page's material was written by Ms. Joann
Hill, Henry's daughter. Stella helped give Amoy its reputation
as the "Isle of Music!"
Also see Amoy Vignettes by Dr. Girard Veenschoten:
This page's material was written by Ms. Joann Hill, Henry's daughter. Stella helped give Amoy its reputation as the "Isle of Music!"
Also see Amoy Vignettes by Dr. Girard Veenschoten:
Stella Elda Girard was born March 14,1892. She was raised in Pigeon Michigan, of working class parents. Har mother, of English stock, a was staunch member of the Methodist Church. Her father, a French Canadian and Roman Catholic, worked for the Pere Marquette Railroad. At an early age she showed an intense interest in music. By the age of thirteen she was teaching piano to pay for her own instrument and her piano lessons. Using free rail passes she traveled to study music with teachers in Bay City and Saginaw. After high school Stella moved with her parents to Holland, Michigan where she was active in the Methodist Church serving as soprano soloist in the church choir. She continued teaching piano. She also played piano for the silent movies at the local theater and sang at weddings and funerals. (Joann Hill daughter, story to Beth Marcus Nov.1989 )
During his student days at Western Theological Seminary in Holland Michigan, Nelson (H. M. Veenschoten) got to know Stella when he ¡°janitored¡± at the Methodist Church and heard her sing in their choir. Following his graduation from seminary in May 1917, Stella Girard married newly ordained Rev. H M Veenschoten. After three months of speaking in RCA congregations as well as getting to know Nelson¡¯s relatives in Iowa, the couple left for China as career missionaries of the Reformed Church. Their three children, Girard,Elin and Joann were all born in the Hope and Wilhelmina Mission Hospital at Kulangsu [Gulangyu] Amoy[Xiamen], Fukien Province, China.
Following two years
of language study, the Veenschotens were assigned to Changchow [Zhangzhou]
where Stella became involved in the music programs of various local churches
and the girls and boys elementary mission schools. This latter involvement
soon shifted to Talmage College, a high school for boys, and to Chin-Tek,
a high school for girls, where she had major responsibility for the music
program for many years.
One of her students, Tan Sun-Hua, was coached by Stella for the London Royal College of Music examinations and won a music scholarship to the University of Shanghai. Later Sun-Hua served as director of music for the Christian Radio Broadcasting Company in Hong Kong.
Stella became a resource person for all church choirs in Changchow, and for several in Amoy as well. She conducted combined choirs on a number of occasions. During the thirties Stella served as consultant working very closely with Miss Tena Holkeboer at the Iok -Tek Girls Middle School in Kulangsu [Gulangyu] Amoy developing a strong music curriculum. Near the end of the thirties she commuted regularly between Changchow and Kulangsu¡ªa distance of thirty miles¡ªto teach and coach students. The trip by bus and launch was rough and long, necessitating a stay of several days at Iok -Tek each week. In addition to private lessons Stella prepared the students for concerts and the performance of operettas at the school.
Largely as a result of her ministry in music, church music came of age in South Fukien [Fujian], especially in the large towns and cities, principally through the students and choirs she had trained. Her students moved throughout southeast Asia taking with them Stella¡¯ s vision of ministry in music for the church. Several of her students were missionary children, all of whom came to love music. Some became church soloists or choir directors and one became a professional musician.
In 1951 all Christian missionaries were forced to leave mainland China as a result of the Communist takeover. The Veenschotens moved to the Philippines, one of the countries where Amoy Christians had migrated. There she found many of her former students active in school and church music. Thus she was able to continue the ministry of music in the Philippines in schools and churches, but primarily as music director for Amoy Chinese Temple Time broadcasts She arranged hymns for male quartets and worked with Chinese young people training and directing, singing and playing for the radio broadcasts.
After the Communists took over mainland China, the Amoy speaking Chinese congregations in the Philippines were no longer able to get new hymnals. A group of Christians from the Chinese United Evangelical Church in Manila decided to print copies locally. Those of the group who were involved in that congregation¡¯s music program were also working with Mrs. Veenschoten on other music projects. They asked her to serve as music editor for the 1955 Revised Edition of the Amoy Chinese Hymnal. She revised the musical notation, searched out tune and author sources, and made other changes such as rewriting some hymns in lower keys for easier singing.
Stella Veenschoten had no reference library at her disposal. All she had was an extensive collection of hymnbooks. It was not unusual to find her working intently at her piano surrounded by books in the early morning hours. The work of authenticating sources was arduous and time consuming, but for this missionary it was a labor of love and a measure of the dedication she had given for forty years to spread the gospel among the Amoy Chinese people.
After the Veenschotens retired from missionary service in 1957, they returned to Manila for an additional year in order to hand over the Amoy Chinese Temple Time broadcast responsibilities to a group of young Chinese Christians who had earlier been working extensively with them. Immediately after their return to the United States in 1958, they lived for a time in Baldwin, Michigan where their son Girard was in medical practice. A few years later they moved to Byron Center. Michigan to be near their daughter Elin. These were family years, providing opportunities for time with their grandchildren.
Stella died on August
14, 1962 ten days after their daughter Joann
and her husband Dr. Jack Hill and
children returned to Michigan on furlough from Cebu, Philippines. Stella
had a long life of service to Christ and his church, and loving influence
in the lives of her children and grandchildren.
Fujian Guides Quanzhou Zhangzhou Longyan Wuyi Mtn Ningde Sanming Zhouning Taimu Mtn. Roundhouses Bridges Jiangxi Guilin Order Books Readers' Letters New: Amoy Vampires! Google Search
Last Updated: October 2007Back to Top
really clicked "China?" :)
Back to Top
You really clicked "China?" :) Back to Top