St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung was THE place to be this past weekend, as we all gathered ~ clergy and lay delegates from all over the Taiwan Episcopal Church ~ for our annual diocesan convention. Every year this major event is held on the first Friday and Saturday of March, and this year it was hosted by St. Paul’s Church. Last year the 57th annual convention was held a week earlier to fit in with the visit of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, and it was held in a very very wet, cold and windy Taipei. The weather was 100% miserable. We still had a wonderful time of course, and were inspired, challenged and encouraged by Presiding Bishop Michael’s sermons and sharing. But good weather we did not have!
But this year, wow, what a huge difference! We had sunshine and blue skies the whole time. And for Kaohsiung, hey, that’s quite something, given the major problems the city has with pollution and poor air quality ~ but there were no obvious problems on Friday March 2 and Saturday March 3. Sun ~ YES! Blue Sky – YES! High Temperatures – YES! Happy People – YES! And here we all are!
Furthest away – but almost first to arrive – was Rev. Justin J. M. Lin and the group from Trinity Church, Keelung, they had left at 5:00 am that morning to drive to Kaohsiung ~ and they arrived smiling away! And then nearest away, there was Rev. Richard R. C. Lee, who arrived from nearby St. Timothy’s Church on his bicycle…
We gathered from 9:00 am onwards in St. Paul’s Church for registration, organized by our very faithful and dedicated diocesan secretary, Mr Yang, and, as always, supported by his very cheerful and lovely wife, Yang Mama!
Bishop Lai had arrived the night before, along with our two VIP guests from the Episcopal Church, Canon Peter Ng (below left) and Rev. Canon Bruce Woodcock (below right). Peter has recently retired, and Bruce has taken over from Peter as ‘Partnership Officer for Asia and the Pacific’, based in New York. Actually, they had come to Taiwan a week earlier in order to visit some of our churches, and also St. John’s University. Bruce is no stranger to Taiwan though, as he visited us several times while he was working for the Church Pension Fund in years gone by. We were delighted to welcome Peter and Bruce, and really appreciate all their wisdom, advice, encouragement and support. Both spoke about how much they enjoy coming to visit us in Taiwan, where the Episcopal Church is so much like a family. And Bishop Lai presented them each with an Artillery Shell Cross (notice Rev. Peter Chen photo-bombing in the background!)….
Rev. Cheng Chen-Chang and the church members of St. Paul’s Church, led by Mr. Lee and Mr. Di, did an amazing job of organizing the practicalities of the convention, and together with other churches, they provided lots of yummy snacks during the refreshments breaks. Thank you! This is Mr. Di (left) and Mr. Lee (right) with the new St. Paul’s Church banner….
The opening service was held at St. Paul’s Church at 10:30 am. Each church had their own banner, and they all gathered with the clergy outside for the procession….
And so the service started….
After the sermon, we were delighted to welcome some of the children of the St. Paul’s Kindergarten who came in to sing a chorus. They were just so gorgeous!
And so the service continued with the confession, sharing of the peace and Holy Communion….
After the group photos outside, off we all went to a nearby hotel for lunch and then the start of all the official meetings. We had speeches, discussions, reports etc etc ~ which lasted for the rest of Friday…
We heard from Rev. Joseph M. L. Wu (below right) and Mr. Yang (below left) from St. Luke’s Church, Hualien, about their experiences in the recent earthquake and how they are helping out in supporting the local people as they recover and rebuild their lives, businesses and community…
We also heard about the purchase of a new building that, once remodeled, will become the new Christ Church, Chungli. And with Bishop Lai approaching mandatory retirement age (72 for bishops in the Episcopal Church) in 2 years time, Canon Peter Ng in his summing up spoke to the clergy of the diocese, telling them that one of them in due course would be elected as the new bishop, and exhorting them and the lay members of our churches to work together in unity to support each other in this process. This is a major item for prayer for the Taiwan Episcopal Church as we go forward.
On Saturday morning, we had a presentation from St. John’s University President Peter Herchang Ay, and more discussions, speeches, elections, summing up and prayers. Oh, and photos too. Photos galore!
After we concluded the formal proceedings, the Standing Committee met to decide on their next meeting…..
And so we finished with lunch on Saturday. And as it was Bishop Lai’s official birthday that day, so Mr. Di presented him with some tea, always Bishop Lai’s favourite!
Thanking God for a meaningful, thoughtful and stimulating convention. Please do pray for us all in the Taiwan Episcopal Church as we continue to minister to our congregations, and reach out to our communities to share the Gospel. To God be the glory!