True Sunshine Church has been in the Chinese community for 95 years. Because the Chinese community in San Francisco has always been one of immigrants and their offspring, there are particular needs of people and families in a strange land. Adaptation and making a living are tasks certainly made more difficult by having to learn a new language, new customs, and culture. Evangelism among such people, bringing them the Christian message of salvation through works of love has been and will always be the mandate of True Sunshine. Being almost right in the heart of the Chinese community, the parish faces all the hard challenges of an inner city church; however, that is where all the action is. The history of True Sunshine tells the story of these challenges and how they were met. It is a rich missionary field and the harvest can be plentiful.
Planting of the first seeds and early harvest (1905-1944)
The Episcopal Church began evangelical work among the Chinese in this diocese in the mid 1850's. It began to bear fruit by the turn of the century when Deaconess Emma Drant came to San Francisco and organized a Chinese worshiping group in 1905 and established True Sunshine, the first Chinese Episcopal mission in San Francisco. The original location was at 966 Clay Street in San Francisco's Chinatown. Deaconess Drant had worked in Hawaii. She knew that in order to become an effective worker among the Chinese, she had to learn Cantonese. For several years, while in Honolulu, before coming to San Francisco, she employed a young man, Wu Gee Ching, as her tutor, and she in return taught him English. Wu Gee Ching was anti-Christian when they first met. During their association, he was converted and was baptized, taking the Christian name, Daniel. He is now known as Daniel Gee Ching Wu. This faithful, inspired convert was to be the key to the success of Emma Drant's work.
The 1906 earthquake and fire played a crucial role in the life of True Sunshine, San Francisco and Oakland. After the disaster, many San Francisco residents, including many Chinese, moved to Oakland. Consequently, the work of the church moved with them, and a mission was begun across the bay. At this time, Deaconess Drant needed help, and in 1907, Daniel G. C. Wu answered her call to come to San Francisco from Hawaii. Although still a layman, he took on the task of running the mission in San Francisco, firmly establishing the one in Oakland, and ministering to both congregations. Not long after Daniel Wu's arrival, Deaconess Drant left to do work in the East, leaving him the burden of both missions. Aspiring to become an ordained priest, he studied at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific while attending to his lay ministry. After graduation in 1912, he was ordained and became the vicar of both missions, which were already thriving as a result of his work.
Ministering to Chinese immigrants was a major part of Father Wu's work. At True Sunshine, he established a Chinese language school for children, and evening English classes for new arrivals from China, many of which he met at the docks and the immigration station at Angel Island. There were also sewing classes for women led by Mrs. Wu. Father Wu also established the same programs at True Sunshine, Oakland. This mission was subsequently renamed Our Saviour. For 36 years, he bore the burden of caring for both congregations. He had many lay coworkers, and together, they brought many into the church. To accommodate a larger congregation and providing for a larger vicarage, the Clay Street building was expanded during his tenure.
At the time of Father Wu's retirement in 1944, The Rev. Clarence Lee was called from Canada to serve as vicar. He remained until 1955. During his tenure, there was growth of the congregation and expansion of the young people's fellowship. Plans were being made for enlarging the Clay Street facilities, which was on a large lot, with space for a playground.
|This is slightly modified from The Colors of Diversity, a Diocese
of California publication, by Vincent Jang. The Original author is Dr. Raymond Lee, of