A non-stop 3 days at St. James’ Church, Taichung – it’s always non-stop action! Straight off the flight from Penghu, and in at the deep end! Mike and Harriet, my always-ready-for-action visitors, spending the last few days of their trip visiting all my old friends and colleagues at St. James. And what a great time we had!
An 8-course (or was it 9?) welcome dinner with Luanne and Samuel at ‘Tasty’, followed by a night city tour….
On Tuesday the weather was amazing, thanks be to God ~ and my good friends Jerry and Jean kindly took us to Sun Moon Lake for the day, including a visit to the Peacock Collection, walk around the lake, coffee at the famous temple-with-the-view (stunning views while Harriet shared her ppt about her family and Durham City life!), lunch and then a visit to the beautiful Paper Dome (Paper Church) where there was also a high school wind band performance…
And back to St. James in time for Tuesday evening’s Kindergarten Graduation, and what an event it was…. I even met 2 girls I had taught when they were 5-6, and now here they were attending their younger brothers and sisters graduation…. gosh time flies!
Note Harriet at the end of the evening….!
And so to Wednesday and Mike and Harriet’s last day in Taiwan…..
A birthday party for Lauren, one of our English teachers – at lunch time and lots of food kindly provided by my good friends!
And then to the Taichung Science Museum Greenhouse…
and so off into the sunset to the airport for a midnight flight home!
Goodbye Mike and Harriet, we’ve loved welcoming you, and come again soon! And many thanks to all who gave of their time and energy to welcome us and treat us like kings and queens, your kindness truly appreciated!
3 days, 2 nights with 30+ youth, 10+ youth leaders and 5+ clergy and soon-to-be clergy and theological students, and us – that’s me and my lovely visitors from the UK, Harriet and her dad Mike….
The 2014 Diocese of Taiwan Youth Camp was held in the Little Ding-Dong Science Park (great name eh?!) in Hsinchu County (great views of Hsinchu City and the sea) last week from July 9-11….. and we were there ~YES!
3 days of non-stop action, including paint-balling, abseiling, high-rope walking, snow-sliding, barbecue, games, fun, worship and many thought-provoking discussions and challenges, kind of all on the theme of ‘Knowing Yourself, Knowing God’…
Harriet being there gave everyone a chance to practice their English, and hey, she had a great time too – so did Mike ~ thanks to everyone who bent over backwards to welcome the 3 of us!
Most of the young people on the camp were from non-Christian families ~ so a great outreach and a challenge for all! Pray for all these young people ~ and the leaders, there’s still a whole summer of children’s camps ahead ~ YES!
Such a great partnership between St. James’ Preschool, Taichung and Cambridge-Ellis School (CES) in Boston, USA means that every summer we have the honour of welcoming 2 of their lovely teachers to join us for 2 months…
So off I went to the airport last night to welcome the CES teachers for summer 2014, Christina and Matisse, fresh off a flight from London via Dubai… both smiling away!
Yep, Matisse is indeed named after the great artist, and yep they had a wonderful time at the Tate Modern in London visiting the Matisse Exhibition ~ as VIP guests no less!
Now settling into Taichung’s heat and humidity ~ and a big welcome to them both!
Yep, 50 years of mission in Keelung! Yesterday was Trinity Sunday, and there were big celebrations in Trinity Church, Keelung with a Thanksgiving Service at 3:00pm, followed by a grand banquet dinner. And to mark this very special event, the church has been upgraded to parish status – a big decision and start of a new era YES!
Parish status is a kind of mark of maturity, from now on they’ll have far more autonomy, but also of course more responsibility (like gotta take care of their own finances!) hence the decision is not an easy one to make – but they are launching forth in faith…. God has really blessed Trinity Church under the leadership of Rev. Richard R. C. Lee in the last decade or so and they have a great heart for outreach into the community and for planting churches….
The church was bustling with people in pink T-shirts, me too…. so many people in fact that the pink T-shirts mostly had to sit upstairs and watch the service by video …. full full full!
Lots of our church members from other Episcopal Churches and at least 20 representatives from other Christian denominations in Keelung, plus a choir from another church who sang a song ~ all in all a wonderful witness to the way the churches in the area cooperate together to share the Gospel….
Bishop Lai led the service and preached the sermon, St. Stephen’s Church (a Trinity Church plant) sang, and we had a lively DVD showing the history of the church all set to music….
And after the great banquet meal and birthday cake, we all came home with an engraved wooden cross, designed and made specially for the occasion by one of the church members…
And here we all are!
Check out the cross in the ceiling above, great eh?!
Thanking God for his many blessings of the last 50 years in Keelung, and here’s to the next 50+50+50+50 forevermore!
Big Celebrations in Kaohsiung this past weekend! St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung was established in 1954, and the present building was consecrated on May 31, 1964 ~ so a double celebration of 60 years of mission and 50 years of the church YES!
On Saturday we celebrated with a special Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s, attended by many from all over Taiwan….
For those of us from the far north, we started out very early in order to be on the 7:30am HSR train from Taipei… fortunately after days of heavy rain, finally the sun came out, and in fact shone all day YES!
What a great service, and what lovely people! Everyone knows everyone in the Taiwan Episcopal Church, just like one big family, so there were lots of reunions and of course photos (always photos ha ha!), and all followed by birthday cake and buffet lunch…
After lunch, off to 美麗島車站 Formosa Boulevard Station on the Kaohsiung MRT, famous for its Dome of Light, apparently the largest glass work in the world….
And so to St. Timothy’s Church, Kaohsiung for a concert in the evening by our good friends, Cynthia Lawing on the piano, and her husband Bill Lawing on the trumpet (both from Davidson College, North Carolina) in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Taiwan Episcopal Church ~ they had also played a piece earlier in the day during the service at St. Paul’s Church so we were doubly blessed, what a great day!
Thanking God for his many blessings on St. Paul’s Church during these past 60 years and for a wonderful day on Saturday ~ and please do pray for St. Paul’s and their wonderful ministry….
September is fast approaching, the month when the Diocese of Taiwan hosts the Episcopal Church House of Bishops Autumn Meeting ~ so our 2 great friends, Canon Peter Ng and Lori Ionnitiu from New York have been here all this week in preparation…
Hence visits to 4 churches in the diocese to see how preparations are coming along for the visit of the bishops and spouses….
St. James’ Church, Taichung (plus a tour of the Art Museum) ~ St. John’s University and Advent Church (and visit to the construction site) ~ Good Shepherd Church, Taipei ~ Trinity Church and St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung in that order ~ finishing with a farewell dinner last night hosted by Rev. Michael Liou…
What a great week, but there’s still lots to do ~ please pray for us all!
60 years old ~ and in Chinese culture, the 60th birthday is always THE major landmark… Thanks be to Almighty God for his many blessings over the last 60 years, and here’s to the next 60!
Actually, the day started at 2:20am (yep, it’s true) with a massive huge thunderstorm that brought torrential rain, thunder and lightning for the next 3 hours ~ the end of all sleep for the rest of the night! No oversleeping then for those of us gathered at Advent Church for the journey to Taichung for the big day ~ but in fact by daybreak the rain had stopped and the sun came out, and the views from the bus were oh, so beautiful! Over 700 people were on their way to Taichung from all corners of Taiwan, the very farthest away – Hualien church members had left the night before, for the rest of us on the west coast, Keelung and Pingtung started out at 6:00pm, and we were a bit later at 6:30am ~ and everyone made the most of the 2-3 hour journey to practice the songs we were singing in the afternoon performance….
By 9:30am we were all gathered at Chung-Hsin Elementary School in Taichung, not far from St. James’ Church, in a big hall rented for the occasion. The Thanksgiving Service started at 10:00am with a spectacular drum performance by children from St. James, and continued until midday and a buffet lunch, and then all afternoon all our churches, congregations and kindergartens put on performances of music, song and dance….
In case you’re wondering (bear with me for a little background to all this) how come the Taiwan Episcopal Church is only 60 years old given that Henry VIII’s marital problems and break with Rome are not exactly recent history, let’s just rewind a little….
And you’ll find that actually there’s been an Episcopal Church in Taiwan far longer than 60 years, but in the early years it was Japanese rather than Taiwanese. During the Japanese colonial period from 1895 to 1945, the Japanese Anglican Church NSKK owned church buildings in Taiwan and held services for its Japanese citizens in these churches. In those days, Taiwan came under the NSKK Diocese of Osaka. After the Japanese left Taiwan in 1945, most of their Anglican Church buildings were taken by the Nationalist government in Taiwan and given to other denominations. The Taiwan Episcopal Church was established in 1954 originally to serve the American military who were based in Taiwan, and came under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Hawaii. It also took pastoral care of the former C.H.S.K.H (中華聖公會) Chinese Anglican Church members, who had come to Taiwan from Mainland China…..
Fast forward to 2005 and the Japanese connection was kind of rekindled when the Dioceses of Osaka and Taiwan signed a companion diocesan agreement, initially for 3 years ~ and it’s been renewed every 3 years ever since! So we were very honored to welcome a group of 29 from the Diocese of Osaka, Japan, led by Bishop Osamu Onishi and Rev. Akira Iwaki, who came for 5 days, including a 2-day visit to Hualien. During the Thanksgiving Service Bishop Onishi and Bishop Lai signed the companion agreement for a further 3 years. A member of the Osaka group, Ms. Ayano Tsuji, also composed a special song ‘Tomoni’ (一起 meaning ‘Together’) in honor of the 60th anniversary and our friendship; this was sung at the opening of the afternoon celebration, led by Ms. Tsuji on the piano….
We were also honored to welcome 3 distinguished visitors from Hong Kong, Archbishop Paul Kwong, Provincial Secretary Rev. Peter Koon and Rev. Kenneth Lau. During the Thanksgiving Service, Bishop Lai expressed his sincere thanks to Archbishop Kwong for his generosity in providing scholarships for 2 seminarians from the Diocese of Taiwan to study at Ming-Hua Theological College, Hong Kong for 3 years, starting this September, and also for help in printing the Taiwan Episcopal Church 60th Anniversary Bibles (with Apocrypha) which were dedicated during the Thanksgiving Service.
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, had sent an official letter of congratulations on the occasion of the 60th anniversary and a gift of a carved wooden picture of the 4 gospels – she was represented by the Chief Operating Officer of the Episcopal Church, Sam McDonald, who was accompanied by Canon Peter Ng, Asia-Pacific Officer of the Episcopal Church. Also from the Episcopal Church, Mrs. Mimi Wu represented Province VIII and Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry. Our only regret was that Archdeacon Douglas Fenton, (from our other companion diocese of New Westminster, Canada) was unable to come at the last minute due to visa problems that were only discovered when he got to the airport to board his flight (take note, all those thinking of a trip to Taiwan!) …..
In the middle of the afternoon performances, the Mayor of Taichung, Jason Hu 胡志強 came to visit us, with a group of councilors and representatives. He spoke of his time when he studied in England (University of Southampton, and PhD from Oxford) and his acquaintance with the Anglican Church in the UK, and how honored he was to be invited here for this celebration…. check out the photos!
What a day! Never a dull moment in the whole 7-hour programme of events, helped considerably by the music, dance and performance talents of our diocesan kindergarten teachers who provided amazing entertainment keeping us all on our toes all day long, plus of course church members who sang and played instruments and led praise and worship exercises and acted out Bible stories, all wonderful! And the day finished with the singing of 3 hymns, including Amazing Grace and Onward Christian Soldiers….
And so we all left for home at 5:30pm, armed with a box of breads and cakes for the journey…. a great day YES!
But the weekend did not end there, of course! St. James’ Church, who had so marvelously hosted all the day’s events, continued their welcome to the Osaka group, who worshiped at St. James on Sunday morning, yesterday. The group (and most of our other visitors) leave for home this afternoon, and so last night we all gathered in Taipei at the Shanghai Restaurant for a grand Farewell Dinner ~ and, so it turned out ~ a Japanese Tea Ceremony, hosted by Mrs. Michiko Nishimura in her beautiful kimono ~ an appropriate and special way to end our celebration weekend, thanks be to Almighty God!
In case you haven’t guessed what I did all weekend, well – I have reduced my 1,500+ photos down to 200 or so….. here are just a few of them!
The Taiwan Episcopal Church celebrates its 60th anniversary this year ~ the big celebration will be on Saturday April 26 in Taichung….
The T-shirts, with a specially designed logo in honor of the occasion and to be worn on the day are now ready ~ the logo designed by church members of Christ Church, Chung-Li, and the T-shirts made by our very own Tan Shirt Company. The Tan family are church members here at Advent Church, and Marge Tan (our senior church warden) runs their cutting factory just up the road ….
So happens that we also have an English class there every Monday afternoon for the staff – and here they are yesterday, proudly displaying THE finished product, now all ready for distribution….
Watch this space for photos of the big day – and please pray for us and join us in thanksgiving to Almighty God for 60 years of the Taiwan Episcopal Church!
飛揚小組 is one of the 5 small cell-groups at St. James’ Church, Taichung ~ and all 5 have delightful names. Just think, this group could well be called the Wednesday Evening Cell group, after all that’s when they usually meet ~ but that would be so boring and unimaginative. Instead it is called 飛揚 Fei-Yang, which in a Christian context is often used to mean something like ‘Flying everywhere to share the Gospel’….
Cell groups have gone from strength to strength at St. James, a wonderful way of growing the church, and sharing and deepening faith. In this group are several who have been baptized very recently and are now preparing for confirmation. Occasionally they gather at the home of one of their members for tea and sharing and dinner. Last Saturday was one of those fun days ~ and somehow I found myself there too….
With all this eating, some suggest the group could be renamed 肥羊 rather than 飛揚 – both are pronounced Fei-Yang (only a tone apart); perhaps appropriately 肥羊 means ‘Fat Sheep’ ha ha ha!
Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent….
And it was also exactly a year ago today that our beloved retired Bishop of Taiwan, 簡啟聰主教 John C. T. Chiendied, on March 5, 2013. We remember his life and witness with great thankfulness and joy, and continue to pray for Mrs. Grace Chien and the family….