Alice was the first child of Ella and Henry. She was born on November 9, 1885 in Korea. She had three siblings, Henry, Ida, and Mary. Alice was sixteen when her father died. Ella and the children had returned to Lancaster where they were being educated. Alice completed high school and graduated from Wellesley College in 1909. She taught school in Lancaster until 1914 and in 1915 was commissioned a missionary teacher by the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and assigned to Ewha Kindergarten School where she taught. While she was on furlough in the USA in 1921 she earned a Master’s degree in education and later went back to Korea to continue working with young girls in high school and then young women at Ewha College.
From these primitive beginnings, begun in 1886, Ewha Woman’s University (below) became a reality and was the primary focus of Alice’s ministry. She was the university’s second president from 1922 until 1939. She stepped aside when Dr. Helen Kim, an Ewha alumna, assumed the presidency. Dr. Kim was the first Korean to secure the position and was a celebrated international educator and leader. Today, Ewha is perhaps the largest women’s university in the world.
Alice was committed to helping women obtain an education with a democratic and Christian perspective. Her whole life was given to the task her father and mother had begun – making Jesus Christ a living reality in Korea. A group of First Church Lancaster women organized an Alice Appenzeller Circle and helped to support her work for many years.
Alice Appenzeller (monument below, right) was much loved and known for her warm personality and generosity. She received numerous honors during her lifetime. Leading worship in the Ewha chapel on the evening of February 20, 1950 she suffered afatal cerebral hemorrhage. Her death was the occasion for national mourning.
For many years thereafter First Church has observed “Appenzeller Sunday” to remember the ministry of the Appenzeller family. The most recent building renovation included a chapel which was dedicated to the memory of the Appenzellers. The rapid growth of Christian churches in Korea is attributed to early missionaries like the Appenzellers who took their ministry to Korea in the 19th century and beyond.