Since I arrived back in Taiwan in January, I’ve been busy putting together the latest edition of the Diocese of Taiwan Friendship Magazine, containing articles, reports, news of our churches and testimonies. It was published online on March 1. It is big – 48 pages, so grab a coffee, sit back and relax, and read it gradually over the next few days. There’s some fascinating articles ~ and lots of photos!
Canon Chancellor Professor Herbert Ma passed away on December 20, 2022, and his Memorial Service was held on Saturday, February 11, 2023, at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Mrs. Aline Ma, who died on June 18, 2022.
Professor Ma was a well-known figure in Taiwan, having taught law at National Taiwan University (NTU) for 52 years and at Soochow University for over 40 years, served as a Grand Justice of the Constitutional Court for 12 years and as a member of the Examination Yuan for 10 years. He was also visiting professor at many overseas universities, including Beijing, Washington (Seattle), Columbia (New York City), UBC (Vancouver), Paris, Hong Kong and Vienna, and spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard, all adding to his professional skills and reputation.
At 9:00 am on Saturday, a Memorial Ceremony was held at St. John’s Cathedral. Just before the event started, the Very Rev. Philip L. F. Lin, Dean of St. John’s Cathedral brought the family together for prayer…
The ceremony was attended by many of Professor Ma’s former colleagues and representatives from different government departments and universities. A Presidential Citation was read out from the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen. The flower arrangements at the main entrance to the cathedral were sent by President Tsai and vice-president of Taiwan, Lai Ching-Te. Flower arrangments lined the walls of the cathedral as well as the entrance, each from a different institution or individual known to Professor Ma.
On behalf of the national government, Dr. Weng Yueh-sheng 翁岳生, President of the Judicial Yuan 1999-2007, presented the national flag to Professor Ma’s son, Mason, in honor of Professor Ma’s great service to the country. The national flag would normally be placed on the coffin, but as Professor Ma was cremated, so the flag was presented to the family.
Former President of Taiwan (2008-2016) and former student of Professor Ma, Ma Ying-Jeou 馬英九, gave a short speech sharing his memories and showing his appreciation. The ceremony then continued as names were read out, and different groups paid their respects by bowing 3 times towards Professor Ma’s urn in front of the altar. The ceremony ended when everyone had had their turn to pay their respects.
Outside his professional life, Professor Ma played a major role in the development of the Taiwan Episcopal Church from its very earliest days until today, and his role was marked and appreciated by all those who attended his Memorial Service, starting at 11:00 am. The video of the service is here…
Professor Ma was the first chancellor of the Diocese of Taiwan, charged with the responsibility of overseeing legal affairs in the diocese. For over 15 years he also served as Chair of the Diocesan Standing Committee, and on many occasions as a diocesan delegate to the General Convention in the USA. To many church members, Professor Herbert Ma’s name became synonymous with the Taiwan Episcopal Church itself; the two were so closely associated for so long.
St. John’s Cathedral was full for the Memorial Service, with about 220 people in attendance, including nearly all the Taiwan Episcopal Church clergy, who had spent the previous 2 days on retreat together. Those who could not fit into the cathedral watched the live stream from the cathedral meeting rooms. The music was led by the cathedral choir, including a wonderful solo from Mr. Yang, who worked alongside Professor Ma as diocesan secretary for many years. Bishop Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang gave the sermon, followed by tributes, including a very moving one from Bishop David J. H. Lai. Bishop Lai worked closely with Professor Ma as his diocesan chancellor throughout his time as Bishop of Taiwan from 2001-2020. Bishop Lai shared that a few days after Professor Ma’s death, he had a very special dream in which he saw an angel leading Professor Ma by the hand into the gates of heaven. Bishop Lai recalled how in September 2015, a few months before Professor Ma’s 90th birthday, he formally appointed Professor Ma as ‘Canon Chancellor’ of the Diocese of Taiwan in recognition for his sixty years of faithful service to the Taiwan Episcopal Church.
There was also a tribute from a former student, and a lovely one from Professor Ma’s daughter Vera, who shared some wonderful memories of her beloved father. Vera had also shared a moving tribute at her mother’s memorial service in August. This was followed by a video presentation showing photos of Professor Ma’s life with commentary from Professor Ma’s eldest daughter Gabrielle. Professor Ma’s love of music included a video of him in his retirement playing his favourite hymn on the piano, ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus’, which we then all sang together. The final hymn was ‘Thine be the Glory’. After the final hymn, everyone was invited to take some orchid flowers and line up along the nave to lay them around Professor Ma’s urn and bow towards the family. Everyone was given a Memorial Book to take home, in which many had shared their written tributes and photos of Professor Ma.
Professor Ma’s ID card states that he was born on November 27, 1926, although this is the date according to the lunar calendar, which was the one commonly used at the time; on other official data (such as Wikipedia), his birth date is registered according to the western calendar as December 31, 1926. Every year on his lunar birthday, Mrs. Ma would make a birthday cake for her husband. The date Professor Ma died, December 20, 2022 was actually his birthday according to the lunar calendar, and his family smile at the thought that Mrs. Ma would have a cake ready to welcome him into heaven!
Professor Ma was born in Hankou City 漢口, in the Hubei Province 湖北省 of China, one of the 5 main cities in China at the time, into a family with a long history of serving the country in the legal field. The Qing Dynasty was the last imperial dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912, and during that time, the county magistrate held judicial, administrative and political power. Both Professor Ma’s grandfathers held this position, his paternal grandfather in Henan Province 河南省, and his maternal grandfather in Jiangsu Province 江蘇省. In 1911, the final year of the Qing Dynasty, Professor Ma’s father, Ma Shou-Hwa 馬壽華 (1893-1977) graduated from the Henan Law and Political Academy (one of 5 modern Chinese Law Schools at the time), and in 1912 he became one of the very first judges of the newly-formed Republic of China, serving among other posts as Prosecutor General in Hankou, where Professor Ma was born. He was also well-known for his great talent as a calligrapher and painter, especially portraying bamboo. His beautiful works of art are in the National Palace Museum collections in both Taipei and Beijing, also in the Taipei National Historical Museum, as well as in pride of place in the Ma family home.
Professor Ma’s mother came from a very large extended family, surnamed Wang. Born in the same year as her husband, they married at age 18 and spent the rest of their lives together; they even died in the same year, only 8 months apart. It is interesting that history has repeated itself, and Professor and Mrs. Ma both died in the same year, 2022, only six months apart. Professor Ma’s mother was well-loved, with a very kind and caring personality, eager to help the poor and disadvantaged, and later helped to bring many of her family and relatives out of Communist China in the 1940’s to Taiwan. While Professor Ma’s father worked in Hankou, Nanjing and Shanghai, his mother settled with their children in the former French Concession area of Shanghai, which was an English-speaking community. While schooling was heavily in Chinese Classics, Professor Ma had years of private tutoring in the English language. Being bilingual was a great asset to Professor Ma throughout his professional, academic and church life, and a great help to the Taiwan Episcopal Church in its development.
The young Professor Ma studied in the Department of Law at Fudan University, Shanghai, but the 1930’s and 40’s were a period of great turmoil due to the war with Japan and then the Chinese Civil War. In 1947 the Ma family (his parents, older sister with her husband and children, Professor Ma and his younger sister) came to Taiwan following Wei Tao-Ming 魏道明, the first civilian Governor of Taiwan Province (1947–1949). Professor Ma’s father first served as a commissioner of the Taiwan Provincial Government and later as Chief Justice of the Administrative Court after the Central Government moved to Taiwan. Professor Ma was in his third year of Fudan University and managed to transfer to National Taiwan University Department of Law, from where he graduated in 1950 with the best score in his class. He was therefore retained on the law faculty of the university immediately on graduation, thus laying a firm foundation for his distinguished academic career that followed.
Professor Ma’s father was a classical Confucian scholar and placed great emphasis on the Chinese tradition of ancestor worship. Apart from Professor Ma’s brother-in-law, who had been baptized in China, the family’s first direct contact with Christianity came through neighbors in Taipei who had also arrived from China and were members of the Episcopal Church. The neighbors met at home for worship. The family worship services were led by a pastor from the China Inland Mission, Yang Yong-Jing 楊詠經. Professor Ma and his younger sister attended the services, and both were later baptized by Pastor Yang.
The family worship services continued, eventually outgrowing the home, and permission was given by the Presbyterian Church for the Episcopal Church members to use one of the original Japanese Anglican churches in Taipei for services on Sunday afternoons. Gradually the Episcopal Church began to expand and develop, buildings went up, and church structures put in place. Taiwan was placed under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Hawaii, first under Bishop Harry S. Kennedy (1953-60) and then Bishop Charles P. Gilson (1961-64). With Bishop Gilson, Professor Ma wrote the Constitution and Canons of the Taiwan Episcopal Church, Bishop Gilson in English and Professor Ma in Chinese. Professor Ma became Vice-Chancellor (under the Diocesan Chancellor of Hawaii) and later Diocesan Chancellor of Taiwan, a position he held until his death. In recent years Ms. Amy Chin was appointed as Vice-Chancellor to help Professor Ma with this ministry.
In 1955, Professor Ma met the lady who was to become his wife, Mrs. Aline Ma, Siao Ya-Lin 馬蕭亞麟. Mrs. Ma was born in Shanghai, China in 1930, but her mother died when she was very small. Her father (a banker) feared for the safety of his only child due to the war with Japan, so at the tender age of 7, he sent her with relatives to Germany. But it was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire; she found herself in a country also preparing for war. The relatives were based in Berlin, studying at Berlin University; and the young Mrs. Ma went to live with a Prussian general’s family in Brandenburg City, where she always said she learned ‘order, discipline and punctuality’! The Prussian family had Chinese connections in Beijing dating from before the Boxer Rebellion, but could not speak Chinese, and on arrival, Mrs. Ma had no German language. All alone in a strange land aged only 7, it is amazing that she not only survived but thrived in the circumstances. By the time her father visited her a year later, her German was fluent, but unfortunately she had forgotten all her Chinese, and only remembers sadly being completely unable to communicate with her father. In fact that was to be the last time she ever saw her father again, as war and civil war intervened and they remained apart for the rest of his life. He later remarried and had 3 more children, all of whom Mrs. Ma got to know in later life.
The young Mrs. Ma spent the whole of the Second World War in Brandenburg City, suffering along with the German people, but in 1945 she and her relatives escaped the Russian occupation and fled to Switzerland where she was sent to boarding schools. After graduation, she had no resident permit to continue living in Europe, and so in 1955, unable to return to China, she travelled to Taiwan alone. Initially staying with relatives in Taipei, and later living on her own, her major disadvantage was that although she could speak German, French and English, she could not speak Chinese, which made it difficult for her to find a job. German was her first language. After having changed jobs many times as a typist for English, finally she found a job as secretary to the President of Academica Sinica, Chu Chia-hua 朱家驊, who had studied in Germany, and needed a secretary who could speak and write German. It was, in fact, her inability to communicate in Chinese that brought Professor and Mrs. Ma together, but they could communicate perfectly with each other in English. Their fathers had known each other in Shanghai, and the young couple met for the first time at a wedding reception hosted by mutual friends.
Professor and Mrs. Ma were married in 1957 in St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei. After their marriage, the Ma family continued to live together, 3 generations under one roof. Their 4 children were born between 1959-64, Gabrielle 佑敏, Mason 佑聖, Vera 佑真 and Beatrice 佑遠. All the children were baptized at St. John’s Cathedral.
Although Professor and Mrs. Ma and the children were active in the cathedral, his parents were not. For his father, the major obstacle continued to be ancestor worship, and yet Professor Ma himself felt no conflict. At an ecumenical conference on this subject, he discussed with the participants how the Christian faith and Chinese tradition could be reconciled. He also published articles on this subject, and later instigated the Ancestor Memorial Liturgy for the Taiwan Episcopal Church. In the articles, he wrote that our ancestors are human beings, and when they die, they are still human beings, not gods. There is only one Almighty God, and we need to separate our ancestors from the divine. We can still pay our respects to our ancestors without regarding them as gods. After much thought, Professor Ma’s father accepted his explanation, and henceforth adopted an attitude of respect rather than worship of his ancestors. Having resolved this issue, his parents were now ready to be baptized and became Christians.
Mrs. Ma taught German, first at the German Cultural Center and then for 30 years at National Taiwan University, she also took care of 4 children and her parents-in-law, and supported her extremely busy husband. Mrs. Ma had come from a non-Christian family and was baptized after her marriage. For several years she led the cathedral E.C.W. (Episcopal Church Women) group, and later the diocesan E.C.W, and in 1977 she attended the E.C.W. Triennial Meeting at the General Convention in Philadelphia as representative of Taiwan. Several times she also accompanied her husband to attend the General Convention in the U.S.A.
In retirement, Professor and Mrs. Ma led a quieter life, though that was a relative term, with many visitors and phone calls from people seeking their wise counsel. Some came to hear the story of Mrs. Ma’s extraordinary early life, which has now been published in German and Chinese. They both continued to be very involved in the life of the church, and at every major church event, Mrs. Ma would be at her husband’s side, smiling and caring for everyone who came to greet them. Throughout their 65 years of marriage, Mrs. Ma was a tower of strength and support for her husband, and Professor Ma always acknowledged how blessed he was to be married to such a great woman.
During the pandemic, Professor and Mrs. Ma largely remained in the safety of their home, participating in church services and events online. The most recent major church event they attended in person was the consecration of Bishop Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang as Bishop of Taiwan, on February 22, 2020 in St. John’s Cathedral. At the end of the service, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry paid tribute to Professor Ma, presenting him with a letter of thanksgiving in recognition of his ministry, constancy, wisdom and faithfulness over the past 65 years to the Taiwan Episcopal Church. Standing beside Professor Ma, as always, was his beloved wife, Mrs. Ma, smiling and content.
As we give thanks to Almighty God for the amazing life and witness of our beloved Canon Chancellor, Professor Herbert Ma, I personally will always remember him for his wise and gracious presence at church events and on visits to his home. Always calm and thoughtful in conversation, his deep knowledge and wide experience brought light and clarity into every discussion, especially in matters related to the Taiwan Episcopal Church and its history, law, international relations and culture.
Professor Ma played a very profound role in public life, but at home, together with Mrs. Ma and the family, the atmosphere was less serious, and their home was warm, cosy and hospitable. On my visits there, it was always a joy to see Professor Ma relaxed and happy, sharing memories and photos of past travels and family history. Visitors were many and varied, from all walks of life. From the highest to the lowest all were warmly welcomed; regardless of background all were treated with the same respect and dignity.
I count it a great privilege to have known both Professor and Mrs. Ma, to have benefitted from their wisdom and counsel, and to have been welcomed into their home and shared meals and fellowship with them and their family. They will be greatly missed. May they rest in peace and rise in glory.
N. B. In 2014, Professor and Mrs. Ma kindly agreed to share their life stories with me for an article published in the diocesan Friendship Magazine. Many of the details above are taken from that article, and a special tribute to Mrs. Ma on her death in June 2022 was published here.
My six months in the UK has come to an end, and on Saturday January 7, I left Gatwick Airport and flew to Taiwan on Turkish Airlines, via Istanbul. A delay meant I was stuck in Istanbul Airport for 7 hours overnight, but hey, it wasn’t too bad – and I arrived safe and sound in Taipei on Sunday evening about 10 pm. Thanks for all your prayers and concern for my journey. This is Saturday night coming into land at Istanbul…
In Taiwan, the good news is that the plum blossom is out in Taipei, always the iconic first sign of spring, and it’s beautiful ~ and with Chinese New Year coming this weekend, so it fills everyone with hope that spring is on its way at last.
Taipei is famous for its never-ending rain, it’s usually damp and cold all winter, but there’s been a bit of sun in the last few days. This is Taipei 101 in all it’s glory…
And the Presidential Office, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial area of Taipei…
And Taipei’s brand new Performing Arts Centre… how’d you like it?!
Apart from the plum blossom, the other big news on coming back to Taiwan is that I’ve now moved from St. John’s University out on the northern coast into downtown Taipei City, to be based at St. John’s Cathedral. It’s about 30 km (20 miles), an hour’s drive, between the two. I’ve been coming to the cathedral for many years so I know it well, but this is the first time I’ve ever lived in Taipei City. I hope to be settled in this week, before Chinese New Year this coming weekend, then spring into action once the new year celebrations are over, at the beginning of February. More news then, and thanks for your ongoing prayers and support!
Mrs. Aline Y. L. Ma 馬蕭亞麟 (Ma Siao Ya-Lin) died peacefully on June 18, 2022, the beloved wife of Professor Herbert H. P. Ma (馬漢寶 Ma Han-Pao), Canon Chancellor of the Taiwan Episcopal Church. Mrs. Ma, always known affectionately as Ma Mama, was a gracious, kind and warm-hearted friend of all in the Taiwan Episcopal Church.
Her memorial room has been set up in St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei, and the family are on hand every afternoon from June 23-29 to welcome visitors wishing to pay their respects. The private cremation service will be held on June 29, followed by the memorial service on Saturday August 20 at 10:30 am, which will also be live-streamed from St. John’s Cathedral. The long gap between these events will, along with fulfilling Taiwan’s quarantine requirements, enable the grandchildren to come from overseas and the Bishop of Taiwan, Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang to return home from the Lambeth Conference. At this sad time, please do remember Professor Ma and all the family in your prayers.
Professor Herbert Ma is a well-known figure in Taiwan, having taught law at National Taiwan University (NTU) for 52 years and served for 12 years as a Grand Justice of the Constitutional Court. In his retirement, he has kept in touch with many of his former students, including politicians, professors, judges and lawyers who count it an honor to have been in his classes. In pride of place in the Ma family home are 2 photos of Professor Herbert Ma with one of his former students, former president of Taiwan, Ma Ying-Jeou 馬英九, who was among the first visitors to pay his respects at Mrs. Ma’s memorial room yesterday.
Mrs. Aline Ma was born in Shanghai, China in 1930, but her mother died when she was very young. Her father, a banker, feared for the safety of his only child due to the war with Japan, so at the age of 7, he sent her with relatives to Germany. The relatives were based in Berlin, studying at Berlin University; and the young Mrs. Ma went to live with a Prussian general’s family in Brandenburg City, where she always liked to say she learned ‘order, discipline and punctuality’, characteristics which stayed with her throughout her long and incredible life. The Prussian family had Chinese connections in Beijing dating from before the Boxer Rebellion, but they could not speak Chinese, and on arrival, Mrs. Ma had no German language. By the time her father visited her a year later, her German was fluent, but unfortunately she had forgotten all her Chinese, and only remembers sadly being completely unable to communicate with her father. That was to be the last time she saw her father, as war and civil war intervened and they remained apart for the rest of his life. He later remarried and had 3 more children, all of whom Mrs. Ma got to know in later life.
The young Mrs. Ma spent the whole of World War II in Brandenburg City, suffering along with the German people, but in 1945 she and her relatives escaped the Russian occupation and fled to Switzerland where she was sent to boarding school. After graduation, she had no resident permit to continue living in Europe, and so in 1955, unable to return to China, she travelled alone to Taiwan. Although she could speak German, French and English, she could not speak Chinese, which initially made it difficult for her to find a job. She later taught herself to speak and read Chinese, but German always remained her first language.
It was, in fact, her inability to communicate in Chinese that brought Professor and Mrs. Ma together, as they found they could communicate perfectly with each other in English. Their fathers had known each other in Shanghai, and the young couple met for the first time at a wedding reception in Taipei hosted by mutual friends. The Ma family had moved to Taiwan in 1947, and the young Professor Ma, then a student, was invited by Episcopalian neighbors to attend worship services in their home. Apart from his brother-in-law who had been baptized in China, this was Professor Ma’s first direct contact with the Christian faith. The services (which expanded to become the cathedral congregation) were led by a pastor from the China Inland Mission, Yang Yong-Jing 楊詠經, who later baptized the young Professor Ma. Mrs. Ma was baptized after her marriage, and eventually Professor Ma’s parents became Christians too, and all played an important role in the development of the Taiwan Episcopal Church.
Professor and Mrs. Ma were married in 1957 in St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei, and their 4 children were born between 1959-64, Gabrielle 佑敏, Mason 佑聖, Vera 佑真 and Beatrice 佑遠. The family lived with Professor Ma’s parents, 3 generations under one roof. Mrs. Ma first taught German at the German Cultural Center and then for 30 years at NTU. As well as supporting her extremely busy husband, she also took care of their 4 children and her parents-in-law, and for some years led the cathedral ECW (Episcopal Church Women) and later the diocesan ECW. In her retirement, she continued to inspire and support her family and church, welcoming visitors and sharing her warm hospitality. Many of us count it an honor to have visited her home to listen to the story of her extraordinary early life, which has since been published in German and Chinese. At every major church event, Mrs. Ma would be at her husband’s side, smiling and caring for everyone who came to greet them. Throughout their 65 years of marriage, Mrs. Ma has been a tower of strength and support for her husband, and Professor Ma has always acknowledged how blessed he has been to be married to such a great woman.
Since the pandemic started, Professor and Mrs. Ma have largely remained in the safety of their home, participating in church services and events online. A few months ago, Mrs. Ma suffered a stroke and had been in hospital since then. The most recent major church event they attended in person was the consecration of Bishop Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang as Bishop of Taiwan on February 22, 2020 at St. John’s Cathedral. At the end of the service, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry paid tribute to Professor Ma, presenting him with a letter of thanksgiving in recognition of his ministry, constancy, wisdom and faithfulness over the past 65 years to the Taiwan Episcopal Church. By his side, as always, was his beloved wife, Mrs. Ma, smiling and content. A great woman indeed, and she will be much missed by us all.
We fondly remember Ma Mama at this time, giving thanks for her long life of dedication and humble service to her family, her church and to Almighty God. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.
Updated Saturday, August 20, 2022: Ma Mama’s Memorial Service:
The latest edition of our diocesan Friendship Magazine, June 2022, is just published online, and the printed version will be coming out soon. I’m the editor of this publication, so please read ~ and pray for us! It contains news of all our 15 churches, photos, updates, and articles. We really appreciate all your support. Thank you!
Yes, we’re looking forward to it already, next year’s diocesan convention on Taiwan’s scenic east coast ~ St. Luke’s Church, Hualien here we come! We’ve just had this year’s convention online, for the first time ever, preceded by a day’s workshop held in person at the cathedral. We loved seeing everyone there but it was only a day, so here’s to next year!
Many years ago, we had a visiting bishop who came to speak at our diocesan convention / synod here in Taiwan. He described his experiences of visiting diocesan conventions elsewhere. In England, he said, where such events are called synods, they’re held mostly in a single day, usually in some cold and draughty church hall, with the wind and rain howling around outside. Coffee may be served, but there’ll be no lunch on offer – you have to bring your own – all of which is considered quite normal. In complete contrast, he described his experience visiting the USA, where such events are called conventions, and which often meet over 2 days in a 5-star luxury hotel with all meals provided, and all hotel amenities available for use; all at great expense to the church – but also considered quite normal.
And then he came to Taiwan, where we fit somewhere in-between – and he loved it! The friendly welcomes, the atmosphere, the dedication of our church members in attending such events. Our churches take it in turns to host the event. Many of our church members like to combine attending the convention with a visit to, say, relatives nearby or to some tourist attractions ~ but staying in a nice hotel, seeing all our friends again is the main reason why everyone is willing to come. The Taiwan Episcopal Church is after all much like a large family, everyone knows each other, and many are even related to each other or grew up together. The actual meetings – the reports, elections etc may be necessary but, well, let’s face it, they can be a bit of an endurance test. It was during the online meetings at our convention last week that I remembered that visiting bishop and his experiences in England, USA and Taiwan, and wondered to myself if online is the way to go for future conventions (I hope not!) – or just how do we get the balance right?!
Anyway, aware that people need to be encouraged to attend such events, often held far away – but also aware of the costs and the negative image of church funds being spent on extravagant hotels, so Taiwan’s convention is usually held at a hotel that is mostly 3 or 4 (or occasionally even 5) stars, but one where we’ve managed to get a large discount through our church members. The costs are further reduced by holding the opening service and initial meetings in the local church hosting the event. This year it should have been the turn of St. Luke’s Church, Hualien. Seeing as we were going so far, so our bishop, Bishop Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang also decided to organize a ‘workshop’ for the day before the actual convention started, intended for our clergy and church members involved in youth and community outreach.
Then along came Taiwan’s latest and by far the biggest Covid surge so far. A month ago, cases started going up on a huge scale. With most people vaccinated, so the government has changed track from a zero-covid policy with lots of restrictions, to allowing normal daily life to continue on as much as possible. They’re trying to keep hospital beds available for only the most serious of cases by allowing home quarantine for everyone else. Apart from facemasks and quarantine rules for confirmed cases and their close contacts, Taiwan’s central government is no longer imposing strict rules and regulations on society as a whole, so it is up to individuals and institutions to make their own decisions. Numbers are now up to over 40,000 new cases per day and rising, and the virus is everywhere. During last week’s convention, two of our clergy had tested positive, and two others were in home quarantine due to their children’s contact with confirmed Covid cases. We face an uncertain time ahead as the country tries to gradually open up its borders while at the same time dealing with a major surge in cases. Fortunately, a few weeks ago, as the cases started to rise, Bishop Chang announced that the diocesan convention would be moved online, starting Thursday evening May 5 and lasting all day Friday, May 6, though the workshop would be held in person on Wednesday, May 4 at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei for those able to attend.
And so it was that most of us gathered last Wednesday at St. John’s Cathedral. The workshop was actually a day of worship, sharing, teaching and prayer, led by the Rev. Ian Liao 廖文華牧師, pastor in charge of Truth Church, Taipei, 基督教台北真道教會, a large, growing and very lively church in Wanhua, one of Taipei’s poorest areas and oldest red-light districts. Bishop Chang had invited him to come to share the experiences of their church in community outreach and youth ministry. He was specifically asked to share not just their successes, but also their failures, and what they had learned from their ministry that could help us. It turned out that Rev. Liao had studied for several years in the UK at Cambridge University, and while there had worshiped in a lively Anglican Church, so he was very familiar with our style of worship and liturgy. Living in Cambridge had clearly made a big impression on him, especially being surrounded by so many magnificent church buildings which had only a few elderly church members, or were even closed down completely and converted to bars and restaurants. He had also done a lot of research into our Episcopal churches in Taiwan, going on prayer walks circling around some of them and checking out nearby schools, colleges and other suitable places for outreach. In fact, their church used to be located very near our cathedral, but they had opted to buy a new building in Wanhua to better serve the people there. He was very well-placed to challenge us all about our outreach ministry.
This was the first time I had seen this kind of ministry event organized by the diocese as part of our diocesan convention and held in our cathedral. Rev. Liao had brought the leadership team from his church, who led the worship, and during the prayer times, they moved around praying with different people. It was very moving to see so many of our clergy and lay members respond to Rev. Liao’s call – and the moving of the Holy Spirit – to go to the front to receive prayer for their own children, those whose children no longer go to church or who have made choices in their careers or relationships which put them at odds with their parents. It was also very moving to see so many respond to Rev. Liao’s call to come forward to commit themselves to ministry among different groups of people, and later he specifically called several clergy and their spouses to the front to pray for them, sharing as led by the Holy Spirit.
On Friday morning, Rev. Liao appeared by video to give the opening sermon of the diocesan convention. It was a really excellent and very challenging sermon, and plans are already in hand here in Advent Church to show it to our vestry committee and church leaders too. He preached from Ezekiel 47, ‘the river from the temple’ and he talked about how the living water comes from the temple then spreads out from there. As we long for the living water of the Holy Spirit to fill our churches, so the living water will then pour out onto our local communities, bringing blessings to all. With this longing in our hearts and filled with the Holy Spirit, so we need to start out walking, and we will see God’s anointing on our ministry as we go. The deeper we go into our local communities, the deeper into the living water we will go, until, just as in Ezekiel’s vision, it covers our ankles, then knees, and shoulders, until we are swimming in this living water of the Holy Spirit.
In Ez. 47:8, the water flows to the Dead Sea and the salty water becomes fresh – so as we move out from our churches, lives around us will be changed and relationships restored. Their church has a ministry in Ximending helping children with their studies in after-school classes and giving them evening meals, thus helping families, as well as improving results for local schools, so local people no longer need to send their children to schools outside the area to get better results. In Ez. 47:10, ‘fish of every kind’ will fill the rivers and sea – so our churches will be filled with people of every kind, every age & background, rich & poor, indigenous and every ethnic group. Wanhua was ground-zero for last year’s Covid surge, and their “Church Can Help” project helped deliver relief packages to 4,000 families during Level 3 Covid Restrictions, and some have started to come to church. In Ez. 47: 12, the trees will bear fruit every month and the leaves will not wither, and their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing – so God’s blessings are ongoing every month, but he blesses us not to make us proud of our achievements, but for us to continue to bless others. That’s a brief summary!
In his sermon at the opening service on Thursday evening, Bishop Chang reviewed and commented on some of the lessons learned at the previous day’s workshop, and encouraged and exhorted all the clergy to spend less time in their church offices – and get out into the community, doing outreach and sharing the Gospel!
The opening service was held at St. John’s Cathedral, we watched it online. After the service finished, Rev. David Chee presented a graduation certificate to Vivian Meng-Rung Kuo, our first graduate of the Trinity School for Christian Ministry (TSCM), our newly-established diocesan theological college. Congratulations to her and to all at TSCM!
And so to the start of the diocesan convention online. The idea was that each church would host the online event for their own clergy and delegates, so everybody gathered at their respective churches – all that is except for those who were in Covid quarantine, who stayed home.
So what did I learn? Firstly, an online diocesan convention using zoom takes much longer than a meeting in person, especially elections for the different committees. This was done by scanning the QR codes, and although it mostly went smoothly, it seemed to go on and on! Normally our meetings run not just to time, but often finish early, but by lunchtime on Friday, we were running about an hour late. The fun thing was to check out all the different people and churches and how they were doing things there. Some had their group sitting very close in full view – they provided quite a lot of entertainment as they forgot the camera was so close, while others, like us here at Advent Church had ours set well back, so we could even walk around and nobody would notice.
On Friday afternoon, after all the formalities of the convention were over, each of our 15 churches had 10 minutes to do a presentation. This was really interesting, and each church presented a detailed vision and action plan for the next 1, 3 and 5 years. Our clergy tell me that this has been a really good exercise, sitting down with their vestry committee and praying and planning for the future. Most used PowerPoint to do their presentations. In my humble opinion, our Advent Church PowerPoint was the most beautiful, and our rector’s talk the most concise. We’re grateful to our chaplaincy team – to Yi-Ting for putting the PowerPoint together, and to Tzi-Wei , who was actually in the diocesan office all that day taking care of the zoom arrangements. We did have a bit of a PowerPoint (PK) competition with Christ Church, who have Yu-Lin, one of our former chaplaincy team based there, well-known for her design skills – and theirs was looking very stunning too, but Advent Church was, well, definitely the best! But Christ Church did win hands down on the yummy-looking snacks provided to their delegates, which were in full view of their camera. Ha ha, it’s the small things that matter! It so happened that all their group of 6 were wearing blue, so they looked really well-coordinated. St. Paul’s Church also had snacks available, we could see 2 bowls of fruit, including a plate of bright red tomatoes. Looked good! But the prize for overall colour coordination goes to St. Mark’s Church, who had large bright green divider boards set up to separate their meeting room from the actual church, and with these as a backdrop, so their PowerPoint also used that same bright green colour, and 2 of their delegates were dressed in bright green too – ah, l loved it! You can see them in these photos, check out the bright green!
And so ended our diocesan convention 2022, giving thanks to God that everything went smoothly, and to the diocese for all the arrangements made. St. Luke’s Church, Hualien had also prepared well for this convention, but then put all their arrangements on hold, so the plans are that this same time next year to actually hold the convention in person there on Taiwan’s scenic east coast. YES!
Please pray for the 18 clergy and 15 churches in the Diocese of Taiwan, that all will be filled with the living water of the Holy Spirit, and that we can all get out of our church offices and into our local communities to share the Gospel, bringing living water and changing lives!
Every year, we take a group photo at our diocesan convention, but it wasn’t possible this year. But we do have a group photo of our 18 clergy, taken during Holy Week at St. James’ Church….
Please also pray for Taiwan as we face this major Covid surge in the next few months. Although most people over the age of 12 are vaccinated, there are a large number of elderly people who decided against it, and many are now confined to their homes – they are a major concern. Our churches are facing many challenges not knowing what’s ahead, and whether services, activities, summer camps etc can go ahead or will need to be canceled or rearranged online. Your prayers are much appreciated. Thank you!
Easter Greetings to you all, if a little late! Christ is risen, alleluia!
Lent has felt extra-long this year, particularly because of the tragic war in Ukraine – now on its 54th day, but also the pandemic – with lockdowns in China and Hong Kong. Purple is always the colour associated with Lent, symbolizing repentance, royalty, shedding of blood. This is our local purple wisteria, always in flower at the beginning of April…
Here at Advent Church, we celebrated Palm Sunday, commemorating Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey as people lined the streets waving palm branches, shouting Hosanna, welcoming him as king. It was last Sunday, April 10 ….
We had a procession waving palm branches going from Advent Church around St. John’s University (SJU) main entrance…
During Holy Week, SJU students had their mid-term exams, so we rearranged some of our usual Holy Week activities. On Maundy Thursday we remembered Jesus celebrating Passover and sharing the Last Supper with his disciples, also washing their feet ~ so we had foot-washing, Holy Communion and then the stripping of the altar, ready for Good Friday ….
On Good Friday, we remembered Jesus’ crucifixion with midday prayers around the cross …
On Easter Eve, I was at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei for the Easter Vigil, when we lit the Easter fire and celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. It’s a traditional and very meaningful time for baptisms, with the symbolism of new life, new creation. I was invited by my good friend, Sheerah to witness the baptism of baby Eva and her husband, Yu-Wei’s confirmation. Big brother Ethan kept us all entertained! There was one other child baptized and nine confirmed. Congratulations to them all ~ and thanks be to God!
On Easter Day at the cathedral, after the English service, we had a rare treat of hot cross buns, kindly baked by one of the congregation, so delicious!
Meanwhile, here at Advent Church, our 3 Easter baptisms were held during the service on Easter Day. One was Mei-Chin, who came to study here from Malaysia some 8 years ago, among the first group of Malaysian students at SJU. She also took part in one of our short-term mission trips to Myanmar some years ago. Finally, she has made the great decision to be baptized, ah we are all so pleased! New life in Christ ~ thanks be to God!
Our Easter celebrations take place in the midst of a big rise in Covid cases in Taiwan. Today, Monday April 18, we have 1,390 new domestic COVID-19 cases, a new record high. Every day for the last 4 days we have seen a new ‘record high’ ~ but so far, the growth has not been exponential, it’s going up by about 100-200 a day. Today’s figures: New Taipei City (that’s us!): 500, Taipei City: 270, Taoyuan: 187, Keelung: 115, Yilan County: 68. That’s all the north of Taiwan. Taiwan also reported 90 new imported cases today, 63 of them travelers who tested positive on arrival in Taiwan. The number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths remains at 854.
From New Bloom: “Taiwan is experiencing its second major COVID-19 outbreak. The first outbreak began last year in May, after more than a year in which Taiwan was largely COVID-free. However, Taiwan is currently transitioning away from the COVID-zero approach it maintained for most of the pandemic to date. This is partly to reconnect with the international world, for the sake of the economy, but also is carried out noting how efforts to maintain COVID-zero approaches indefinitely in China and Hong Kong have led to explosive spikes in COVID-19 cases recently.”
“It was never an issue of maintaining COVID-zero forever, but what proves concerning for Taiwan is that first dose vaccination peaked just past 80%, with elderly individuals remaining hesitant to get vaccinated. In March, only 75.5% of individuals above 75 had one dose of vaccination, 69.9% had two doses, and 50.1% had received booster shots….. The Tsai administration has spoken of a “new Taiwan model” to transition back to normalcy. The CECC has also sought to emphasize that its goals are no longer “COVID-zero” but “zero COVID” for serious cases, with priority on avoiding overburdening Taiwan’s hospital system. As such, home quarantine rules have loosened to allow for home quarantine for light and mild cases under 65.”
Most of our church events for Holy Week and Easter went on as planned, though with fewer people due to this sudden surge, but future events are less certain. The good news is that despite 25% of over-75’s being unvaccinated (and many confined to their homes for that very reason), very few people in the active population aged between 12-75 are unvaccinated. With cases increasing relatively slowly, the government is encouraging everyone to continue on as normal, with facemasks and distancing. Many people are quite relaxed about the situation – but schools are not. They are very worried about rising infections leading to more cancelled classes and postponed activities, and are making plans for all eventualities. Here at SJU, this should have been our 55th anniversary celebration week of events, but most have been cancelled or postponed ~ better safe than sorry. Fortunately, many events are just moving online rather than being cancelled altogether. The good news is that tomorrow we can go to visit our local junior high school to distribute Easter eggs (actually hard-boiled salted duck eggs) to the children and teachers, sharing the joy of Easter with our neighbours. We’re making the most of every opportunity to share our Easter joy!
Thank you for all your Easter greetings, cards and messages. Please continue to keep us in your prayers, as we pray for you too.
January: Chinese New Year is coming ~ so it’s the end of term for us all, and the start of the New Year holidays. Yippee! We’ve been working all over Christmas so a break will be appreciated by everyone, though we do have some more serious Covid-19 clusters breaking out which might restrict the celebrations. Everyone is busy cleaning, shopping and finishing off everything that needs doing – we have one more week to go to get everything done. And it’s the Year of the Tiger, so tigers are everywhere!
One of the features of Chinese New Year is family reunions, so perhaps it’s appropriate that January is always marked by the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Every year, here in Taipei, we have a Taizé Prayer Service organized by the National Council of Churches of Taiwan (NCCT) 台灣教會合作協會, and this year it was held on Friday January 21 at the Episcopal Good Shepherd Church in Shilin. NCCT is unusual in that it also includes the RC Church, so a broad number of churches were represented…. ah, such a beautiful church and service!
I’ve been very busy doing the latest Diocese of Taiwan Friendship Magazine, which has just been published, and can be found here. There’s lots of news, reports and photos of all that’s happening in the diocese. It’s also available on the diocesan website here: https://episcopalchurch.org.tw/ under the English section.
And my next task: a CMS Link Letter ~ watch this space!
This special event was given added significance through the kindness of Mr. Gregory Chen 陳國瑞 of the Roman Catholic Church, who designed and made four beautiful stoles for the occasion, two for each church. The stoles have the logos of the Methodist Graduate School of Theology (MGST) 衛理神學研究院 and the Taiwan Episcopal Church’s Trinity School for Christian Ministry (TSCM) 三一書院, and were worn by both bishops and their chaplains at the service …..
The signing of the agreement took place during a Thanksgiving Service held at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei at 3:30 pm on Saturday October 30, 2021, postponed from the original date of Trinity Sunday, May 30, due to the pandemic. Taiwan is currently under Level 2 Restrictions, so facemasks are compulsory at all indoor events, but are allowed to be removed for a few seconds to take group photos. This was the whole group after the service …..
Bishop Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang 張員榮主教 of the Taiwan Episcopal Church and Bishop Kwan-Wah Pong 龐君華會督 (Pang Jun-Hua) of the Methodist Church both spoke of how they share a common vision for cooperation together in the field of theological education, drawing on much that our churches share in history, tradition, experience and culture. In fact, when Bishop Chang first approached Bishop Pong about the idea of working together, Bishop Pong said he had already been wondering whether such cooperation would be possible, so he was delighted!
Since becoming Bishop of Taiwan last year, Bishop Chang has re-established and expanded Trinity Hall (originally founded in 1984), the diocesan theological program through which he himself did all his theological study. It is now known as Trinity School for Christian Ministry, under dean Rev. Canon David Chee 徐子賢院長, and working in cooperation with St. John’s University, Taipei. The Taiwan Episcopal Church has always been too small to operate its own theological college, and in the past has relied on sending seminarians to be trained at Taiwan’s Presbyterian or RC colleges (with supplementary courses at Trinity Hall on Anglicanism), and more recently Ming Hua Theological College in Hong Kong. Currently we have one first-year seminarian studying at Virginia Theological Seminary in the USA, two who have studied elsewhere and are now upgrading / completing their courses through TSCM, and we have two first-year seminarians who have just started full-time at TSCM this semester (they led the procession into the cathedral)….
‘The Methodist Church in the Republic of China’ (its official name) 中華基督教衛理公會 is much larger than the Taiwan Episcopal Church, and its Methodist Graduate School of Theology (now under their acting president, Rev. Feng-Chuan Lin 林烽銓院長) was established in 1997, with a permanent college base in Taipei City. Their students all attended the Thanksgiving Service, as did ours from TSCM. The Methodist Church also brought a choir to the Thanksgiving Service, and they sang 2 beautiful songs, one in English, ‘Jesus Changes Everything’ during the signing ceremony, and ‘I the Lord of sea and sky’, sung in Chinese during Holy Communion.
According to the new theological education cooperation agreement, seminarians from both churches are eligible to study on courses at both institutions, credits will be transferable, and there are plans for faculty exchange, joint seminars and other sharing of resources as the program develops. Each church normally has stringent procedures and discernment processes for admittance as a diocesan seminarian; under this agreement, each church will also accept the other church’s seminarians into their theological programs, meaning they will not have to apply for admission separately. Already our two first-year seminarians are taking courses at MGST, with some classes online and others in-person.
The Signing Ceremony….
Both Bishop Chang and Bishop Pong mentioned that the founders of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley remained in the Church of England, the Anglican Church, until the day they died. They did not join the Methodist Church. Now, as Anglican and Methodist Churches in the UK and USA are working together more and more, so we in Taiwan are also called to cooperate together in a spirit of ecumenism and unity. In Taiwan our denominations are small, so collaborating together in theological education will bring great benefits to both churches, helping us to train seminarians and church workers more effectively in ministry.
After the signing ceremony, Holy Communion was celebrated together by Bishop Chang and Bishop Pong, symbolizing our belonging to one family in Christ. Bishop Pong gave the final blessing.
We give thanks to God for this historic and memorable day, for the agreement signed and those who are on the frontlines at TSCM and MGST in making this cooperation happen, including Rev. Antony F. W. Liang 梁凡偉牧師 and Rev. Tai-Yao Chiu 邱泰耀牧師 who served as bishop’s chaplains at the service and wore the specially-designed stoles. We ask you to pray in the days ahead as our churches work more closely together in the field of theological education. To God be the glory!
A great day indeed, and yes, John and Charles Wesley would have been so proud!
The Christian Tribune report of this event in Chinese is here
Rev. Samuel King-Ling Liao 廖金陵牧師 died on September 23, 2021 in Tainan, Taiwan. His Cremation was held in Tainan on September 30, 2021, followed by Interment of Ashes within St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei the following day. The Memorial Service was held on Friday October 8, 2021 at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei.
Under Taiwan’s Level 2 Pandemic Restrictions, 80 people are allowed to attend indoor gatherings. All 80 places for the Memorial Service were fully booked several days beforehand, and people traveled from all corners of the country to attend. Bishop of Taiwan Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang, St. John’s Cathedral Dean Philip L. F. Lin and Rev. C. C. Cheng led the service, with Rev. Canon David Chee as preacher. The service included Holy Communion, celebrated by Bishop Chang. There were 2 powerful and moving solos, Pie Jesu and Panis Angelicus, sung by Ms. Wang, music teacher and friend of Rev. Liao’s daughter. The flowers were beautifully arranged by Ms. Susan Shih from Good Shepherd Church. During the service, a video of photos of Rev. Liao was shown, with a short tribute and words of appreciation on behalf of the family from Rev. Liao’s son, Sung-En. Rev. Liao’s daughter, Sung-Jen had thoughtfully prepared a small box of her delicious home-made cookies for each person to take home.
Rev. Samuel Liao took early retirement from full-time church ministry aged 60 in February 2008 for health reasons. Over time, his kidney dialysis treatments required that he spend longer and longer periods in hospital, and in recent years, he lived full-time at the hospital and visited his home at weekends. During the pandemic, he was completely confined to the hospital, but his mind remained very active. He may have been physically confined, but was certainly not spiritually or mentally so. He continued to help and support the church in whatever way he could, and was a source of great encouragement to many.
Rev. Liao was a much-loved friend of Rev. Canon David Chee, who started his sermon at the Memorial Service with the words, “Rev. Samuel K. L. Liao loved his church deeply, he loved his church members, he loved his church buildings, he loved the Anglican Communion and the Taiwan Episcopal Church”. And he continued on to share about Rev. Liao’s ministry of pastoral care, how he would listen carefully to all those who wanted to share with him, and he would remember long afterwards everything they had said in great detail. His memory was excellent! Rev. Canon David Chee shared moving stories of how Rev. Liao was also well-known for his high standards of cleanliness, and at each church he served, he would personally put a lot of time and energy into making sure the church building and surroundings were spotlessly clean. In the diocese, Rev. Liao was most appreciated for his phenomenal knowledge of the history of the Anglican / Episcopal Church, but he was also very knowledgeable about world history and geography in general. He was extremely humble, gentle, generous and showed great patience, particularly as he faced many years of failing health after his retirement. He was well-prepared for death; his hope was in Christ, in the resurrection of the dead, and in everlasting life.
The last time I met Rev. Samuel Liao was at Grace Church, Tainan at Chinese New Year in 2019, and we had also met at Grace Church the previous Chinese New Year too. The last time I talked to him was in June 2021 when I phoned to wish him a Happy Dragon Boat Festival. We talked for 20 minutes about his great love for the Anglican Church, his wide reading of English history and love for church traditions, and how he continued to serve as spiritual advisor to 2 of our seminarians, using just his cellphone. He talked about how delighted he was that one of his Maori classmates (from the year he spent at St. John’s Theological College, Auckland in 1984), now a bishop in New Zealand, had come to Taiwan for a conference only a few months earlier, and had been to Tainan to visit him. And he told me how his daughter would deliver each issue of the diocesan Friendship Magazine to him. He would read each one from cover to cover, and he thanked me for everything I did for the diocese. I was very touched.
In 2009, just after his retirement, Rev. Liao told me his life story, and together we wrote the following article (updated a little as appropriate) for the Friendship Magazine.
‘Vocation and Ministry’, Testimony of Rev. Samuel King-Ling Liao 廖金陵牧師
“My favorite Bible verse is Romans 8:28, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose’. I find this verse very moving, and it continues to inspire me as I look back over my life and think of the variety of experiences I have had. My journey of faith has not been easy, and yet I feel it is a great honour and privilege to serve as an Anglican priest. Being a priest in the Anglican Communion and sharing in this long tradition and heritage makes me so proud. How I long to improve this sense of Anglican identity and consciousness in the Taiwan Episcopal Church! In my retirement, this is my burden and prayer for the church, that our clergy and church members may learn more of this unique Anglican identity.
But how did I reach this point in my spiritual journey? Let me start at the beginning. I am a ‘second-generation Mainlander’, born in Mainland China in December 1947. My Chinese name is ‘King-Ling’ 金陵, the old name of Nanking (Nanjing), where my parents were married. My father was in the Nationalist Chinese Air Force, and in 1949, we came to Taiwan, leaving behind our ancestors and the traditions of ancestor worship. My parents were not particularly religious, and my first contact with the Christian gospel was at Feng Chia University in Taichung. I can still remember the ‘Campus Crusade for Christ’ meetings that were held every Monday evening on the campus. During my second year, I started to attend those meetings with 2 purposes in mind, firstly to learn English, secondly to make friends. I also joined the Sunday Fellowship because of the missionaries who were there working among the students. My major was in International Trade, on my father’s advice. One of my classmates invited me to live in their student dormitory accommodation, which was run by the Mennonite Church.
On Easter Day, March 29, 1970, in my third year at university, I was baptized by Rev. Simon Wung in the Mennonite Church. Even now, I regard him as the most influential person in my whole life; he supported and encouraged me even when later I decided to join the Anglican / Episcopal Church. My first contact with the Anglican Church was through Rev. Wang Hsien-Tzi, then vicar of St. James’ Church, Taichung. He used to come to the Student Fellowship to preach.
After graduation, I was assigned to military service and it was during this time that I felt called to ordination. First though, I went to work for China Airlines in Kaohsiung Airport as a Traffic Agent. For over 3 years I handled the incoming and outgoing planes. In Kaohsiung however, I faced 2 problems, firstly I rarely had a Sunday off, so hardly ever went to church, and secondly there was no Mennonite Church in Kaohsiung.
While at China Airlines, I also met the lady who would become my wife, Su San-Su (Susan). She worked in the downtown office of China Airlines and unlike me, is of Taiwanese descent. Although she was not a Christian, we got married in 1976 in a Presbyterian Church in Kaohsiung. For her parents, it was their first ever visit to a church. I encouraged my wife to take part in a Bible Correspondence School, and the school sent 2 women to visit her, both Baptists. As I was not free to go to church on Sundays, my wife started to go to their church, and a year after we were married, she was baptized in the Baptist Church. She continued to support and encourage me throughout my ministry, and was a very good priest’s wife! We are a very multi-denominational family. After their retirement, both my parents were baptized in Taipei, my mother in a Lutheran Church, and my father in the Mission Alliance Church, while one of my sisters was baptized in the Little Flock. Looking back, I can say that my only regret in all my years of ministry was to my parents. I invited them to come and live with us, but they could not accept the frequent moving from place to place every few years. They said that I always take good care of my parishioners but not my parents! I still regret the little time that I was able to spend with them during their lives.
One day at work in Kaohsiung Airport, I bumped into Rev. Wang Hsien-Tzi, seemingly by chance. He encouraged me to join the Episcopal Church, so I started to attend St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung. Through Rev. Wang and the Rev. Peyton Craighill, I was eventually recommended to the diocesan Commission on Ministry for ordination. They also suggested I should be confirmed, and so my wife and I were confirmed by Bishop James Pong on June 5, 1977 in Grace Church, Tainan, because by then we had moved to Tainan Theological College.
I was ordained deacon on September 21, 1980 and served at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei for a year under the Rev. Samuel T. T. Chen. We then moved to St. Mark’s Church, Pingtung, where I was ordained priest on July 12, 1981 by Bishop P. Y. Cheung. We stayed there 5 years including one year (1984) when I was at St. John’s Theological College, Auckland, New Zealand studying ‘Anglicanism’. We then spent 4 years at Trinity Church, Keelung, then 3 years at St. Andrew’s, Jieding, when I was also in charge of the 30 or so students at St. Michael’s Hostel, Tainan. I spent 6 months at Trinity College, Singapore, doing further study, then served as Acting Rector of Good Shepherd Church, Taipei for a year, followed by 4 years at St. Luke’s Church, Hualien. Finally, I became Rector of All Saints Church, Kangshan for 9 years before my retirement in 2008. From utmost east to west, utmost north to south, we have lived in all 4 corners of the Taiwan Diocese! However out of all these places, the most fulfilling was the time we spent in All Saints, Kangshan (most of the photos shared here were taken during that time), when I was also Dean of Trinity Hall, the Diocesan Center for Theological Studies, as well as serving as Dean of the Southern Deanery.
In summary, I can say that I have an evangelical faith – from my days of Campus Crusade and the Student Fellowship, a Calvinistic theology – from my training at Tainan Theological College, and I like the Catholic tradition – from the Episcopal Church liturgy and hierarchy! I love the Anglican Church for its ‘middle way’; it is not extreme in any direction. Confucianism also follows the middle way in lifestyle and thinking. I love history too, and enjoy reading about the history of England and the Anglican Church, always in English, as there are so few books on this subject in Chinese.
In my retirement, I continue to serve on the Diocesan Standing Committee, the Commission on Ministry, and to act as Spiritual Advisor to our seminarians. My wife and I are now faithful members of the congregation of Grace Church, Tainan; my wife also teaches flower arranging and Chinese knotting. Our daughter, Sung-Jen plays the organ at Grace Church. Our son, Sung-En is a member of St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung and is the father of our 2 grandchildren.
My total ministry was 27 years and 4 months, and I know that throughout that whole time, Romans 8:28 has been my true experience. God does indeed work through all things for the good of all those who love him!”
We give thanks to God for the life and ministry of our beloved Rev. Samuel King-Ling Liao; may he rest in peace and rise in glory, and may his wife and family be comforted and strengthened at this time.