The Nantou County Cultural Heritage Association has discovered artifacts that have been kept at Ailan Presbyterian Church in Nantou County’s Puli Township (埔里) for more than a century.
Established in 1871, the church in Ailan Borough (愛蘭) is the oldest in Puli.
It was one of the first churches to be established in Taiwan after Christian missionaries arrived in 1865, pastor Chen Ching-en (陳清恩) said.
Photo courtesy of Liang Chih-chung
At the time, the area was inhabited by the Pazeh people, and church data show that in late December 1871, the entire community converted to Christianity, he said.
Among the artifacts preserved by the church is an account of the donations it received from 1910 to 1913, said association chairman Liang Chih-chung (梁志忠), who discovered them while surveying religious establishments.
Parishioners made donations to repair the church, which was called Wuniulan Chapel (烏牛欄禮拜堂) at the time, he said.
Photo: Chen Feng-li, Taipei Times
The records show that many Pazeh people were surnamed Pan (潘), and some had names as long as five or six characters, he said.
In the church’s possession is also a passbook that tracked funds donated by parishioners toward the construction of new buildings, he said.
By 1949, the church had saved more than 200,000 Old Taiwan dollars, he said, adding that it withdrew 80,000 dollars on June 13, 1949, leaving 120,000 dollars in the account.
However, just two days later, the passbook was stamped with words indicating that every 40,000 Old Taiwan dollars would be exchanged for NT$1, turning the church’s savings into NT$3, he said.
The passbook is a witness to the history of rapid devaluation of the Old Taiwan dollar after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government issued the New Taiwan dollar, he said.
When the church was established, Taiwanese society valued men more than women, and women’s level of education was generally low, Chen said.
However, many Pazeh women in the area attended Chang Jung Girls’ High School in Tainan and many returned to teach at Ailan Elementary School upon graduation, he added.
This story has been amended since it was first published to correct the dates.
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