Category Archives: Taiwan Episcopal Church, Diocese of Taiwan

Rev. Samuel King-Ling Liao 廖金陵牧師 (1947-2021) In Memoriam

Rev. Samuel Liao’s Memorial Service, St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei

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.

Rev. Samuel Liao’s Memorial Service, 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’s Memorial Service, St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei

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. Samuel K. L. Liao

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.

All Saints, Kangshan

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.

All in red for Chinese New Year 2018 at Grace Church, Tainan, with Rev. & Mrs. Liao and Song-Jen (centre), friend A-Guan on the far right, me on the far left

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.

Chinese New Year 2018 at Grace Church, Tainan

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.

Rev. Samuel Liao’s Memorial Service, St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei

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.

Rev. Samuel Liao’s Memorial Service, St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei

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.

All Saints, Kangshan

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.

Rev. Samuel Liao’s Memorial Service, St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei

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.

Chinese New Year 2019 at Grace Church, Tainan

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.

All Saints, Kangshan

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.

Bishop John C. C. Chien and Mrs. Chien visit All Saints, Kangshan

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.

Rev. Samuel Liao’s children, Sung-Jen and Sung-En at the Diocesan Convention 2021

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!”

Cheers! All Saints, Kangshan

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.

Congratulations to Rev. Stoney Chia-Kuei Wu on his Ordination as Priest 台灣聖公會吳家圭會吏按立會長聖職典禮!

The Rev. Stoney Chia-Kuei Wu 吳家圭 was ordained priest by the Rt. Rev. Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang, Bishop of Taiwan, at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei on Wednesday September 29, 2021, the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (Michaelmas). The service was held at 11:00 am and livestreamed via You Tube…

Chia-Kuei’s ordination as deacon by Bishop Chang took place at St. James’ Church, Taichung on St. James’ Day, Saturday July 25, 2020, in a service that also celebrated the 50th anniversary of St. James’ Church (see that report here). These are the clergy photos from the two ordination services….

Ordination as Deacon, July 2020
Ordination as Priest, September 2021

Chia-Kuei graduated from the seminary at Fu-Jen RC University, Taipei in 2019 and has been serving since then at St. James’ Church, Taichung (under rector Rev. Lily Chang, who preached at the ordination service), having also been on placement there at weekends for his final year of theological college. He and his family live at the Church of the Leading Star, St. James’ daughter church in Taiping, on the outskirts of the city. He will continue serving at the Church of the Leading Star, and this Sunday, October 3, there will be a special service there, at which its official status will be upgraded from mission station to church, with Chia-Kuei in charge. Please do pray for Chia-Kuei, his wife and family and all at Leading Star Church.

Friends from St. James and Leading Star Church

Chia-Kuei was born in 1981, grew up in Taipei, and is the first Christian in his family. He studied at St. John’s and St. Mary’s Institute of Technology (SJSMIT, now St. John’s University, SJU), and became involved with the student fellowship by offering to play the piano for the choir. He later returned to SJU to do his master’s degree, and during that time, in 2006, he was baptized by the then chaplain, Rev Lennon Y. R. Chang, now bishop. Chia-Kuei served as worship group leader and as junior warden at Advent Church while he worked at Siemens as an engineer. He met his wife, Wen-Ting (Wang-Wang) at the student fellowship too, and they were married at Advent Church in 2013. They have a daughter aged 6 and a son almost a year old.

Chia-Kuei and his family

The ordination service on Wednesday was held under Level 2 Pandemic Restrictions, and so 80 people were allowed to attend the service. Facemasks, hand sanitizer and temperature checks were compulsory for all. Social distancing was followed in the seating arrangements. No eating was allowed, so at the end of the service, everyone left with a box of food to take home. In accordance with current diocesan policy, there was no wine offered at Holy Communion, bread only. This is Chia-Kuei serving his daughter….

Apart from all our diocesan clergy and Chia-Kuei’s family members, there were groups of church members in attendance from Advent Church, including Ms. Wang and Ms. Hai, who sang a very moving song during the service, accompanied by Chia-Kuei’s daughter on the tambourine; also St. James’ Church and Leading Star, St. John’s Cathedral, plus friends from Good Shepherd Church. A beautiful service!

Friends from Advent Church
Friends from St. John’s Cathedral

Before the service….

During the service….

After the service, we had photo time!

Many congratulations to the Rev. Stoney Chia-Kuei Wu, and thanks be to Almighty God!

PS: The next big event is the wedding tomorrow of Yu-Lin, our diocesan seminarian and my former colleague in St. John’s University Chaplaincy, and her fiancé San-Yuan here at Advent Church. This is them at the end of the ordination service on Wednesday, being blessed by Chia-Kuei and posing for a photo together. Please do pray for them too!

陳銘佑會吏按立會長聖職典禮 Congratulations to Rev. Chen Ming-You 陳銘佑 on his Ordination as Priest!

And what a great day it was!

Newly-ordained Rev. Chen Ming-You

Rev. Chen Ming-You 陳銘佑 was ordained priest by the Rt. Rev. Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang, Bishop of Taiwan, at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei on Friday August 6, 2021, the day the church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration. Thanks be to Almighty God!

Ming-You was ordained deacon by the Rt. Rev. David J. H. Lai, then Bishop of Taiwan, at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei on Saturday January 18, 2020, just a few weeks before Bishop Lai retired (for that report and photos see here. As you will see, it was definitely winter and we were all in our warm clothes!) Ming-You’s ministry is as a Non-Stipendiary priest, serving at weekends for the last 4 years at St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung, under Rev. Julia Shu-Hua Lin, who preached very powerfully at yesterday’s ordination service.

The ordination service was originally scheduled for Friday June 11, St. Barnabas Day, but due to Taiwan’s Level 3 pandemic restrictions, which came into force on May 15, all religious events and gatherings of more than 4 people were prohibited, so the service was postponed. Bishop Chang stressed the importance of all the clergy in the diocese being able to participate in-person at the ordination service, and so they decided to delay the service until that was possible, however long it might take. On July 27, Taiwan lowered the alert level from 3 to 2, and under level 2 restrictions, indoor gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, as long as there is social distancing, with compulsory facemasks, temperature checks, name registration and hand sanitizer in use for all. With only 50 people allowed to attend, so a list was drawn up, and everyone else was invited to watch the livestream on YouTube….

Thanks to the wonderful Livestreaming Team, working behind the scenes! This is Linda on the left, wife of St. John’s Cathedral Dean, Philip Lin, and Pin-Huei, on the right, daughter of Rev. C. C. Cheng…

Due to there still being community transmission of Covid-19, Bishop Chang requested that all clergy coming from the south and east of Taiwan should preferably drive to Taipei, rather than use high-speed rail or train, and he offered to provide accommodation for those needing overnight stays. Actually most of our clergy have relatives in Taipei, so they were pleased to visit them, others did the round-trip in one day, and a few did take the high-speed rail, which they said was virtually empty because of the pandemic – and the rain. ☔

Back in May, we were still praying for an end to Taiwan’s drought, the most serious in over 50 years. Now in August, we have had so much rain in the last 2-3 weeks that there’s serious flooding and landslides in some areas, including a rockslide that has cut off the high-speed rail line in Miaoli, reservoirs are having to release water, and southern Taiwan has closed schools and offices today due to the torrential rain alerts. The rains started with Typhoon In-Fa the weekend before last, then the typhoon gave way to more continuous rains, and now we have a tropical storm working its way north up Taiwan’s west coast, bringing flooding to the mountains and coastal areas. Our in-person church services only just restarted again last Sunday, but some had to be canceled due to the rains, and it’s likely some will have to cancel again tomorrow as well. Fortunately the ordination service could go ahead, though it was certainly very wet outside. The other precaution, advised due to the pandemic, was that it was not possible to serve wine during the Holy Communion, nor any kind of meal after the service. Instead, the cathedral kindly provided us with boxes of breads, cakes and desserts for us to take home. Thanks to St. John’s Cathedral for all their hard work to make us so welcome!

The Dean, Philp Lin and St. John’s Cathedral friends

Ming-You tells me that he comes from a very traditional Taiwanese family, and as the only son (with 2 older sisters), so he grew up well-aware that it would be his responsibility to take care of his parents as they grew older. In fact, he and his wife, their 2 sons (aged 12 and 15) and his parents all live together in Longtan, Taoyuan, just south of Taipei. His parents are retired, and Ming-You and his wife run a computer business during the week, which leaves them free at weekends to serve at St. Stephen’s Church, about an hour’s drive on the other side of Taipei. His wife says that even before they were married, he would talk about his calling to be a priest, though it took many years of part-time study and training for his calling to become a reality.

Ming-You and his family with Bishop Chang, and Regina Chang (far right)

By serving as a non-stipendiary priest, he is able to fulfill his traditional duties of ‘filial piety’ towards his parents, while also fulfilling his calling to serve in the Taiwan Episcopal Church. He talks about the freedom to be able to do both, and the joy of serving God both in his family and in the church. Others might feel weighed down by taking on so many responsibilities, but instead, Ming-You thrives on the freedom and joy of being the person God has called him to be. Fortunately, a few years after Ming-You and his wife were married, his parents became Christians themselves, and belong to a local church near their home; praise God that they are fully supportive of Ming-You’s calling and ministry.

Ming-You serves his father Holy Communion

Ming-You was born in 1975, and became a Christian through the witness of the student fellowship and chaplaincy at St. John’s and St. Mary’s Institute of Technology (SJSMIT), Taipei, (predecessor to St. John’s University SJU), while studying on the 5-year program in electronic engineering. Towards the end of his time at SJSMIT, he was baptized in Advent Church by the then chaplain, Rev. Samuel Ying-Chiu Lin, who later became dean of St. John’s Cathedral, and where many of the students later worshiped after graduation, including Ming-You.

Quite a few SJSMIT student fellowship members from that era have since gone on to be ordained, and many others serve in the church in lay ministry. In yesterday’s service, one of their student fellowship, Regina Chang (張沁杏), member of Christ Church, Chungli and also on the diocesan Standing Committee, sang a beautiful solo, titled ‘Beloved Lord, Please send me’. Ming-You was visibly moved, and later recounted how he was reminded, as she sang, of how Regina and other older fellowship members had shared the Gospel with him as a younger student, and how far he has traveled since then, particularly these last 10 years as he followed God’s call towards ordination. He said that God has been so faithful to him, and he found it hard to contain his tears. It was really moving!

Regina singing the solo, accompanied by Mr. Lu on the piano

Since Bishop Chang’s consecration in February 2020, Ming-You and his wife have been busy helping the diocesan office putting in a whole new computer system, video-conferencing and meeting room, plus setting up our new email addresses for the Taiwan Episcopal Church clergy and churches, plus our new website at https://episcopalchurch.org.tw/ Having a professional computer person always on hand is very wonderful for us all! Every weekend, Ming-You, his wife and sons spend much time at St. Stephen’s Church, where they help run outreach programs in the local community with Rev. Julia Shu-Hua Lin, who is already well past usual retirement age and looking to step back a little from all her many church responsibilities.

Rev. Julia Shu-Hua Lin and Ms. Su with Ming-You’s family

Julia has really built up the ministry at St. Stephen’s over these last 10+ years, and is widely respected in the local community. The church is in a largely disadvantaged area with many problems of poverty, family breakdown, addiction, suicide, unemployment, domestic abuse and more. The people are struggling even at the best of times, and much more so in this pandemic, plus the spiritual oppression from the local temples and shrines is much in evidence in people’s lives. Ming-You clearly loves the people there, and fits right in; he says that many similarities with his own family background have helped in developing relationships.

Ms. Huang and Ms. Su from St. Stephen’s Church with me, we’re all in black and white!

The ordination service – getting ready….

The service started at 3:00 pm….

Part 2 of the service starts with Ming-You introducing his family…

The blessing….

And then photo-time!

The service all went so smoothly, and Ming-You celebrated his first Holy Communion so professionally that it looked like he had been doing it for years! The readings, as set for the Feast of the Transfiguration, were read by Mrs. Marjorie Kuo from the cathedral, Ms. Huang Min from St. Stephen’s Church, and our deacon, Rev. Stoney Chia-Kuei Wu read the Gospel.

After the service, Rev. Lily Chang, as chair of the diocesan standing committee, officially welcomed everyone and thanked the cathedral for hosting the service, she was followed by Mr. Gary Tseng, cathedral senior warden who also gave us a warm welcome on behalf of them all…

Ming-You with Mr. Gary Tseng, cathedral senior warden and his wife, Ms. Amy Chin, our diocesan chancellor

We give thanks to Almighty God for Ming-You and his family, and we pray for him as he settles into his ministry as priest, serving at St. Stephen’s Church, and as he tries to balance his time between his business, family and church ministry. He joins a great group of clergy, all pictured here at the ordination service. Thanks be to God for them all!

What’s in a name?

It’s Holy Week, and of course, this coming weekend is Easter. One of Christianity’s best kept secrets; unlike Christmas, it seems few people in Taiwan have any idea what Easter is, and certainly no idea that it’s coming this weekend. Probably far fewer people than usual will be in church to celebrate too, as this coming weekend is also Taiwan’s Tomb-Sweeping Festival (Qingming), Women’s Day and Children’s Day all combined into one long 4-day weekend.

For young professionals and families in Taiwan’s cities, it’ll be a holiday weekend away from their high-pressured office jobs, enjoying some spring weather before the heat of summer, with trips to Taiwan’s outlying islands, up to the central mountains or beach resorts. Covid-19 restrictions for overseas travel mean that everyone is holidaying in Taiwan these days and domestic tourism is booming. For our students here at St. John’s University (SJU), they’ll be in demand for part-time work either near their homes or in our local restaurants, cafes, beaches and tourist sites lining Taiwan’s northern coast, like Laomei and the Fuguijiao Lighthouse…

Laomei’s famous Algal Reef – taken last weekend

One things for sure, wherever we go, there’ll be major traffic jams all weekend!

The Lighthouse Cat guards Fuguijiao Lighthouse, on Taiwan’s northern tip

The good news is that we got off to a good start for Holy Week with a celebration of Palm Sunday at Advent Church and SJU….

Otherwise, March has been a much quieter month than most years, with activities considerably reduced due to concerns about Covid-19, though daily life continues mostly as normal. Fortunately, Taiwan currently has no known community transmission, with 10 deaths and 1,024 confirmed cases, all contained by strict border and quarantine controls. Imported vaccines have resulted in health workers and Olympic hopefuls receiving their first shots in recent weeks, but for the general population, we await final trials of local vaccines, the government eager to proceed at a safe and normal speed of vaccine development. This weekend Taiwan’s very first carefully-monitored travel bubble is starting with the tropical island paradise of Palau; their new president is currently in Taiwan for the official launch, returning home on the first official bubble flight tomorrow.

Common Jester Butterfly (Symbrenthia Lilaea Formosanus) at Yangmingshan…

Spring is here, and with it has appeared the cherry blossom, azalea and wisteria, all looking spectacular. I’ve counted up to 7 crested serpent eagles circling on the thermals above our campus, while down here below we have frogs, lizards, snakes and butterflies all enjoying the sunnier weather (photos / videos in this post were all taken in the last few weeks, some locally, others up at the mountains of Yangmingshan).

11-second snake video: False Taiwan Habu 擬龜殼花

I’ve had 2 sermons to write this month for 2 different English congregations, and in both, I’ve used the same story as an illustration. Some sermons generate more comments than others, and this was one of them. In the light of so much division, separation and isolation in this world – in the church as well as in society as a whole, it seems good to share this story here, with thanks to Rev. Samuel C. L. Liao who originally included a paragraph about this in a piece he wrote for the ‘About Us’ section for our upcoming new website. For once, this is a happy story of 3 church / mission groups plus 2 bishops who put aside their differences and decided to work together for the sake of the Gospel and the people they served. And it all happened in the mid-19th century, when egos and self-interest played just as large a role in decision-making as they seem to do today.

Azalea Season

First a disclaimer, I am not particularly interested in Anglican / Episcopal Church history, hierarchies, titles and governance as such, but I am interested in the background story of how the Taiwan Episcopal Church got its Chinese name. Knowing only the basic facts, I acknowledge that there could be a whole lot more to discover deep in the archives. Sadly, church history got way too complicated when Henry VIII started knocking off all those poor wives with names the same as mine, so a little church history goes a very long way. But what I have also discovered is that most of our church members here also know very little about this story – but, like me, they are interested.

It’s fair to say that most countries where the Anglican / Episcopal Church has been established have just adapted the ‘Anglican’ part of their name into something acceptable in their own language while still being recognizable as the word ‘Anglican’, so in Rwanda for example, the church is known as ‘Eglise Anglicane du Rwanda’, in Brazil as ‘Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil’.

But this is not so in places like Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan…

Oldham’s Azalea, growing up in the mountains

First a bit of background: the word ‘Anglican’ means ‘English,’ denoting the country where the Anglican Church was originally founded. In England, the Anglican Church is just known as ‘The Church of England’ because it’s the national church. The American Church, which originated in England, uses the title, ‘The Episcopal Church’; ‘Episcopal’ means ‘bishops’. One of the main differences when The Episcopal Church was established was that while bishops in England were appointed by the crown, not so in the USA, where they considered themselves free from English rule, so US bishops were – and still are – elected instead of being appointed.

Here in Taiwan, we call our branch of the Anglican Communion by the name ‘Taiwan Episcopal Church’ because we belong to the US-based Episcopal Church. We’re part of Province VIII, officially established in 1954. The Chinese name for the Taiwan Episcopal Church is 台灣聖公會 (Taiwan Sheng Kung Hui). There are 3 Chinese characters in the church part of the name: Sheng 聖 means ‘holy’, Kung 公 means ‘catholic’ (meaning ‘universal’), Hui 會 means ‘church’. So how come the Chinese name of the Taiwan Episcopal Church translates in a way that is completely unrelated to the English name? It’s clear that there’s no word in the Chinese name that can be translated as ‘Anglican’ or ‘Episcopal.’

So the story goes like this. The US Episcopal Church started their evangelism in Mainland China in 1835, and in Japan in 1859; they were followed soon after by CMS and SPG (now USPG) Anglican mission societies from England, and much later (1888 in Japan) by the Anglican Church of Canada. But working together was not easy, each church and mission society had their own style of mission and their own style of worship. In 1866, aged 37, US Bishop Channing Moore Williams was consecrated to serve as ‘Episcopal Bishop of China and Japan’, largely based in Japan. Twenty years later, in 1886, aged 36, UK Bishop Edward Bickersteth was consecrated to serve as ‘Missionary Bishop of the Church of England in Japan,’ (succeeding Bishop Arthur W. Poole, 1883-1885). Wrap your mind around that bit of history – that’s how they did things in those days.

Cherry Blossom at SJU

Anyway, surprise, surprise, these 3 groups in Japan: the US church, CMS and SPG, led by these 2 bishops – 20 years’ difference in age – agreed to work together and unite their missionary efforts into one autonomous national church. The first Japanese synod, instigated by Bickersteth and presided over by Williams, was held in Osaka in 1887. At that meeting, the Japanese church (then with a membership of about 1,300 and with lay delegates sent from every church) decided to take part of the Nicene Creed, ‘We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church’ and from that phrase to adopt ‘The Holy Catholic Church’ (聖公會, 聖: holy, 公: catholic, 會: church) for its name, pronounced in Japanese as ‘Nippon Sei Ko Kai’ (NSKK), the ‘Holy Catholic Church in Japan’.

In 1912, the Anglican / Episcopal church in China also decided to call their new church, ‘Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui’ (CHSKH) 中華聖公會, the ‘Holy Catholic Church in China’. From that came ‘Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui’ (HKSKH) 香港聖公會, the official title of the Anglican Church in Hong Kong. And some of the CHSKH members who later moved to Taiwan became founding members of the Taiwan Episcopal Church (Taiwan Sheng Kung Hui) 台灣聖公會 in 1954. We are really the ‘Holy Catholic Church’ in Taiwan.

And guess what, we’re not totally unique in the Christian world ~ other churches also chose Chinese names that are totally unrelated to the original, most notably the Roman Catholics – but that’s a whole other story. And we’re nowhere near unique in having a history of mission societies and church groups in conflict with each other in the same country – just think of East Africa, but that is also a whole other story. Ah, church history, sigh!

Just as those 2 bishops decided to work together to try to resolve their differences, so we need to continue to preserve our unity today. Our diocesan motto this year is ‘Working together as one in Christ to build the church’, and that was one of the themes of our diocesan convention held a few weeks ago in Kaohsiung. What does it mean for us to ‘work together as one in Christ?’ Partly it means not being divided by our differences, old and young, traditional and modern, high church and low church, liturgical and non-liturgical, hymns and choruses, informal and formal, Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese, urban and rural, liberal and conservative, online and in-person – and more. All these things have the potential to divide and separate us – or to bring us together, depending on which way we choose to go. Let’s try putting ourselves and our own agendas on one side this Holy Week, Easter and in the future, and find ways to work together – for the sake of the Gospel and each other.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24

Wisteria Season

Children sometimes do better at this than adults, putting aside their differences that is, and Children’s Day on April 4 is a way to celebrate. At our local Xingren Elementary School (photos below are taken from their website), we celebrated Children’s Day recently by making paper people and each child choosing 4 countries that have some meaning for them – many children in Taiwan have mothers from other SE Asian countries, and Japan, Korea and USA are always popular choices. Gotta love the row of monsters on the back wall too! The fun song to sing for this is on YouTube: Hello to all the Children of the World – check it out, you’ll be singing it all day!

Meanwhile yesterday we distributed salted duck eggs around SJU to wish everyone a Happy Easter…

And to you all too ~ wishing you all a meaningful and blessed Holy Week, and a joyous and hopeful Easter!

Taiwan Episcopal Church Diocesan Convention 台灣聖公會第61屆教區議會 2021

The Taiwan Episcopal Church Diocesan Convention 2021 was held last weekend, March 5-6, at St. Timothy’s Church, Kaohsiung…

View from St. Timothy’s Church balcony

As Covid-19 in Taiwan continues to be contained through strict border and quarantine controls, so we are grateful that our convention could go ahead in-person as planned. Pandemic precautions were in accordance with government guidelines, with temperature checks and hand sanitizer on entry, and face-masks in use for the service and during meetings. We really only took our face-masks off to eat, drink, and for group photos…

Taiwan Episcopal Church Clergy Group Photo

Just to set the scene, Kaohsiung is south Taiwan’s largest city and Taiwan’s main port. It’s extremely hot and sultry all summer, and very mild and muggy all winter. Pollution is a major problem and the air quality over the weekend was terrible – and with no breeze, so there was haze in all directions. Famous for its shipbuilding, steelworks, heavy industry, oil refineries, port and manufacturing, it doesn’t sound like a very attractive place. These were the air quality readings for last Friday…

But Kaohsiung does have a lot of interesting history – with an old British Consulate (built 1865) up on the hill at the entrance to Kaohsiung Harbour, and nearby at Sizihwan 西子灣 is where James Laidlaw Maxwell (1836–1921) worked as a doctor, most famous for his treatment of leprosy and malaria. He established the first Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (also in 1865) and this month there are commemorations for the centenary of his death. Though he was from Scotland, he was actually sent to Taiwan in 1864 with the then Presbyterian Church of England. The old houses of Sizihwan have mostly gone, but in one place there’s an NGO working to preserve the few that remain. Nearby is Pier 2, where all the old port warehouses are now being transformed into a huge art, shopping and heritage area, with its own light rail and with hazy views of downtown Kaohsiung. There’s lots going on! There’s also the stunning wall murals at Weiwuying, where there’s always something new to see. That’s where a huge new performing arts centre has opened recently too, but as it’s white and grey in colour, so it blends in with the haze, so you can hardly see what’s what – I’ve spared you all the hazy photos!

Most of us coming to the diocesan convention from the far northern and eastern corners of Taiwan arrived in Kaohsiung a day earlier, on Thursday last week. Those of us from Advent Church, Tamsui (including Meng-Rung and Hsiao-Yen on the left below, who are also both diocesan theological students) had a bit of time for sightseeing on Thursday afternoon…

And on early Friday morning at 6:30 am with friends from Trinity Church, Keelung, we were taking photos at Weiwuying. Can’t waste a single minute!

St. Timothy’s Church is one of 2 Episcopal Churches in Kaohsiung, this one is a Taiwanese-speaking congregation, and came out of St. Paul’s, which is Mandarin Chinese-speaking. St. Timothy’s is located very near Formosa Boulevard Metro Station, famous for its “Dome of Light”, the largest glass work in the world, designed by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata…

This is St. Timothy’s Church from near and far, and where I stayed on Thursday night – the lower floors of the building are rented out to OSIM, a Singapore company specializing in massage chairs…

St. Timothy’s Church rector is Rev. Richard Ray-Chiang Lee 李瑞強, and his lovely mother-in-law, Ms. Chou Hai-Kuan 周海光, formerly a member of our Advent Church, has just moved to Kaohsiung to be near her daughters and the church. She and one of her daughters invited us to visit her new home, and she was also was on lift duty on Friday to give everyone the most wonderful welcome as they arrived for the convention!

St. Timothy’s Church senior warden is Ms. Jane Ou 歐秀智 (with me in the photo below). Jane is also 1 of 5 daughters of Rev. Richard C. S. Ou, our first Taiwanese Episcopal priest, ordained in 1965. We had several other clergy families well-represented at the convention too, including Song-Jen and Song-En, daughter and son of Rev. Samuel Liao – his daughter as delegate for Grace Church, Tainan, and his son for St. Paul’s, Kaohsiung – it’s the first time for both!

Bishop Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang, Mr. Yang, diocesan secretary, the diocesan staff team and the St. Timothy’s volunteers in their yellow jackets were all ready for action as everyone arrived for temperature checks, registration and the opening service on Friday morning…

Among the arrivals was Mr. John Chuang 莊立忠, newly-retired just last week (on his 65th birthday, February 29!) from his job as assistant diocesan treasurer. He’s worked at the diocesan office in Taipei for 39 years, and actually is continuing in a voluntary role as treasurer for the next year. He knows the diocese better than most, and has lots of stories to tell, as you can imagine. Congratulations John! He’s pictured here below right with Huei-Yu, our new diocesan accountant…

The opening service started at 10:00 am. A southern deanery choir who had gathered specially for the occasion sang beautifully! The funniest moment was watching Ming-You, one of our 2 deacons, who was given the wine to finish off after communion – it was way more than he was used to, and his face turned a very bright red colour. Spot him in the procession leaving the church and in the last photo at the end – we’ve all been smiling ever since!

After the service we had group photos, taken by St. Timothy’s former senior warden, Mr. Hsiao-Wu Chuang. His wife had done all the stunning flower arrangements for the church, and a team of ladies had arranged all the delicious refreshments and lunchboxes. Mr. Chuang also presented each participant with a bag of goodies from his Chinese medicine company, thank you! This is Mr. Chuang with Ms. Chu Ju-zi from St. Mark’s Church (left photo below)….

The offering from the opening service usually goes to the hosting church, but this time, St. Timothy’s rector and warden, with support from Bishop Chang, presented the money to Rev. C. C. Cheng, vicar of St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung for the major renovations being done on their church and kindergarten property….

The opening sessions of the convention on Friday afternoon and evening followed a different schedule for the first time this year. Bishop Chang invited Rev. Canon David Chee to give a keynote speech on the topic, “Our Church in the Pandemic – Uniting in Christ and Building Together”, followed by discussion groups, each with specific questions to discuss, and then feedback sessions related to the topic that lasted into the evening.