Our annual community concert at Advent Church last night to celebrate Mid-Autumn Moon Festival – and to give the local community a chance to come together to perform and celebrate.
A great variety of choirs and groups and individuals as always, all wonderful! We had all sorts of music, from musicals to pop to classical, from indigenous aboriginal to traditional Chinese, from ancient to modern, from Bunun to A-mei to Taiwanese to Chinese to Japanese to English, and everything in between….. loved it all!
And the highlight is always the Bunun Church Choir who perform last, and they were wonderful as always! Here’s a selection!
And at the end every group or individual receives a certificate of thanks.
A great evening, fantastic music and a wonderful outreach. Thanks be to God, and to everyone who participated in any way!
We celebrated the 60th anniversary of St. John’s Cathedral last night ~ and what a great celebration it was! Congratulations to all, and thanks be to Almighty God!
And the pièce de résistance, the jewel in the crown of all the celebrations last night must have been the impromptu drum performance by our very esteemed and distinguished Canon Chancellor, Professor Herbert H. P. Ma, who at the grand age of 90 took to the drums with great gusto, and hey presto, had us all charmed and wanting more!
Here is Professor Ma with his family, and in action on the drums!
And it was quite some celebration!
St. John’s Cathedral has been in existence for 60 years and Professor Ma has been here right from the beginning. He arrived in Taiwan from Shanghai in 1947 at the age of 21 with his parents and family members, and he and his younger sister became part of the original home group that met for services and fellowship in the very early days of the Taiwan Episcopal Church. Then later they met on Sunday afternoons in the church building that had originally been home to the Japanese NSKK Anglican Church in Taipei but by then was already Zhongshan Presbyterian Church. And he was involved from the start in the establishment of St. John’s Church, which later became St. John’s Cathedral 60 years ago.
Professor Ma shared much of this information last night at the Thanksgiving Service held to celebrate St. John’s Cathedral 60th Anniversary. The service finished with a lively and enthusiastic performance of the Lei-Ku drums by the cathedral ladies, then an amazing drum performance from 羅小白 S.white (‘Shiao-Bai’), a very famous street drummer in Taiwan, who happens to have been brought up in St. John’s Cathedral, and uses her drumming as a way to share the Gospel through her ministry at Taipei New Life Church, but she came back specially to drum for us last night. Her mother sings in the cathedral choir and her father and grandmother were both there too ~ here they all are!
Professor Ma was sitting right in the front and right next to Shiao-Bai as she performed, and he loved every minute ~ which is why, when offered the chance to have a go himself on the drums, he jumped at the chance and gave us a sterling performance, making his public debut as Taiwan’s newest drumming sensation! Rev. Elizabeth Wei said it must have been the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost!
Professor Ma, Mrs. Aline Ma and 2 of their daughters were there in the front row, and they assure us there’s plenty more musical skills waiting to be shared by their father, including Chinese opera. Who knows what the St. John’s Cathedral 70th anniversary might bring?!
Here are our 2 drumming sensations along with Mrs. Ma!
Professor Ma was probably the longest-serving church member there last night, but we were also honoured to have our newest church family there too. A lovely smiling family of 4, the Cheng family were baptized that very morning – Pentecost Sunday – in Christ Church, Chungli, and the 4 of them, the parents and their 2 young sons were with us to celebrate. Those little lads were as good as gold! Some might say a formal 2-hour service is some sort of baptism of fire for small children, but then the Spirit does move in mysterious ways, especially at Pentecost! Here they are ~ with Li-Chin, one of the Christ Church members on the left, all smiling away!
And so we gathered at 4:00pm yesterday, just as the heavens opened – but not with tongues of fire – rather thunder and lightning and heavy rain. But by the middle of the sermon, the rain had stopped and the sun had almost come out….
We had clergy and church members from all our nearby churches around the Taipei area and further afield, including Rev. Charles C. T. Chen and his wife, MaryJo who’d come from Taichung and Rev. Samuel Ying-Chiu Lin, former dean of St. John’s Cathedral, who came from Yilan. Some church members had come from Kaohsiung and Hualien. The furthest traveled clergy must have been Rev. Cheng Chen-Chang 鄭成章牧師 who had come straight to Taipei after his morning service at St. Mark’s Church, Pingtung, the farthest south of all our churches.
All our clergy – and the church – in red for Pentecost and celebration!
Bishop Lai led the service, preached and celebrated Holy Communion ~ and smiled for many photos! So did everybody, and it’s nearly impossible to choose the best from the 600+ photos that I took last night! Rev. Elizabeth Wei, currently in charge of the cathedral, assisted by her husband, Rev. Peter Chen, retired priest Rev. Michael Liou, organist Joanna Fu, plus the choir and lots of very hard-working church members made sure everything ran smoothly. It was all amazing. And after the service, drumming performances and group photos, we had dinner boxes, dessert (dou-hua) and birthday cake. Yummy yummy!
A wonderful occasion with wonderful people! A few photos to follow ~ do check out the most amazing dress worn by our very vivacious and lovely senior warden at St. John’s Cathedral, Ms. Marjorie Kuo. The dress is purple and covered in large lips ~ when I asked her about their significance, she talked about ‘kissing God’ ~ ah yes, sharing the Gospel, Marjorie-style!
And do check out these 2 performances last night by Shiao-Bai ~ I was so close I could hardly hear the background music that she was playing along to, but you’ll see why she’s so popular and such a joyful witness in her outreach ministry!
And so to the grand finale of Canon Chancellor Herbert Ma and his debut on the world stage, ever youthful and ever ready to try something new at the age of 90!
And here we all are – a whole church photo, taken by St. John’s Cathedral….
Congratulations to St. John’s Cathedral and to all in the Taiwan Episcopal Church, and thanks be to Almighty God for his abundant blessings!
We have a new group at Advent Church learning Taiko Drums 豐收擂鼓班 and after only 2 months of lessons, this is their first public performance ~ for today’s Mother’s Day Service at Advent Church!
Has to be said that those at this end wished I’d been filming the others at the other end ha ha ~ but it was fun at this end! I found it impossible to keep up with them the one time I tried ~ so a wonderful performance from them all!
Yes, a special day at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei yesterday ~ and in all our churches too!
For the Taiwan Episcopal Church, the Sunday before Chinese New Year’s Eve is celebrated every year with a special liturgy to honour the ancestors. The liturgy takes place within the main Sunday service, usually at the end, with prayers and readings, and there’s a table for everyone to place lighted candles. At the cathedral, the table is placed in the main entrance on the left side, and everyone lights their candle as they enter the church. The red cards on the table list the names of all the people being remembered that day. In other churches, the table is in the main part of the church, or near the front, and people light the candles on the way back to their seats after receiving communion.
The desire for some sort of Ancestor Memorial Liturgy was really initiated by our beloved Canon Chancellor, Professor Herbert H. P. Ma many years ago, partly in response to his father, who for a long time would not commit himself to the Christian faith. Professor Ma’s father, Ma Shou-Hwa 馬壽華 (1893-1977) was one of the very first judges of the newly-formed Republic of China (1912 onwards), and was also well-known for his great talent as a calligrapher and painter, especially portraying bamboo. His work includes the set of 2 Chinese calligraphy vertical couplets and the horizontal one around the door above – all words appropriate for the Ancestor Memorial Liturgy. An extract from an article in our diocesan Friendship Magazine in 2014 about Professor Ma, describing life after his marriage in 1957, says, as follows:
“Although Professor and Mrs. Ma and the children were active in St. John’s Cathedral, his parents were not. For his father, the major obstacle continued to be ancestor worship, and yet Professor Ma himself felt no conflict. At an ecumenical conference on this subject, he discussed with the participants how the Christian faith and Chinese tradition could be reconciled. He also published articles on this subject, and later instigated the Ancestor Memorial Liturgy for the Taiwan Episcopal Church. In the articles, he wrote that our ancestors are human beings, and when they die, they are still human beings, not gods. There is only one Almighty God, and we need to separate our ancestors from the divine. We can still pay our respects to our ancestors without regarding them as gods. After much thought, Professor Ma’s father accepted his explanation, and henceforth adopted an attitude of respect rather than worship of his ancestors. Having resolved this issue, his parents were now ready to be baptized and became Christians”.
So, yesterday was THE day, and off I went to St. John’s Cathedral, hoping to experience the Ancestor Memorial Liturgy, and also see Chancellor Herbert Ma and his lovely wife, Mrs. Aline Ma. YES! Here they are lighting their candles…
A warm welcome is always guaranteed from everyone at the cathedral, Rev. Elizabeth Wei and her husband, Rev. Peter Chen, Rev. Michael Liou and his wife Grace, Rev. Ching-Yi Tsai, plus all the church members and many old friends, including Na Mama originally from Advent Church – all so lovely! Bishop Lai was also at the service yesterday, as was Mrs. Lily Lai. They had just arrived back from Japan the night before, after a trip with Good Shepherd Kindergarten teachers and staff.
Also just flown in the night before was our good friend, Canon Peter Ng, Asia-Pacific Officer for the Episcopal Church, based in New York. It was Peter who had organized for the St. John’s Cathedral’s organist, Ms. Joanna Fu 傅麗萍, to spend 3 months on a church placement in Anglican Liturgical Music at the Church of Our Saviour, San Gabriel, Los Angeles, California, under Rector Rev. Gary Bradley, and Associate Rector, Rev. Ada Wong-Nagata. Ada is a good friend of us all in Taiwan, and plays a big part in EAM, Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries. The placement was from September 1 to November 29, 2015, and this is the first time Peter had been able to meet Joanna since then and to see the fruits of her placement. Me too. Her playing was fantastic!
In Taiwan there is no formal training school or college for church organists, and most professional organists in Taiwan have trained overseas. Joanna graduated in Church Music from Taiwan Theological College (run by the Presbyterian Church), and says that although she learned a lot about church music at the college, she had no opportunity to learn traditional Anglican liturgical music, and never really learned how to use a pipe organ to its fullest extent. Until a few years ago, St. John’s Cathedral had only an electronic organ for use in worship; now it has a beautiful new pipe organ. Joanna thought that her training and experience were really insufficient to make the most of the new pipe organ, so Rev. Michael Liou contacted Canon Peter Ng to see if there was an opportunity for Joanna to spend some time in the USA to develop her organ skills and learn some new ones.
And so off to LA she went! Here’s Joanna, Rev. Michael Liou (left) and Canon Peter Ng (right) together yesterday after the service….
The organist at the Church of Our Saviour is Canon Phil Smith, and he kindly gave Joanna twice-weekly organ lessons for all the 3 months, plus she had plenty of time to practice, take part in choir practice and services, as well as visit lots of other Episcopal Churches in the LA area to experience other kinds of worship, such as evensong and compline. So a really successful church placement, and it was wonderful to hear such beautiful music yesterday. In fact, Rev. Michael Liou kept giving me the thumbs up every time Joanna started playing! Here she is in the following photos, practicing with the choir before the service, then playing throughout, and Peter bringing us warm greetings from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and friends in the Episcopal Church – and translated by Mr. Winston Yu.
Hope you notice Joanna’s very special and very gold ‘organ shoes’ in the photos above – aren’t they beautiful?!
A great morning, with lovely people ~ and a very meaningful service!
And after the service? Well Professor Ma and his wife kindly invited me for lunch, then in the afternoon I tried to keep up with a very energetic Mrs. Ma and her daughter, Gabrielle (and what seemed like the whole of Taipei!) as we went around the Jianguo Flower Market buying flowers for Chinese New Year – wow, so very very beautiful, and so very very busy ~ but hey, that’s a whole other story, ha ha!
New Year’s Eve extravaganza at Taipei City Hall and the fireworks at Taipei 101 ~ THE place to be on New Year’s Eve in Taiwan!
An extract from the Taipei Times report of the evening, sums it all up wonderfully …..
Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義) on Thursday night for the city government’s New Year’s Eve countdown party and to celebrate the new year. The star-studded party was organized by the Taipei Department of Information and Tourism and a coalition of private enterprises, including Taipei 101, SET-TV media group and Union Bank of Taiwan.
Taiwanese techno diva Jeannie Hsieh (謝金燕) appeared before the crowd on an elevator platform and began the event by performing one of her hits, sending the audience gathered in the plaza in front of Taipei City Hall into a frenzy. Accompanied by a group of back-up dancers, Hsieh performed six songs while going through several very quick costume changes.
Other performers included singers Wilbur Pan (潘瑋柏) and Elva Hsiao (蕭亞軒), while hosts Jacky Wu (吳宗憲), Lin Yu-chih (林郁智, better known as Na-Dou) and Lulu (黃路梓茵) sang two covers of Western pop classics, including the Beatles’ Hey Jude.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Chen Wei-yin (陳偉殷) was also called onstage, where he was asked to demonstrate his pitching skills by passing a baseball to Wu. Chen later presented Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) with a baseball glove bearing the logo of the 2017 Summer Universiade, which Taipei will host, and said that he wish the city success in organizing the sporting event. However, Ko declined to catch a ball thrown by Chen when the hosts suggested that he do so, saying that Chen did not seem to have good control of his pitching. Chen agreed with the mayor, saying his jacket was too tight and impeded his movements.
Later on, Ko was back on stage to preside over an opening ceremony for the World Design Capital (WDC) 2016, during which he and WDC selection committee member Mugendi M’Rithaa placed miniatures of five iconic buildings on a map of Taipei to signify the launch of the event.
Ko also sang a Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) song by pop group Mayday (五月天), which his aides said he had been practicing for days. However, he got off to a rocky start, missing his cue to start by two full verses, and beginning during what should have been the chorus, which led organizers to stop the backing track so that the mayor could finish the song a cappella. Despite his less-than-ideal performance, the crowd cheered Ko for his effort. “That scared me to death,” the mayor said afterward about his performance. Before leaving, Ko told the crowd to “have fun and go back to work tomorrow,” before reminding the partygoers to “take your trash with you” to lessen the workload of Taipei Department of Environmental Protection personnel.
The countdown party culminated in an extravagant 238-second firework show designed by French pyrotechnic firm Groupe F, for which the Taipei 101 management said it spent about NT$50 million (US$1.51 million).
Pop superstar Chang Hui-mei (張惠妹), better known as A-mei (阿妹), finished the show with a one-hour set that ended at about 1:30am.
The Taipei Department of Environmental Protection deployed 800 employees at the party — some of whom held up placards reading “Please hand me your garbage” — to collect trash, including cigarette butts. The agency said it collected 12.35 tonnes of trash after the event, 670kg less than the amount collected after the 2014 New Year’s Eve event.
The concert was incredible, as always ~ such talent! Dancing and singing, standing and sitting, and taking photos all night. Great atmosphere, and couldn’t fail to be amazed at the organization and crowd control with record numbers in attendance.
Purple and pink everywhere today! And lots of other colours besides, just look at the lovely spouses from Panama in the photo below…. and check out the bishop and spouse with matching purple and black outfit!
3 choices of churches on offer for our bishops and spouses to join the Sunday worship today, St. John’s Cathedral, Good Shepherd Church or Advent Church ~ and guess what, I was on the trip to Advent Church ~ yippee!
Beautiful service as always, great sermon from Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce, then a buffet lunch, and back to the Grand Hotel – well before the deadline, and just in time to get out to the way of the typhoon which is barreling towards Taipei…
And then after that, what next? Well somehow found myself accompanying Mary, one of the lovely spouses (OK, not just ONE of the lovely spouses, but THE lovely spouse from Upper South Carolina!) to a specially arranged children’s Suzuki recorder concert given in her honour…. y’know, it was really quite something! Right in the depths of deepest Taipei, down some dark alley and stairs to the basement of an apartment block – and there’s all these great kids learning recorder to the Suzuki Method…. Amazing!
Seems you really never quite know where you’re gonna end up on a Sunday afternoon round here – and in a typhoon too!