as her individual determination and courage. About the same time, “after a short courtship [she married K. H. Ting], on June 12, 1942 at the Church of Our Savior, just after both had received their degrees and after K. H. Ting had been ordained to the priesthood.”23 According to K. H. Ting’s younger cousin:
My cousin K. H. married Siu-may in 1942. Later, he became a priest, according to my maternal grandfather Zhu Baoyuan (朱葆元). Both of these happy occasions took place at the same Church of Our Savior on Wu Yuan Road in Shanghai.24
This was the beginning of a new journey for Siu-may. Her professional life and her married life came together, and in both she served church and society.
K. H. Ting was recommended by the well-known Anglican layman T. Z. Koo (1887–1971) to become interim pastor of the Shanghai American Church (today known as Shanghai Community Church [國際禮拜堂]). Koo, a graduate of St. John’s University, became a prominent leader in the YMCA and the Student Christian Movement (SCM), both in China and internationally. The foreign pastors who had been associated with the church had either returned to their home countries or were in prison. This was Ting’s first and only pastorate. He and Siu-may moved from his parents’ home to the small house adjoining the church. At the American Church, Ting conducted many church services and weddings, and, as time permitted, he visited church members who were imprisoned by the Japanese and conducted funerals in the prison camps. With others from the student movement, he also organized the student church, which served as a cover for activities directed against the Japanese occupation of Shanghai. Both Christians and non-Christians joined the activities of the student church, and, through this work, the students came into contact with members of the underground Communist Party.25 Church work and work with the students also occupied a good part of Kuo Siu-may’s time in Japanese-occupied Shanghai.
The Japanese surrendered on August 15, 1945. That fall, K. H. Ting left his work at the American Church. The following year, he was appointed the mission secretary of the Student Christian Movement of Canada, and, in May, he and Siu-may sailed for Vancouver. The Canadians wanted to learn from the views of a young Chinese student worker and help young Canadians in (p.206) the postwar world understand the real situation of China and other mission fields. This implies that the Canadians already held a critical view of traditional mission work. Siu-may was invited to accompany her husband, but she also would have her own responsibilities in the Canadian SCM.26
It was soon clear that K. H. and Siu-may would work as a team. “Already in the 1940s, Ting took seriously the contribution that women could make to church and society. He saw the contribution they were making in China, the most obvious example being his wife Siu-may.”27 In his later theological reflections, he would sometimes speak of the feminine and motherly character of God.28 Upon arriving in Canada, Siu-may and K. H. immediately began their work in the student movement. Siu-may always seemed to know that she was going to change the world, and she put all her energy into the task. As she wrote soon after her arrival in Canada:
To change this world of ours into a Christian world requires the effort of every Christian—you and me included—however insignificant we may be. What are we going to do about it?29
Shortly after they arrived in Canada, Siu-may had a miscarriage. She wrote a circular letter to her friends to explain what had happened. She related her experience to the broader situation in China and the need for social change:
Then I remember millions of mothers in China who have to suffer, and millions of babies who have to die because of ignorance, superstition, financial inabilities, and of lack of midwifery care—of reasons far different from mine; for here I had the best of medical care and all that scientific advance at this stage of human progress had to offer.
Convention, superstition, poverty, etc., are still the causes of many heart-breaks for mothers, not only in China, but in India and other parts of the world as well.30
Their schedules and duties were different, but Siu-may and K. H. were often invited to speak at churches and student Christian gatherings. Siu-may was outspoken in her support for the national salvation movement in Communist-occupied areas of China, and her speeches attracted attention in unexpected quarters. She once spoke to a church group on the “liberated areas” of China where the Communists were in control, and a small report was carried in the local Canadian newspaper. The Chinese embassy, still in the hands of the Nationalists, phoned K. H. to express its displeasure and to tell him that he should keep better control of his wife, “especially her tongue.”31
This small episode reflects something about Kuo’s bold directness, which, in comparison to K. H. Ting’s inwardness and restraint, made them complementary in their life together. In his final report to the Canadian SCM, Ting pointed out that women in China saw themselves as part of a broader social struggle. He was speaking here of women involved in the movement of revolutionary (p.207) change, not women in traditional China. Women—and here he could have been speaking about Siu-may—believed in working for political democracy and peace, and they were insulted by the idea that their place should be in the home. Siu-may “had enthusiasm and expertise for the church, for Christians and for social service,” and she used her innate abilities in her time overseas not only in assisting her husband but in making her own special contribution.32
In his closing report to the National Missionary Conference in 1947, the Canadian SCM chairman spoke very warmly about the Tings and their work in Canada:
The most significant thing which the missionary committee has done in the past year has been to bring the Reverend and Mrs. K. H. Ting from China to Canada. Their very presence among us has served to give a new vision of the meaning of the World Church. Here are two talented and consecrated Christians from one of the younger churches who have, during their stay in Canada, done what no Canadian could do. First, they have given us a new and greater picture of China than we had before, and henceforth, as we think of our sister churches in that great land, we shall think of them in terms of K. H. and Siu May Ting and of what they have told us. But second, and perhaps even more important, they have helped us to see ourselves objectively. With clear insight and vigorous expressions, they have examined the strengths and weaknesses of our own Movement.33
Together, K. H. and Siu-may brought with them a sense of China’s youthful vitality to the Canadian Student Christian Movement. Their working relationship began at the start of their married life, and it grew over the years. They worked in the same way or in similar ways in their call and commitment to serve the church in China and the world.
When their service in Canada came to an end, they went together to New York for further studies. This is something they had planned before they went to Canada. After a year of study, Ting received his master’s degree from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University Teacher’s College in 1948. Siu-may received her master’s in education from the same college in the same year.34
In New York, they both joined in the work of the Chinese Students’ Christian Association (CSCA) in North America. This association had been established in 1909, “not only as a youth movement to help students during their studies in the United States, but also as a fellowship to explore how overseas Chinese students could seek and put into practice Christian faith and values during a formative period of their lives.”35 The CSCA membership was drawn from more than three thousand Chinese graduate students studying in the United States, most of whom were from non-Christian backgrounds. It was, in this sense, a fellowship of mature Chinese students in search of faith, rather than one of convinced Christians. “What brought the students together was an interest in (p.208) Christianity, a desire for fellowship with other Chinese students and a commitment to social change in China.”36 It was very similar to the SCM in China and the national salvation movement.
Beginning in 1947, the CSCA began to express more openly its sympathy for the Communists in China, and its voice resonated with that of left-wing students.37 Like other student movements at the time, there were countless meetings, large and small, and continuing debates about politics, social change, and the relevance of Christian faith. Siu-may was already a leader in the movement, and she contended that the CSCA was “the most effective link between the American churches and the future leaders of China.”38 She helped “sell” the CSCA to American churches to maintain the link and gain necessary financial support. In 1949, she succeeded Paul Lin and became the first woman general secretary of the CSCA.39 Because she was also taking courses at Columbia and looking after her newborn son, Ting Yenren, she was not always able to devote full attention to her duties as general secretary.40 At the same time, the Ting home “became almost a dormitory for Chinese students visiting New York and living on small stipends. They would go there to have a meal or take a bath or meet to discuss the latest news from China.” Siu-may remembers their time in New York as “a very happy life.” This offset the tensions generated by her work with the CSCA.41
In June 1948, K. H. took up a position at the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) in Geneva, and Siu-may was left in New York to care for their son amid her other work and responsibilities. Like other women in the CHSKH, she had important responsibilities in the home and in society. She had her own work, but she also supported the work of her husband. This was Siu-may’s busy life during the years before she returned to China, where she would face new challenges.
Embracing the New China: From Shanghai to Nanjing
In the late summer of 1951, K. H. Ting, Kuo Siu-may and their three-year-old son returned in China. This was an indication that Ting believed that his place was in China and that both Ting and Kuo were committed to New China.42 The Korean War had already broken out, and, consequently, all foreign missionaries were in the process of leaving China. The CHSKH bishops had met in Shanghai in July 1950 expressing their support for the government’s decision to expel the missionaries and affirming that henceforth they would follow a path of independence from foreign church control.43 Even though they were unsure of the conditions of the church in China, the Tings thought that they should return home to serve the church. Guo Zhongmei wrote about their return to Shanghai:
(p.209) We had an early dinner and then went to the Western Station to meet their train upon arrival. They got off at this station, because the Ting family lived near Brennan [the present Changning Road, 長寧路]. The next day, Siu-may and her husband and son came to our home, and asked me to wait for them by the road. We then went to the All Nations Funeral Parlor where Father’s ashes were deposited. Siu-may became very sad when she saw his photo and began to cry, remembering that father had died six months after they had left for Canada.44
Siu-may became the principal of St. Mary’s Girls’ School in February 1952, where she also taught English. This was the beginning of her life as an educator. According to Li Kui (李葵):
In addition to serving as our principal, Kuo Siu-may was our primary English teacher for the graduating class from the fall of 1951 to 1952. Principal Kuo spoke such beautifully fluent English, and with her lively and outgoing manner and her careful explanations of the text, she gained the love, admiration and respect of everyone in the class. To use a Shanghainese expression to describe her outgoing disposition, we may say that she was as straightforward as she could possibly be.45
From 1952, however, there was a change in the university and middle school systems. The Christian colleges and middle schools were taken over by the government and became public institutions. Many of the formerly church-run middle schools were joined into one institution. On July 2, 1952, St. Mary’s Girls’ School was merged with the McTyerie School, a Southern Methodist girls’ middle school founded by Young J. Allen (1836–1907) in 1892, to become the Shanghai Number 3 Girls’ Middle School:
On that day, Siu-may herself took down the St. Mary’s Girls’ School sign and placed it in a room near the main door. The whole student body had lined up for the occasion, and their teachers led them in a march to 155 Jiangsu Road, the campus of the McTyerie School, for the ceremony marking the merging of the two institutions. The large rectangular sign in the front of the school had already been taken down, and students and faculty were putting up the new “Shanghai Number 3 Girls’ Middle School” sign above the main door.46
That graduation day was probably not very different from the day that Siu-may had graduated from St. Mary’s seventeen years before, the sun brightly shining on the city that was a mixture of traditions from East and West. But the times had moved on and it was no longer the same. In the photograph taken that day, the students “were wearing white blouses and blue trousers in the proletarian style,” and no more to be seen were the white qipao adorned with flowers of earlier ceremonies when students lined up to receive their diplomas. (p.210) This was the first class to graduate after the readjustment of the middle-school system following liberation.
Siu-may was transferred to the post of principal of the Shanghai Second Girl’s Middle School for a term of two years.47 But according to Li Kui, her short time at St. Mary’s Hall had left a deep impression (on students and colleagues alike):
Under her leadership, we gained a new sense of motivation and self-confidence. Our graduating class all did very well in our examinations and we went to the universities we wanted to go to. This achievement cannot be separated from Principal Kuo’s educational approach.48
At about the same time, on November 1, Nanjing Union Theological Seminary was formed. Upon the recommendation of Y. T. Wu, K. H. Ting, only thirty-seven years old, was appointed principal. He spent a great deal of time traveling back and forth between Nanjing and Shanghai after the opening of the seminary. Siu-may was still working as a principal in Shanghai and looking after their two young sons. (Their younger son Ting Heping [丁和平] was born in 1952.)
It was not until 1954 that Siu-may and the boys joined K. H. in Nanjing. They moved into the house on Mo Chou Road that, with the exception of a few years during the Cultural Revolution, was their home for the rest of their lives.49 Kuo Siu-may drew on her academic record and teaching experience to secure a teaching position at Nanjing University. She also worked with the Jiangsu Federation of Women and began to reveal her many-faceted social role.50 According to Li Kui:
My cousin K. H. Ting lived in Nanjing for a long time, and his whole family moved there. He was appointed principal of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary and was a member of the China Friendship Society (對外友好協會). Siu-may joined him in Nanjing in 1954 and became a teacher in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at Nanjing University. She already had a very rich educational experience, and her work was so highly regarded that she was honored as an “Advanced Worker” at the university. She also was involved in many social activities, and was for many years the deputy chair of the Jiangsu Federation of Women, the vice-chair of the Jiangsu Children’s Welfare Foundation and vice-chair of the Nanjing University Workers’ Union. In 1955, she was one of the Chinese women delegates at the U. N. sponsored World Mothers’ Conference in Switzerland.51
K. H. Ting continued his work in the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui. On June 19, 1955, he was consecrated as bishop of Zhejiang at the Church of Our Savior in Shanghai. More than seven hundred people attended the service, at which Bishop T. K. Shen preached on the Great Commission. “The sermon (p.211) touched on Three-Self and the political themes of the time, but its most important message was the need to give greater attention to the pastoral, evangelical, and educational work of the church and to strengthen the church organizationally.”52 The next year, the CHSKH held its last meeting of bishops together with a meeting of the Standing Committee in Shanghai.53 By this time, Siu-may’s energies were directed elsewhere, and she was not so involved in local church work, but she did continue her ecumenical involvement.
The Chinese Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) Committee set up an International Affairs Committee in May 1956, which would concern itself with “protecting world peace, promoting Christian fellowship and friendly cooperation with Christians and peoples internationally.” Because of their experience and wide range of ecumenical relationships, both K. H. and Siu-may Ting were appointed to this new committee.54 They hosted in their home many visiting church dignitaries, and it was Siu-may who took the lead in making guests feel welcome. In June, K. H. and Siu-may went for a two-month visit to churches and old friends in Europe and stopped off for a few days in Moscow on their way home. They returned to Beijing in early September 1956, just before the opening of the Eighth Congress of the CCP. This represented “a significant political milestone. The CCP leadership looked back over this period with increasing confidence. The government enjoyed growing popular support, and a basic institutional transformation had been achieved. The international situation was improving, the country was peaceful and stable, and the economy was developing. This allowed for some liberalization and the relaxation of social controls, changes that were welcomed by intellectuals such as K. H. and Siu-may Ting.”55
The situation subsequently changed as politics moved toward the left. In 1958, the CHSKH and all other denominations came to an end, the number of local churches was reduced, and services of worship were unified. From this time forward until the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, Siu-may continued to teach at Nanjing University, and the Tings continued to meet with visitors from other parts of China in their homes. K. H. and Siu-may communicated with friends overseas as best they could and considered what the new political movements would mean for church and society.56
On June 12, 1966, “revolutionary” students and workers gathered at Nanjing University and denounced its president, Kuang Yaming (匡亞明, 1906–1996). Kuang was very open minded and had once said, “Good Marxists and good religious believers have many things in common and are able to co-operate with one another,” and so his remarks were seen as too “liberal.”57 He was also a friend and supporter of both K. H. Ting and Kuo Siu-may. Kuang became the first university president to be removed from office during the Cultural Revolution. K. H. Ting was sent to northern Jiangsu around this time. Soon after he left Nanjing, Red Guards came and ransacked the Ting home:
(p.212) [They] prepared to ransack the house and looked for evidence of the “four olds.” They then instructed Siu-may that the family would have to leave the house in four hours, and they began throwing things out of the house from the second-story window. Siu-may gathered what she could carry, and, with the two teenage boys and the help of her maid, she moved first to a little house in back of the church down the road, and a short time later to a small house in the compound at Number 5 Da Jian Yin Xiang near the seminary. Following this hurried exit, the family would not move back to their home until late 1972.58
Li Kui also relates what happened to Kuo Siu-may during this time:
She was subsequently sent to do reform through labor, and day after day she cleaned toilets and scrubbed the school swimming pool immersing her hands in freezing cold water. Winters in Nanjing were very harsh, and the cold penetrated to the bones of Principal Kuo who was now over fifty. As a result, she developed severe arthritis, especially in her fingers and toes. Her condition worsened after the late 1960s and she developed rheumatoid arthritis affecting her heart. Her four limbs became rigid and she could no longer make normal use of her feet and arms. She could not hold a pen or use chopsticks or go up and down stairs. Although her illness twisted her body and she had continual pain in her joints, her mood was always optimistic and her mind was lively and alert.59
Her situation now became very different from the active life she had once lived. It is interesting that in1935, when she was graduating from St. Mary’s, she wrote a poem that in some ways foreshadowed her own situation:
Life in the fog is beautiful, but it is also confused;
Life torn by the wind is painful, but it keeps one alive;
Those who have not been tested by the deep waters and the fiery heat cannot understand the pain that they bring;
But only by undergoing this pain, can we learn how to overcome it.60
This poem describes the courage that comes from facing the complications and difficulties of life. The hardships of the Cultural Revolution were “the deep waters and fiery heat” that Siu-may was writing about three decades earlier. The poem itself was written during much simpler times, but it is suggestive of what was to come. It perhaps says something about her own character, influenced by the firm indomitable spirit of a St. Mary’s education that survived the difficult times that were sure to follow. Siu-may had been formed by her faith, her education, and her own sense of who she was as a person and a Chinese.
The Cultural Revolution came to an end on October 6, 1976, with the fall of the Gang of Four. Two weeks later, a small group of American church leaders met with K. H. and Siu-may Ting in their home. K. H. spoke with (p.213) the Americans about the spontaneous demonstrations in Nanjing in support of the overthrow of the “Shanghai Gang,” as he called them, and he offered his interpretation of the events that had preceded it.61 The two-hour meeting with the Americans ended, and K. H. was asked to lead the group in prayer. He did so by reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Chinese, an experience that the Americans found deeply moving. “It was a beautiful moment, we walked out into Nanjing’s night rain uplifted by the warm contact with a man and a woman whose radiant faith strengthened ours.” Neither K. H. nor Siu-may ever spoke much about their own Christian faith with Chinese or foreign friends, but they continued to believe in God even during the most difficult years of the Cultural Revolution.62 The end of the Cultural Revolution was a new beginning for China and for K. H. Ting and Siu-may.
The Period of Reform and Openness: The Later Years of Kuo Siu-may
After the Cultural Revolution, Siu-may began teaching and writing again. The family had returned to their home, and, because she could no longer get around easily, Siu-may offered tutorials to university students in her home:
In the beginning, the home was empty and without furniture and so the students had to sit on the floor. But the students were so eager to learn from Principal Kuo, and they wanted to make up for lost time and enrich their knowledge. They didn’t complain about sitting on the floor, and they never felt tired or uncomfortable. She was partially disabled, but she was persistent in her teaching and because of Principal Kuo’s enthusiasm and strong will, she inspired the students by example, and they learned much from her.63
Before this, in 1975, Siu-may had already gone back to teaching at Nanjing University. That year, her older brother Dr. Guo Xingsun (郭星蓀) made a special bicycle for her so that she could ride to Nanjing University to teach, despite the fact that Siu-may never asked for anything for herself:
It was extremely difficult for her to move around. And so Principal Kuo’s older brother who was a doctor designed a bicycle that would fit her needs, buying the parts and putting them together to make a four-wheeler that he brought to Nanjing by himself. The seat of the bicycle was lowered so that she would have an easier time getting on and off. When she began to use it, Principal Kuo was very pleased, and she could ride it every day to Nanjing University to have her classes. She was very moved by her older brother’s thoughtfulness and concern. … When she was riding, passersby pointed at her and even laughed, because they had never seen this kind of “bicycle.” But Principal Kuo paid no attention to them, for she was only interested in the fact that she could go to the university on her own.64
The quickest way from Mochou Road to the Foreign Languages and Literatures Department of the university is to go up Shanghai Road and cross at Guangzhou Road, which would take about twenty minutes by bicycle. But from the university campus, there was no direct way to return to Mochou Road, except by going up a rather steep hill near Wutai Shan, and this would be very difficult for someone in Siu-may’s condition. She could have asked someone to help her and push her special bicycle, but the ever strong-willed and independent Siu-may preferred to do things by herself. As for the steep hill, she took the long detour through Xinjie Kou near the center of the city, so that she would not have to depend on others.65
This situation did not last for long, “and after two or three semesters, the arthritis in her hands became worse, and she was in great pain, so she could not hold onto the handles of the bicycle. She tried steering with her wrists, but this was not safe and one time she almost got into a serious accident. And so she had to stop riding her four wheeler.”66
Still, her efforts in teaching at the Nanjing university campus left a deep impression on her students and colleagues:
When she returned to teach in 1975, she offered a course in rhetoric to advanced students. Her lectures demonstrated her wide knowledge and were rich in content, and the students liked her classes very much. The problem was that she could not stand at the lecture podium, and she had to teach sitting in a wheel chair. Moreover, at that time, classes in the department were all taught in the second floor of the teaching building, and there were many steps. And so the students took turns in carrying her up the stairs.67
Siu-may also developed an innovative and careful approach to teaching:
Students in her classes came from all over, from Shandong to Guangdong, as well as from Jiangsu, and they had differently accented Chinese. Siu-may resolved that she would only teach in English, and her students could only use English in class. This would avoid problems involved in asking questions in Chinese, and it would also create an English-speaking environment in the classroom. Kuo Siu-may had an unusual ability in creating a good teaching environment and guiding the students where they were. In her careful attention to teaching, she was always finding ways to improve. For example, she gave meticulous attention to correcting papers, and because her arthritis made writing more difficult than it would be for a normal person, it took her much time to grade the papers one at a time. When she returned the papers to students, her remarks were always crystal clear, and her writing clean and tidy. Moreover, because of the special conditions of the times, the students came to university at different levels and (p.215) with varying degrees of proficiency. But no matter what the students background, or how difficult or simple the questions they raised, she always responded patiently and without any annoyance.68
Her student An Ximeng (安希孟) has also written about her teaching.
She was in a wheelchair and the students had to wheel her into the classroom where she taught. But the students loved her lectures. This puzzles me, even today: there are many talented people at Nanjing University, so why would the students so love listening to lectures on the Bible as literature? But Nanjing University is Nanjing University. Most universities at that time would not offer courses on religion or the Bible. Even today, there are universities in China that do not offer courses on Christian literature, and they regard Christianity as something strange and foreign. But many students at Nanjing University take part in church services and sing Christian hymns, especially at Christmas and special choral events. This seems to be closely related to their study of foreign languages and literatures, and we regard it as a required part of our studies.69
This was related in some way to Siu-may’s teaching. From 1981, because of her worsening condition, she was no longer able to go in a wheelchair to teach on the university campus. “And so the students went to her home for their classes. … This special arrangement continued up until 1987. After this, [she no longer taught] and spent her time reading and writing in her home.”70
Siu-may wrote several books in English, including Venturing into the Bible (1989) and Journeying through the Bible (1990). The first book took selected passages from the Bible and offered a textual analysis alongside explanations from Chinese readers’ perspectives.71 Journeying through the Bible was in some ways a revised edition of the first book, taking out some of the long and difficult parts of the Old Testament and adding material from the New Testament. This
(p.216) second volume also added chapter and verse numbers of the relevant Biblical books, added more Chinese parallels, and included discussion of most of the New Testament.72
Siu-may described her purpose in writing Venturing into the Bible this way:
What prompts me to write this book on the Bible as literature for Chinese students is my growing awareness of the crying need for such a book on the part of Chinese learning English. During my thirty odd years of teaching at Nanjing University, I have often been approached with questions concerning the Bible—about the source of a quotation, the origin of an allusion, or the implication of an idiomatic expression. Indeed, one cannot turn a few pages of any essay or novel in English without encountering some Bible-related reference. Some of them, like “the apple of one’s eye” and “a thorn in the flesh,” appear so frequently even in our limited scope of reading that they have become part and parcel of our vocabulary. Some others, like “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and “new wine in old bottles,” have even found their way into the Chinese language.
However, it gradually dawned on me that the trouble lies not so much in what we know we do not know, as in what we do not know we do not know. A person just learning to skate usually does not fall as hard as one having just mastered the rudimentary skills of skating. Expressions like “the elder brother,” “the second mile,” “a still small voice,” “the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” and “writing on the wall” which may look simple enough to us, may prove to be pitfalls for students of English as a second language without any biblical background.73
She also describes the importance of her writing the book:
In a larger sense, it may be hard for us Chinese to realize the full impact of the Bible on Western culture and society as a whole. Every aspect of culture, indeed every facet of life in the West bears some marks from the Bible. Not to believe in Christianity is one thing, but to know the Bible which has been translated into more than a thousand languages and which remains to be the best of best sellers in many languages, including English, is entirely another matter. I feel it is not too much to say that the English Bible is a must to students of English. It is for my co-students of English that I write this book. It is to them that I dedicate it. I will be greatly gratified if some of them will find it of any use.74
Earlier, she had written a Chinese-English Handbook of Set Phrases (《漢英成語手冊》), collecting almost 3,000 set phrases (or proverbs) and offering English translations, parallels and notes as to their usage. For translators, this became a classic shorter reference work:75
There is a deep meaning in Chinese pictographs, as well as an artistic character. Chinese set phrases have many variations and hidden meanings which make them difficult for foreigners to understand or comprehend. … (p.217) And so it was not easy to complete the work on this dictionary. It was necessary to pay special attention to wording, taking careful note of the customary speech of the two languages, and expressing the true meaning which Chinese set phrases express only tacitly or implicitly. If we only do word for word translations, we miss the meaning, and the result is often humorous. For example, the set phrase which means “having a well thought out strategy” (胸有成竹) when translated literally becomes “there’s bamboo in the chest.” This is not only startling to the reader or listener, but also impossible to understand.76
Siu-may put painstaking effort into the compilation of this handbook, “offering future generations a book of enormous practical and reference value. Those involved in foreign affairs work who were called on to translate set phrases now had a highly serviceable and proficient tool. For foreigners, the handbook offered a remarkable way of truly understanding Chinese set phrases.”77
Siu-may also published A Practical English Rhetoric (《實用英語修辭學》), a text for third-and fourth-year university students and others with comparable levels of English. This book included examples of many common mistakes in student essays to help them avoid sounding “Chinglish,” by using more colloquial English expressions. It also helped students in the use of a variety of English styles of writing.78
As in all of her books, Siu-may’s aim was very practical and geared toward students’ real needs. They express her spirit and painstaking efforts in the later years of her life. Having gone through years of tumultuous political and social changes, she came into her own as an educator with a primary role as an Anglican-educated intellectual. Although her work was no longer directly related to the church, we can still see how, as a university professor, she continued to be influenced by her Anglican educational and church upbringing, and her experience in the early 1950s as principal of St. Mary’s Hall. At the same time, she made use of her English language skills to help K. H. Ting in his work, by helping him with his English writing and by presiding at their home as hostess when they received visitors and friends from home and abroad. Siu-may was much more outgoing than her husband, and she was well suited to this task. Her life was always connected with the church, however indirectly, and this explains the way in which we can understand Kuo Siu-may as an Anglican woman intellectual.
In this chapter I have offered an overview of Kuo Siu-may in three periods of her life and work. Her life reveals how the many-faceted lives of Anglican women intellectuals may be sketched to form a more complete picture. In addition to her Anglican background, her life as a priest’s wife, and her participation in the Chinese Christian movement, we should also stress the importance of her individual strength and charisma, which enabled her to come through a turbulent period of Chinese history and which helped form her as an Anglican woman intellectual with many talents.
The character and experience of Kuo Siu-may encapsulate the special sense of what it meant to be an Anglican woman intellectual. What needs to be emphasized is that the image of the Anglican woman intellectual lies in her social participation, not in her religious service. To put it another way, Siu-may’s work in society was an expression of her educational background, her marriage to K. H. Ting, and the process of development of the CHSKH and Chinese Christianity. She was educated at St. Mary’s Hall and St. John’s University and, in both places, she was encouraged in her consciousness as a woman intellectual, through which she developed a spirit of independence and freedom. This stayed with her all her life, and through this she further developed her gender consciousness. Even before her marriage, she took part in the YWCA, the Shanghai Student Union, and other social organizations. After her marriage, consciously or unconsciously, she was involved in serving the church as K. H. Ting’s wife, but she was also a Chinese intellectual in her own right.
With K. H. Ting she was part of the work of the WSCF, where she made her special contribution as a woman, serving as a women delegate to several international conferences during her time overseas. After returning to China in 1951, she became involved as K. H. Ting’s wife in the historical changes taking place in Chinese Christianity. Her role was somewhat different from single women who played similar roles, women such as Wu Yifang (吳貽芳, 1893–1985), Deng Yuzhi (鄧裕志, 1900–1996), and Lin Qiaozhi (林巧稚, 1901–1983).
Because of their marriage, Kuo Siu-may and K. H. Ting had to adjust to and submit to one another as a couple, but, at the same time, they supported and complemented one another and helped each other move forward. It is impossible to say whether, had he not been married to Kuo Siu-may, K. H. Ting’s life would have gone in a different direction. And though she was married, Kuo Siu-may still made significant achievements. She became the principal of St. Mary’s Girls’ School and later vice principal of No. 2 Middle School at a significant time of change. She became a professor at Nanjing University, a popular lecturer, and the author of several books. She entertained many international visitors in the Ting home. Although she was no longer involved directly in the (p.219) work of the church, she made her contribution to church and society as one who was formed by her Anglican faith and educational background.
Kuo Siu-may passed away on September 24, 1995. Her memorial service was held in Mochou Road Church, just a short distance from the home in which she had lived for most of her adult life. Bishop Ting’s colleague, Dr. Han Wenzao summarized her life using the Biblical text, “love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:8), which describes her own life as well as her husband’s theology.
In conclusion, it must be stressed that there were many Anglican women intellectuals like Kuo Siu-may who were not directly part of the religious work of the church but who, influenced by their Anglican background, were involved in politics, education, medicine, art, and other fields to make their own special contribution to society. In this way, they passed on a liberal Anglican spirit. Some of these women have been mentioned above. As a group, they should be included within a broader definition of the Anglican contribution to society. They in turn pressed the CHSKH and church members to make greater efforts in social participation. Kuo Siu-may was outstanding among them. They were Anglican insofar as they had been brought up in church schools, but, after 1949, they left their Anglican identity behind. And yet they continued to value their Anglican background. This case study should encourage further study of Anglican women intellectuals before 1949 and the roles they played in society after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
(1.) I am using the word Anglican as an equivalent to Episcopal, but either term would be appropriate. In Chinese, both terms are translated as 聖公會。
(2.) Kuo Siu-may, interview with Philip L. Wickeri, Nanjing, China, June 9, 1991.
(3.) 郭重梅：〈憶姐姐郭秀梅〉，載徐永初、陳瑾瑜主編，《追憶聖瑪利亞女校》（上海：同濟大學出版社，2014），頁40。 [Kuo Chongmei, “In Remembrance of Sister Kuo Siu-may,” in In Remembrance of St. Mary’s Hall, ed. Xu Yongchu and Chen Jinyu (Shanghai: Tongji University Press, 2014), 40.]
(5.) St. Mary’s Hall is the amalgamation of Emma Jones’ Girls’ School and Bridgman Memorial School for Girls established by the first American Episcopal Bishop William Jones Boone (1811–1864).
(7.) 汪槃：〈鳳〉，載徐永初、陳瑾瑜主編：《聖瑪利亞女校（1881–1952）》（上海：同濟大學出版社，2014），頁225。 [Wang Pan, “Phoenix,” in Xu and Chen, St. Mary’s Hall, 225.]
(p.220) (8.) 林美玫，《婦女與差傳：19世紀美國聖公會女傳教士在華差傳研究》（北京：社會科學文獻出版社，2011） ， 頁149、179、183。 [Lin Meimei, Women in Missiology: The Episcopal Women Missionaries and Their Evangelical Work in Nineteenth-Century China (Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, 2011), 149, 179, 183.]
(11.) 孔寶定、陳善明：〈一九三五級級史（節錄）〉，載徐永初、陳瑾瑜主編：《聖瑪利亞女校（1881–1952）》，頁258。 [Kong Baoding and Chen Shanming, “The History of the Graduates of 1935 (redact.),” in Xu and Chen, St. Mary’s Hall, 258.]
(14.) 龔普生：〈1932級龔普生1935年給母校的信〉，載徐永初、陳瑾瑜主編：《聖瑪利亞女校（1881–1952）》，頁269。 [Gong Pusheng, “The Graduate of 1932 Gong Pusheng’s Letter to Mother School in 1935,” in Xu and Chen, St. Mary’s Hall, 269.]
(15.) Philip L. Wickeri, Reconstructing Christianity in China: K. H. Ting and The Chinese Church (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2007), 53.
(16.) 熊月之、周武主編：《聖約翰大學史》（上海：上海人民出版社，2007），頁409。 [Xiong Yuezhi and Zhou Wu, eds., History of St. John’s University (Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Press, 2007), 409.]
(17.) 徐以驊：〈主編序〉，載徐以驊主編：《上海聖約翰大學（1879–1952）》（上海：上海人民出版社，2009），頁2。 [Xu Yihua, preface to St. John’s University, Shanghai (1879–1952), ed. Xu Yihua (Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Press, 2009), 2.]
(18.) 〈聖約翰大學自編校史稿〉，《檔案與史學》，1997年第1期，頁8。 [“History of St. John’s University Edited by the University Itself,” Archives and History 1 (1997): 8.]
(20.) 丁光訓：〈追憶母校生活〉，載徐以驊主編：《上海聖約翰大學（1879–1952）》，頁216。 [K. H. Ting, “In Remembrance of the Life in My Mother School,” in Xu, St. John’s University, Shanghai, 216.]
(22.) 馬佳：《愛釋真理—丁光訓傳》（香港：基督教文藝出版社，2006），頁279。 [Ma Jia, Discerning Truth through Love: Biography of K. H. Ting (Hong Kong: Chinese Christian Literature Council, 2006), 279.]
(24.) 李葵：〈憶郭秀梅校長〉，載徐永初、陳瑾瑜主編：《追憶聖瑪利亞女校》，頁262。 [Li Kui, “In Remembrance of President Kuo Siu-may,” in Xu and Chen, St. Mary’s Hall, 262.]
(28.) 丁光訓：〈女性、母性、神性〉，1986。 [K. H. Ting, “Femininity, Maternity, and Divinity,” 1986, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Archives.]
(30.) Kuo Siu-may, “Circular Letter,” January 7, 1947, Canadian SCM Archives.
(31.) Kuo Siu-may, interview with Philip L. Wickeri, Nanjing, China, June 9, 1991.
(35.) 梁冠霆：《留美青年的信仰追尋：北美中國基督教學生運動研究（1909–1951）》（上海：人民出版社，2010），頁18。 [Leung Koon Ting, American-Educated Chinese Youths and Their Quest for the Christian Faith: A Study of the Chinese Student Christian Movement in North America (1909–1951) (Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Press, 2010), 18.]
(39.) Paul T. K. Lin and Eileen Chen Lin, In the Eye of the China Storm: A Life between East and West (Montreal and Ithaca, NY: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011), 56.
(41.) Kuo, interview with Philip L. Wickeri, Nanjing, China, June 9, 1991.
(42.) 魏克利、魏愷貞：〈一位對普世神學有貢獻的中國神學家：《丁光訓文選前言》〉，王芃主編：《在愛中尋求真理》（北京：宗教文化出版社，2006），頁58、62。 [Philip L. Wickeri and Janice K. Wickeri, “A Chinese Contribution to Ecumenical Theology: Selected Writings of K. H. Ting,” in Seeking Truth in Love, ed. Wang Peng (Beijing: China Religious Culture, 2006), 58, 62.]
(43.) Philip L. Wickeri, ed., introduction to Christian Encounters with Chinese Culture: Essays on Anglican and Episcopal History in China (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2015), 17.
(56.) Chen Ruiwen, interview with Philip L. Wickeri, Hong Kong, June 29, 2015.
(57.) 丁光訓：〈懷念匡校長〉，《丁光訓文集》（南京：譯林出版社，1998），頁500。 [K. H. Ting, “In Remembrance of President Kuang,” in Selected Writings of K. H. Ting (Nanjing: Yinlin Press, 1998), 500.]
(69.) 安希孟：《為鹽做光，示範垂訓》， http://blog.ifeng.com/article/24695290.html ，2015年6月20日進入。 [An Ximeng, “To Be Salt and Light, to Be a Model,” http://blog.ifeng.com/article/24695290.html (accessed June 20, 2015.)]
(72.) 郭秀梅，〈前言〉，《聖經探索》（南京：南京大學出版社，1990），頁1。 [Kuo Siu-may, foreword to Journeying through the Bible (Nanjing: Nanjing University Press, 1990), 1.]
(73.) 郭秀梅，〈前言〉，《聖經淺析》（南京：南京大學出版社，1989），頁1。 [Kuo Siu-may, foreword to Venturing into the Bible (Nanjing: Nanjing University Press, 1989), 1.]
(75.) 郭秀梅主編：《漢英成語手册》（南京：江蘇人民出版社，1980）。 [Kuo Siu-may, ed., Chinese-English Handbook of Set Phrases (Nanjing: Jiangsu People’s Publishing House, 1980).]
(78.) 郭秀梅：〈前言〉，郭秀梅編著：《實用英語修辭學（英文）》（南京：江蘇人民出版社，1985），頁1。 [Kuo Siu-may, foreword to A Practical English Rhetoric, ed. Kuo Siu-may (Nanjing: Jiangsu People’s Publishing House, 1985), 1.]