Tag Archives: NSKK Diocese of Osaka

Zhongshan Presbyterian Church, Taipei 中山基督長老教會

It’s Holy Week and the sun is shining all week in Taipei, yippee!

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Today is Maundy Thursday, and appropriate for Maundy Thursday is a visit to Zhongshan Presbyterian Church (中山基督長老教會) in central Taipei (62, Linsen N. Rd 林森北路62號), where the small stained glass window above the altar is of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, while his disciples are fast asleep nearby.

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The window at the back of the church is of Jesus the Good Shepherd…

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This morning, very early, I cycled past this church on my way into Taipei.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the traffic stopped long enough for me to take some photos without getting run over.  The church does look splendid in the sun!

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And what’s so special about this church? Well, it’s very historic, built in 1937 in a Gothic style, with a 3-story bell tower.  This was during the Japanese era 1895-1945, and it was built as a Japanese Anglican Church, Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK) with all services in Japanese.  Taiwan at the time belonged to the NSKK Diocese of Osaka.  This is the most famous of all the church buildings in Taiwan built by the Japanese Anglican Church.  Apparently, as it was near a place called Taisho Cho, its original name was “Taisho Street Anglican Church”.

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But in 1945-6, when the Japanese left Taiwan, there was no Taiwanese Anglican / Episcopal Church to hand it over to, and in 1947 it became the Zhongshan Presbyterian Church; the church celebrated their 70th anniversary in 2017.   The Taiwan Episcopal Church was founded much later, in 1954.

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Fast forward to 2004 and Taiwan Episcopal Church (Diocese of Taiwan) began a companion diocese partnership with the NSKK Diocese of Osaka, which is still going strong today.    And we have a good relationship with the Zhongshan Presbyterian Church today too – and Bishop David J. H. Lai has preached at this church many times.

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One of the places we like to take our Japanese visitors is to see this church.  It really is full of history, and it really looks quite amazing surrounded as it is by all the high-rise buildings and all that traffic, whizzing past on both sides!

And so, back to the stained glass window and its significance for Maundy Thursday ~ wishing you all a meaningful and blessed Holy Week!

Wedding Blessings and Celebrations for our beloved Setu and Jacob!

Ah, THE DAY finally arrived! YES!

After years and years of waiting ~ they’ve FINALLY made it down the aisle, tied the knot, had the obligatory kiss AND the wedding blessing!  CONGRATULATIONS!

Advent Church on Saturday February 10 at 2:00 pm was THE place to be. It may have been pouring with rain and cold, cold, cold outside, but inside, it was a buzz of activity and filled with warmth! Excitement was in the air, but, also, well, let’s face it, a little concern about whether it was all actually going to happen as planned, or yes, even if at all! So when we all got to the church, and actually saw bride AND groom BOTH there, both looking Ready with a capital ‘R’, well, what a great relief! Smiles all around. And y’know what? Everything went off without a hitch. Thanks be to God! The bridegroom smiled all afternoon. He even smiled in my direction. At my camera. So did the bride, but, well, we knew she would smile! The bride’s months of careful planning and organization, plus the hard work and support of a huge team of helpers all paid off. And what a great day it was!

To understand our smiles of relief and amazement, you just have to understand a little about the very lovely bride and her very handsome groom. Setu works with our Chaplaincy Team at St. John’s University (SJU). We’ve been based in the same office now for about the last 7 years. We even went together to India this time last year. She has the most wonderful, fruitful and inspiring ministry with our students, particularly those in our SJU Student Fellowship. That’s how come so many SJU Student Fellowship alumni came back to participate on Saturday, joining with current Student Fellowship members in singing or playing instruments or acting as ushers, or whatever – all there to ensure everything ran smoothly.

In our life in the SJU Chaplaincy, Setu also provides us with plenty of laughs on a daily basis. She doesn’t mean to, of course, but she does! She’s creative, idealistic, gifted in multiple languages, compassionate, kind, and is always searching for ways to make the world a better place – whether it’s some words of encouragement for our students on facebook, or through Bible Studies, meetings, organizing activities, outreach ~ she’s on the go from morning to night. She runs, yes RUNS around the office. It’s a small office, there’s hardly no room to swing a cat, yet Setu, on the move, manages to run! (She even ran on Saturday…. round to the front of the church!)

And guess what, in the process of all this, she totally forgets to eat. Breakfast lies unopened, or half eaten on her desk until lunchtime. Her lunch is still being eaten, one noodle at a time, throughout the afternoon. Actually she has much improved over the years, but hey, if a student asks Setu about the deeper meaning of life and the world and the universe, her face lights up, she stops running, and wow, before you know it, a whole hour is gone in deep and meaningful discussion.

And guess what too, in this respect, Jacob is very similar. While other couples might spend hours discussing how to decorate the house, what to buy at the supermarket, where to go on holiday etc etc; no, not these two. They thrive, positively thrive on discussing all things spiritual, philosophical, theological, ethical, moral, eschatological and, of course, meaningful.

So, not surprisingly, when it comes to arranging something as practical and down to earth as a wedding, well, it has taken rather a long time. They’ve kind of been ‘together-but-not-really-together’ for what seems like a century, and ‘married-but-not-really-married’ for the last five years. So, as our rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang explained during his sermon on Saturday, their wedding celebrations were more of a marriage blessing, which of course in this situation is just as meaningful and moving.

Setu’s parents both died while she was at university in Taipei, and partly through that experience, she became a Christian and found much support and friendship in their Student Fellowship. She discovered the Anglican / Episcopal Church when she moved out to the countryside, not far from Advent Church, looking for a quiet place to write up her thesis for her MA in Japanese (on Shūsaku Endō, author of ‘Silence’), and has been here ever since. She LOVES the Episcopal liturgy and traditions, the spirituality and quiet reflection of monastic orders, and every year disappears off for a few days of silent retreat in a RC Retreat House. So, in planning her wedding, she invited her good friend, Fr. Jacques Duraud (杜樂仁), originally from France, now at the Jesuit Community at Fu-Jen RC University, Taipei, to walk her down the aisle. In his speech, he said that he accepted the role as an elder brother in the Christian faith. And he looked so natural!

And the bridegroom, Jacob? He’s the man to talk to if you want a deep and profound discussion. In the days when we used to have monthly English Bible Studies at Advent Church, he would be the one to ask the most very deepest and most very profoundest questions, all the result of much contemplation and reflection prior to the Bible Study. In more recent years, since he got busy running his own design company, he keeps very unconventional hours, working very late into the night and sleeping very late into the day, and rarely gets to come to Advent Church, and if he does, well, it’s quite a bit later than everyone else. And because he usually wears a face mask, Taiwan-style, he appears even more elusive and mysterious! Kind of like James Bond 007, we all want to know what he’s thinking, what makes him the man he is! In the event, we needn’t have worried about what would happen on Saturday. Jacob rose wonderfully to the occasion, and did Setu (and all of us!) proud. He smiled all day long, graciously cooperated for all photos and charmed us all with his elegance and grace. Thank you to Jacob!

The wedding blessing service was led by Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, assisted by our chaplain, Rev. Wu Hsing-Hsiang, with songs from our Student Fellowship choir, Advent Church choir, and supported by our seminarian Stoney on the organ and piano, plus former and current students all on hand to help as necessary. We even had live streaming for those unable to attend…

After the blessing of the couple, they bowed to the congregation in thanks – then we had THE KISS!

This was all followed by Holy Communion….

After the final blessing, we had the procession out of the church of bride and groom…

And the 2 best men and 2 best bridesmaids…

And so to the church centre next door, where we had a buffet-style reception (I found some interesting delicacies ~ rolls of bacon with a strawberry in the middle!)…

Jacob’s great friend is Rev. Joseph Ho, in charge of St. Mark’s Church, Pingtung ~ Joseph couldn’t be with us on Saturday, but his lovely wife and gorgeous daughter and mother-in-law were all there, so we had special photos for Joseph!

The entertainment at the reception was provided by different groups of students and friends. Some danced, others sang, some had even written their own songs for the occasion. One group who were not able to attend were our Student Fellowship members from Malaysia who have all gone home for Chinese New Year. They had each recorded a short video of their greetings which was shown at the reception, so lovely.

And the other group who must be mentioned are Machiko, Junko and Megumi, who came especially from Osaka, Japan to attend the celebrations. Last summer they were here for our joint youth outreach (with our companion diocese of Osaka), organized by Rev. Lennon Chang, with much support given by Setu. I had the chance to take the 3 of them around Taipei on Friday, including a great visit to drink tea with Bishop Lai, and later accompanied them to Taiwan’s most famous dumpling restaurant, Din Tai Feng, kindly hosted by Rev. Keith Lee, from Good Shepherd Church. So, yes, a very warm welcome to them!

After the food, speeches and entertainment, we had group photos, first the family…

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And those belonging to Advent Church!

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By then it was already 5:30 pm and I had to leave to get to St. James’ Church, Taichung, in time for preaching at the English service the next day, so I had to leave before the photos were finished. Actually I had the chance of a lift to the MRT Station, and as it was pouring with rain and I had tons of luggage, I made the most of the opportunity, and got to Taichung by 9:00 pm. Since then, I’ve been sorting out the 604 photos that I took on Saturday afternoon. Ha ha, you’ll be glad to know that I am not posting all 604 here, just a few!

Thanks be to God! It was a wonderful occasion! We are also grateful that Setu and Jacob had this opportunity to stand together in Advent Church to receive God’s blessing, and that of the church and university community. Thank you to all those who organized, helped, supported, and made sure everything went so well. Yulin and Ro-Han deserve our special thanks, plus the church clergy and staff, church members and all who came to show their support.

We all love Setu and Jacob so much, and wish them all the best for their future together. Please pray for them, and give thanks to Almighty God!

Yes, we love you all in the Diocese of Osaka! Welcome to Taiwan!

The Dioceses of Taiwan and Osaka, Japan have been linked as companion dioceses for the last 12 years ~ and we’ve signed the official agreements to renew the partnership every 3 years.  So this week Bishop David J. H. Lai and the Diocese of Taiwan welcomed a group of 26 from the Diocese of Osaka, led by Bishop Andrew Haruhisa Iso, here to sign the agreement for the 5th time – for another 3 years. YES!  See the smiling faces of Bishop Lai and Bishop Iso just after the grand signing!

Actually, our link with Osaka really goes back much further than just 2005.  Way back in colonial times, 1895-1945, the Japanese Anglican Church (Nippon Sei Ko Kai) in Taiwan was under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Osaka.  The Taiwan Episcopal Church was founded much later, in 1954, and when we celebrated our 60th anniversary in 2014, we were honored that Bishop Iso’s predecessor, Bishop Osamu Onishi brought a group from Osaka to attend.  Then last year, Bishop Iso visited Taiwan for the first time as bishop, bringing a group from Osaka to attend the opening service of our convention.

And now, we welcome this year’s group from Osaka, plus everyone who came to the service on Tuesday afternoon!

Yes, we love our friends from Osaka!  Over the years, some have come to Taiwan many times.  We were delighted that our good friend, Rev. Akira Iwaki, retired dean of the cathedral in Osaka, was able to join us, and it’s his birthday this week ~ cake and candles were all ready for him! Here he is enjoying a chat with Bishop Lai….

The Osaka group arrived on Tuesday and we held a service at Good Shepherd Church, Taipei to sign the agreement. Rev. Keith C. C. Lee visited Osaka for 3 months last summer, and when he returned to Taiwan, he became rector of Good Shepherd Church.  So he worked very hard and made many of the arrangements for this visit – and his wife Sindy played the piano for the service.  Also involved in organizing everything were Linda, principal of Good Shepherd Kindergarten, Mrs. Lily Lai, kindergarten supervisor, and Linda, wife of Rev. Philip Lin ~ she is also the drumming teacher ~ and so the children sang and drummed, as did some of the adults, to give a really enthusiastic welcome as the visitors arrived. Oh and the children had made lovely little gifts for the visitors.  I even got one too, thank you!

Many of our clergy came from all over Taiwan, plus church members and friends, all to welcome our lovely Osaka friends.  Here we all are!  And Mrs. Masako Kawamura from Osaka came in her kimono.  Here she is with Rev. Keith Lee – isn’t she beautiful?!

During the service, Bishop Lai presented Bishop Iso with a Kinmen Artillery Shell Cross, and Bishop Iso presented Bishop Lai with a beautiful and very special chalice and paten, made by one of the Osaka church members.  All mother-of-pearl ~ it’s gorgeous!

The service was also attended by a group of 9 lady visitors from St. Patrick’s Church, Tawau, Sabah, E. Malaysia.  They are visiting St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung for a week on a mission exchange trip, and Rev. Julia Lin has been taking them around visiting our churches for outreach.  Here they are with Rev. Julia Lin and Rev. Joseph Wu!

And so to the service, which was bilingual – Chinese and Japanese, with Bishop Iso preaching…..

After the photos, off we went for the formal welcome dinner, hosted by Bishop Lai and the Diocese of Taiwan, and very delicious ~ and followed by a birthday celebration for Rev. Iwaki!

The Osaka group left on Wednesday early morning for a visit to St. James’ Church, Taichung, then to Sun Moon Lake.  Today they are visiting Alishan, and tomorrow they go to St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi, before leaving tomorrow night.  A flying visit, but oh, so meaningful, and so wonderful to see them all!

For Jerry Liang’s report on the service, check out his blog post and photos here.

And finally a group photo of all the clergy who attended the service, including Bishop Iso, Rev. Akira Iwaki, Rev. Kiyomi Senmatsu and Rev. Warren Wilson from Osaka.  Most of our clergy from northern Taiwan attended too, plus…..

Plus…. what?  What else can you spot in the above photo?

Just check out Rev. Elizabeth Wei, on the front left, and what she is standing next to. Ha ha!  Yes, it’s a frog!  Presumably from the Good Shepherd Kindergarten.  That was a surprise ~ I love it!

So please do pray for the next 3 years of our partnership with Osaka, and especially for our plans for a 3-year mission training and outreach program involving young people from both dioceses, starting this summer.   It’s the vision of our Advent Church rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, supported by Shu-Jing from our chaplaincy, in partnership with our Osaka friends.  It’s still very much in the planning stages, and there’s lots to do!

And finally, a big welcome to all our Osaka friends ~ and thanks to Good Shepherd Church and the Diocese of Taiwan for all the arrangements.  And thanks be to God for such a great partnership between our 2 dioceses ~ YES!

A Big Welcome to: 台灣聖公會第56屆教區年議會 The Diocese of Taiwan 56th Annual Convention!

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Yes, such a happening event that even St. John’s Cathedral Sunday School children came to visit us ~ on the bus, on a Saturday morning, and as part of their weekend camp ~ YES!

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Good Shepherd Church in Taipei hosted this year’s diocesan convention, and we had such a warm welcome from them all.  And such sunny weather ~ smiles all round!  We started yesterday morning, Friday, with the opening service at 10:00 am.  Representatives from all our churches were there, and we also welcomed Canon Peter Ng, Asia-Pacific Officer for the Episcopal Church – who brought greetings from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, and Mr. Warren Wong from San Francisco who represented Province VIII.

And yesterday we were especially blessed to have the lovely group of 17 clergy and church members from our companion diocese of Osaka spending the day with us.  Bishop Andrew Iso and Bishop Uno (retired) and all their clergy joined in the procession and took part in the communion, and at the end Bishop Iso presented Bishop Lai with a beautiful stole and a very generous donation to help with the earthquake in southern Taiwan. Actually there were gifts going to and fro all day long, too many to count or explain ~ I had a hard time keeping up!  It so happened that yesterday was also Bishop Iso’s 61st birthday, and Bishop Uno and his wife are celebrating their Golden Wedding at this time, so there were special birthday and anniversary gifts too!

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Then we moved to the Mellow Fields Hotel 沃田飯店 in nearby Tienmu for the rest of the convention.  Quite a place, because it was founded by the farmers and fishermen associations in Taiwan, and promotes the farmers’ produce.  Our meals were in the hotel restaurant and our meetings in their conference room.  During the first session, we had presentations to the top 3 churches in the daily text exams, and then our Osaka visitors introduced themselves one by one and as a group they sang ‘Tomoni’ (‘Together’) with great enthusiasm and big smiles!  The song was written specially by one of their church members for their visit 2 years ago in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Taiwan Episcopal Church.

IMG_6905And then off I went to accompany the Osaka group on their next visit. En route we passed Chung-Shan Presbyterian Church (right photo) in Taipei which was originally built by the Japanese Anglican Church for Japanese worship during the colonial period (1895-1945), so it was of special interest to all the group – in fact Bishop Lai has preached there many times, it’s full of history.

We went to visit St. John’s Cathedral, and we couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome, it was incredible. Such a lovely surprise to see all the children!  Mrs. Liou, the cathedral kindergarten supervisor and the teachers had organized the children to sing a welcome song, and then happy birthday in Chinese, English and Taiwanese to Bishop Iso, followed by another congratulatory song for Bishop Uno and his wife.  Actually we were quite late arriving, and many of the children had already gone home, but the ones who took part were just gorgeous!  They’d made mobiles in red paper for each visitor as a little gift.  We also had a 61st birthday cake and Golden Wedding cake, both with candles, and then fruit and Dou-Hua pudding, and then more gifts. Our visitors were so happy, and so were we!

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And then to the cathedral itself for an organ recital from Cathedral Organist Joanna Fu, introductions from Rev. Elizabeth Wei and, of course, more presentations of gifts.  Oh yes and photos. Plenty of photos!  Rev. Keith Lee, vicar of Grace Church, Tainan helped with the translation, and he’s now preparing for a 3-month visit to learn and experience life in the NSKK Diocese of Osaka.  Their visit finished with Bishop Iso’s prayer of blessing and off they all went in a big blue and white coach!   We were so sorry to have to say goodbye to them all, and as I write this, they are on their flight home to Osaka.  We had such a wonderful fellowship together, despite the language barrier, and managed with translators, gestures, handshakes, bows and lots of smiles ~ ah, they are all so lovely!

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And so back to the convention – in fact, by the time we got back, well, it was time for the evening meal!  And then the evening session ~ and then many stayed overnight in the hotel, me too.

And today ~ meetings and discussions, elections and reports.  And photos!  With delicious refreshments in-between, all kindly supplied by Good Shepherd Church and others.  Oh yes, and we had lots of smiles when the Sunday School came to visit to say hello!

And so we finished after lunch today, thankful to Almighty God that things had gone so smoothly, thankful to Good Shepherd Church for their warm welcome and hospitality and thankful to all those in the diocesan office who have been preparing for this event for, yes, months and months!

And here’s to the next convention in 2017 ~ at St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung ~ YES!

From the Diocese of Osaka, Japan ~ a big welcome to Taiwan!

And they’ve brought the sun with them too ~ ah, at last, the weather is great!

The Diocese of Taiwan has had a companion link with the Diocese of Osaka since 2004, and so there’s been regular church group visits to and fro for different occasions. Since their last visit, for our 60th anniversary celebration in April 2014, the Diocese of Osaka has a new bishop, Bishop Andrew Haruhisa Iso.  So Bishop Iso has brought a group to Taiwan this week, primarily to attend the opening service and first session of our annual diocesan convention, which starts tomorrow.  Sadly our good friend, the Dean of the Osaka Cathedral, Rev. Peter Akira Iwaki couldn’t join the group for health reasons, but we’re really pleased that so many have come, and they’ve also come a few days early to see a little of the diocese – and the beauties of Taiwan – YES!

Their group of 17 includes 6 clergy, and Bishop Iso and Bishop Uno (retired) have both brought their wives, and some of the group have come to Taiwan more than once, so there’s some familiar faces among them!  Not only that, but my good friends in York, UK, Rev. Pam Cooper and Evelyn Wroe were CMS-UK mission partners in Osaka for many years and so we have several mutual friends.  Pam was the first woman to be ordained priest in the Diocese of Osaka, and now Kiyomi is the second – and the first Japanese – so when I met Kiyomi yesterday for the very first time, well we just had to take a photo of the 2 of us, to say hello to Pam! We are of course delighted to welcome them all, they are all so graceful, charming and happy ~ Bishop Iso and Bishop Uno haven’t stopped smiling since they arrived, wonderful!

So off we went yesterday – me and Shu-Jing from our St John’s University Chaplain’s Office – to meet up with Rev. Joseph Ho and a group from Christ Church, Chungli to welcome the group on their arrival at Taoyuan Int’l Airport.  Fortunately Shu-Jing speaks Japanese, and I can take photos, so we’re a good team!

A quick welcome at the airport, and off to a delicious welcome lunch at a Hakka Restaurant in Chungli, hosted by the Diocese of Taiwan.  Then to visit Christ Church for singing – with actions of course, then an introduction to the church and photos. The group from Osaka had specially asked to be able to visit Christ Church, it’s our newest church in the diocese, and started from really just one church family 5-6 years ago, and now grown into a small church…..

And a group photo ~ Bishop Iso is holding his beautiful gift from Christ Church, in fact there was one for all the visitors to welcome them all to Taiwan 🙂

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And then Shu-Jing and I accompanied the group as far as their hotel in Taipei, and said goodbye.  They were preparing for dinner, then a visit for some of them to Bishop Lai’s office for a tea-drinking welcome!

Actually the Osaka group has come with a travel company who’ve organized their visit, and today they’ve been sightseeing in Jiufen and Tamsui, with a quick visit to us at St. John’s University and Advent Church this afternoon.  It’s Girls’ Festival in Japan today, and one of the Osaka group has brought her wooden flute, so we had a nice recital while the rest of the group sang along, then it was our turn ~ a welcome from President Chen of St. John’s University, and then Shu-Jing shared about the university, church and chaplaincy ministry and everyone was introduced and gifts were given…

And finally a group photo with some of our students on the steps of Advent Church!

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A great visit, a great welcome to Taiwan for all our Osaka friends ~ and we look forward to seeing them all tomorrow at the diocesan convention opening service!

Taiwan Episcopal Church 60th Anniversary Celebration Day 台灣聖公會宣教60週年感恩慶典 ~ YES YES YES!

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!

Thanks be to God for his amazing blessings YES!