Why Hospital in Chiang Rai Named “Overbrook Hospital” ?

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Overbrook Hospital in the past , Credit : mulimchiangmai.net

Overbrook Hospital in the past , Credit : mulimchiangmai.net

I have a friend who asked me about a name of one hospital in Chiang Rai province “Hi man! I have wondered for long time ago why they named one hospital in Chiang Rai as Overbooked Hospital?, is there are a lot of patients and caused “over booked” situation?

Nooooo! come on guy, I think you ‘ve heard something totally wrong about this hospital name. This Hospital is “Overbrook Hospital”, here is history of this hospital.

The history goes back to 1895, when our church was just five or six years old. Our congregation collected funds to send a missionary named William Harris to Chiang Rai. At the time, it took him two months to get from New York to Bangkok, then another two months traveling by houseboat and elephant to get to Chiang Rai.

Two years later, a medical missionary named Dr. William A. Briggs felt the call to establish a hospital in Chiang Rai. The people of Overbrook Presbyterian Church were very generous in supporting the project, and as a result the hospital came to be known as “Overbrook Hospital.”

Church at "Jang Salee intersection" also designed by Dr.Briggs ,Credit : Chiangraifocus

Church at “Jang Salee intersection” also designed by Dr.Briggs ,Credit : Chiangraifocus

About “Overbrook Presbyterian Church”

The beginnings of Overbrook Presbyterian Church go back to 1888, when a group of twenty-three souls came together in the living room of Wistar Morris, a Quaker gentleman farmer who lived on what is now the campus of Friends’ Central School. Together, they began to dream of establishing a Presbyterian church in the area, so that Scotch-Irish immigrants who worked on his farm would have a place of their own to worship.

The following year, they built a little English Gothic chapel at the intersection of two dirt roads—which would later become City and Lancaster Avenues—for the grand sum of $14,767.

Overbrook was at that time a country church. But it did not stay that way for long. Philadelphia was a growing city. The surrounding neighborhood of Overbrook Farms was developed in the 1890s, as the first planned community on the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Many of the new residents moving into the neighborhood found their way to Overbrook Presbyterian Church.

The church began to grow in numbers, and in 1905 the chapel was expanded to create a larger sanctuary which is still in use today. Other building additions were soon constructed to serve the growing congregation and its many programs.

Overbrook was also growing in mission and outreach. In 1903, the church established a hospital in a remote part of what was then called Siam, a place that few from here had ever visited before, but that they felt connected to out of Christian compassion. That hospital is still there today in Chiang Rai, Thailand, and is called Overbrook Hospital.

Dr.William A. Briggs , Credit : Chiangmaimuslim.net

Dr.William A. Briggs , Credit : Chiangmaimuslim.net

The longest-serving pastor in Overbrook’s history was George Emerson Barnes, who served from 1922 to 1948, and helped see the congregation through the Great Depression and World War II. He was very active in the ecumenical movement, and was instrumental in the founding of the World Council of Churches.

During the pastorate of Robert T. Williamson, from 1959 to 1970, the church felt the call to start a weekday preschool. It began with just a handful of students, but today has an enrollment of 150, and enjoys a reputation as one of the finest preschools in the area.

Since that time, Overbrook has grown more diverse, and more committed to urban ministry. David McMillan, pastor from 1983 to 2001, helped Overbrook to begin to see itself not so much as “the first church on the Main Line,” but rather “the last church in the city.”

In recent years, Overbrook has been blessed with renewed growth and vitality, and is discovering a new identity as a multicultural congregation. More than 120 years since its founding, our church is continuing its important ministry “at the crossroads.”

The old buildings have been preserved to the present day.

The old buildings have been preserved to the present day.

Over the following decades, the church continued to support the hospital in various ways. We sent money. Children packed boxes full of medical supplies. Women sewed bandages. In 1950, the church even bought an ambulance and sent it over to Thailand.

Overbrook Hospital is today a large, modern, full-service hospital that handles everything from dentistry to neurosurgery. It occupies a campus of several buildings, including the original one



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One Response

  1. James