Today was THE day! Christ Church, Chungli finally has a real home to call its own! Yes, after 7 years of using rented buildings for worship and outreach, Christ Church now has its own building. Today we all gathered for the consecration. Thanks be to God!
To finally own your own building – your own church – is really a great blessing from God. Today the emphasis and atmosphere in the whole service was one of deep thanksgiving and appreciation to God for his many blessings to Christ Church.
Christ Church has some very talented church members, and Jeff and Janey have designed the most beautiful logo, which was printed on the service books, on the magnet that came attached as a gift, and on their T-shirts. It incorporates the Chinese characters for ‘Christ Church’ 基督堂. I totally LOVE it!
The new Christ Church is actually the ground-floor of an apartment building, and the floor above. Upstairs, where the overflow seating was today, there’s also rooms for the Sunday School and accommodation for the vicar, Rev. Tsai Ching-Yi 蔡靜儀. Downstairs, most of the space is taken up with the church, the worship area ~ beautifully designed and decorated. I like it! These are the views from higher up on chairs and stairs…
Christ Church is really the daughter church of Good Shepherd Church, Taipei, part of the outreach and church planting program initiated by their rector at the time, Rev. Lily L. L. Chang. Until Christ Church started, there was no Episcopal Church anywhere between Taipei and Taichung, a distance of about 170 km. Then, maybe about 20 years ago, as land and housing prices in Taipei City started to increase dramatically, so Taoyuan started to develop ~ cheaper in price, near Taoyuan International Airport, the high-speed rail station, and easy to commute into Taipei itself. So lots of new housing was built all over Taoyuan County, including Chungli, attracting lots of young families.
One of these families was the Pan family, or I should say, one branch of the Pan family. They live in the Pingzhen 平鎮 area of Chungli 中壢, and at the time, they were driving an hour to Good Shepherd Church every Sunday to attend the worship there. William Pan (see the photo above – taken as he shared his story today) has the kind of job which involves lots of international travel, and it was actually his wife who was the one with all the local contacts. She was very involved in helping at her daughters’ elementary school and had many friends among the other mothers. They all had children the same age, and some of the mothers were interested in the Christian faith. With that impetus, so Good Shepherd Church started renting a building very near that elementary school, and outreach work officially began in May 2011. That summer, our then companion diocese of New Westminster sent a mission team who helped to lead a children’s holiday club in that first church building, a wonderful way to launch the outreach program.
Sunday worship started in October 2011 and the church started to grow. In April 2013, the church moved to a different building nearby, just off the main street. Until then it was just known as the 中壢關懷中心, Chungli Outreach Center. On July 7, 2013, the building was consecrated, and Christ Church was officially established as a mission station.
In their hearts though, what the congregation really wanted was a church building of their own. The one eventually chosen, which Bishop Lai and the Diocese of Taiwan have recently bought, has cost NT$ 20 million. Although the worship area of the church is ready, the rest is still a work in progress.
Today’s consecration service took place at 10:30 am, and was attended by nearly all our clergy, coming from all over Taiwan, plus church members from all over, too. Rev. Joseph Ho (one of the clergy formerly assigned to Christ Church) and his group from St. Mark’s Church, Pingtung had left at 5:00 am this morning to get to Chungli on time!
Good Shepherd Church choir sang, as did Christ Church choir. We had a beautiful solo from one of the church members. One young man was confirmed during the service, another played the piano, others were servers. The different items in the church, the font, lectern, altar etc were all consecrated in turn. And we had Holy Communion. At the end, a presentation of a Bible was made to the interior designer of the new building, he did an amazing job. And finally, well, we had a delicious lunch!
Today was a day of great blessing and great rejoicing. God is gracious and faithful.
Thanks to Rev. Tsai Ching-Yi and all at Christ Church for their warm welcome and all their hard work to make today so special.
Please do pray for Christ Church as they settle into their new building and as they plan their summer outreach program. It was wonderful to see so many teenagers there today – and their mothers, many of these are members of the original families who got involved way back in 2011 when they were just elementary school children. Now they are serving in the church and will be helping to run the summer camps ~ ah yes, thanks be to God!