'Universal Love' was the name given by Dr Porter Smith, the first lay medical missionary of the WMMS, to the Hospital he opened in Hankou in central China, one of the three cities on the Yangtzi River which today make up the conurbation of Wuhan. Begun in 1864, it was re-opened after a period of closure in 1887 by Dr Sydney Hodge, and in 1890 new buildings were added, erected with the personal money of David Hill. On the same compound the Women’s Auxiliary built a women’s hospital, opened in 1887 as the Jubilee Hospital. The two later came under a common administration as the Methodist General Hospital and there was a proposal to unite with the London Missionary Society’s hospital, keeping the two sites.
This did not materialize, but in 1928 a United School of Nursing was formed under the direction of a Wesley Deaconess, Sister Gladys Stephenson, while the LMS hospital becamepart of a joint venture, Union Hospital. Both survived the Japanese invasion and the civil war; after the enforced departure of the last missionary personnel, the hospitals were nationalised but the Chinese staff, many of them Christians, remained. The Methodist General Hospital was renamed ‘The Workers’ Hospital’ but its original name was not forgotten and eventually the Chinese characters for Universal Love were reinstated on the gateway.