Former General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) Rev. C.M Kao, a prominent Asian church leader and human rights advocate, passed away in the afternoon on 14 February, 2019.
A native of Tainan, Rev. Kao was born in 1929 and graduated from the Tainan Theological College and Seminary. He served as a minister at Taiwanese indigenous churches.
During his tenure as Principal of Yushan Seminary, he helped the seminary endure many difficult phases and it later became the only school founded for indigenous Taiwanese.
Dr. Mathews George Chunakara, General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia stated, “Rev. Kao had devoted his life to proclaiming the Gospel and practical applications of the Gospel message in every area he served. It was precisely for this reason that he was arrested and imprisoned for the values he struggled for, especially the protection of human rights and human dignity during the martial law period in Taiwan.”
Rev. Kao was arrested and imprisoned for more than four years by the martial law regime in 1980. The World Council of Churches had consistently advocated for his release during that time.
The CCA General Secretary recalled the bold initiatives Rev. Kao had taken based on his faith and witness; justifying his position against martial law in Taiwan in the 1970s, Rev. Kao wrote, “Looking at it from the point of view of Christian faith and ethics, if the Church’s life and human rights are violated, then (i) the Church cannot but contend vigorously for the truth of the Gospel and its own life, and (ii) also fight to protect God-given human rights, for the origin of human rights lies in man having been created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27)”.
Rev. Kao responded to the criticism against the position of the PCT while he was its General Secretary and when the Church produced a statement against authoritarianism and human rights violation by stating, “This kind of statement is not basically political, but is a confession of faith. It is like the Bremen Declaration of the Confessing Church in Germany under the Hitler regime, and, more recently, the statements issued by Churches in South Africa and Rhodesia”.
His efforts to promote social harmony and happy families inspired the city of Tainan to create “Happy Family Day” and promote healthier families. In 2012 he was awarded the prestigious “Outstanding Resident” award by the Tainan Government.
Recollecting her long years of close association and work with Rev. Kao, a mission co-worker with PCT Miss Carys Humphreys from Wales described her former colleague as “a dearest colleague, brother and friend; a precious friend and faithful, humble servant of God”.
The date of Rev. Kao’s funeral will be announced later by the General Assembly Office of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.