The Diocese of Taiwan office in central Taipei now has a newly-dedicated conference room, all newly-painted, and with new furniture – especially beautiful new chairs in bright blue, green and orange. So comfortable and so bright! Stimulating colours – to stimulate minds and hearts! All meetings, discussions and seminars held there from now on will be helped along by sitting in such wonderful chairs!
The money to do all this was kindly donated by the son and daughter of the late Bishop James T. M. Pong 龐德明主教 (Bishop of Taiwan 1971-79) in loving memory of their father, and they came to Taiwan especially for the dedication service on Monday November 30 (St. Andrew’s Day). What a great day it was! So many of us gathered at the diocesan office for the service and dedication ceremony, including Bishop Lai and Mrs. Lily Lai, Canon Chancellor Herbert Ma and Mrs. Aline Ma, diocesan secretary Mr. Yang and Mrs. Yang, Rev. Michael Liou and Mrs. Grace Liou, plus church members from all over northern Taiwan, some of whom had known Bishop Pong personally.
Bishop Pong’s son, Prof. David Pong, currently Master at Choi Kai Yau College, University of Macau, came along with his wife, Barbara and his sister Rachel. It was Rachel who had accompanied their amazing mother, Mrs. Lily Pong, to visit Taiwan maybe 5 years ago when Mrs. Pong was a very spritely 99-year-old! During the dedication service, Rachel recounted that visit and how they had traveled all over Taiwan meeting so many church members and friends, and what a great time they had had. Mrs. Pong died about 2 years ago, and this is the first time Rachel, David and Barbara have come to Taiwan together to visit the diocese and their parents’ old home. How wonderful it was for us to meet them!
Our beloved diocesan historian, Prof. Mei-Mei Lin, who is based in Hualien, came to Taipei especially for the occasion ~ here she is, meeting the Pongs in the diocesan library, just before the event. Prof. Mei-Mei has just published a paper on Bishop Pong, and the diocese printed 50 copies in honour of this special occasion.
A bit of background: Bishop Pong was born in 1911, brought up in Hong Kong, and studied at St. John’s University in Shanghai. After some years teaching in Lingnan, Guangdong, the political upheaval in China at that time became unbearable for him and his family, and they left for Hong Kong in early 1951. It was then that he received his call to serve God in full-time ministry. He was soon ordained deacon and was then sent to the UK, where he served as a curate in Hull and was ordained priest in York Minster in 1952. He even represented the Chinese Church at the Queen’s Coronation Service the following year. Then back to Hong Kong, and in 1971, he was elected Bishop of Taiwan.
During the dedication service on Monday, Bishop Lai shared in his sermon about the influence of Bishop Pong on his own life – ordaining him as priest in 1975 – and his influence on the diocese. His words were echoed by Canon Chancellor Ma, who also shared about his personal friendship with Bishop Pong. Bishop Pong’s passion and focus on education led to many clergy at the time (including Bishop Lai and Rev. Michael Liou) being sent to Ireland for further study and church experience. Bishop Pong also encouraged the churches in Taiwan to start and develop kindergarten ministries. And it was during Bishop Pong’s time, in 1973, that Taiwan received the first – and until now, the only visit from an Archbishop of Canterbury, when Archbishop Michael Ramsey and his wife popped in to visit. ‘Popped in’ is the appropriate word since they never actually left the Taoyuan Airport ~ and instead, Bishop Pong and some of the senior clergy were invited into the airport to meet up!
And so to the Officiating Ceremony of the Dedication Service for the ‘Bishop James T. M. Pong Memorial Conference Room’! What a wonderful occasion, all of us squeezed into the main entrance of the diocesan office for the service and unveiling of the official plaque….
And no ceremony would be complete without a group photo ~ for which the paparazzi (all 3 of us!) had to climb up a big ladder and perch up there clicking away!
A wonderful service, and we all came home with commemorative mugs and boxes of refreshments for the journey…..
Thanking God for the life and witness of Bishop James Pong and Mrs. Lily Pong, and for the continuing support for the Diocese of Taiwan of the Pong family!
And of course we’re now all looking forward to all those meetings we can attend in the new conference room ~ sitting on those very AMAZING chairs!