Barnsley planning for China influx
Published 18/01/2012 | 12:03
A plan to honour a British missionary who is virtually unknown in the UK could mean an unlikely influx of Chinese tourists to Barnsley.
James Hudson Taylor is not even a household name in the South Yorkshire town where he was born and preached in the 19th century.
But he is credited with taking Christianity to China and is revered by millions of Christians across Asia.
Now Barnsley's James Hudson Taylor Group is hoping to set up a trail in the town to recognise his work, and local businessmen believe it could become a place of pilgrimage for thousands of Chinese Christians.
John Foster, who runs a bakery in Barnsley, said it was incredible that Mr Hudson Taylor was such a noted figure in the Asia-Pacific region but virtually unknown in his home town.
"If you go round Barnsley and ask people about James Hudson Taylor, they'll know absolutely nothing," Mr Foster said.
"But he's probably Yorkshire's biggest export. He took Christianity to China and in the Asia-Pacific region there isn't a Christian who will not have heard of him."
Mr Foster said the group wants to put a series of plaques around the town to mark the places where Mr Hudson Taylor was born, lived and preached. And the revamped town museum is set to open later this year with a section on his achievements.
Mr Foster said a group of Chinese Christians were seen kissing the ground near the missionary's birthplace during a visit a few years ago.
The businessman said those at the inaugural meeting of the James Hudson Taylor Group last year were also amazed when they were interrupted by a New Zealander who had come halfway round the world to visit the Salem Chapel where Mr Hudson Taylor preached.