Gospel Church, Kangding

Gospel Church,[a] today known as Kangding Christian Church,[b] is a Protestant church situated on Guangming Road, Kangding, a county-level city in Garzê Tibetan Prefecture, Sichuan Province. First built in 1905, on Yanhe West Road, by China Inland Mission missionaries,[1] the church was relocated to its present location in 1958.[2] It has been subjected to the control of the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Church since 1954.

Gospel Church
Kangding Christian Church
The original Gospel Church in 1939
Location44 Guangming Road, Kangding, Garzê Tibetan Prefecture, Sichuan (former church building situated on Shaanxi Street)
DenominationThree-Self Church (Protestant)
Previous denominationUnknown (belonging to China Inland Mission)
Founder(s)Cecil Polhill et al.
Functional statusActive
StyleSichuanese architecture (old church building)
Pseudo-Gothic (new church building)
Groundbreaking1905 (old church building)
1995 (new church building)


Robert Cunningham, the Leith-born CIM missionary who had served as pastor for thirty-five years in the Gospel Church.
Survey of China Inland Mission's mission work in Tatsienlu, published in 1913.

In 1897, five missionaries of the China Inland Mission (CIM), including Cecil Polhill, began work in Kangding (then known as Tatsienlu, Tachienlu, or Dartsedo in Tibetan), making it a base for work in Tibet.[3][4]

In 1905, James Huston Edgar (1872–1936), an Australian-born New Zealand CIM missionary,[5] arrived in Kangding and established the traditional Sichuanese-style Gospel Church.[4][6] Apart from a vertical board [fr] inscribed with its name — Gospel Church (福音講堂, lit.'Gospel Lecture Hall' or 'Lecture Hall for Evangelisation'), the building is hardly distinguished from any Buddhist or Taoist temple at the time.

Two years later (1907), Robert Cunningham (1883–1942), a Scottish ex-gymnast turned missionary, was sent to Kangding by CIM as Edgar's assistant, who was going to serve as the pastor of the church until his death in 1942. 'Even the Archbishop of Canterbury can not dwell in contemplation and prayer day and night', Cunningham introduced some Western games to the Tibetans, tiddlywinks, ludo, halma and snap, the remit is to 'evangelise in an entertaining way'. He also published numerous articles on the study of Khams Tibet in The West China Missionary News and Journal of the West China Border Research Society.[4]

After the communist takeover of China in 1949, Christian Churches in China were forced to sever their ties with respective overseas Churches, which has thus led to the merging of Gospel Church into the communist-established Three-Self Patriotic Church. In 1958, the church was relocated to its present location. The old church building was demolished shortly after, in order to support a city construction project.[1][6]

In 1995, Gospel Church was rebuilt with white bricks in a pseudo-Gothic style, and renamed Kangding Christian Church.[1] It is quite a humble building surrounded by residential blocks. Apart from its gable topped by a cross, the church could be easily overlooked.

See also



  1. ^ Chinese: 福音堂; pinyin: Fúyīn táng; Wade–Giles: Fu2-yin1 tʽang2; Sichuanese romanization: Fu5 In1 Tʽang2.
  2. ^ Chinese: 康定基督教堂; pinyin: Kāngdìng Jīdū jiàotáng; Sichuanese romanization: Kʽang1-tin4 Chi1-tu5-chiao4-tʽang2.


  1. ^ a b c Dai, Yuetan (22 September 2016). "四川省甘孜州康定基督教堂简介" [An Introduction to the Kangding Christian Church at Garzê Prefecture]. gospeltimes.cn (in Simplified Chinese). Archived from the original on 16 May 2021. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  2. ^ Nyima, Gyatso (25 December 2016). "这个平安夜,听康定教堂的钟声——甘孜行纪之四" [Listening to the Sound of Church Bells in Kangding This Christmas Eve—The Fourth Journey to Garzê]. media.tibet.cn (in Simplified Chinese). Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  3. ^ Zi, Yu (2017). "A Description of CIM Missionary Workers to the Tibetan Highlands Prior to 1950". omf.org. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Zhu, Yaling (2015). "传教士顾福安及其康藏研究" [The Missionary Robert Cunningham and His Tibetan Studies of the Khams Area] (PDF). 藏学学刊 [Journal of Tibetology] (in Simplified Chinese) (1). Chengdu: Center for Tibetan Studies of Sichuan University: 192–196. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  5. ^ Kyong-McClain, Jeff (2013). "Missionary archaeology on Republican China's southwestern frontier" (PDF). The Newsletter (65). Leiden: International Institute for Asian Studies. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  6. ^ a b "探访西康④——康定:汉藏边地的贸易城市" [Visiting Kham 4—Kangding: A Trading City on the Sino-Tibetan Border]. news.sina.com.cn (in Simplified Chinese). 30 April 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2021.