George A. Hood was born in 1917 in Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England. He was educated at the Royal Grammar School and later won a scholarship to study at Balliol College, Oxford where he graduated in history in 1938.
He received his theological training at Westminster College, Cambridge (1938-1941) followed by missionary training at the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) World Mission at Selly Oak, Birmingham. To further equip himself to be a missionary in China, he studied the Chinese language at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London and also worked on a church extension programme. In 1943, he married Elizabeth M. James, who was herself the daughter and grand-daughter of missionaries who had served in Chaozhao (Chao’an) in China since 1869.
Hood served in Chaozhou in Guangdong province from 1945 to 1950 and then in Singapore and Malaya (later Malaysia) from 1951 to 1972. He was a theology teacher and pastor and oversaw work in the rural and urban areas of Chaozhou. Between 1949 and 1953, there was a large-scale expulsion of British Protestant missionaries, resulting in only 20 left by the end of 1950. As a result, Hood and his wife Elizabeth left China for Malaya. His book, Neither a Bang nor a Whimper: End of a Missionary Era in China, provided a detailed narrative and judicial assessment of the exodus of the British Protestant mission which began with the arrival of Robert Morrison, pioneer Protestant missionary to China, in 1807.
In Malaya, he was a member of the Singapore-Malaysia Presbyterian Church before it split into the Presbyterian Church of Singapore and the Presbyterian Church of Malaysia. In February 1952, the English Presbyterian Mission appointed Hood as the resident moderator of Holy Light Presbyterian Church in Johor Bahru, one of the oldest Presbyterian churches in Malaysia.
The church had been founded in 1886 by Reverend John Angus Bethune Cook – the first Presbyterian missionary to Johor. It was built with the help of Dato' James Meldrum, a Scotsman and committed Christian who owned a sawmill in Johor and who provided the materials and labour. Meldrum helped the church to obtain the land at Jalan Gertak Merah from the then sultan of Johor, Sultan Abu Bakar. Meldrum's father-in-law, the Reverend Benjamin Keasberry, had been a tutor to the sultan.
Hood revived the English services which had stopped in 1908 after the death of Meldrum, who had greatly assisted Reverend Cook. The English services catered to the British civil servants and servicemen based in Johor Bahru while the Chinese (Teochew) worship services were for the locals. After Meldrum's death, the Sunday services were conducted entirely in Chinese as Cook had to take care of other congregations and the preachers who followed him were mostly from mainland China and often conducted services in Teochew, the local dialect.
From 1952 to 1973, Hood conducted the English services with the help of foreign missionaries as they could not find an Asian to serve as pastor. In December 1973, Nicholas Yeo Kok Peng became a preacher in the English service. Yeo, who was then 31 years old, was a former school teacher and a graduate of the Singapore Bible College.
Hood who could speak fluent Teochew, Mandarin and English served both the English and Chinese-speaking Presbyterian churches in Malaysia for 21 years. His main role in Malaysia was to promote mission work, and develop the church-planting and evangelism programmes. In addition to being a minister, Hood was a scholar and researcher for the Conference of British Missionary Societies before returning home to England in 1972.
However, there was no retirement for Hood as he was appointed East Asia secretary of the Council for World Mission (1972-1977). From 1977 to 1982, he taught at the BMS department of mission in Selly Oak, Birmingham, where he had his earlier missionary training. In 1985, he received his PhD degree from the University of Birmingham.
His PhD thesis was published as a book in 1986 by publisher Verlag Peter Lang. It was titled Mission Accomplished? The English Presbyterian Mission in Lingtung, South China: A Study of the Interplay Between Mission Methods and Their Historical Context. The book provides detailed background of Lingtung, a village in China, drawing on both historical records and Hood's personal experience as a missionary in China.
After a life dedicated to mission, research and writing, Hood died on January 9, 2013 at the age of 95, survived by his wife and children.
- ^ "George Hood Papers", Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh, https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/1d10479c-7430-3502-adc0-4819906c3c19, accessed August 6, 2021.
- ^ "George Hood Papers", Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh, https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/1d10479c-7430-3502-adc0-4819906c3c19, accessed February 19, 2002.
- ^ “Holy Light Church”, http://jbmal.blogspot.com/2014/09/holy-light-church.html, accessed February 19, 2022.
- ^ “Holy Light Church”, http://jbmal.blogspot.com/2014/09/holy-light-church.html.
- ^ “State’s longest serving pastor retires”, New Straits Times, October 2, 2009, http://www.kairos2.com/on_my_pastor.htm.
George A. Hood, Missionary of the Presbyterian Church of England in China and Malaysia: Papers 1948-1980. Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World, University of Edinburgh.
Hood, George A. Neither a Bang nor a Whimper: End Of A Missionary Era In China. Presbyterian Church in Singapore: 1st ed, January 1, 1991.