‘I have heard about Your Faith’. Easter Lee, Taiwan’s’ first Women Pastor.  

Recently I was asked to speak at a World Day of Prayer meeting here in South Wales (formally Women’s World Day of prayer). The chosen theme was prepared by the Christian women of Taiwan called ‘I have heard about Your Faith’. I was excited about joining because Taiwan is close to my homeland in Austrial-Asia, and as an Australian, I meet a lot of Taiwanese folks. The following is the talk I gave about inspirational women of faith. I hope it may encourage you to follow what God Has called you to despite the odds.

I read about this lovely woman in the Taipei Times article last year.

Easter Lee was born to a Buddhist fishing family in today’s Shezidao area. Her mother contracted tetanus when she was pregnant with Lee and sought treatment at the nearby Mackay Clinic in Tamsui, where she was introduced to Christianity.

After recovering, she attended Canadian missionary William Gauld’s services and eventually, the entire family converted to Christianity before Easter Lee’s birth.

Per the common custom then, Lee was betrothed when she was 11. She still received an education, enrolling at age 15 in the missionary-run nursing program at Tamsui Girls’ School. But after a financial setback to the family, her mother asked her to drop out so that they could afford to send her younger brother to a teacher’s college.

Lee recalls asking why they favoured her brother’s education. Her mother replied: “Even if our daughter is well-educated, she’ll eventually marry, have children, and become part of another person’s family. That is not the case with sons, and we hope you can accept our arrangement.”

Lee begged them to let her finish the semester and even contemplated suicide if they refused. However parents eventually relented, and she worked at Mackay Memorial Hospital for a few years until her “vision from God” set her on a different course. It’s unclear how she got out of her arranged marriage, but she says in her biography that it felt like she regained her freedom.

Easter Lee, the Young Woman 

Still bitter about nearly having to give up her schooling for her younger brother, the ambitious 18-year-old cancelled her arranged marriage, attended seminary school abroad and became Taiwan’s first female Pastor. Easter got this idea when an apparition appeared in a vision telling Easter Lee to build a seminary, which was nearly impossible to meet for a woman born in 1909 to a modest family with 22 children. But with God, nothing is impossible.

Easter Lee completed theology classes while working as a nurse and “prayed day and night” for the chance to study abroad. It finally happened in 1934 when the church recommended her to today’s China Bible Seminary in Shanghai, an all-women institution.

Upon graduating in 1936, Lee served as a missionary in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, until the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out the following year. She was jailed under suspicion of spying for the Japanese. She headed to British Malaya after the English Presbyterian Mission negotiated her release and returned home in 1941.

Ironically, she was also imprisoned for several months by the Japanese after her return for collaborating with Western powers due to her work sheltering widows, children, and other disadvantaged people at the Tamsui mission.


Easter Lee helped establish the Qianjin Presbyterian Church in Kaohsiung in 1946 and served there when an anti-government uprising that was violently suppressed — broke out the following year. She turned the church into a temporary clinic for the many wounded and helped to retrieve dead bodies and conduct burials because men were afraid to go outside.

Easter Lee made history when Tainan Theological College and Seminary president W. E. Montgomery ordained her into the church.

 According to a National Museum of Taiwan History entry, many religious leaders initially disapproved of Lee due to her gender. Still, she proved to be a charismatic speaker who quickly attracted a following with her “gentle, warm but magnetic” sermon style. By the time Lee moved on in 1954 to focus on her seminary, the church had expanded to Siaogang and boasted over 500 members.

Easter Lee started at Tao-sheng seminary in 1953 with temporary headquarters at the Qianjin church. She moved the school to Taipei the following year, and after several moves, it was established on its current grounds in Beitou District.

In 1957, she established the Yuanping Dawson Presbyterian Church in Taipei’s Dadaocheng area. The distinct building was erected in 1937 by Taiwanese followers of the Japan Holiness Church, and Lee raised funds to renovate it after World War II.

Lee only got busier over the years, handling pastoral duties at Taipei’s Christian New Life Mission for several years. She expanded the Tao-sheng brand in 1974, opening seven directly affiliated churches during that decade.

In 1953, she fulfilled her promise by founding today’s Tao-sheng Theological Seminary. She sought to advance women’s education and rights through the school’s institutions while tackling social problems such as the often-abusive foster daughter system.

 After moving the seminary to Taipei, she started her quest to build 100 churches with the launch of the Yuanping Dawson Presbyterian Church in 1957. She founded seven more Tao-sheng-affiliated churches during the 1970s.


Lee’s mission was cut short in 1989 by a stroke that left her bedridden for the last eight years, leaving her unable to speak.

The grand-nephew Lee writes that the family knew of his grand-aunt’s wishes to open an assisted living centre. Despite the project stalling for over a decade, it finally happened in 2011 when her family donated her savings to help her fulfil one more goal by opening the Dao Sheng Assisted Living Facility 2011 on the seminary grounds.

As for her dream to build 100 churches? “That’s the tougher one, and we can only do our best,” Lee Jen-hao writes.

Easter Lee, Taiwan’s’ first women Pastor, a woman of great Faith in Christ, went home to be with her Lord in 1997. 

Thank you for visiting me here; I hope this post was helpful. 

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Remember to live life on purpose, in Hope. Faith and Love 

Paula Rose Parish💕 

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