Henry was born in Souderton, PA, 1858. After graduation from high school he studied at Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA, graduating in 1882. He attended First Church and became a member in April, 1879. While still in college he served as assistant pastor at First Church where he met and fell in love with Miss Ella Dodge, a member of the congregation. They were married on December 17, 1884. Having felt the call to ordained ministry Henry attended Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, NJ and graduated in 1885. Henry felt sure that God was urging him to the mission field. Working with the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church he accepted an assignment to Korea. Ella was a devout Christian and became an eager partner in the common call to cross the sea to serve Christ. Following ordination in February 1885, they set sail for Korea, landing there on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1885. Their first child, Alice, was born in Korea on November 9, 1885. She was thought to be the first white child born in Korea. Her blue eyes and blond hair were an oddity to Koreans who came to love her.
Henry began working on the missionary compound upon their arrival and soon after founded Pai Chai Hakdang Boys School, translated, “Hall for Rearing Useful Men,” which ultimately became Pai Chai University in Daejeon, Korea (left, campus monument). Today the university has more than 14,000 students with five colleges and a graduate school. Henry also founded the Chung Dong First Methodist Church in Seoul (below, right) and served as its pastor from 1887 until his death in 1902. This Methodist Church continues its ministry today in a much larger building attached to the structure Appenzeller built in the 1890s with an impressive range of programs and ministries and a congregation of more than 5,000 persons. Henry was also a leader in translating the Bible and other literature into Korean.
Henry Gerhart Appenzeller lost his life in 1902 at age forty-four when the Japanese ship on which he was a passenger sank after colliding with another vessel. He was drowned while helping a young female passenger. It was shocking news for Ella who at the time was living in Lancaster where their four children were receiving their education. Henry ‘s body was never recovered. A cenotaph in his honor was erected at the Yanghwajin Foreigners’ Cemetery, Seoul, South Korea.