BYU Church History Symposium: Early beginnings of the Church in Taiwan

The Taipei, Taiwan, temple, pictured above, is a physical example of the extensive history  of the Church in Taiwan. (Photo courtesy of Mormon Newsroom).
The temple pictured above in Taipei, Taiwan, is a physical example of the extensive history of the Church in Taiwan. (Photo courtesy of Mormon Newsroom)

The BYU Church History Symposium discussed the global reach of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 6.

John Hilton, an associate professor of ancient scripture at BYU, discussed the early beginnings of the Church in Taiwan, encompassing the years 1956–1959.

“1624 is the year when the first Christian missionaries most likely arrived in Taiwan along with early Dutch explorers,” Hilton said.

But soon the Chinese took power, forced the Dutch out of the country and outlawed Christian proselyting in Taiwan. Treaties in 1858 allowed Christians back into parts of the country. Ninety-eight years later, the first four LDS missionaries arrived in Taiwan to share the restored gospel, according to Hilton.

“On April 27, 1957, the missionaries performed their first baptism in Taiwan,” Hilton said.

But the missionaries faced many challenges up until that time. There were language barriers; a fatal accident claimed one of the missionaries; and movements were tracked by government agents. A rigorous teaching program was also established by the mission president, according to Hilton.

“The teaching program included 17 lessons to be taught before baptism, followed by an additional 20 lessons to be taught after baptism,” Hilton said.

But despite all of the struggles and opposition, the Church greatly expanded throughout Taiwan.

“Between January of 1958 and June of 1959, six additional cities were opened for the preaching of the gospel,” Hilton said.

Hilton said the pattern of Church growth in Taiwan can be applied to other countries.

“It is encouraging to see such areas of history being covered for Taiwan and Asia,” said Tyler Thorsted, who was among the Symposium audience. He said it would be hard for a person to find such a history of the Church in Asia at stores.

Adam Mears

Adam is studying public relations at BYU and plans to graduate July 2015.

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