June 11-17, 2012
PCC and PCT celebrate partnership with a new book series on George Mackay
Reported by Sam Lee, Lin Yi-ying
Written by Lydia Ma
If you are curious about what Taiwanese society was like at the end of the 19th century, you might want to browse a newly published book called “The Life of George Leslie Mackay in North Formosa, 1868-1901”. This book is the first of a 5-volume series based on 5 micro-films containing 7,000 hand-written letters from Rev. George Leslie Mackay to the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s (PCC) General Assembly from the years 1868 until 1923. The micro-films were brought to Taiwan in 2009 and they are currently being transcribed by Louise Gamble, a retired PCC missionary who came to Taiwan as a volunteer.
A news conference regarding the publication of this book was held on June 6, 2012 at the PCT General Assembly Office, attended by PCT General Assembly Vice-Clerk, Cheng Wen-jen, who is also the Moderator of the North Synod, and PCT Associate General Secretary Lyim Hong-tiong, Tamkang High School Principal Yao Tsung-jung, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to Yao, these micro-films were gifts from the United Church of Canada Archives Office to Tamkang University in 2009. It was Yao who first spotted them during a trip to Canada at that time and the work of transcribing began in March of 2011 by Louise Gamble.
“I am very grateful for the privilege of sorting out Mackay’s letters. I hope that my work will benefit Taiwan because Mackay’s letters are helpful resources in understanding Taiwan’s history and they are first-hand accounts. I hope that more people will get involved in this project in the future and translate them into Mandarin so that Taiwanese can better understand their own history,” said Gamble.
When sharing her experience working on this project, Gamble said that she thought the task of transcribing Mackay’s letters was a simple at first, but it grew progressively more difficult toward the end because Mackay was often ill. As result, he was easily excited or angered and his hand-writing became increasingly illegible. Furthermore, Mackay would sometimes use Taiwanese when writing his letters, which prompted Gamble to start learning Taiwanese herself in order to understand Mackay’s letters.
Though most people nowadays remember Mackay for contributions to Taiwan as a medical missionary, But Louise Gamble said that what impressed her the most about Mackay was that he never sought to build an empire for himself in Taiwan. Instead, he set his sight on training Taiwanese people to take over his work as a missionary doctor. Furthermore, Mackay was never prejudiced against indigenous tribes and got along well with both natives and non-natives.
Just as the press conference was being held in Taipei, PCT General Secretary Andrew Chang was invited to attend and give a report at PCC’s 138th General Assembly Annual Convention held in Canada. Chang expressed gratitude on behalf of the PCT to the PCC for sending Mackay as a missionary to Taiwan. He also named a few Canadian missionaries who contributed greatly to evangelism in Taiwan, including PCC missionary Rev. Paul McLean and his son, who were involved in the translation of the Hakka Bible published earlier this year. Chang also gave thanks to the PCC for its financial support in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot, especially in the permanent housing projects at Changjhih Lily Center.
For more coverage of PCT and PCC’s partnership, visit PCT’s website:
Photo by Lin Yi-ying