‘Be Brave!’ was the theme of this year’s summer camp, run by Advent Church in cooperation with St. John’s University Student Fellowship ~ and it was a really great choice of theme, oh so relevant to children – and to all the leaders too! You’ve certainly gotta be brave to run a summer camp in searing heat in the height of summer, when thunderstorms are forecast and many people would rather be inside doing as little as possible 😊 As it was, we had 80 excited and very energetic children plus 35 equally excited and energetic student leaders ~ YES!
All the songs, games, activities, stories, drama and teaching were on the theme of courage, whether it was facing a barrage of water in the water fight, trying to hit a paper ball with a flip-flop, hitting your opposing team member’s foam shield with your rolled up newspaper, listening to stories of courage, or most moving of all, watching the drama. The students acted out 2 scenes of a story about facing bullies, drawing on strength and courage from God in prayer to know how to stand up to them and when to report what they’re doing. Many of the children had tears in their eyes, and so did I. Our students are really talented. They worked so hard to prepare and practice everything. The preparations have been going on for months, with an intensive weekend of training starting last Friday night right through to Sunday. The results were amazing….
The summer camp was on Monday and Tuesday this week, July 1-2, the official start of Taiwan’s 2-months summer holiday. Yippee! The weather was cloudy, so it was a bit cooler. Distant thunder indicated rain was on its way, it started as we got to the water fight on Tuesday afternoon ~ then the rain came just as we finished and moved inside!
Thanks to all our student team, church and chaplaincy leaders, church members and visitors. Special thanks to Yu-Ru and Tzi-Wei for organizing everything, everything went so well! We were honoured to welcome our old friend, Sheerah from Malaysia. In 2010, she came to Advent Church as part of a team from the Diocese of West Malaysia, and she led us all in training for that year’s summer camp on the theme of ‘Kids Games’, which we’ve used every year since, including all the banners which they kindly donated to us. Last year, Sheerah left Malaysia and moved to Taiwan to get married, she’s now pregnant and she came to visit for the second day of our camp. We were delighted to see her! This is Sheerah with all 9 of our Malaysian student leaders on the camp….
And in August, our rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang will lead a mission trip to the Diocese of West Malaysia, along with some youth from our companion Diocese of Osaka – so this photo is of our Malaysian students plus those from the summer camp student team who are going on that mission trip. Ah, see how much we all love Malaysia!
We finished the summer camp with a buffet meal last night at the church centre, and said our goodbyes ~ some of our students have graduated and are moving back home, including some back to Malaysia, while some graduated last year and are now at work, but managed to take 2 days off work for this camp, while others will look for summer jobs. Some of the helpers are still high school students and have summer classes coming up. They all leave with many happy memories – and a whole lot of new friends!
Next week our summer class programme at Advent Church starts for 30 children and 4 student leaders, lasting for 6 weeks through the summer holidays. Please pray for them all. We thank God for all the children who came this year to our summer camp, they were all so lovely – and they’re already looking forward to next year!
Thanks be to God for another amazing summer camp ~ YES!
Congratulations to all 900 students who graduated this past Saturday from St. John’s University (SJU)! And what a great occasion it was, with so many parents, relatives, friends, alumni, faculty and staff to celebrate with them. Some were accompanied by lots of family members, and some of the families from overseas were making a holiday of it all, and traveling on elsewhere. The photo below is of Yee Theng and her family from Sabah, Malaysia, she’s one of our most mature and very lovely student fellowship leaders, and her family were all here to join the graduation celebrations -YES!
And here I am with Calvin, one of our hardest-working, most successful and friendliest Malaysian students and his family…
Most of the students I know are those associated with the SJU Student Fellowship ~ and yes, quite a few of them are from Malaysia; lots more are from Taiwan of course. Bishop David J. H. Lai, chair of the SJU Trustees, and SJU President Ay Herchang led the celebrations, graduated the students, gave speeches, presented awards and shared their congratulations with all the students. There were many other VIP guests too, including a number of very distinguished alumni who received awards. A selection of photos below ~ and if it looks like a student is holding their ears in the photo, it’s because their mortar boards kept falling off!
Actually the day had started at 9:00 am with a gathering of alumni of the former St. John’s and St. Mary’s Institute of Technology (SJSMIT) (original name of SJU) for the dedication by Bishop Lai of the newly-installed SJSMIT logo on the slope below Advent Church. For many years that logo was located in the floor of the main entrance to the central building. When the old buildings were demolished to make way for the new ones, the logo was moved to the SJSMIT archives and museum centre. Now it has been brought back once again into a more central place where it can be seen more easily by everyone.
About midday, after the graduation ceremony, our students came along to Advent Church for photos with their families – such fun!
Although it is sad to say goodbye, we have many happy memories! Last Thursday, our student fellowship (along with some fellowship alumni and chaplaincy staff) gathered to say goodbye to our 9 graduating fellowship members. The evening started with a formal meal, then we moved onto a celebration party, and this year’s theme was a pyjama party – ah, what a laugh! By tradition the graduating students prepare something special to present to the student fellowship, so here they all are with our current fellowship leader….
At the party, there was a catwalk for each one to model their pyjama costume, there were informal speeches, dancing, songs, presentations, hugs, gifts, tears, laughter and lots of photos!
Ah yes, many congratulations to all our SJU graduates of 2019! May God bless them as they leave us to pursue further studies or military service, find a job, return to their own countries or continue to stay on in Taiwan, whatever and wherever, we pray for them all and give thanks for the privilege of knowing them all for these past 4 years!
”In my country, Kiribati, 52 is a wonderful age to be! Still young, still full of energy and enthusiasm, still willing to try new things; but also at 52, you’ve eaten a lot of coconuts, you’re mature, you’re full of wisdom!” The words, more or less, of Kiribati’s very lively Ambassador to Taiwan, Tessie Eria Lambourne, at the 52nd Anniversary Celebrations of St. John’s University last Saturday, April 27. She brought with her 6 of the 70+ students from Kiribati who are currently studying in Taiwan on scholarships from the Taiwan government; and they delighted the audience by performing one of their dances for us at the celebration event. Thank you, and what a great way to celebrate!
And afterwards they posed for a photo with our Vietnamese students, all dressed in their beautiful traditional costumes…
Due to Taiwan’s unique political situation, not many countries have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan – so the number of embassies and ambassadors is relatively few; 17 is the official total, that’s 16 nations plus the Holy See. This year, for the first time in its history, St. John’s University (SJU), Taiwan had the honour of welcoming, not just one, but three ambassadors to our anniversary celebrations! Here they all are, along with Admiral Pu Zechun from the Presidential Office and our VIP guests…
The ambassador from the Marshall Islands to Taiwan, Neijon Rema Edwards, newly arrived in Taiwan less than 4 months ago, told the assembled crowd how that very morning she had talked to the President of the Marshall Islands, Hilda C. Heine by phone and told her about her forthcoming visit to SJU that day. She was delighted to bring President Heine’s personal greetings and congratulations to SJU! This is Bishop David J. H. Lai, Bishop of Taiwan and chair of the SJU Board of Trustees, with Ambassador Lambourne from Kiribati on the left and Ambassador Edwards from the Marshall Islands on the right…
A bit of background: St. John’s University, Taiwan is the successor institution to St. John’s University, Shanghai, and the background history to the establishment of St. John’s University, Shanghai really starts in 1845, when Bishop William Boone (1811-1864), the first Anglican / Episcopal missionary bishop of Shanghai, arrived in Shanghai. In 1859, Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky (1831-1906) arrived in China as a deacon, and was ordained priest by Bishop Boone the following year. He started missionary work among the Chinese, learned the Chinese language and started work on Chinese Bible translation. In 1877, he was consecrated as Bishop of Shanghai after receiving assurances of financial support to build a college to educate the Chinese in Shanghai, and so he founded St. John’s University, Shanghai, in 1879. Interestingly, Bishop James C. L. Wong, the first Chinese Bishop of Taiwan (1965-70) and the founder of St. John’s University, Taiwan in 1967, was himself educated in the Bishop Boone Memorial School in Wuchang. This is me trying to explain some of the long SJU history to our VIP guests on Saturday…
In his speech at the SJU anniversary celebrations, Ambassador Joseph Pius Waleanisia from the Solomon Islands said that he was very moved by this, his first visit to SJU, in part because he noted that the history of SJU ran parallel with similar events in his own country. In 1845, as Bishop Boone was arriving in Shanghai, so in that same year, the first Roman Catholic missionaries (French Marists) reached the Solomon Islands, led by Bishop Epalle. The ambassador was himself educated in Marist mission schools, and he talked about how strong the RC and Anglican Churches are in the Solomon Islands, and the vital role that church schools have played in the education of his people…
Climate change is a major threat to all these 3 low-lying island nations in the Pacific Ocean, and the challenges are many. Kiribati is famously expected to be the first country in the world that will lose all of its land due to global warming. All 3 countries have sea, sand and sun in abundance, and green energy is their future. SJU President Herchang Ay is a leading expert on solar-powered cars and all things related to solar energy, known as ‘photovoltaics’. We now have a laboratory here at SJU full of machines that can make solar panels, plus lots of projects going on that use solar energy, for example in growing vegetables indoors under controlled conditions, using power generated from solar panels on the roof above…
It’s this green energy technology and all the creative things that can be done with it, plus the Dept. of Creative Design and all their beautiful furniture and woodwork designs which can be made using locally available materials, like coconut trees, all these were what the ambassadors were here to see…
And to mark the occasion, they took part with Bishop Lai, President Ay and other VIPs in the formal opening of the new centre, ‘The St. John’s and St. Mary’s Co-Creation Park’ (新埔共創基地) which houses all these projects. It was extremely windy but here they all are, getting ready to pull the red strings ….
We were also very honoured to welcome Rev. Canon James G. Callaway (far right in the photo below), General Secretary of CUAC (Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion) from New York, who was spending a few days on his first visit to Taiwan. He joined in all 2 days of events and celebrations, and I also had the pleasure of taking him sightseeing on the day of his arrival in Taipei.
And finally when we had finished all the formal events of the day, Bishop Lai invited everyone for tea-drinking at his SJU office, where not only did all the guests enjoy real Taiwan tea, but Bishop Lai also presented each of them with a copy of the Chinese Bible that was translated by Bishop Schereschewsky from the original Hebrew. For the last 25 years of his life, Bishop Schereschewsky, as a result of a severe stroke, could only type with 2 fingers, but he managed to translate the whole Bible, published in 1899…
We have had a whole week of SJU celebrations, and the day before all this happened, on Friday April 26, we held our annual anniversary service in Advent Church. SJU celebrates its foundation from the date it received permission from the Ministry of Education to start recruiting students, April 26, 1967. But also very significantly, it was on April 27, 1970 that Bishop James C. L. Wong, founder of SJU in Taiwan, died, and so each year, we hold a thanksgiving service to commemorate his death and give thanks for his life. It was led by our chaplain, Rev. Irving H. H. Wu, with preacher, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, former SJU chaplain and current rector of Advent Church, and attended by many of our clergy…
Along with other countries in the region, such as Japan, Taiwan is facing a major decline in overall numbers of university-age students, due to a falling birthrate and aging society. This decline is affecting many universities in Taiwan as they all compete to recruit as many students as possible from a smaller and smaller pool. This year SJU has 3,807 students, which is 63.86% of the number allowed by the Ministry of Education. President Ay, faculty and staff are working hard on new initiatives, including for example, the establishment of a Master’s program in Artificial Intelligence, and of course, the ‘Co-Creation Park’. Bishop Lai, as chair of the SJU board of trustees, along with the clergy of the diocese (many of whom are our alumni) and the church members, all are committed to supporting and praying for SJU through this present situation. In connection with this, many of our clergy from all over Taiwan accepted the invitation to come to SJU on Friday to participate in the anniversary service. The service was attended by about 100 people, including 70+ visitors from the Taiwan Episcopal Church, with clergy and/or lay representatives from nearly all our churches in Taiwan. This is the group from St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung who came by coach….
After the service was finished, we went round to the back of the church centre for a blessing, led by Bishop Lai, of the newly-installed labyrinth, which has been moved from further down the campus, making it easier to maintain…
And it was all followed by a delicious buffet lunch for all the lovely visitors in the church centre….
Another highlight of the SJU celebrations was the annual Fun Run which took place last Wednesday afternoon, with 600+ people taking part, mostly students, but also including some of the faculty and staff. Our student fellowship took part as a group, and lots of them were awarded T-shirts, which they then wore at the service on Sunday. The students from the SJU Indigenous Club walked the whole course in their traditional outfits – in 33°C! Ah yes, the whole Fun Run had a very special atmosphere!
On Sunday morning, April 28, as per tradition, our student fellowship led the worship service at Advent Church, taking on all the roles that they could participate in, from being part of the welcome team to reading the lessons, singing, taking up the offering, and clearing up after the lunch, and many more. They have been very busy all week, and particularly on the Saturday when the students had their own celebrations. This service was a really meaningful way to end our week of celebrations of the 52nd anniversary of SJU, giving thanks to Almighty God for his many blessings over the years, and committing the future into His hands.
Please do continue to pray for St. John’s University. To God be the glory, Amen!
Possibly the best summer camp in the whole world! YES! A great team of student leaders, backed up by our clergy and church members, and loads of happy and enthusiastic children, supported by their parents – oh, yes, and grandparents. Never forget the grandparents ~ after all, it’s school holidays and lots of grandparents are looking around for ways to keep their grandchildren entertained and having fun!
Thanks be to God, this year’s Advent Church summer camp, held on 2 very sunny but breezy days, July 2-3 in our Advent Church centre, was one of the most successful ever! We had 5 teams, named after 5 colours, here they are with their banners, each team also had a action song or rhyme to introduce themselves. Fun!
With a drastically falling birthrate in Taiwan, it is rural areas that are particularly affected, so in our local area, schools are really struggling with hugely reduced numbers. One of our local elementary school teachers, who just retired last year, talks about how when she first started teaching here 30 years ago, her school had over 300 kids – now the school has about 70. Actually that was Laomei School, and a whole group of them came along to our summer camp with Ms. Cheng, as they have done for several years now… we’re now long-term friends, and here we all are!
To help struggling schools, the government and charitable foundations sponsor tons of free and fun activities, especially in school holidays. So our summer camps over the last few years have seen decreasing numbers as a result… from 100 in years gone by, down to 80, and last year, less than 60 ~ so this year, we started advertising very early, in April rather than June ~ and we were pleasantly surprised when 94 children registered!
So we had 94 kids and 32 student leaders – helped by their relatives, friends and church members, and our older church members, who offered to come along and supply breakfast and dinners for the student team. The whole summer camp was wonderfully coordinated and organized by Yu-Ru, our church outreach worker, she was helped by 2 student leaders, and all supported by our rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, chaplain Rev. Wu Hsing-Hsiang plus church members ~ here’s the leaders and the back-up team!
Everyone worked so hard ~ the student team have been training and preparing full-time since Friday afternoon ~ ah, and it was worth it!
This year’s theme was the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30), rearranged and adapted into a drama for 3 little pigs (yep, and it worked!) – 2 of whom went into business together selling shoes, while the third one, well, of course, he didn’t do anything much at all…. but he was so funny!
All the games and activities that followed were then focused on discovering, sharing and using our possessions, abilities, gifts, skills and of course, the greatest gift of ourselves ~ and our love. For example, one of the games involved the kids working together to completely turn a sheet over to the other side, without any of the group stepping onto the floor…
Many of the activities also had a Bible verse to learn too. The children had the chance to ‘earn’ some paper money, which they collected up, and at the end they could decide to donate it, or if they had a lot, they could donate some, and enter a lucky draw to ‘buy’ some snacks to take home.
On the second day, we heard the story, ‘Boxes for Katje‘ by Candace Fleming: “After World War II there is little left in Katje’s town of Olst in Holland. Her family, like most Dutch families, must patch their old worn clothing and go without everyday things like soap and milk. Then one spring morning when the tulips bloom “thick and bright,” Postman Kleinhoonte pedals his bicycle down Katje’s street to deliver a mysterious box—a box from America! Full of soap, socks, and chocolate, the box has been sent by Rosie, an American girl from Mayfield, Indiana. Her package is part of a goodwill effort to help the people of Europe. What’s inside so delights Katje that she sends off a letter of thanks: beginning an exchange that swells with so many surprises that the girls, as well as their townspeople, will never be the same.” Loved it!
We also had the drama of a king who tries to go incognito to visit a town in his kingdom where everyone is busy preparing for his official visit ~ there he meets a girl who is distraught because she thinks she has no talents to perform or to make something to welcome the king, and so can only offer visitors some water from the well ~ only to find that what the king wants most of all is her friendship. Everyone just loved our ‘king’ (who was also the third little pig!) and his ‘Supershy’ T-shirt!
And for nearly everyone, the highlight was Tuesday afternoon’s water games – and then huge water fight!
We had testimonies too, plus prayers and a blessing from our rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang…
And in case you’re wondering what my role was, well I was there taking a few photos. Over 2,300 to be precise. Now reduced to less than 300, you’ll be glad to know, and only a few are posted here. One of the great things is that our student team is so disciplined that they do not use their cellphones during the summer camp, so they rely on us for the photos…
Our Advent Church summer camps are legendary in the local area, and each year they get better and better. Months of hard work, training, preparation and prayer pays off. Always grateful to all those who make it all possible, and to Almighty God for his many blessings!
An amazing evening last night ~ so many smiles and laughs, and of course, photos!
Yes, it’s the end of the school year here in Taiwan and at SJU we are gearing up for tomorrow’s graduation ceremony, and saying many congratulations – but also sad goodbyes – to our lovely graduating students. For our 4th year undergraduate students in the student fellowship, last night we held the annual much-anticipated, highlight-of-the-whole-year graduation party ~ this year on the theme of ‘復古’ ‘Vintage’. Everyone’s been busy for weeks in preparation, not least finding an outfit, vintage style ~ grandparents and parents to the rescue!
Our fellowship has 7 student members graduating, led by Vincy, who was last year’s student fellowship leader, the first girl to be elected to that position for over a decade and our first ever student leader from Malaysia. Jing-Sen was also one of the student fellowship leadership team. Pei-Ching and Mao-Ge are 2 other committed members, and Pei-ching was baptized only recently, at Easter. Here they all are – making their presentation to Jing-Ching, the current fellowship leader…
I arrived a bit late and missed the food, but in time for the party proper! We had singing, dancing, games, drama, catwalk, presentations, videos, gifts and prayers. And many many photos. So so so so much going on, all evening!
One of the highlights was the dancing ~ this is Jailhouse Rock, led by Tony and Nai-Nai…
Video No.2 features our graduating students, Jing-Sen and Vincy…
And this one features our chaplain Rev. Wu and his wife, Vicky… they certainly know how to dance!
And so to the photos – and yes the lights were flashing all different colours throughout the evening!
And a few photos taken by students, my vintage style is definitely, well, pink!
Plus the group photo….
Then, this morning, Vincy’s parents and family arrived from West Malaysia ready for graduation tomorrow, and their first stop was to visit the SJU Chaplaincy for a photo! Actually, after weeks on non-stop sun and a major lack of rain, today started 5 days of predicted heavy rain. It is absolutely pouring down out there, but still, anyway, a very big welcome to Taiwan!
We have at about 10 students in our fellowship from Malaysia, maybe more. These are most of the girls ~ they are all so amazing, so mature, and bring so many blessings to us in SJU! For the boys, well there’s Calvin and Tony, spot them in the photo album above, they bring a whole lot of life and energy to the fellowship group!
And finally a special mention and congratulations to Dong-Gua, one of our students on the master’s program, finally he is ready to graduate. He’s been here longer than most of us, and we will miss him so much. He’s the student who can always be relied on to come to our rescue whenever we need anything technical or practical, or needing muscles or clear thinking, always willing to help! Here he is posing with Rev. Wu. Ah, congratulations Dong-Gua!
I can’t be at the graduation tomorrow, so I gave the students my congratulations and best wishes last night. As always, they’ll leave a big gap that will be hard to fill, but we send them out into the world with our prayers for God’s blessing and grace to be upon them. And of course, we hope they’ll keep in touch ~ and come back and visit us very often!
MANY MANY CONGRATULATIONS AND BEST WISHES TO ALL THOSE GRADUATING THIS SUMMER ~ YES!
St. John’s University (SJU) 聖約翰科技大學 Board of Trustees recently elected Bishop David J. H. Lai as their new chair. Yesterday at Advent Church (on the SJU campus), we held a Thanksgiving Service in which the official university seal was formally presented to Bishop Lai, as a sign of his new position. The presentation was made by 3 of the trustees ~ from left to right in the photo below, Mr. Yeh Zai-Cheng, Rev. Peter D. P. Chen, and to the right of Bishop Lai is Mr. Lai Jun-Nian (also chair of the SJU alumni).
In the opening words of his sermon, Bishop Lai expressed his sincere thanks to the outgoing chair of the trustees, Dr. Cecilia Koo, who has stepped down after over 40 years of devoted service to SJU. Unfortunately she was unable to come to the service yesterday. He also expressed his thanks to Dr. J. S. Wang, former secretary to the board. As he continued his sermon, Bishop Lai encouraged us all to work together focusing on 5 ‘P’s, of Purpose 目標, Passion 熱忱, Profession 專業, Perseverance 毅力 and Performance 表現. YES!
The service was attended by church and university VIPs from far and wide. It was so wonderful to see so many people, the church was completely full! Bishop Lai came to the service accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Lily Lai. Some of the SJU Board of Trustees came too, Rev. Peter D. P. Chen and his wife, Rev. Elizabeth F. J. Wei, Dr. Winston Yu and his wife, Ms. Marjorie Kuo, also Mr. Yeh Zai-Cheng and Mr. Lai Jun-Nian. Here they are – 3 smiling trustees on the left, 2 lovely wives on the right!
Also the new secretary to the Board of Trustees, Mr. Chen Chyi, who is also senior warden of Advent Church (his brother, Dr. Chen Gung is also a trustee). He read a lesson, as did Mr. Richard B. S. Hu (photo below), chair of the Diocese of Taiwan Standing Committee….
We were pleased to welcome some of the other diocesan Standing Committee members, Mr. Di Yun-Heng and Mr. Chuang Hsiao-Wu, who had both traveled from Kaohsiung. Plus our diocesan treasurer Mrs. Amy B. H. Lin and her husband, Dr. Chen; and many of our diocesan clergy (some of whom are also alumni): Rev. Philip L. F. Lin and Rev. Antony F. W. Liang from St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei, Rev. Keith C. C. Lee from Good Shepherd Church, Taipei, Rev. Julia S. H. Lin from St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung, and 3 from very far away, Rev. Lily L. L. Chang from St. James’ Church, Taichung, Rev. Joseph M. L. Wu from St. Luke’s Church, Hualien, and Rev. Simon T. S. Tsou who drove up from St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi specially for the occasion!
From left to right below: Mr. Chen Chyi, Dr. Winston Yu, Mr. Richard Hu, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, Mr. Di Yun-Heng….
Representing St. John’s University, Dr. Herchang Ay, SJU President, gave a lively speech with Bishop Lai in action next to him ~ ah, what were they actually saying at that very moment, I wonder?!
Also present were SJU Vice-President Dr. Hsu, SJU General Secretary Dr. Sophia Y. S. Hsieh and many of the deans, faculty and staff of the university, plus students, church members and friends, including Ms. Jasmine Yu from our neighbouring junior high school, and Mr. Chang Fu-Tai and Ms. Chao Wen-Yi, former members of staff. Two very important people who keep things running smoothly by phone and email are President Ay’s secretary, Ms. Zhu (below right) and Bishop Lai’s secretary, Ms. Lisa Hsu (below left), here they are meeting in person for the very first time yesterday!
And all guests were well-looked after by our staff and wardens, helpers and supporters, led by Mr. Chen Ming-Chuan (holding the blue order of service booklet below), Advent Church junior warden, and Hannah, wife of Rev. Lennon Chang, who were ready and waiting to welcome everyone from 1:00 pm onwards! Photos taken before the service started, as everyone signed their names…
Personally invited by Bishop Lai were his special friends, Dr. Yeh Ming-Yang 葉明陽 (left photo below), Professor and Vice Superintendent of Cheng Hsin General Hospital, Taipei, where Bishop Lai recently had successful surgery to remove his inflamed gall bladder and received such wonderful care under Dr. Yeh’s supervision. And also Mr. Philip J. J. Wu (right photo below), General Manager of Grace International Co. Ltd; he was responsible for producing Bishop Lai’s artillery shell crosses in his factory, one of which was being worn by Bishop Lai yesterday.
And so the service began at 2:00 pm, led by Advent Church rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang and assisted by SJU Chaplain, Rev. Wu Hsing-Hsiang, starting with words of commitment from Bishop Lai in his new position of chair – and from all in the congregation a commitment of support for him; also the official presentation of the university seal, plus hymns, readings, sermon, prayers, speeches and the closing blessing from Bishop Lai.
And finally, the group photo on the steps of Advent Church at 3:40 pm yesterday…
Please do pray for Bishop Lai as he assumes his new position as chair of the SJU Board of Trustees. It is a huge undertaking and a major responsibility for him and all in St. John’s University and the Taiwan Episcopal Church. Many challenges lie ahead. In God’s strength we go forward, trusting God to lead the way. We give thanks to God. Please pray for us all!
St. John’s University has been celebrating its 51st birthday this past week. Many congratulations ~ and happy birthday!
This time last year, the SJU 50th birthday was a huge jamboree of events and VIP visitors and all sorts of exciting things going on. This year has been a little less frenetic, but celebratory all the same. A few highlights:
We have a new school bus! This was actually a gift from an alumnus, Mr. Chang, and was presented to the university in a dedication ceremony last week. The bus is beautifully painted – love it!
The bus dedication took place right in front of Advent Church, where there is a line of very special trees which just happen to be blossoming this very week. The tree is Crateva religiosa, 加羅林魚木, “the sacred garlic pear or temple plant, a member of the capers family. The tree is sometimes called the spider tree because the showy flowers bear long, spidery stamens”.
The annual ‘Run for SJU’ 為聖約翰而跑 3.5 km Fun Run took place on Wednesday afternoon and we had great fun. We encouraged our student fellowship group and friends to wear yellow, it stands out in the crowd! This time last year the heavens opened as we got to the sea, half way round the course, but this year it was warm and sunny with a nice breeze. No excuses! So we ran a bit faster and almost enjoyed it. Except for the massive hill that comes up from the beach at the end. Anyway most of us got a T-shirt, me too!
There was the annual SJU Thanksgiving Service on Thursday, but I couldn’t go to that. I was in Taipei. Rode the You Bike there and back from Tamsui. This was the sunset at Shezi Bridge on the way home. I mention this because the focus of the thanksgiving service is in gratitude for the dedication, devotion and service of Bishop James C. L. Wong, the founder of this institution who gave his life and energy to get it established and died soon afterwards. Timing is everything, and we thank God that Bishop Wong was the right man at the right time for SJU. An amazing wow of a sunset and the timing – that I should get to the bridge just at that moment – seems appropriate symbol for a man who is highly respected and greatly admired here at SJU. And of course in thanksgiving for God’s blessing over these 51 years too!
On Saturday, we had our annual SJU celebrations for all students, staff and faculty and with many alumni, visitors and old friends coming back to visit. Bishop Lai was here too, attending the main formal event in Centennial Hall – with performances, speeches and presentations…
The Vietnamese student group were beautifully dressed ~ here they are with Bishop Lai…
Outside on the main campus road, stalls were set up selling all kinds of food and drink, and each class of students and different groups had their own acitvity. There were some fun performances on the stage set up in the middle of the road – the show opened with SJU President Ay hitting the gong!
After leading the singing of the National Anthem and the SJU School Song down in Centennial Hall, the SJU student fellowship continued with their event to celebrate upcoming Mother’s Day – making cards, taking photos and free hugs!
They were very active in recruiting people to participate!
And the Vietnamese students were selling homemade paper flowers – we all bought some. Ah, it was great fun!
And lots of friends and former students came back to visit ~ obligatory photos too!
Today, Sunday, at Advent Church, it was St. John’s University Student Fellowship Sunday, and they were all involved in the worship, doing all the readings, singing, taking up the offerings etc. We then spent the afternoon on the half-yearly spring cleaning of the church and church centre. I was cleaning windows with the student team, and y’know, it was quite fun. The windows look a lot cleaner anyway. But we were too busy for photos ~ I’m sure you’ll agree that an occasional day off from photos is not a bad thing!
It’s been quite a week, thanks be to God. And here’s to the next 51 years of St. John’s University!