October 31 – Paul Shinji Sasaki and Philip Lindel Tsen, Bishop of Mid-Japan, and of Tokyo, 1946, Bishop of Honan, China, 1954

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http://www.nskk.org/ website of Nippon Sei Ko Kei  China's last Anglican bishop reflects on the future of the church in his country http://www.wfn.org/2000/12/msg00175.html 2000
Paul Shinji Sasaki


About this commemoration

Paul Sasaki was a bishop of Nippon Sei Ko Kei (a member church of the Anglican Communion), who was persecuted and imprisoned for his support of the independence of his church during the Second World War. Lindel Tsen was the principal leader of Chinese Anglicanism in the middle of the 20th century.

Nippon Sei Ko Kei had been established by missionaries from the Episcopal Church in 1859, with support following from the Church of England and the Anglican Church of Canada. Its founding was a turning point in the development of the Anglican Communion, as it was the first church not to be composed primarily of British expatriates. Because of its desire to be a national church devoted to Japan, it found the polity of the Episcopal Church to be an appropriate model. Its first bishops were elected in 1923.

Navigating its Christian mission in the Japanese context became more difficult as the Second World War approached and it became clear that Japan would be at war with the West. The Japanese government ordered all Christians into a “united church” regardless of differences in doctrine or polity. Roughly one third of the dioceses of Nippon Sei Ko Kei joined the new church, but Bishop Paul Sasaki, Bishop of Tokyo and later Primate, refused and inspired most of the church to stay together and faithful to their Anglican heritage. Sasaki was tortured and imprisoned for his actions, but after the war his witness was an inspiring rallying point for the rebuilding of the church. Many of the dioceses that had departed during the war returned.

Lindel Tsen was raised by Episcopal Church missionaries and after his ordination worked closely with Canadian missionaries in China. During the Sino-Japanese War he worked to sustain the people of his area and at the end of the war became the leader of the Chinese Anglican Church. Upon his return from the 1948 Lambeth Conference he was put under house arrest by the Communist authorities.


I  Almighty God, we offer thanks for the faith and witness of Paul Sasaki, bishop in the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, tortured and imprisoned by his government, and Philip Tsen, leader of the Chinese Anglican Church, arrested for his faith. We pray that all Church leaders oppressed by hostile governments may be delivered by thy mercy, and that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may be faithful to the Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

II  Almighty God, we thank you for the faith and witness of Paul Sasaki, bishop in the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, tortured and imprisoned by his government, and Philip Tsen, leader of the Chinese Anglican Church, arrested for his faith. We pray that all Church leaders oppressed by hostile governments may be delivered by your mercy, and that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may be faithful to the Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Psalm 20

Lessons:  Ezekiel 34:22–31, 1 Thessalonians 2:1–8, and Mark 4:26–32

Preface of All Saints

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

Also of interest

Website of Nippon Sei Ko Kei


China’s last Anglican bishop reflects on the future of the church in his country in 2000


We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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12 thoughts on “October 31 – Paul Shinji Sasaki and Philip Lindel Tsen, Bishop of Mid-Japan, and of Tokyo, 1946, Bishop of Honan, China, 1954

  1. Title: When commemorating multiple persons on the same day and with the same Proper might it be helpful to add a semi-colon between their titles? Example: Bishop of Mid-Japan, and of Tokyo, 1946; Bishop of Honan, China, 1954. I think that other commemorations would benefit from this punctuation. Editing note: The year ‘1954’ seems to be a ½ line extra below the previous line.

    Collect: This collect seems to include political language that is not usual for the collects of HWHM. Perhaps it is warranted, I don’t know. It just is very different from other collects in that regard. I suggest a re-write.

    Readings. All are very good choices, particularly the Hebrew reading and New Testament reading.

    Bio. 1st paragraph: Bishop Sasaki was born when? Bishop Tsen was born when?
    Both need a ‘He died in 1946.’ ‘He died in 1954.’ statement, respectively.

  2. The bio says Lindel Tsen, the collect says Philip Tsen. I gather from the heading that both are correct, but bio and collect should be consistent.

    ‘Arrested for his faith’ sounds a bit lame, frankly, especially when it’s house arrest. I’d omit the details specific to each of them and use the phrase ‘oppressed by hostile governments’ after both names, and then use some other phrase in the petition, eg ‘We pray that all those under attack for their faith may be delivered by your mercy’ etc etc.

  3. Interesting; I was informed not long ago by a priest that we weren’t supposed to seek to convert non-Christians to Christianity, but to respect and honor their beliefs, and that all religions were equally valid approaches to God. How he reconciled this with the Great Commission, I do not know.

  4. An appropriately misshapen feast for Halloween. People who share a date should have been colleagues in some great venture, but China and Japan are in fact different countries, with different cultures, histories, and peoples. If Nippon Sei Ko Kei followed this example, its calendar might include a feast of Sts. Patrick and Boniface, as the two were near-contemporaries and shared a mission to the Northern Europeans. What’s worse, the text devotes 248 words to Sasuki and only 81 to Tsen, suggesting that even HWHM doesn’t see the two as equals.
    These are two worthy inidividuals, but they need to have their own dates or be matched with more similar mates. How about Tsen with Eric Liddell, Samuel Schereschewski, and/or Lottie Moon, and Sasaki with Toyohiko Kagawa and/or the martyrs of Japan?
    The text honors both as builders, unifiers, and defenders of their respective churches, but the collect mentions only their imprisonments.
    As a lesser quibble, is it World War II or the Sino-Japanese War? The text has it both ways. “Sino-Japanese War” (particularly the “Second Sino-Japanese War” as it should be to distinguish it from the 1894-5 war) is a loaded term, which, for different and culturally specific reasons, neither the Japanese nor the Chinese use.

  5. Steve Lusk is correct. This commemoration links two individual who do not fit together. They both experienced political oppression but so did many of the persons commemorated in the calendar including yesterday’s commemoration of John Wycliffe.

    In the second paragraph, the phrase “with support following from” is awkward. May I suggest simply “support from” or “later support from”?

    In the fourth paragraph, I am confused by the term “Sino-Japanese War.” I assumed that writer was referring to the 1894-5 conflict, but that war does not fit the dates of Philip Lindel Tsen. Therefore the writer must be referring to the Second Sino-Japanese War, which Steve Lusk already pointed out is a culturally insensitive term. The information on Philip Lindel Tsen is so abreviated that one is left to wonder about why he is included in the liturgical calendar.

  6. This is not about our good Bishop above, but to thank you for including whatever available information you have on the painters, illustrators, etc., of the images used with these articles. With such inclusions, we get important indicators of the contemporary world of the people the church holds most dear. The clothing, backgrounds, whatever was stylistically “a la mode” for artists/photographers of the time, all add even a more compelling statement of the world these people lived in.

    Thank you very much! – Monte Mason

    • Some of the illustrations have come to us without any information about them, Alfred the Great the most recent one, I think.

      Someone in an earlier post said that the illustrations were just being added to the blog out of general interest and weren’t particularly significant (at least that’s what my fallible memory tells me), but if they’re being considered for inclusion in a future edition of HWHM, we should be paying more attention to them and commenting on their suitability. I personally enjoyed seeing the postage stamp that illustrated the Grenfell entry, for instance, but didn’t really think it the appropriate illustration for the commemoration.

  7. We should be given the dates of birth and death of both these men. Paul Sasaki was born in 1885, but we should be given the month and day. Likewise for Philip Lindel Tsen.

    Line 2 of paragraph 2: move “in 1859” up to line 1, following “established”.

    I question the accuracy of the second sentence in the second paragraph. I don’t believe the founders of The Episcopal Church would consider each other “expatriates” — being someone born in one country and living (usually, but not necessarily, temporally) in another. It would not be controversial to state something like “whose native tongue was other than English”.

    Line 9 of the third paragraph: substitute “resistance” for “actions”.

    • ‘I don’t believe the founders of The Episcopal Church would consider each other “expatriates” ‘—and even less ‘ex-patriots’, as Trinity Seminary’s magazine described some Americans working in Uganda a few years ago!

  8. Since the decision of the SCLM is not to list Prayer Book Holy Days for comment I guess if we have comments to make we shall just have to utilize the previous HWHM posting.

    So here goes …
    Re: All Saints’ Day

    Hebrew reading, Year B: The document that General Convention 2009 passed, Blue Book page 535, reads ‘Wisdom of Solomon 3: 1-9’. HWHM, page 663, however, does not. The NRSV titles the book Wisdom of Solomon. Which should it be? And, because General Convention 2009 passed one does that trump the other?

  9. October 31 – Paul Shinji Sasaki and Philip Lindel Tsen, Bishop of Mid-Japan, and of Tokyo, 1946, Bishop of Honan, China, 1954

    I came to this commemoration late, so 10 comments were already present before I read the write-up. Despite the significant and abundant suggestions I had seen, I was still unprepared to discover just how perfunctory and inadequate was the content of Bishop Tsen’s three sentences! That paragraph reads like a PS. It fails to mention anything specific about his ministry or his election. In the place that mentions his house arrest it fails to mention any alleged reason (was it for J-walking?), much less its significance for the trajectory of his ministry afterwards. I can’t tell if he died soon thereafter from loneliness and cabin fever or from old age many years later. If it can’t be greatly remediated this commemoration would be better served by eliminating this paragraph (and Bishop Tsen) from it altogether.

    The comments already shared by others are sorely needed here.

    About the collect, I have three comments. First, I don’t see that “Almighty” (as the attribute by which God is addressed) has much to do with the commemoration, as it should in a well conceived collect. Second, the collects seem to be captivated by the mistreatment of these individuals while being oblivious to their work on behalf of the kingdom of God and its goals. Third, the petition strikes me as half hostage negotiation (“we pray that all Church leaders oppressed by hostile governments may be delivered by your mercy”) with the other half being an unfocused (but legitimate) generalization about being good Christians (“ and that . . . we may be faithful to the Gospel….”). Probably because of this, there is no “ut” (or “so that”) clause of consequence, which is yet another standard and important feature of collects. [The “and that” is not a “so that” clause; it’s simply a petition for two separate things.]

  10. Following up on the issue of pictures. I’d like to suggest again that when the finished edition is made available there be a web resource with ilustrations that could be downloaded for free. I expect as churches incorparate HWHM they will do some teaching/introducing, and pictures, especially of the newly commemorated, would be helpful. Perhaps for some who lived or worked in more exotic places there could be maps?

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