Today is the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, known as Double Ninth Festival or Chong-Yang Festival 重陽節 and in Taiwan, it’s a special day for honoring all senior citizens. Yesterday I was in Taichung at St. James’ Church and the Rev. Lily Chang kindly invited me to stay on after the services for their Chong-Yang Festival lunch in a nearby restaurant. All those aged 65 and over were invited to join – and they had a few spare seats, which is how I got to be there too. The oldest there was 86, and the youngest had just turned 65 this year. Several were retired clergy and their wives, also one clergy widow. One of the main things to eat is long rice noodles – to wish for longevity. No wonder everyone lives to a great age in Taiwan!
On August 8, Double Eight, Taiwan celebrated Father’s Day (eight is pronounced ‘ba’, so 8/8 is ‘baba’, the word for ‘father’) but that was according to the Gregorian Calendar, not the lunar calendar. And this coming Thursday is Double Ten 10/10, Taiwan’s National Day, again according to the Gregorian Calendar. My neighbours assure me that this is the best kind of holiday for them, as Gregorian Calendar holidays do not require ‘bai-bai’ (ancestor or temple worship), so they’ll get a break. October 10 is a holiday, and we worked last Saturday in lieu of this coming Friday ~ so a four-day weekend is coming up, yes!
Update on Tuesday August 6: the official report on the Episcopal News Service announcing these results is now published here
After many months of prayer and preparation, today was THE big day, when Bishop David J. H. Lai gathered the Diocese of Taiwan clergy and laity representatives at St. James’ Church, Taichung to elect the next Bishop of Taiwan. Thanks be to God that Rev. Dr. Lennon Y. R. Chang 張員榮牧師 was elected on the second ballot ~ many congratulations! Above is the photo of the bishop and bishop-elect with their wives, and below is Bishop-elect Lennon and his wife, Hannah posing in their formal photo!
The day started with a Holy Communion service at 10:00 am, led by Bishop David J. H. Lai. Most of us had had very early starts, for us in the far N. W. of Taiwan at Advent Church, we set off at 6:00 am in a small bus and fortunately got to St. James, Taichung without any trouble well before 9:00 am. We are grateful for the prayers of friends around the world for good weather and safe travels. This month, after all, is actually the height of the typhoon season, so we are glad that our schedule for today was not disrupted by bad weather. Here we are arriving at St. James ready for the big day!
Just so you know, Bishop David J. H. Lai 賴榮信主教 is the 5th diocesan bishop of Taiwan, he was consecrated on November 25, 2000 as coadjutor, and then installed as diocesan bishop in 2001 on the retirement of Bishop John C. T. Chien 簡啟聰主教. Bishop Lai retires in March 2020, so today we have elected our 6th diocesan bishop to be Bishop Lai’s successor.
We are grateful to all 3 nominees who stood for election, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang 張員榮牧師, Rev. Lily L. L. Chang 張玲玲牧師 and Rev. Joseph M. L. Wu 吳明龍牧師.
For most of our clergy it was their first bishop election. For Mr. Yang, our diocesan secretary, it was his second, and we were glad that he was here today to lead the way. He was on hand to check everyone in, helped by diocesan staff, clergy and and his daughter …
First was the Holy Communion Service…
Then the election was held immediately after the service, on the 7th floor of the St. James’ Education Building, with the observers watching from the balcony above, and an overflow group watching it all by video link on the 6th floor.
The rules are that all clergy and elected lay delegates are allowed to vote, and the person elected must receive over 50% from both the house of clergy and house of laity on the same ballot. Of our 18 clergy, 17 voted, and we had 36 lay delegates, all of whom voted. Ballot 1 results as follows…
After the first ballot, the candidate with the lowest number in both the house of clergy and house of laity did not then proceed onto ballot 2. In the second ballot, there was a clear result ~ and when it became clear, the whole room erupted in applause! Ballot 2 results as follows….
Lennon gave a short acceptance speech in which he thanked all the clergy and lay delegates for their support…
And then we had photos, of course! Group photos and individual ones. And we were so pleased to welcome Rev. Canon Bruce Woodcock, representing the Episcopal Church, and here he is!
And other friends and church groups…
A bit of background: Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, 張員榮牧師, 64, is the rector of Advent Church on the campus of St. John’s University, Taipei, where the church serves as both the university chapel and as a parish church. Among many projects and ministries over the years, Lennon has also raised huge amounts of money to install the most beautiful stained glass artwork in the Advent Church ceiling, and to build the Advent Church Centre. He is also very involved in leading short-term mission trips within Taiwan and overseas, most recently in a mission program working together with our companion diocese of Osaka. Later this month he will lead an 8-day mission trip with about 20 mostly young people from Osaka and Taiwan to the Diocese of West Malaysia. Do pray for them!
Lennon is married to Hannah, they have 2 adult daughters and 2 young grandchildren. He was born and brought up in Taipei in a military family, with parents from a Baptist background who moved to Taiwan from Mainland China in 1949. As a student at St. John’s and St. Mary’s Institute of Technology SJSMIT (predecessor of St. John’s University SJU) Lennon was baptized aged 15 in 1970 by Rev. Charles C. T. Chen in Advent Church, and then confirmed in 1971 by Bishop James Pong. Hannah is a former kindergarten teacher, she grew up in Keelung, where she and her older sister, Rev. Elizabeth F. J. Wei, were members of Trinity Church. Elizabeth and her husband, Rev. Peter D. P. Chen were both there today at the election as observers, they have retired to Tamsui, and now worship each week at Advent Church. Lennon studied theology through the diocesan Trinity Hall Theological Program, and was ordained deacon on December 21, 1995 and ordained priest on January 25, 1999. Lennon has devoted virtually his whole life and ministry to St. John’s University, first as a student, then in succession as Associate Professor of Mathematics (he has a PhD in Algebra), SJU chaplain and now as full-time rector of Advent Church.
So, please do pray for Lennon and his family, for Advent Church and St. John’s University, and for Bishop Lai and the Diocese of Taiwan. We give thanks to Almighty God for his many blessings and for the smooth election process today. A lot of the hard work and responsibility rests with Mr. Richard B. S. Hu, chair of the diocesan Standing Committee. Today’s result still needs to receive consent from the bishops and standing committees of the Episcopal Church; but provisionally the date of consecration, ordination and installation is set as February 22, 2020.
Much respected and well-loved by all in the Taiwan Episcopal Church, the Rev. Dr. Peyton G. Craighill (who sadly died on June 4, 2019 at the age of 89) served in Taiwan for many years along with his wife Mary, based at Tainan Theological College from 1961-1978, and then in their retirement, they came back for 2 years to serve at St. James’ Church, Taichung. In June 2012, Peyton came to Taiwan to lead workshops on Member Mission, his last visit to the country and people he loved so much. At the end of his visit then, he shared with me how he thought that the next bishop of Taiwan would be Rev. Lennon Chang – Peyton thought Lennon to be eminently suitable to be bishop. Sadly Peyton is no longer here to see today’s election result, but we know he would be thanking God!
Bishop Dick Chang sadly died 2 years ago, but during his time as Bishop of Hawaii, he and his wife Dee were good friends and wonderful supporters of us all in Taiwan, and Dee continues to support us today. Bishop Dick would be pleased that another Bishop Chang has been elected in the Episcopal Church!
Lennon is 64 years old and in the diocesan public forum meetings leading up to this election, he emphasized that, if elected, he has a clearly defined 7-year plan to embark upon immediately, as his time as bishop would be limited (mandatory retirement age of bishops in the Episcopal Church is 72). He assured everyone that he is prepared to work very hard to respond to God’s calling. His inspiration and role model is Bishop James C. L. Wong (Bishop of Taiwan 1965-70 and founder of SJSMIT / SJU) whose motto was always, “Transforming Lives Through the Life of Christ.” Bishop Wong was 65 at his consecration, and achieved so much in those 5 years. Lennon hopes to do the same – certainly his determination and dedication are legendary – and we pray for God’s blessing upon his ministry, his health and his family. Thank you!
The official report announcing these election results is published here on the Episcopal News Service website. The report in Chinese on the Christian Tribune website is here. Thanks to Rev. Antony F. W. Liang for some of the photos used above, to St. James’ Church for hosting the election and lunch, and to you all for your support, prayers and concern for us ~ and thanks be again to Almighty God!
Just spent Palm Sunday weekend at St. James’ Church, Taichung where I was assigned to do the sermon in the English service. It seems that usually, with only an hour for the service, they don’t have time for a Palm Sunday procession and miss out the readings for Palm Sunday too, just concentrating on the ones for Holy Week. But my Palm Sunday sermon, based on Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (the Palm Sunday liturgy) was all prepared when I discovered that fact. And so it was that Rev. Lily Chang kindly rearranged the whole service, and for the first time, St. James’ English Service had the Palm Sunday Liturgy and Palm Sunday Procession, waving palm branches and shouting ‘Hosanna’ as everyone walked around.
The Chinese congregation had a Palm Sunday Procession that went around the streets of St. James; the English congregation had a smaller one, just around the church building ~ but in its own way, just as meaningful.
We also had a choir, formed from the English congregation, who sang all the traditional Palm Sunday hymns and songs.
This was not the only major event of the weekend going on at St. James. On the Saturday morning, we had the first of 3 Bishop Candidates Public Forums for all the church members in central Taiwan to meet and hear from the 3 candidates nominated for election to succeed Bishop Lai when he retires early next year. About 60 people came along, and it was very worthwhile.
And in-between times, I went off to visit my old friends, these are the Lai family, and the 2 girls are my former pupils, now all grown up! So great to see them!
Came back home yesterday into major traffic jams caused by processions of worshipers, deities, musicians and vast numbers of people celebrating a traditional Taoist festival, marching along the sides of the roads along the streets of Tamsui and further north. Just as the date of Easter is set by the Lunar calendar, so the week before Easter, when we are observing Holy Week, that same week is always also a busy time for temples in this area, who are observing the same Lunar calendar. The 860 bus route from Tamsui, that normally takes about 25 minutes, instead took an hour. Ah, I was so happy to arrive home!
So wishing you all a meaningful Holy Week as we remember Jesus’s last supper with his disciples, his arrest, trial, crucifixion and death on the cross. Do take time to pray, reflect, meditate, contemplate, worship, remember, fast, observe and take part in the events going on in churches around about. It’s the most important week of the Christian year, so do get into it!
This year’s annual convention was hosted by St. James’ Church, Taichung, and, as always, it was wonderful! These are the 2 official group photos below…
Rev. Lily L. L. Chang, rector of St. James’ Church and her team of church members and volunteers organized and arranged a big welcome for us, including supplying delicious snacks and fruits for each break time. THANK YOU! Here’s all the St. James’ team, being thanked on the last day…
After a very early start for most of us, we started the convention with a Holy Communion service at 10:30 am on Friday morning at St. James, followed by the group photos, then lunch nearby…
After lunch, off we went to a hotel for the meetings. This was the seating plan…
The hotel we stayed in is located near the former Taichung City Council and other colonial buildings from the Japanese era. Not far away in one direction is the river, now marked by blue lights, and in the other direction is the Taichung Rail Station – the old building has been retained, and the new station built behind it. Great for late night and early morning walks!
It was good to meet up with all our old friends from every one of our churches in Taiwan. Great reunions! The official meetings focused on presentation of reports, discussions, proposals and elections. Reports were given by all the different diocesan committees. And at the beginning of the convention, Bishop Lai formally welcomed our good friend from the Episcopal Church, Rev. Bruce Woodcock, Partnership Officer for Asia and the Pacific….
On Saturday it was a special day for Jerry Liang ~ his birthday, but he had completely forgotten all about it! So it was fun for us all to sing to him – and for him to be hugged by his son, Antony. Antony is to be ordained priest at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei on Wednesday May 1. Do pray for him and all the family.
And so Day 2 began with breakfast, and followed by meetings, including a report from Dr. Herchang Ay, president of St. John’s University. All of our churches gave their reports. And the day finished with lots of photos!
The collection from the opening service the previous day was presented to St. James’ Church, but they kindly donated it to St. Mark’s Church, Pingtung to help with urgent repairs to their church building and vicarage…
The most important matter to ask you to include in your prayers is the forthcoming election of the new diocesan bishop of Taiwan. The mandatory retirement age for bishops in the Episcopal Church is 72, so Bishop Lai must retire before March 2020. We now have 3 official candidates, seen in the photo below with Bishop Lai. From left: Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, rector of Advent Church, Bishop Lai, Rev. Lily L. L. Chang, rector of St. James’ Church, Taichung, and Rev. Joseph M. L. Wu, vicar of St. Mark’s Church, Pingtung.
In April, May and June, there will be 3 sessions to meet the candidates, one each in the north, central and south of Taiwan, then the actual election of the new bishop will take place on Saturday August 3 at St. James’ Church. The consecration, ordination and installation of the new bishop will take place on Saturday February 22, 2020 in St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei. Please pray!
Thanks to Bishop Lai and all who helped to organize the convention, and especially to Mr. Yang, our diocesan secretary, who has been working hard for months, along with all in the diocesan office. Special thanks to Ms. Amy B. H. Lin, our honorary diocesan treasurer who devotes much of her spare time to this role, and together with Bruce and Bishop Lai, they form a great team!…
And next year our convention will be hosted by St. Timothy’s Church, Kaohsiung as they celebrate their 50th anniversary. Get ready!
Thanks be to God, and please continue to pray for the Diocese of Taiwan!
Many congratulations from St. James’ Church, Taiwan – to Bishop Dixie on his retirement, and to Bishop Rex on his installation – YES!
A group of 6 of us from St. James’ Church, Taichung, Taiwan had the honour of attending the installation service of Bishop Rex Reyes as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines (EDCP) on Thursday March 14, 2019. Thanks be to God!
And I had the fun of taking photos from all angles and heights…
And the place was packed with busy people as EDCP were holding their 47th diocesan annual convention in the provincial offices from March 12-14…
The convention culminated in the installation service of the new bishop, held at the diocesan ‘pro-cathedral’ at St. Stephen’s Parish, in the ‘China Town’ area of Manila – not to be confused with the National Cathedral, which is for the whole province of the Philippines. Yes, it’s kinda complicated having both provincial and diocesan buildings in the same city, especially when getting from one to another may involve long hours in traffic. This was us arriving on Wednesday evening and driving from the airport into the city…. hey, it’s all part of the experience; even traffic jams are ‘more fun in the Philippines’ as the advertising slogan goes!
For historical reasons, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines is strongest among the indigenous Igorot people in the mountainous provinces of the northern Philippines, but many have moved south, looking for land to farm and settle on, and some have settled in the EDCP area around Manila (they, together with the 2 Chinese-speaking Episcopal churches in Manila, form the backbone of the EDCP today). The partnership between St. James’ Church, Taichung and EDCP started in 1998 when Bishop Manuel Lumpias wrote from Manila to Bishop John C.T. Chien in Taiwan describing how groups of Igorot Episcopalians gather to worship under mango trees due to lack of church buildings. Mango trees are everywhere in the Philippines, big and broad and shady; great for groups to meet under them on a temporary basis, but not much good in the rain!
Bishop Chien gave that letter to Rev. Charles C. T. Chen, then rector of St. James’ Church, Taichung, and Charles was deeply moved. He remembers how St. James’ itself started through the generosity of Christ Church, Greenville in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina (USC) and the United Thank Offering (UTO) way back in the early 1970’s. As Charles said, when he read Bishop Lumpias’ letter, “In Taiwan, we had nothing and we were so poor; now we have everything, so it is time for us to help others. Just as Christ Church and the UTO gave so willingly to us in our early days, so we want to express our thanks by sharing our wealth with others.”
And so Charles sprang into action, and within a short time, St. James’ Church had raised US$ 6,000 to build a church in EDCP. Then, on finding out that the village had no water supply, they raised a further US$ 3,000 to install a permanent water supply for the whole community. That church was Christ the King, Sandeline, Nueva Ecija, consecrated on July 27, 1999. But it was only the beginning, and through succeeding EDCP bishops, Bishop Benjamin Botengan and then Bishop Dixie Taclobao, the partnership expanded from that one church to eventually become 12 churches, all built with money raised by St. James’ Church. In many cases, it was individual donors from St. James who wanted to express their gratitude to God by building a church in the Philippines, in other cases it was a collective church effort.
As time went on, so the cost of construction increased, but Charles always loves a challenge and he continued undaunted! In 2010, thinking the project was at an end with 11 churches built, a Thanksgiving Service was held at Holy Carpenter Church, Villa Labrador (church No. 8, consecrated in November 2009), and attended not only by Charles and his wife, Maryjo, but also the Bishop of Taiwan, David J. H. Lai and his wife Lily. Actually it turned out that one more church was to be built after that, St. Gregory’s, Cogeo, Metro Manila, consecrated in November 2012; one third of the money was donated by a member of St. James, Ms. Hsu Hui-Lan, in memory of her husband, whose Chinese name translates as Gregory, the rest of the money was raised by St. James’ Church. We visited St. Gregory’s Church on this trip, and were warmly welcomed by the church members…
Since 2012, with the official completion of the church-building project, our partnership has developed in different ways. St. James Church, Taichung welcomed Lynn Baguiwet, trusted and faithful EDCP Finance Officer for a 2-week visit in September 2013, followed by Rev. Joel del Rosario who came to St. James for 2 months in the summer of 2015. Both have become great friends of us all, and we hope for more visits from EDCP clergy and friends in the future! This is Lynn on the left, and Fr. Joel on the right with Rev. Lily L. L. Chang, current rector of St. James’ Church, Taichung…
It was Rev. Lily Chang who organized this visit to EDCP; it was actually her first visit, she became rector of St. James in 2015. Rev. Charles Chen and Maryjo came too of course, they are both so amazingly full of energy at 84 years old, and intrepid travelers still. They couldn’t wait to get to the Philippines and meet all our old friends once again! And we were accompanied by Rev. Sam C. S. Cheng and his wife, Julie, such great supporters of this whole partnership. Sam is former junior warden of St. James from way back in the late 1990’s, and so it was Charles, Maryjo, Sam and Julie who had made that first visit from St. James to EDCP to see the first church, Christ the King, Sandeline; we think that visit was in the summer of 1999. That was just after I arrived at St. James. Since that initial visit, there have been 7 visits altogether of St. James’ people to EDCP with a grand total of about 20 church members from St. James having visited one or more times. Charles has been on 6 of the visits, with a gap of one in the middle, I too have been on 6 of the visits, excluding the very first one. Thought you might like to see one of the early photos, from my first trip in 2003, when we visited one of ‘our’ churches, St. Mark’s Church, San José, Nueva Ecija – when were all a bit younger!
In 2017, when we heard that Bishop Dixie was going to retire, we had originally planned to come to the consecration of the new bishop, really as a way to say goodbye to our beloved Bishop Dixie and to thank him again for all his support in our partnership. But it wasn’t possible to come to the consecration due to timing, so we resolved to come instead to the installation. Thus it was that we arrived on Wednesday evening, March 13, after a 1¾ hour flight from Taipei. Two very helpful seminarians, Fray and Go, met us at the airport on behalf of the diocese. When we arrived at the hotel, we discovered that, staying at the same hotel as us and also attending the installation service, were our old friends, Archbishop Ng Moon Hing (Bishop of West Malaysia, Archbishop of the Province of S. E. Asia and Chair of CCEA – Council of Churches of East Asia), and his wife, Siew Lan. They are just so lovely and friendly! And then Archbishop Ng went off for a conference call, and Bishop Dixie, his wife Juliet and assistant Moises all came by to say hello. By then it was quite late, after their full day of meetings, but it was so great to renew our friendships and reconnect once again!
On Thursday morning, Lily and I were up and out ready for pick-up at 6:00 am (yes, EDCP conventions start really early!) We attended the 6:30 am Memorial Service at the National Cathedral, held on the third day of the convention each year, in memory of those of EDCP who have died in the previous year.
Then breakfast with the delegates and reunions with our old friends, especially Fr. Joel!
While the delegates had their meetings, we waited for the rest of our group, and then went on a tour of the compound. First to the National Cathedral. In 2012, we had the chance to meet Bishop Manuel Lumpias, whose letter had sparked the whole partnership (he used to say that it was the best letter he ever wrote, even though he couldn’t remember anything particular about it!) Bishop Lumpias sadly died last summer and his ashes are interred in the columbarium at the National Cathedral. Lynn took us to see his memorial and Charles was delighted to discover that he and Bishop Lumpias in fact share the same birthday, 5 years apart! We had a prayer in thanksgiving for the life and ministry of Bishop Lumpias, it was very moving to remember him on this visit.
We also visited St. Andrew’s Seminary (SATS) with a warm welcome and tour of the buildings too!
And we were delighted to meet up with Bishop Benjamin Botengan, Bishop Dixie’s predecessor, and his wife, Mrs. Kate Botengan. Such a happy reunion, and a group photo – of course!
We met up with Fr. Gerry, such a delight…
And then we visited Prime Bishop Joel Pachao in his office, just above the meeting room of the EDCP convention; ‘prime bishop’ means he’s in overall charge of all 7 dioceses of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines…
After lunch, while the delegates finished up their convention meetings, we were taken to visit St. Stephen’s High School, where we enjoyed meeting the principal, Dr. Judy Tan, and her staff once again. The school is bilingual, Mandarin Chinese and English, and they persuaded me to visit 2 of the classrooms to talk to the students to try to enthuse them to keep up their Chinese – yep, wish I’d had the chance to learn it when I was their age!
And then next door to the ‘pro-cathedral’ for the installation service at 5:00 pm. Also at the service were Bishop Luke Muto and a group from the Diocese of Kyushu, Japan, companion diocese of EDCP, and other bishops of the Philippines, plus ecumenical partners, friends and family of the new bishop. It turns out that Bishop Rex has many friends in the Taiwan Presbyterian Church through his former work as General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP), and ongoing responsibilities at the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Taiwan Ecumenical Forum. Wonderful!
After the service, we went to another part of the school for the installation dinner – yummy yummy! We had beauitful music and dancing displays from students of St. Stephen’s High School…
On behalf of Bishop David J. H. Lai, Rev. Lily Chang presented both Bishop Dixie and Bishop Rex with artillery shell crosses…
And Bishop Rex presented our group with distinctive Igorot bags from Sagada Weaving… THANK YOU! 😊😊😊
Bishop Rex also presented Bishop Dixie with a special plaque of thanksgiving ….
We met Bishop Rex’s family…
And so many friends!
On Friday, March 15, while Bishop Rex was meeting with his clergy, Bishop Dixie and Juliet kindly gave up their first official day of retirement to take us to visit 2 of ‘our’ churches. At the first one, St. Gregory’s, we were warmly welcomed with coffee and snacks. We sang in English, Tagalog and Chinese, then shared in fellowship with the church members. The plot of land is tiny, so the church has an upstairs, and it was great to see the way it is being so well used for Sunday School, and as a place where seminarians can stay when they come for the weekends.
The senior warden and one of the church members came on with us to visit the second of our churches, St. James, in rural San Isiro, about an hour away from St. Gregory’s. The road has now been paved to within a few km of the church so everyone was delighted. We passed a jeepney with people sitting on the roof, and resolved if we ever come again, then we hope Bishop Dixie’s energetic and adventurous wife, Juliet can take us for a trip on the top of a jeepney! The 15 church members had all gathered at St. James to welcome us and cook lunch, made from their own vegetables, fruits and chickens. It was really delicious! Fr. Ben, in charge of both St. Gregory’s and St. James, is currently in Jerusalem, but his wife, Liz had come especially to St. James to join us, and she had brought a Ugandan friend, Catherine who came to Manila originally to do a PhD and is now doing research. It was great to find myself speaking Swahili with her – in the unlikely setting of the middle of the Philippine countryside! We had brought a box of T-shirts from our St. James’ Language Institute, bearing the name of St. James, for the people of both churches, also boxes of pineapple cakes!
By then we were exhausted and ready to go back to Manila, but hey, there was some shopping to be done, and energy levels suddenly shot up – off to the shopping mall to buy some must-have dried mangoes!
That evening, Rev. Lily Chang (on behalf of St. James’s Church) hosted a dinner in a Chinese restaurant, and it was wonderful to be able to share our gratitude with our wonderful hosts. We welcomed Bishop Dixie and Juliet, Bishop Rex, Fr. Joel, Lynn, Fr. Lendehl (EDCP, but formerly supported by AsiaCMS, we’ve met twice at CMS conferences in Malaysia and Cambodia!), Moises (who organized all our program and answered every question we ever had!), Deacon Ritchie (our amazing driver), plus Emily and Soledad who are members of the diocesan partnership committee. We shared our vision for future partnership and had a lot of laughs and fun, then presented gifts from St. James to everyone present…
And finally a group photo, YES!
And on Saturday early morning, we found ourselves on the way to the airport, driven by Fray – and accompanied by Fr. Joel who had come to see us off. They are all so kind and wonderful! Saturday apparently is even busier on the roads than weekdays, especially it being just after pay day – but we got there so early, we missed most of it!
And so farewell to Manila – the sun was shining as we took off, and as we looked down on the land below…
In fact it was beautiful weather all the way to the southern tip of Taiwan – which you can just see in the distance below…
After that, well, the clouds rolled in, and by the time we reached Taoyuan Int’l Airport, guess what, it was back to the rain that so characterizes the north of Taiwan. The sun was definitely great while it lasted!
A very big thank you to all our good friends in the Philippines, to Bishop Dixie and Bishop Rex and all in EDCP for their warm welcome and gracious hospitality, for their vision and their willingness to participate with us in this great adventure in mission. Thank you too to Rev. Lily Chang for welcoming me to join their group, and to St. James’ Church for their support. And to Rev. Charles Chen (and as always supported by MaryJo) especially, in gratitude for his vision, courage, passion and energy which has inspired so many to give to this project and enabled our partnership to develop over the years. Most of all, we give thanks to our Almighty God for His many blessings and for his enabling. To God be the glory, Amen!
What a great and joyful day for all in the Taiwan Episcopal Church ~ for Bishop David J. H. Lai ordaining a new deacon ~ and for Antony Fan-Wei Liang and his family, in particular! Many congratulations to everyone, and thanks be to God!
This all happened last night, May 1, 2018, at a special ordination service at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei ~ YES!
Antony and his parents are long-time members of St. James’ Church, Taichung ~ in fact, I’ve known him since he was a teenager. Antony’s much-loved father is Jerry Liang, lay leader for many years of St. James’ English service. I go there once a month to do the sermon and I know that whenever Jerry is there, the service proceeds oh so smoothly – but if Jerry is not there for any reason, everyone is noticeably less relaxed and anything can – and often does – happen! Antony’s very lovely mother, Jean helps too, she is the world’s most amazing singer and oozes elegance, refinement and style. Both parents are very committed Christians, the first in their respective families, and both are also retired teachers, devoted parents to Antony, and very energetic and supportive grandparents to Antony’s 2 young sons. Ah, we all love ’em so much! This is Antony and his family last night with Bishop Lai….
So, some years ago, when Antony married his beautiful wife, Anita, the wedding too was at St. James’ Church. And then the 2 boys came along ~ but in-between times, Antony responded to a call to enter full-time ministry. For his theological college training, he had the unique opportunity, kindly offered to the diocese by Archbishop Paul Kwong of Hong Kong – and supported by Bishop Lai – to train at Ming Hua Theological College, Hong Kong. He was there 3 years, while his wife and family stayed in Taiwan, living with Jerry and Jean, who rose to the occasion wonderfully, and provided the family with lots of love and support, as well as a warm and caring home. Antony finished at Ming Hua last summer, and his graduation in February this year was attended by former and current rectors of St. James, Rev. Charles C. T. Chen and Rev. Lily L. L. Chang, as well as Jerry Liang.
Since then the family have been serving at St. Andrew’s Mission, Jieding, Kaohsiung, and most recently involved at St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung at weekends.
Now, though, starting May 1, Antony has been assigned to St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei, to be in charge of a new English service, starting this Sunday – and every Sunday – at 9:00 am. Many years ago the cathedral had an English service, but in recent years it had stopped. Now it is being restarted, and Antony is taking up the challenge – along, of course, with the dean, Philip L. F. Lin.
But first to Antony’s ordination last night…
And we welcomed church members and friends from all over Taiwan ~ and an extra blessing was to welcome so many of Antony’s fellow students, faculty, clergy and friends from Hong Kong, and specially Dr. Gareth Jones, principal of Ming Hua, who also represented Archbishop Paul Kwong. Here he is with Antony… (notice the candle light that looks like it’s on the top of Antony’s head!)
I counted about 20 visitors in the Hong Kong (and friends) group photo ~ wonderful!
A coachload also came from St. James’ Church, Taichung – and they sang “I the Lord of Sea and Sky” during the service. Loved it! This is their group photo…
And then we also had all our clergy in attendance, plus many church members, particularly from our churches in northern Taiwan. These are groups photos from St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung, Christ Church, Chungli, and St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung…
And this was the main group photo ~ kindly taken by one of our diocesan staff…
All our happy clergy…
Y’know, yesterday, May 1 was not just a special holy day, the Feast of St. Philip and St. James, it was also Labour Day – so quite a few people had a day off work. In Taiwan the day off is limited to those who qualify for Labour Insurance, which does not include teachers in universities and schools, so the schools were open and students were in classes. But our church kindergarten teachers and staff do qualify for Labour Insurance, so the kindergartens were closed. The good thing was that many could therefore come to the ordination, including some of the teachers from St. James’ Kindergarten and Leading Star Kindergarten. The bad thing was that everyone with a day off was out at restaurants, enjoying the beach, relaxing, and the roads were all full of cars. Students were trying to get home, and as it was also a full moon festival, so there were temple celebrations and processions all over. And in Taipei City there were Labour Day marches. Ah, crowds everywhere! Praise God we all got to St. John’s Cathedral more or less on time!
The service started at 7:00 pm, led by Bishop Lai, who also preached. Lessons were read by Samuel Chen, senior warden at St. James – in Chinese, and by Jerry Liang in English. The service was full of meaning, and very moving….
By tradition, Antony’s wife also gave a short speech after the actual ordination part of the service, she was wonderful – she thanked everyone on behalf of the family, and the whole family were introduced. Dr. Gareth Jones also gave a short speech. We had photos galore – and lots of meeting up with old friends! So, this is the album…
A big thank you to Bishop Lai and all the clergy, staff and church members of St. John’s Cathedral for all their organization – and attention to detail, and the refreshments too. This is the cathedral group photo, with our beloved Canon Chancellor, Professor Herbert Ma and Mrs. Aline Ma in the front..
We give thanks to Almighty God for his many blessings to the Taiwan Episcopal Church, and for Antony’s ordination. Please do pray for Antony and his family as they settle into life at St. John’s Cathedral and of course, as they start the new English service this coming Sunday!
A few weeks ago at St. James’ Church Youth Group in Taichung, we had the challenge of praying for the world. Challenge accepted! We prayed for the 16 countries officially listed as being located on the Tropic of Cancer, of which Taiwan is one (see that post here). This past Saturday was part 2, this time with a focus on world peace.
We prayed for countries where war is a current reality. Wikipedia’s List of ongoing armed conflicts is very extensive, so we focused on 16 of the worst-affected countries. Not all are ‘at war’ in the traditional sense – the list includes the Mexico Drug War, as it has one of the highest number of causalities in recent years. And of course, just because a country is not officially listed as being ‘at war’, does not mean that it is at peace. Nor does it mean that a country is not involved in wars elsewhere.
Each of us was responsible for praying for one country at war. More specifically, using paper people, each of us made our paper people into a family of 4, covering 3 generations, and researched how the people in ‘our’ family could be affected by the war. Then we prayed and sang and committed all families in war-torn countries to God.
Partly inspired by the Gospel reading for yesterday when Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection (Luke 24), saying, “Peace be with you” ~ and that “repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
Repentance and forgiveness. We need a bit more of that in the world. A lot more, in fact. And in countries affected by war, it’s a particularly big challenge. So, pray on!
But where to start?! It’s quite a task to take on ‘praying for the world’ ~ so on Saturday night at the St. James’ Church Youth Group in Taichung, we started with, well, where else to start, but, of course, Taiwan! And we prayed around the Tropic of Cancer for all 16 officially-listed countries, one of which is Taiwan. Interestingly, many of those countries are very arid and dry ~ the Tropic of Cancer actually passes right through the middle of the Sahara Desert. And the highest mountain on the Tropic of Cancer is …… (drum roll here)… Yushan in Taiwan!
Anyway, each person took a paper out of a box, with the name of one of those 16 countries on it. We re-ordered the circle so everyone was sitting in order of their country’s location on the Tropic of Cancer. Then we spent a very quiet 15 minutes absorbed in our cellphones finding out info to share about that country and using that info to write our own prayer ~ and so we prayed around the circle, each country lit by a candle… I had the Bahamas, and y’know it’s quite some country, and I knew nowt much about it beforehand!
Partly inspired by the Chiayi Lantern Festival, which also takes the Tropic of Cancer as a theme with all the 16 countries listed and their locations…. and partly related to today’s Gospel reading which includes John 3:16: “For God so loved THE WORLD that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Hey, that’s good news for us and for the whole world!
Hot off the press comes my CMS Link Letter, No. 74. Just in time for Chinese New Year – YES! And just in time for this coming weekend, mentioned in the letter. Just click on this link below, it’s in pdf format:
‘PREPARE for what? How do you PREPARE for the Word of God to come and “take our flesh and grow as a child in Mary’s womb?” PREPARE and “grow as a child.”’
Today we celebrate Rev. Charles C. T. Chen 陳金地牧師 82nd birthday ~ Happy Birthday Charles! He and MaryJo are not in Taiwan to celebrate, instead they are in Italy with Bishop David J. H. Lai and the group from the National Council of Churches of Taiwan (NCCT) visiting many people and places, including the Vatican and Pope Francis (check the report here).
This photo is Charles and MaryJo’s engagement photo, taken in 1958, as they PREPARE(d) for their marriage. Wow, almost 60 years ago!
And what’s the connection with the ‘Visit to the Taiwan Episcopal Church 台灣聖公會 of Bishop John A. Pinckney from Taiwan’s Companion Diocese, the Episcopal Diocese of Upper S. Carolina (EDUSC), October 1965?’
Fast forward to 1996, and St. James’ Episcopal Church, Taichung became a parish, with Rev. Charles C. T. Chen as rector. In 1998, a letter from Bishop Manuel Lumpias of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines (EDCP) to then Bishop of Taiwan, John C. T. Chien described how Igorot Christians in EDCP were meeting for worship under mango trees because they had no church buildings of their own. Inspired by memories of the generous US$ 30,000 donation in 1971 from Christ Church, Greenville, EDUSC, to build St. James’ Church, Charles responded in faith and love, inspiring church members and friends to donate money sufficient to build a church in EDCP. That first church, Christ the King, Sandeline in Nueva Ecija, soon inspired a second, then a third, and eventually over 12 years, a total of 12 churches were built to the glory of God.
As Charles said at the time, “In Taiwan, we had nothing and we were so poor. Now we have everything, so it is time for us to help others. Just as Christ Church, Greenville, EDUSC gave so willingly to us in our early days, so we want to express our thanks by sharing our wealth with others.” Thanks Be To God!