The First Chinese Pastor of the Anglican Church of Canada: George Lim Yuen

The First Chinese Pastor of the Anglican Church of Canada: George Lim Yuen (Lin Ran) (1882-1967)

George Lim Yuen was born in 1882 in Xinhui County, Guangdong, China. He arrived in Victoria, BC, on March 9, 1897, where he first worked at a salmon cannery on Lulu Island and later as a houseboy for an English teacher.

Lim came to the Christian faith around 1905 and was baptized by Dr. Tucker. He was considering opening a restaurant with a friend, when he was approached by the Church of England in Canada, Diocese of New Westminster, to serve the church. Subsequently, in 1907, he began to teach Bible classes in Vancouver’s Chinatown and served as a Chinese catechist under the Christ Church vestry. He was hired as a Catechist with a salary of $300 for 10 months.

Lim received a solid theological education at the Anglican Latimer Hall from 1911-1915. He was described as being a “genuine Christian, perfect gentleman, finest disposition, enthusiastic temperament, hard worker” (Latimer Hall Record of Progress) Latimer Hall was incorporated in 1911 with a strong evangelical orientation, paralleling that of Wycliffe College in Toronto. It was clearly stated that the college should be “inspired and guided by missionary motives and ideals,” for the training of candidates for ministry, including native pastors of Indian, Chinese, and Japanese origins, and to promote missionary interest and effort. (Bishop Latimer College 1909-1910; Correspondence)

Lim was presented to the Bishop of New Westminster for ordination to the diaconate, as the Superintendent of the Chinese mission, on Trinity Sunday (Synod Journal, 1914). Enormously successful, an average of 55 men attended evening classes and 40 attended the Wednesday weekly prayer meeting. (Appendix K, “Report of the Chinese Mission,” Synod Journal, 1914) He was ordained to the priesthood May 13, 1920.

The Chinese Mission of the Good Shepherd, Vancouver, was led by Lim from 1914-1920. During that period, he taught evening Bible classes, led worship services, did street preaching, planned Christmas outreach functions, and made visitations. In the summer months, he regularly met with Chinese workers at the canneries.

From 1924, the Church sent Lim to Vernon, BC, to redevelop the Anglican Good Angel Mission and to work with Chinese farm labourers in the surrounding district. In 1943, he moved to Victoria to be a missionary priest at the Mission of Good Hope and he spent his retirement years as an honourary priest at Christ Church of China, Vancouver. Lim went to be with the Lord on May 7, 1967.

Reference Sources/ Contributor:

Bishop Latimer College, 1909-1910; Correspondences and Student Record Book. Anglican Church Archives at Vancouver School of Theology.

Journal of the 29th to 36th Session of the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster, 1911-1919. Anglican Church Archives at Vancouver School of Theology.

Lin, Paul T.K. with Eileen Chen Lin. In the Eye of the China Storm: A Life Between East and West (McGill Queens University Press, 2011, Montreal)

Correspondence of Lin, Paul T.K. (1946-48), Archives of the Chinese Students’ Christian Association in North America, Box 2, folder 25, at Yale Divinity School.

McLean, Cynthia, China church /missions historian, Narrative Editor for Paul T. K. Lin’s memoir In the Eye of the China Storm: A Life Between East & West.

林佐然 (1882-1967): 加拿大聖公會首位華人牧師 [中譯文]







geoge_lim_001Students and Staff at Latimer Hall, about 1912-13. Used by permission, courtesy of Anglican Church of Canada Archives.

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