My first glimpse of our destination, as we rattled along a dusty road from the railway station, was the red-tiled roof of a windowed octagonal construction rising above the dark green of tall juniper trees.
As life at Weihsien developed that tower and the cruciform building that supports it has become the centre around which many vivid impressions cluster. Originally built as the Church for the large Christian community that has grown up around this flourishing mission station, this building has served our camp in more ways of special significance to our life than any other structure.
First it was our church in which different Christian groups worshipped. Who can forget the Catholic services of the early months, with five bishops on the platform and an audience of hundreds of priests and nuns, trained in chanting the mass; or the meetings at which our Weihsien Christian Fellowship was born; and those in which it has worshipped or the beauty and worshipfulness of Bishop Scott’s leading of Anglican services.
But soon we needed a hall for concerts, dramatics and other types of recreation and the Church became an Assembly Hall. It was used as a go-down for the baggage of the American evacuees, and there they were inspected before their release.
Nine months later the same building became a prison in which nine of us spent nine days of confinement under strict supervision night and day, while the camp expressed it’s concern for us with daily service of food and visits from afar off.
Once more a go-down when the International Red Cross parcels arrived. It will be remembered as the scene where, with carefully planned efficiency, these same parcels and other gifts of shoes, clothing etc, were distributed to grateful and eager recipients.
Many will remember the funeral and memorial services held in our Hall, especially that in memory of President Franklin Roosevelt.
Through worship, through music, through drama, through dancing given in the Assembly Hall there have come, during our stay in Weihsien, many moments of spiritual uplift and stimulating inspiration, helping us to keep sane and steady.