Tag Archives: Funerals

👑 A Country in Mourning for Queen Elizabeth II ❤️

St. Martin’s Church, Bowness-on-Windermere, with the Union Jack flying at half-mast

It’s been quiet on the waterfront at Bowness-on-Windermere this week, as the Lake District starts to show signs of autumn, with cooler mornings, early morning mists lingering over the lake, and darker evenings.  After a summer of endless visitors, many of whom, come rain or shine, could be found eating ice-cream on the Windermere waterfront at Bowness, suddenly the waterfront seems emptier.  The new school term has started, so there’s fewer families, but those who are still here seem quieter.  It’s been that way now for several days.  Since the queen died last Thursday, the tone is more sombre, serious, subdued.   

St. Martin’s

Just next to the Windermere waterfront is the local parish church, St. Martin’s, where the Union Jack now flies at half-mast.  Lots of people visit this church on any normal day, and since the queen’s death, the lady on duty in the church told me that there’s been even more visitors than usual.  People coming in to offer prayers, light a candle, bring some flowers, write their condolences or just sit awhile.   She was offering leaflets in a variety of languages, including Japanese.  Windermere has become a very international tourist destination in the last few years, and people from all countries and all faiths can be seen walking along the main street, queuing for boat trips, shopping, eating and enjoying the sights and sounds of the Lake District.   

St. Martin’s entrance

Last Tuesday, I was in the nearby village of Grasmere, famous for being the home of William Wordsworth and his family, they’re buried in the churchyard.  Many people were visiting that day, including in the church, while outside they were lining up to buy the famous Grasmere Gingerbread from the old school next door….

On Saturday, two days after the queen’s death, I was there again, and the village seemed eerily quiet.  The outdoor cafes and coffee shops were open and had people in them, but there wasn’t the lively atmosphere of people on holiday enjoying themselves. The Union Jack on the church was at half-mast, while inside the church was a steady stream of visitors coming in to sign the condolence book at the front.

The last time I remember being in the UK for a period of mourning for one of the royal family was when Princess Diana died, 25 years ago, on August 31, 1997. I can still remember where I was when I heard the news, and the sense of shock and bewilderment that lasted for weeks afterwards as the country tried to come to terms with her sudden death.  Like many of my friends of the same age and background, I’m fairly ambivalent about the role of the monarchy ~ as the elite of the land enjoy all the benefits of power, prestige, wealth and glory, the rest of us have to live with what’s left, resulting in huge inequality, injustice, poverty, discrimination and more. 

Troutbeck Village Institute with the flag at half-mast

In 1997, I had just returned to the UK having spent 7 years working with the Church Mission Society (CMS) teaching in Anglican Church-run primary schools in Tanzania, and was fairly convinced of the evils of the British Empire, which in reality was one big power grab but portrayed as intended to bring development and civilization.  Being associated with CMS it’s difficult to avoid our historical connection to the British Empire, but as in all things, it’s never quite so black and white ~ and the Anglican Church in Tanzania was (and is) clearly doing much valuable outreach and mission work, including through their primary schools. 

St. Martin’s

Though we grew up in 2 different worlds, Princess Diana and I were both born in the same year, 1961, so we grew up at the same time, in the same country, and when her marriage to Prince Charles started to fall apart, it was impossible not to feel some sympathy for her. She had so much media scrutiny, so much criticism from the royal family, and then her death robbed those 2 boys of their mother at such a young age, in such tragic circumstances, their every step and every emotion so publicly watched by millions.  The royal family did not come out of it well, and I’d had more than enough of them. 

St. Martin’s

But us women of the world must unite, and there’s no denying the queen herself was an incredible woman, serving the country for 70 years with grace, humility and a devotion to duty that is hard to find fault with.  When we saw images of the queen seated alone at the funeral of Prince Philip last year, it was painfully hard to accept, and yet thousands of other people had to endure the same. The pandemic brought Britain to its knees, and since coming back from Taiwan 2 months ago, I’ve listened to stories first hand from those who suffered and are still suffering.  There is still so much pain and anger, much of it directed at the government.  This previous government leadership may have taken credit for the vaccines and for providing financial support during the pandemic, but then came news of partying at No. 10 the night before Prince Philip’s funeral, as No. 10 totally disregarded the rules which they had set and which the rest of the country, including the queen and royal family, were expected to follow.  

St. Martin’s roof

So, although I’m not entirely happy with the monarchy as such, I also know the appeal – and therefore the danger – of electing charismatic populist leaders who make wild promises they can’t fulfill and end up bringing division and instability to the nation.  And so I find myself asking would it really be any better if we had a president instead?

St. Martin’s roof

I am moved by my friends in the Taiwan Episcopal Church, including the diocesan youth leaders, many of whom have shared photos on social media since the queen’s death, exhorting us to pray for Queen Elizabeth II and her family.  Several have also shared in detail about the role of the queen as the supreme governor of the Church of England.  To be part of the Anglican Church worldwide is to acknowledge the historic role of the kings and queens of England in the church through the centuries.  My Episcopal friends in Taiwan know far more than I do about Henry VIII and the problems of his succession that led to the establishment of the Church of England.  I just try to remember all 6 of his poor wives, 3 of them called Catherine, and most of whom met an untimely end just because they couldn’t produce a son and heir.   What a legacy for a church to inherit. 

St. Martin’s

So while, historically, the strength of the Anglican Church worldwide can in part be attributed to its association with the British Empire, that doesn’t apply in Taiwan.  Taiwan was never part of the British Empire, instead it was a colony of Japan from 1895-1945, and the Japanese Anglican Church in Taiwan at the time was only open to Japanese people, not the Taiwanese.  You might have thought that all that association with empire would have put Taiwan people off from joining the Anglican Church.  Apparently not.  And you might have thought that all that association with empire would have reduced the size and importance of the Anglican Church in those countries that were once part of the British Empire.  Certainly, when I visit such countries, it is difficult to know what to do with all that colonial guilt and shame that sometimes hangs in the air if I say I’m from the UK, or work for CMS.  Let’s hope and pray that our new king, Charles III, plus world leaders and coming generations face up to the challenges, get on with bringing out the truth and start to right the wrongs of the past. 

St. Martin’s

In Grasmere Church this past week, I was struck by the fact that on the church bookstall, apart from books about local history, the only other books on sale were a series that included one called ‘Sayings of the Buddha.’  If I tell my Taiwan Episcopal Church friends this, I know they will ask me why.  Why, indeed?  In Taiwan, where so many follow Buddhism, Taoism and folk religion, many do indeed take comfort from the sayings of the Buddha and try to live their lives accordingly.  We respect all religions, but we also have many in our churches in Taiwan who have become Christians from a Buddhist background, and they talk about finding hope and joy in the promise of eternal life through Christ. Many, moved by attending Christian funerals, see the difference that the Christian faith makes when facing death. 

Jesus Church, Troutbeck

On Thursday afternoon last week, I gave the first talk of my home leave to a group of retired people in Troutbeck, including showing them some photos of our Taiwan Episcopal Church ancestor memorial liturgy, and I talked about our eternal hope in facing death.  Only a few hours after the talk was over, we heard the sad news of the queen’s death. Since then, many church leaders have spoken of that promise of eternal life to all who follow Christ as an important part of the queen’s own deep personal Christian faith. 

Jesus Church, Troutbeck

Who could not be moved by the events of this week, as we watch the royal family and the whole country grieve the loss of a much-loved mother, grandmother and queen; hers was a life of dedication, duty and humble service right to the end. One local business owner told me today she would be closing her shop on Monday for the queen’s funeral, not because she is a royalist, but out of respect for a woman who took up the role given her and poured her whole life into serving her people, right up until the very end.  In her shop window is Paddington Bear, who has also appeared much on TV in the past few days, in a lovely sketch with the queen made for the Platinum Jubilee earlier in the summer.   In honour of the queen, therefore, I am taking marmalade sandwiches up the fells with me each time and thinking of her – and Paddington – as I eat them. 

Grasmere Church

As we remember Queen Elizabeth II in this national week of mourning, let us give thanks for her life, faith and service to others, including the times when she made us smile.  May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

St. Martin’s Church, Bowness

‘Majestic’ is a word not just used of the queen, but also of Britain’s national tree, the oak, chosen as a symbol of endurance and strength. This one is in Grasmere….

And as it’s autumn so the oak trees here are now covered in acorns – containing the seeds – symbols of the next generation.

Our next generation of the royal family need our prayers too, for wisdom, discernment, courage and strength. The responsibilities they face are huge, with the whole future direction of the monarchy and that of the Commonwealth at stake. And so we pray for King Charles III, Princes William and Harry, their wives and children. And we pray too for ourselves, our nation and all nations, and our world. From the leaflet published by St. Martin’s Church, Bowness-in-Windermere in honour of the queen’s death, “Help us to work together so that truth and justice, harmony and fairness flourish among us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Amen.

Updated Sunday September 18, 2022: These are 2 other churches in the area, Kendal Parish Church, Cumbria’s largest parish church – and one of the widest churches in England with 5 aisles, where people have been laying flowers outside the church as well….

And St. Paul’s Church, Grange-Over-Sands, where the town flag flies at half-mast next to the church….

Many churches, including Grange are holding their own special commemorative services…

In Jesus Church, Troutbeck, we sang the first verse of the National Anthem, ‘God save the King’ at the end of our Sunday service today. It has been quite a week, and we pray for the Royal Family and the whole country preparing for the queen’s funeral tomorrow, and especially for King Charles III as he takes over his official duties and responsibilities as king.

Fondly Remembering Mrs. Aline Y. L. Ma 馬蕭亞麟 (Ma Siao Ya-Lin) 1930-2022

Professor Herbert Ma and Mrs. Aline Ma, 2014

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. 

Professor and Mrs. Ma with Bishop David J. H. Lai, 2015

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. 

Yesterday I visited Mrs. Ma’s Memorial Room, remembering Mrs. Ma with her eldest daughter, Gabrielle

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. Ma’s Memorial Room, St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei

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. 

Mrs. Ma’s early life story (photo from the Ma family)

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. 

Mrs. Ma with her early life story (photo from the Ma family)

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 on their wedding day, 1957

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.   

Professor and Mrs. Ma with newly-consecrated Bishop Lennon Y. R. Chang and his wife, Hannah, standing behind are Mr. Gary Tseng, senior warden of St. John’s Cathedral and his wife, Mrs. Amy Chin, diocesan vice-chancellor: February 22, 2020

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. 

Professor and Mrs. Ma with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry: Consecration Service at St. John’s Cathedral, February 22, 2020

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.

Happy memories of a wonderful lady!

Updated Saturday, August 20, 2022: Ma Mama’s Memorial Service:

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.

R.I.P. Janet Tan 譚瑾姊妹追思禮拜 Funeral Service @ Advent Church, Taipei

Well over 200 people gathered at 2:00 pm today, Sunday, at Advent Church to give thanks to God for the life and witness of our close friend and beloved church member, Janet Tan 譚瑾姊妹, who sadly died on June 25. Hers was a life lived to the full, she never wasted one single moment, and all of us who knew her were touched by her kindness, love, self-effacing charm, endless optimism and interest in everything and everyone. All the photos used in this post below bring back many memories, but the top photo above shows Janet with Bishop Lai in 2014 at the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Taiwan Episcopal Church, and that’s how I remember her, always with a smile on her face!

The Tan family have long been the party-family of Advent Church, and until Tan Mama and Tan Baba both passed away last year (see my report of Tan Mama’s funeral here), we regularly gathered at their home to celebrate and enjoy delicious food and great company, whether it was birthdays, Christmas or other festivals, the returning home of one of the grandchildren or welcoming visitors coming – whatever and whenever, it was the Tan family who always knew how to host a great party. Tan Mama was in charge, but somehow it was Janet who made it all happen!

Janet went to high school in Taipei, and after leaving Christ’s College, Guandu, she traveled the world with Cathay Pacific for 10 years or so – she used to tell so many stories of her backpacking adventures! Later she worked in the USA, then at the family T-shirt company in Taipei City, and finally moved with all the Tan family to the coast at Baishawan, just north of Advent Church, where she and her parents took care of the Tan family pets: 7 horses, about 15 famously noisy dogs, a host of cats and a whole gaggle of geese. In their Taipei days, Janet had had a whole pack of Dalmatian dogs, all white with black spots, and she had clothes to match ~ plus the car and the family factory were all painted in white with black spots too ~ ah, she was just so special!

In the countryside at Baishawan, Janet learned how to renovate derelict houses, grow vegetables and live off the land, while also taking care of her beloved parents, and all the pets. Visitors were always welcome! And thus it was that I’ve been to the family home many times for early morning breakfast, other times for lunch, and even more times for late evening parties. Tan Mama was always just getting warmed up at 9:00 pm when most 90-year-olds were well gone to bed!

And when the party was over, often getting on for 11:00 pm, then somehow I had to get home, and that’s when the fun started ~ Janet would offer to drive me the 5 miles or so – only 5 miles but it would take absolutely ages! Tan Mama, fearing that Janet would fall asleep driving, would insist on coming too, and Tan Baba didn’t want to miss out on a car trip, so all 4 of us would then launch forth into the night, pile into the car and head down the hill and along the road in the darkness, going very slowly. The only way to keep Janet awake was to sing loudly and get her to join in too, and so that’s how we got home. Being a kindergarten teacher, I know endless children’s songs, and we sang them all, over and over again ~ ‘Jingle Bells, Happy Birthday, The Wheels on the Bus, Incy-Wincy Spider, If you’re happy and you know it’ every verse, over and over! By this time, Tan Mama and Tan Baba were both fast asleep themselves, and Janet and me were having a great singalong all the way home. It was hilarious. Visitors would join in too, ah such amazing memories!

Janet and her parents also came to every social event in Advent Church. They rarely came on time, and sometimes not even on the right day, but hey, they always came, often right at the end, just in time for the food. One time they called me and asked could they visit. When they arrived, they came with a huge plate of watermelon chunks, enough for about 20 people. The 4 of us munched our way through all that watermelon. It turned out they had thought it was a social evening at Advent Church, and had turned up very late – only to find the church closed. After a quick phone call, they discovered they were a week early, it was on the following week instead. So rather than go home, hey they just brought the watermelon to my house for a watermelon party instead!

When the then-Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori came to visit Advent Church many years ago, she also visited the Tan family and met the horses. Then when the Episcopal Church House of Bishops came to Taiwan in 2014, Janet was on hand to renew her friendship with Presiding Bishop Katharine and her husband, Richard – here they are having lunch!

And only Janet could have pulled off a group photo on the steps of Advent Church with her in the front row with all the bishops!

Today’s service was a fitting tribute to Janet’s life, and also to her witness of her deep and very real Christian faith. She always made the most of every opportunity to share her faith with others, particularly in the context of her simple rural lifestyle, depending on God to supply everything they needed – and over this past year of declining health, she has always remained grateful and appreciative of God’s grace, mercy and love. When Tan Baba died last July, Janet was not able to be at his funeral, she was already receiving treatment for cancer – however she kept as active as she could right to the end and in this last semester, she came along most weeks to my community English class, including the one only a week before she died. We loved having her, she was a real blessing to us all.

Today’s funeral service was led by our rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, who was with Janet in the days and hours leading up to her death, and he also led her cremation service on July 1. Her death was a shock and the whole church has been in mourning for weeks; Janet was too young and died too soon, only a year after both her parents, and yet she would not have wanted us to be mournful – but to rejoice with her that she is now with her Lord in heaven, where there is no more suffering and pain, and where she is reunited with her beloved parents. The reading was from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15, most appropriate. The funeral service in a packed Advent Church….

After the service, we had a tea party in the church center, which the family had decorated with flowers, and Dalmatian-style tablecloths! There were gifts of memorial books and T-shirts. On the T-shirts, designed and made by the family in their own factory, were the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1, headlined with the song, ‘Turn, turn, turn’: “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” So beautiful.

Janet’s 3 older brothers shook hands and thanked everyone as the service finished. We offer them and all the Tan family our condolences and prayers. The brothers and their families are looking after all Janet’s horses and dogs, cats and geese, and also trying to complete some of her building projects, like the huge cross that she wanted to make on the flat roof of the horses’ stable, so that as the airplanes pass by overhead on their flight-path to the international airport, so they can look down and see the cross outline all lit up. Janet had so many ideas and so much vision, she was brimming with creativity and imagination for what was possible. You can see from her outfits she wore that she always dressed as creatively as she could. Janet really brightened up our lives, and was a great friend to so many of us. I thank God for the privilege of having known her.

Fondly remembered. May Janet rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.

R.I.P. Tan Mama 譚鄧承義姊妹追思聖餐禮拜 And what an amazing lady she was!

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Today was Tan Mama’s funeral and funeral party.  It was held in Advent Church, the sun was shining, the cherry blossom was out and Tan Mama would have been smiling!  Just like in these photos of her taken a few years ago!

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Tan Mama’s funeral was moving, dignified and fitting, a service that included Holy Communion, in which we thanked God for Tan Mama’s life and commended her into God’s care and keeping.  Her ashes were in a box (actually a chocolate biscuit box!) at the front of the church for the service.  The church was full, family and friends had come from all over.

Following the service, we moved into the church center for the funeral party.  And what a funeral party it was.  It was totally in the unique style that is Tan Mama and all the Tan family.  She would have loved it!

The church center was decorated with paper flowers and real flowers and with all Tan Mama’s beloved possessions, her large wooden cross decorated with horseshoes (from their own horses), her multi-coloured socks (Tan Mama ALWAYS wore 2 different coloured socks!), her hats with their beautiful feathers, her Bibles and books, her home-made candles, and all the T-shirts.  Yes, T-shirts!  The Tan family business is T-shirts, and they come in all shapes and sizes, colours and patterns, and with logos or words, many designed by Tan Mama herself.  And her homemade wine was offered to everyone for a toast!

Tan Mama and Tan Baba have 4 children and 5 grandchildren, and all were there – the grandchildren sang 2 songs, and the whole family sang a song….

Some friends gave short tributes, some sang songs, others recalled happy memories of Tan Mama.  I was the last to speak, and fondly remembered Tan Mama’s love for parties.  She was the party girl of Advent Church!  Whenever and wherever there was a party, Tan Mama would be there. And wherever Tan Mama was, there was always the potential for a party.  If Tan Mama decided to have a party, well, it happened big-time.  She was the life and soul of any and every social event!

I’ve found many photos in my collection, taken over the last 6 or more years, many of them at parties or social events.  Spot Tan Mama in the middle of each, smiling away!

Anyway, back to the funeral party today.  After the sharing time, we had yummy food to eat, and we were all given potted plants and chocolate-filled Easter eggs to take home.  Y’know, it was quite an occasion, never has Advent Church seen any funeral party like this!

Tan Mama died on March 3, peacefully in her sleep. These last 2 years have been difficult ones for her and the family after she suffered a bad stroke in January 2016, but she valiantly rose to the challenge and determined to walk again, which she did, with some help.  What was amazing was the way the family cared for her and devoted their time and energy to the task. It is just so moving to see their love in action.

Tan Mama’s No. 8 younger sister came to the funeral.  Here she is today, standing in the centre, next to the Tan family cross with the horseshoes, with Hannah (wife of Advent Church rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang) on the left, and Janet Tan on the right….

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Tan Mama was the oldest child in her family, with 10 younger siblings, and her family were Christians, all living in Sichuan, China.  She studied at West China Union University 華西協合大學 in Chengdu, and in about 1948-9 came with her then-fiancé to Taiwan – they married in Gangshan, southern Taiwan, where Tan Baba was stationed in the air force.  That was a period of major political upheaval in China, and like many others who came to Taiwan at the time, they had no idea that they would not be allowed any contact with their families back home for decades to come.  And so, sadly, Tan Mama was never able to see her parents again.  In recent decades, visits have been possible, and these days, we’re glad that No. 8 sister is able to come from Sichuan and visit, she is so delightful!

We truly thank God for Tan Mama’s long and amazing life (95 years or thereabouts, we never quite knew what year we were celebrating with Tan Mama!), her joyful spirit, her cheerfulness and friendliness, her warm hospitality and generosity, her witness for Christ and her dedication to her family.  And when I say ‘family’, I also mean all the animals that are so much part of the Tan family – their horses, dogs, cats and geese.  Nobody else in Taiwan has quite the family that Tan Mama has.  Yes, the Tan family are quite amazing!

This is Tan Mama in years gone by….

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Tan Mama and Tan Baba recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, and Tan Baba celebrated his 100th birthday only last week.  They were such a support for each other, and it will not be easy adapting to life without Tan Mama.  We were so pleased to see Tan Baba today, and he posed for many photos….

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We pray for Tan Baba and all the Tan family to know God’s strength and comfort in their time of loss.   Tan Mama was one very special lady, and we will miss her, but we thank God for her life and the blessing that she was to so many of us.  May she rest in peace and rise and glory.

Updated on August 6, 2018….

Tan Baba passed away peacefully on July 7, 2018.  His funeral service was held yesterday at Advent Church, with many family members and friends in attendance – the church was completely full.  Tan Mama died on 3/3, Tan Baba on 7/7.  Both 3 and 7 have special spiritual significance for Christians.  Both also died on a Saturday, meaning the family were all at home, and could pay their last respects more easily.  At the funeral, their oldest son, Benjamin shared about his father’s life, and what an wonderful man he was.  I remember Tan Baba very fondly.  Always cheerful, always smiling.  He will be much missed.  May he rest in peace, rise in glory and may all the Tan family know God’s deep comfort and great strength at this sad time.

Hot off the press ~ CMS Link Letter # 73!

In 1,400 words (that’s the CMS limit), my long silence on here has ended with the publication today of my latest Church Mission Society (CMS) Link Letter ~ click on this link below and it opens to a pdf document with words and photos describing why I’ve been silent for so long…..

Catherine Lee 73

However, 1,400 words was not enough – and I had to leave much out.  Notably thanking certain people.  My family of course, and all those who offered support and prayers….

Next would be Alice from Mauritius who spent the summer here in Taiwan, staying in my house while she visited her very lovely elderly parents who live up the road from me – while her energetic husband, Bishop Roger was on a mission study tour of the Church of South India.  She is the reason why we visited St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung on Sunday August 6, and I was very grateful for her company and support all summer – and for looking after my house while I was away.

Then there was Rev. Keith C. C. Lee and lovely people of Good Shepherd Church and Kindergarten, Taipei where I had completed only one week of a four-week children’s summer camp when I had to return to the UK.  It so happened that they managed to find another teacher at the last minute, who herself happened to return to Taiwan from her own holiday on the day I left.  Amazing.  God is good.

And especially big thanks to Bishop David J. H. Lai, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang and all the great people of the Diocese of Taiwan, Advent Church and St. John’s University for their support and prayers, and for releasing me for 3 weeks to return to the UK.

And finally, my mobile phone died on me the day I arrived in the UK.  It refused to charge itself and so breathed its last, leaving me phone-less.  As Taiwan is THE best place to buy a new phone, I decided to wait. And anyway, 3 weeks without a phone is not really the end of the world, and gave me a chance to switch off and focus on what was going on there.  So maybe God had a purpose in it all after all!

So, many apologies if you’ve been checking this blog and wondered how come I was so quiet and posting nothing for so long ~ and no explanation either.  Now you know ~ and I hope you will continue your support and prayers as always, thank you!

鄭陳愛美姊妹追思感恩聖餐禮拜 R.I.P Mrs. Cheng Chen Ai-Mei

Our beloved church member, Mrs. Cheng Chen Ai-Mei 鄭陳愛美姊妹 (known to us as Cheng Mama 鄭媽媽) died on March 14, and this past Saturday was her Memorial Service in Advent Church.

Her cremation and burial of ashes took place a week after her death and this Memorial Service was for the church community and her wide circle of friends and colleagues to say goodbye.  It was also a Holy Communion Service, as is fitting for a family where all are Christians.  And what a service it was!  Advent Church was so full of people that we had to bring in extra chairs.  So many people had come to pay their last respects, to grieve, to bring comfort to the family, and to thank God for her wonderful life. And what a life it was. Cheng Mama was much-loved by everyone – and is much missed.

Cheng Mama came from a very big and very well-known Tamsui family. Her father Mr. Chen Ching-Chung 陳清忠校長 (1895-1960) was principal of TamKang High School, Tamsui and was responsible for introducing the sport of rugby into the school – and into the whole country.  The TamKang schools and colleges were founded by the first Presbyterian missionary to Taiwan, George L. Mackay.  Cheng Mama’s paternal grandfather, 陳火 Rev. Chen Huo (after he became a Christian he changed his name to Chen Rong-Hui 陳榮輝) was one of Mackay’s first students and converts, and became the first pastor of Xindian Presbyterian Church, Taipei.  Her great uncle, Chen Rong-Hui’s elder brother married Mackay’s elder daughter, Mary Ellen.

Cheng Mama spent most of her life worshiping in Tamsui Presbyterian Church, but her son, Paul and his family have been members of Advent Church for many many years, serving on the Vestry and in many leadership roles.  In recent years, his sister, Carol has joined us too.  We love them all so much!

Cheng Mama’s testimony is amazing.  She prayed faithfully for her husband for 49 years that he could become a Christian.  49 years!  Suddenly in 2009 at the grand old age of 86, through the ministry of our rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, Mr. Cheng made THE decision – yes, he was going to be baptized!  The Cheng parents then both started to attend Advent Church every week as long as they were able.  Mr. Cheng died on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2013 and his funeral was held in Advent Church a few weeks later (see that blog post here). Cheng Mama continued to come to Advent Church along with her family, until she became sick a few months ago.

Cheng Mama is lovingly remembered for the way she showed such great care and concern for all those in her family, and her friends, colleagues, classmates, church members and so many more.  Even when she couldn’t go out and meet them all, she would call up and keep in touch by phone.  Always smiling and giving thanks to God for his many blessings, she was a gift to us all.  One of her great friends was Tan Mama – this is the best photo I took of them both in Advent 2015, Cheng Mama on the right, Tan Mama on the left.

So we give thanks to Almighty God for Cheng Mama’s wonderful life and witness. We pray for her family and friends, and for us all, that the faith of those like Cheng Mama, who have gone before us, will continue to inspire and challenge us afresh.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory, Amen!

R.I.P. Mr. Liao Hong-Ming 廖鴻鳴弟兄 Loyal and Faithful Servant of the Lord

Mr. Liao Hong-Ming died peacefully on December 17, ‘with a smile on his face’ as Rev. Philip Lin wrote in his announcement – and today was his funeral and cremation at the Taipei Second Funeral Home.

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Mr. Liao was the husband of Mrs. Chao, who until she retired last year was our colleague in the St. John’s University Chaplaincy.  In fact they both worked at St. John’s University (and as it was formerly known, St. John’s and St. Mary’s Institute of Technology) for virtually all of their working lives, serving faithfully on the administrative staff, devoting their time, energy and expertise to ensure the smooth running of the school. They were both totally dedicated to their work, to their family, to their church and to Almighty God.   The world definitely needs more loyal and faithful servants like Mr. Liao and Mrs. Chao.

Mr. Liao became ill some years ago, and has shown amazing resilience, determination and fortitude in the face of so much pain and increasing agony.  All through his illness, Mrs. Chao and family and friends have all been beside him, supporting and encouraging him. Their faith has kept them strong, and the support of their friends from Good Shepherd Church and former colleagues has lightened the load.

Today at his funeral, Rev. Lennon Chang spoke of the joy of knowing that Mr. Liao is now in the presence of Almighty God, held in his arms, and that for those who believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and life, that opportunity is open to us too.   The service was beautifully led by Good Shepherd Church clergy and lay leaders, and finished with us all placing orchid flowers on the open coffin as they prepared his body for cremation.

About 100 of us joined in the funeral service, including some who, like me, cannot get to next Saturday’s Memorial Service at Good Shepherd Church.   All were there to show their respect and gratitude to Mr. Liao, and to show support to Mrs. Chao and the family. Having so many good friends and colleagues around at such a time is a great blessing.

Thanking God for Mr. Liao’s life and witness; may he rest in peace and rise in glory.  And praying for God’s comfort and grace to sustain Mrs. Chao, their 3 children and all the family throughout this sad time.

鄭啟璋弟兄追思禮拜….RIP 鄭伯伯

49 years!  49 years of praying ~ that truly shows some dedication and perseverance…

That’s how long Mrs. Cheng prayed for her husband before he finally decided to become a Christian.  This family sure has an amazing testimony!

On Saturday we gathered at Advent Church for the funeral of the man we knew as 鄭伯伯 Mr. (Uncle) Cheng, who died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 90.  His son and family have long been members of our church while Mrs. Cheng always went along to the Presbyterian Church in Tamsui, near their home, and would come with her son here once a year on Mother’s Day.  But never with Mr. Cheng!

Until 4 years ago, that is!  In 2009, aged 86, Mr. Cheng made a radical decision – to become a Christian and be baptized.  A whole new beginning for him and his family!

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Mr. Cheng came from Mainland China to Taiwan alone at the age of 27, and after years of study became a professor of P. E. at TamKang University in Tamsui.  Aged 36 he married Mrs. Cheng.  She has a very long Christian heritage as a 3rd generation Christian from the Chen family of Xindian (the other end of Taipei) where her grandfather was Presbyterian pastor, one of the original students of Rev. George L. Mackay……

And so there followed 49 long years of prayer for her husband to come to faith……

In 2009 Mr. Cheng was in hospital, very ill.  One of Mrs. Cheng’s relatives, a pastor, visited him, and asked him a simple question about what would happen to him after his death. Mr. Cheng was deeply challenged and troubled by that question, and knew he could no longer put off making a decision.  When he came home from hospital, still very weak, he called our rector (who had been visiting him for several years and sharing the Gospel), who came to the house and baptized him.

Amazingly, Mr. Cheng recovered from that illness.  In fact, he lived on for another 4 years, became a very committed Christian; and whenever his health allowed, he was always in our church on a Sunday with his wife beside him.

We give thanks to God for Mr. Cheng’s testimony, his wife’s faithfulness in prayer over the years, and for all the family ~ God certainly works in amazing ways!