Gotta check this out, it’s great!….
And not just any old field trip to any old place, but to visit some of our very own churches in our very own Diocese of Taiwan ~ Yippee!
For me starting with getting up to the Grand Hotel at 7:00am, when it’s cooler for walking up all them steps… for orchids and yep, coffee!
Today was the day for taking all our lovely guests from the Episcopal Church House of Bishops to visit our churches ~ 4 groups to 4 places; 2 smaller groups – one to Keelung to visit Trinity Church and St. Stephens’ Church and one to Good Shepherd Church in Taipei City, and then 2 larger groups – one to St. John’s University and one to St. James’ Church, Taichung. That trip to St. James is something special, 70 people on the High-Speed Rail – wow, just imagine the logistics!
The trip to St. James was also special because booked to go on it among others were Bishop Andrew Waldo and his wife Mary from the Diocese of Upper South Carolina. St. James’ Church, Taichung was built way back in the late 60’s and early 70’s with a donation of US$ 30,000 from Christ Church, Greenville in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina (also happens to be the church where Bishop Waldo was consecrated as bishop 4 years ago!) matched by an equal amount raised by the St. James’ Church members themselves….
And the whole story of how St. James’ Church, under the former rector, Rev. Charles C. T. Chen, came to have the vision and actually raise the money to build 12 churches in the Diocese of Central Philippines starts with that gift (‘seed money’) from Christ Church, Greenville – in Charles’ words: as we received so generously from others in the past, so it is now our time for us to give and become a blessing to others…..
So Rev. Charles Chen, his wife MaryJo and family, plus Bishop Waldo and his wife had a chance to meet for the first time last night at the Welcome Reception~ and here they all are ~ isn’t it just amazing?!
But that’s another story, and today I didn’t go on the trip to St. James’ Church, instead I was on the visit to St. John’s University (SJU) ~ 2 buses, almost 70 bishops and spouses ~ and what a great time we all had!
Warmly welcomed first at Advent Church by the student fellowship group who sang songs of worship, followed by watching the SJU video, then sharing about the life and ministry of the chaplaincy and church by chaplain and rector, Rev. Lennon Chang ~ and all well supported by lots of our wonderful church members and students…
After a visit to the new church centre construction site, we divided into 3 groups ~ ours went to the library and then the SJU (Shanghai) Archives, followed by all gathering together to meet with SJU President Chen, presentations and a wonderful buffet lunch….
And finally a group photo on the steps of Advent Church….
A wonderful day for everyone ~ and a great honour for us all at St. John’s University, Advent Church and the Diocese of Taiwan ~ YES!
Today was THE big day ~ the official start of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops meeting in Taiwan ~ and there we were on the welcome desk, this time outside the main meeting room, welcoming all those who had arrived late last night ~ and despite mega-long flights for most, well they were just so happy to be here!
After the Eucharist, there were group photos outside in front of the Grand Hotel ~ but there was sooooooo many people in each photo that I couldn’t fit ’em all in ha ha – so you’ll have to wait for the official ones…..
And so to lunch and HOB meetings through the afternoon….
The BIG highlight of the BIG day for us was undoubtedly, definitely and most assuredly the Welcome Reception, hosted by the Diocese of Taiwan in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Taiwan Episcopal Church ~ so with our 200 guests from the House of Bishops and all our clergy, church wardens and church members from all our churches in Taiwan, well, it was a major major event ~ and then on top of it all, we had the honour of Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-Jeou and VIPs from the government, who came along too…
Having seen President Ma passing through the Grand Hotel on his way to another event yesterday, I’ve now seen him twice in 2 days lol! But this time he came specially to our event, and we had speeches from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop Lai, Chancellor Herbert Ma and President Ma… and guess what, somehow I found myself in the line that the president chose to walk along shaking hands ~ so that’s what I did YAY!
And after the speeches, Presiding Bishop Katharine led prayers for the country, the president and the diocese, and then a toast – and once President Ma had left, then the buffet could begin……
And for many of our church members and clergy, it’s a long journey back home – back to the far south or far east of Taiwan, and for the bishops and spouses it’s a time to recover from the journey or catch up with friends…. but seeing all these smiles, it was clearly all worth it…. YES, it was a great day, praise the Lord!
Today is welcome day ~ and we were all there, at the welcome desk at the Grand Hotel in Taipei, there to welcome all the bishops, spouses and guests from the Episcopal Church here for the House of Bishops Autumn Meeting ~ coming from all over the USA, plus central America, their first time ever to meet in Asia, and for many their first ever trip to Asia…. almost 200 expected, some delayed by the typhoon in Hong Kong and many arriving later tonight….
We were there alongside Lori and Ednice from the Episcopal Church HQ in New York ~ there doing registering ~ while we were welcoming everyone on behalf of the Diocese of Taiwan and presenting diocesan bags full of nice things…
Oh yes, almost forgot to say that as we arrived at the Grand Hotel at 7:30am, so did Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-Jeou, there for a meeting unrelated to us – spot the blurry photo of him and his entourage as he arrived, and then left an hour later….
And here we all are, us and lots of happy smiling bishops, spouses and guests….
Smiling faces all round ~ and a big welcome to Taiwan!
My first ever visit to the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Taipei ~ for an NCCT (National Council of Churches of Taiwan) meeting…..
The NCCT is quite unique in that RC, Orthodox and Protestant Churches are all represented ~ ‘n it don’t happen like that in many countries! So happens that for these 2 years, 2013-14, Bishop Lai is the NCCT chairperson, and we’re part of the team….
Holy Trinity is quite some church, on the 4th floor of a huge apartment block….
And the view’s quite some view!
And so of course, the meeting was quite some meeting!
Just such lovely visitors, as always!
Harriet’s just finished her G.S.C.E’s, so what better treat than to come to visit Taiwan with her dad ~ YES! First met in Tanzania many years ago ~ and now the family belongs to one of my CMS link churches, St. John’s, Neville’s Cross, Durham ~ such a wonderful church!
Friday night they came and it’s been non-stop ever since…. and hot hot hot! Taipei 101, Beitou Hot Springs, Tamsui Old Street, Advent Church, Baishawan Beach, St. John’s University, National Palace Museum, Shilin Night Market, C.K.S. Memorial…. plus meals with friends and colleagues ~ just back from drinking tea with Bishop Lai, followed by beef noodles…… yummmmmmmmmmy!
Great hospitality from all, thank you everyone!
Next stop ~ tomorrow we launch forth on the Diocesan Youth Camp ~ YIPPEE!
Yep, 50 years of mission in Keelung! Yesterday was Trinity Sunday, and there were big celebrations in Trinity Church, Keelung with a Thanksgiving Service at 3:00pm, followed by a grand banquet dinner. And to mark this very special event, the church has been upgraded to parish status – a big decision and start of a new era YES!
Parish status is a kind of mark of maturity, from now on they’ll have far more autonomy, but also of course more responsibility (like gotta take care of their own finances!) hence the decision is not an easy one to make – but they are launching forth in faith…. God has really blessed Trinity Church under the leadership of Rev. Richard R. C. Lee in the last decade or so and they have a great heart for outreach into the community and for planting churches….
The church was bustling with people in pink T-shirts, me too…. so many people in fact that the pink T-shirts mostly had to sit upstairs and watch the service by video …. full full full!
Lots of our church members from other Episcopal Churches and at least 20 representatives from other Christian denominations in Keelung, plus a choir from another church who sang a song ~ all in all a wonderful witness to the way the churches in the area cooperate together to share the Gospel….
Bishop Lai led the service and preached the sermon, St. Stephen’s Church (a Trinity Church plant) sang, and we had a lively DVD showing the history of the church all set to music….
And after the great banquet meal and birthday cake, we all came home with an engraved wooden cross, designed and made specially for the occasion by one of the church members…
And here we all are!
Check out the cross in the ceiling above, great eh?!
Thanking God for his many blessings of the last 50 years in Keelung, and here’s to the next 50+50+50+50 forevermore!
Click on the link below for my June 2014 CMS Link Letter….
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!
The T-shirts are ready, all 1,000 of them, YA!
The Taiwan Episcopal Church celebrates its 60th anniversary this year ~ the big celebration will be on Saturday April 26 in Taichung….
The T-shirts, with a specially designed logo in honor of the occasion and to be worn on the day are now ready ~ the logo designed by church members of Christ Church, Chung-Li, and the T-shirts made by our very own Tan Shirt Company. The Tan family are church members here at Advent Church, and Marge Tan (our senior church warden) runs their cutting factory just up the road ….
So happens that we also have an English class there every Monday afternoon for the staff – and here they are yesterday, proudly displaying THE finished product, now all ready for distribution….
Watch this space for photos of the big day – and please pray for us and join us in thanksgiving to Almighty God for 60 years of the Taiwan Episcopal Church!