- MacKay, George Leslie
- (1844-1901)pioneering Presbyterian missionary in TaiwanGeorge Leslie MacKay was born on March 21, 1844, in Zorra township near Woodstock, Ontario, where his parents had moved from Scotland. He attended Ontario Teachers' College in Toronto and began teaching school, but feeling a call to be a missionary, he dropped his work to attend Knox College (1865-68) and Princeton Theological Seminary (1868-71).MacKay applied to the Mission Board of the Presbyterian Church of Canada and was chosen to be their first foreign missionary. He left for China in 1871. He visited the missionary center along the China coast, but decided to begin work in Taiwan (then called Formosa). Since the American Presbyterians were active in the south, he moved to the northern part of the island and settled in Tamsui, one of four ports that had been opened to foreigners in 1860.He learned Taiwanese and began preaching, assisted by a young scholar and convert named Hoa. The first five Christians were baptized in 1873. Though not a physician, he learned enough medical skills to assist many people, and eventually opened a clinic. He became quite expert at extracting teeth, and reported pulling more than 20,000 in his first 20 years. Concerned about his inability to reach female Taiwanese, he decided to marry a Taiwanese woman as a means of identifying with his flock. In May 1878, he married Chang Tsung-Ming ("Minnie"). His wife became an assistant whose work brought immediate results.Other missionaries came from Canada to assist him, but most lasted only a few years in the climate. MacKay began training local assistants. With money raised on his furlough in Canada in 1880, he began what became MacKay Memorial Hospital, now a large institution. Two years later, he founded what became Tam Kang High School and Taiwan Theological Seminary. In 1884, he opened the first school for girls in Taiwan.At the end of 1893, MacKay returned home for a second furlough, when he was elected moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Canada (1894). He returned to Taiwan in 1895, where he died on June 2, 1901. MacKay oversaw the construction of some 60 chapels and raised up the most significant Protestant work in northern Taiwan prior to the entry of the hundreds of thousands of refugees from China following the Chinese Revolution.See also China: Taiwan.Further reading:■ George Leslie MacKay, From Far Formosa: The Island, Its People, and Mission, ed. by J. A. MacDonald (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1896)■ R. P. Mackay, Life of George Leslie Mackay, D.D. 1884-1901 (Toronto: Board of Foreign Missions, 1913)■ George A. Malcolm, The Christian Layman in Formosa - One Hundred Years of Christian Witness (Toronto: Toronto School of Graduate Studies, Knox College, Toronto, M.Th. thesis, 1965)■ Keith Marian, [pseudonym of Mary Esther MacGregor], The Black-Bearded Barbarian (New York: Missionary Education Movement of the United States and Canada, 1912).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.