Rev. Elias Tseng graduated from the Taiwan Theological College and Seminary with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Religion in 1995. He is recognized as the first openly gay pastor in Taiwan. In June, 1999, Rev. Elias Tseng was elected pastor of the Tong-Kwang Light House Presbyteran Church, an independent LGBT-affirming congregation in Taipei, Taiwan. Tseng succeeded the Rev. Yang Ya-hui who helped found this congregation in the summer of 1995. The congregation was first known as the Jonathan Fellowship. When the Fellowship changed its name to Tong-Kwang Church, Rev. Yang became its first pastor.
Rev. Elias Tseng led a blessing ceremony for four lesbian and one gay male couples at Tong-Kwang Church on October 22, 2000, as part of the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the founding of the congregation. This is considered the first religious blessing of gay/lesbian couples in Taiwan.
Rev. Elias Tseng was ordained on May 2, 2004, at the Ki-Kwang Presbyterian Church in a large, public ceremony. Four pastors from the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan participated in the laying on of hands. This ordination received widespread media coverage.
Under Rev. Tseng's leadership, Tong-Kwang Church grew from 20 to almost 100 members. The congregation's members are divided into geographical cell groups that meet regularly during the week. Rev. Tseng left his position at Tong-Kwang Church in May, 2006, to pursue a Ph.D. in theology. In November 2006, Rev. Tseng set up a new LGBT fellowship in Taipei, the Amazing Grace LGBT Fellowship.
(This biographical sketch written by Mark Bowman from news reports and from communications with Rev. Elias Tseng.)
Biography Date: January, 2007
Asian | Clergy Activist | International Human Rights | Taiwan