Paul Jefferies was born 7th October 1915 in Littleborough, Lancashire, and died 19th April 2002 in Sheffield, aged 86. He was driven by three loves: Love of the Christian gospel, love of art, and love of all things Chinese. When still a schoolboy he cycled the 300 miles from Newcastle to London to view the temporary exhibition of Chinese art that was then thrilling England. Paul studied fine art, and became a schoolteacher.
In 1942, having trained for the Methodist ministry at Wesley House, Cambridge, Paul set out for China with the British Methodist Missionary Society and was catapulted into the Sino-Japanese War. At Lingling, having supervised many evacuees, he became one himself, travelling through and serving in Kunming, Weining, and Chaotung, where he was ordained on 14th January 1945. He served the South West China Synod, at Chaotung, and Wanhsien. Hostilities over, he returned to Changsha, then a brief spell in Hankow, and finally Ping-Jiang circuit (Hunan.) In 1946 in Changsha, he met a Methodist missionary, Stella Griffiths and two years later they married. The Red Army arrived in 1949 and Paul (and his wife and baby daughter Susan) were evacuated to Hong Kong.
Drawn by Paul’s wife immediately after their marriage in 1948
In 1952 Paul was invited to return to Hong Kong, to work with the refugees flooding into the colony from the mainland. It was the start of 14 years of ministry based at Kowloon Methodist Church. Fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin, Paul was concerned that the Christian church should teach theology in Cantonese to its emerging Chinese leadership. He became variously co-founder, lecturer, tutor and dean of the college that is now the Divinity School of Chung Chi College, part of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Paul worked tirelessly for the Hong Kong church for 14 years, returning to Britain in 1966.
Clerical Gathering at Kowloon Methodist Church, Hong Kong. Paul is second on the left in the back row.
Wesley House has been teaching its students the theology of Christian servant leadership for nearly a century. No-one epitomises this theology more than Paul Jefferies himself. He never sought the centre of the stage, his name on plaques, or mention in reports and tributes. He was content to do what he could for the gospel of Christ through the agency of the Methodist Church. His obituary in the Chung Chi Theology Division newsletter of 2003 says of him, ‘Paul was quiet, painstaking, infinitely gentle and courteous, shy, hesitant, deeply private and utterly humble. He concerned himself little with the future and less with the past. Today’s joys and sorrows and a rock-like confidence in what God’s morrow might bring were sufficient for him.’
THE PAUL JEFFERIES SCHOLARSHIP
The Paul Jefferies Scholarship has been created in his memory.