Taiwan in the Modern World: The Protestant Community on Modern Taiwan

Also meeting that Sunday morning was a unique indigenous Chinese church body little understood by the larger Protestant community—the Assembly Hall Church (Difang Hui). This church body was founded on the mainland in the 1920s by a dynamic Chinese evangelist Watchman Ni (Ni Shuzu), who organized it along the lines of the Exclusive Brethren, a British church that Ni had come to know through a missionary friend. In 1946, a member of this church came to Taiwan and, in 1948, Witness Li, one of Ni’s assistants, moved to the island to expand the work. Li wanted to plant a church that would be free to operate even as the home church on the mainland was losing much of its autonomy. The Assembly Hall Church in Taiwan had grown and prospered, then faltered, but was now, in the summer of 1987, experiencing a surge of growth and expansion. The service that was held at the church center in downtown Taibei, just blocks from the monument and park built in honor of Jiang Jieshi, was a typical Assembly Hall service. There was no pastor in charge, no rigid liturgical order, no sermon, and no hymns sung. Instead of a logical sequence to the service, spontaneity pervaded. People read from the scriptures or gave personal witness, and responses of “amen” echoed throughout the congregation. The idea was to let the Holy Spirit enter whichever individual He chose. Anyone so touched—so possessed—would then respond to the Holy Spirit’s direction and His power. What occurred to me as I watched and listened was the simple fact that the structured patterns of worship, which I had seen in the other churches over the course of that weekend and in the years I had studied the church community in Taiwan, were alien to the religiosity practiced and experienced here.

Rubinstein, Murray A. Taiwan in the Modern World: The Protestant Community on Modern Taiwan. New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1991: 7-8.