Tag Archives: Taiwan Episcopal Church

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 19 🌟❄️☃️

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day19: This is Yi-Mu 義牧 (left) and Yung-Mu 永牧 (right), sons of the Very Rev. Philip L. F. Lin, dean of St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei and his wife, Linda ~ the photo taken today at the cathedral’s English Service Christmas celebration. Such friendly boys, and so happy to pose for a photo!

In 2011, while the family were living at St. James’ Church, Taichung, and when Yi-Mu was 5 years old, he was diagnosed with leukaemia. Then started a very long and gruelling 4 years of intensive chemotherapy. For a whole week every month he would need to stay in hospital in Taipei, accompanied by his mother, while his grandmother went from Taipei to Taichung to take care of his younger brother, Yung-Mu, while Philip continued his ministry at St. James. Treatment also continued after the 4 years, but less intensively. In 2015, Philip became rector of Good Shepherd Church, then dean of the cathedral and the family moved to Taipei, which made hospital visits much more convenient. Yi-Mu tells me that now he only needs to go for a check-up once every 6 months, he’s so very pleased. The illness also took its toll on his education, and he missed so much schooling that he couldn’t keep up, and the emotional stress was hard for all the family. The good news is that now, aged 15, he’s happily settled in a year group that is 2 years younger than his actual age, and he’s much more confident and doing well at school. He’s also won prizes for his calligraphy skills, and he tells me today that English is his best subject!

What kept Yi-Mu going all the time that he was sick in hospital was learning to play with a yo-yo from watching videos. He would roll the yo-yo along the floor from his bed, and with great persistence, he has learned a whole range of amazing yo-yo skills and techniques. He is now a star yo-yo performer, one of the best for his age group in Taiwan, performing regularly at school shows, church and charity performances, and he’s appeared on television too. He’s quite incredible to watch! 🪀🪀

As a young child, Yi-Mu would ask his mother why life was so hard and his life so full of suffering. Now, when I ask him how we can pray for him, he says everything is going well, and he just wants to give thanks to Almighty God! It’s very moving to hear him say that, what a great witness. Please do pray for him and all his family!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 12 ❄️🎄🕯️

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day12: This is Huei-Ling 惠苓 (left) and Shu-Jing 淑靖 (right) who are the best of friends and for the first time ever, they were both serving together at this morning’s Advent Church service. They both work for the Bishop of Taiwan, Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang, Huei-Ling in the diocesan office in Taipei, Shu-Jing in St. John’s University (SJU), where Bishop Chang is the chair of the board. Until this year, Shu-Jing was on the staff of the SJU Chaplaincy, she’s also a qualified Japanese teacher, skills put to good use in our companion diocesan partnership with Osaka. And they both came with me to India at Chinese New Year 2017 ~ we had a such a great time together!

Their birthdays are both in March, one year apart. They both became Christians at university, the first (and so far only) one in their families ~ Huei-Ling was a student here at SJU and baptized in Advent Church, while Shu-Jing moved here looking for a quiet place to write her MA Thesis, and so joined Advent Church; she and her husband Jian-Chiang were married here in 2018. They ask for your prayers for their work, as they’re both extremely busy, often running from one place to another – there’s always so much to do!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 10 🎄🎁🌟

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day10: This is Bishop Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang 張員榮主教 who became Bishop of Taiwan in February 2020, just as the pandemic was starting. Taiwan’s strict border controls mean that he hasn’t left Taiwan since then, but instead has been able to concentrate his time and energy into leading the diocese, and serving as chair of St. John’s University (SJU) Board of Trustees.

If he has any free time, he spends it with his wife and family, his 3 very lively grandsons ensure that life is never boring! Please pray for him, his family and all in SJU & the Taiwan Episcopal Church.

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 7 🌟🕯️🎁

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day7: This is the Rev. Charles C. T. Chen 陳金地牧師 and his second son, Christopher 陳智湧教務長, Dean of Academic Affairs here at St. John’s University. We had a cake today to celebrate Charles’ 86th birthday on December 10, while Christopher celebrated his 60th birthday last month. Happy Birthday and many congratulations to them both! 🎉🥳 🎂

When I first arrived in Taiwan in January 1999, it was the two of them who met me at the airport ~ Charles was then rector of St. James’ Church, Taichung, much supported by his wife MaryJo, and just starting what would become a huge fundraising project over many years building a total of 12 churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines. Christopher was then on holiday from his PhD studies at the University of Essex, UK, while his wife, Linda was the kindergarten principal at St. James. We have all worked very closely together for many years ~ ah, such a wonderful family!

In his retirement, Charles is still extremely active, full of energy, vision and ideas, hence his being invited to join the new diocesan Property Management Committee – and that’s why he’s here today at Advent Church, as the group visits each church in turn to assess the buildings and discuss plans for future ministry. The committee is out visiting churches every Tuesday, trying to complete them all before the end of the year. Charles and Christopher ask for prayer for good health for themselves and all the Chen family, including MaryJo, who’s also 86. Charles says he hopes to still be in good health and full of energy to celebrate his 90th birthday ~ he’s looking forward to the celebrations already!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 6 🎄⛄🌟

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day6: This is Bishop David J. H. Lai 賴榮信主教 and his wife, Lily who we visited today at their home in Tainan. Bishop Lai retired as Bishop of Taiwan in February 2020, and really enjoys welcoming visitors to drink tea and enjoy fellowship, while Lily is out at art classes & learning new things like Nordic Walking ~ they both love being retired!

Due to the pandemic, they have not yet been able to visit their children & grandchildren in New York since they retired, but they say they are so grateful to God and to you all for your prayers for their health and well-being. Please do pray for them!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 5 🔔🎶🎄

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day5: This is the Rev. Lily L. L. Chang 張玲玲牧師, Rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Taichung, looking forward to celebrating her 60th birthday on December 27! 🥳🎈🎉 Congratulations and Happy Birthday Lily!  🥳🎊🎂

She is very busy looking after 2 lively congregations (Chinese & English), a large kindergarten and education institute, plus many diocesan responsibilities ~ and with so much going on for Advent and Christmas, she asks for your prayers for her health and strength. 😊 Thank you!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 3 ⛪🎄⭐🐾

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day3: This is Rev. Hsing-Hsiang Wu 吳興祥牧師, chaplain at St. John’s University (SJU) and rector of Advent Church on the SJU campus. Aged 37, he’s the youngest priest in the Taiwan Episcopal Church, and is blessed with a very lovely wife, Yu-Ru.

Sadly, both of them have kidney disease, his inherited from his mother (who’s already been on dialysis for over 10 years), while Yu-Ru’s started as a child, with no family connection. They both try their best to follow their doctor’s advice, eating healthily with sufficient exercise and rest, but they have to be very careful not to overdo it, and especially so at this time of year ~ we have so many activities planned for Advent and Christmas! Please pray for them both, and also their much-loved dog, Nana, who provides lots of entertainment for us all! 🐾🦴🐾

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 1 🕯️🎶🧸

It’s December 1, the first day of #MyAdventCalendar2021 and so here I start with a photo a day for the next 24 days of people here in Taiwan who I would like to ask you to pray for. It’s not really well-planned in advance, but they will all be real people who I invite to open that day’s window on the Advent Calendar to enjoy the chocolate inside, yum yum!

Day 1: this is Yi-Ting 依婷, our newest and youngest colleague on the staff at St. John’s University (SJU) Chaplaincy, Taipei, she’s here sponsored by the Taiwan Episcopal Church. Yi-Ting is from Bintulu, Sarawak, Malaysia and graduated last year from SJU in Creative Design ~ as a student she was also chair of our SJU Student Fellowship for a year. Please pray for her, we all love her so much!

In previous years, I have participated in the AdventWord project of The Episcopal Church, with photos and meditations each day of Advent. It’s great, and is continuing this year, but their meditations are posted at 6:00 am New York time, which is 7:00 pm here in Taiwan ~ so it’s a bit late for us, the day is almost over! This year, inspired by the gift of a chocolate Advent Calendar (thanks to my good friend, Shiao-Chien) I am inviting you instead to pray for my friends and people I know here in Taiwan. I also include an ongoing prayer request for my 89-year-old mother, currently stuck for the last few days without power after Storm Arwen hit the north of England 🌨️ 🥶❄️ cold is the word ~ but relatively cheerful in the circumstances, fortified by kind people supplying lots of hot cups of tea! ⛄☕

😇 Grateful thanks to all! 😇

Wishing you a prayerful and hope-filled Advent 2021!

Thanksgiving Turkey Celebrations! 感恩節快樂!

🦃 Happy Thanksgiving!🦃 🦃 感恩節快樂!🦃

And let’s celebrate the traditional American way, which includes turkey ~ so these are our Thanksgiving Turkeys, made last Friday at Xingren Elementary School, each child writing what they are thankful for – photos supplied by the school. Just in time for Thanksgiving on Thursday November 25.

This may be the first time I’ve ever really taught anything about Thanksgiving, but it’s on the curriculum for English classes in Taiwan’s elementary schools, and I am helping out with some classes once a month, so here we go! This is possibly my favourite…

Actually, Halloween is also on the curriculum, but I am distinctly less keen on celebrating that – so for October’s class on Halloween we focused on ‘What are you afraid of?’ which included everything from cockroaches to ghosts, from earthquakes to Covid-19, followed by ‘What do you do when you’re afraid?’, which included hiding under the table in an earthquake – holding onto a table leg, running away from fierce dogs, asking for help, being brave, and even maybe praying ~ as appropriate. It all fits very nicely with the well-practiced earthquake drills and pandemic precautions that are now part of daily life. And we finished with a traditional but pandemic-friendly Halloween game of stacking cups…

As you will see from the photos above, facemasks are compulsory all day and every day, though we are allowed to take them off for photos. Apart from a few old Covid-19 cases that have resurfaced when the person went to be tested for travel overseas or a hospital stay, Taiwan has actually not had any domestic Covid-19 cases now for about 2 months, so that is good news. Most days, the figures are about 8-10 imported cases, no domestic cases, no deaths. Border controls continue to be very strict, with 2 weeks of mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival in separate rooms (even if you’re a couple), followed by a week of self-health management at home. Some modifications are being made to cope with the thousands expected home to celebrate Chinese New Year, they’ll be allowed to do their second week of quarantine at home, but with huge fines promised to any who break the rules. Meanwhile vaccinations continue apace, and our students are now in the middle of receiving their second dose.

Local seaside at St. John’s University

Earlier this month, we made our first visit since May to the international students at Chung-Chou University in central Taiwan for a service. They’re from Uganda and Eswatini, and during the Level 3 Restrictions in the summer, they were grounded for several months in the factories where they work part-time earning their school fees. While all the girls still look the same, the boys are definitely fatter than I remember them ~ no exercise for months! After the service we usually have pizza, and they said they’re really enjoying eating something different – and how much they appreciate their classes now that they’re in-person once again.

You can see from the photo that the students are all wrapped up, even though for me, coming from north Taiwan, it actually felt very warm that day. It’s autumn, and the weather fluctuates almost daily from hot to cold, wet to dry. On Saturday, and in fact every Saturday for the past month, it’s been rainy, foggy and windy. These were the autumn leaves up in the mountains this past Saturday, wet but very beautiful….

Today, Monday, it is again driving rain and wind, with temperatures dropping by the minute, forecast to be 13°C by tomorrow. But yesterday was a day of hot, sunny weather, 30°C! I was doing the sermon at the English service at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei followed by doughnuts and Bible Study, then decided to cycle home by You Bike – 35km along a very meandering river path, past some new street art and all the way to Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf…

I also stopped off at the Guandu Flower Fields en route. These are normally rice fields but the government pays the farmers to grow flowers during the autumn instead of a second crop of rice, and then they open the area to the public. There were thousands of people at the flower fields, on the bicycle paths, at the beach, everywhere.

We’ve also had some beautiful sunsets, this one taken a few weeks ago in Tamsui of the statue of Rev. George L. MacKay (1844-1901), Taiwan’s most famous missionary, at the place where he landed in Taiwan in 1871, with his Bible and doctor’s bag…

Also the Shezi Bridge, Taipei…

And 2 more local sunsets, taken down at our beach….

And in-between times, we’ve had all sorts of celebration meals! In Taichung, my good friend Miao-Shia and her sister, Shu-Miao have moved to a new home, and invited me there to celebrate. The food was so amazing, all home-cooked! Interestingly, Shu-Miao was working in Uganda these past 2 years with Sudanese refugees, and the lady in Uganda who helped process their visas etc is the aunt of one of the students at Chung-Chou University who always comes to our services ~ so when Shu-Miao came home earlier in the year, she brought him back a gift from his aunt. Small world!

Then, Bishop Chang hosted our October Birthday Lunch at the diocesan office, at which we celebrated Ethan’s 2nd birthday and Jian-Jia’s 60th….

And in November, we celebrated Hsiao-Yen’s 60th birthday, also at the diocesan office….

And to bring it full circle, our good friends Sheerah, Yu-Wei, Ethan and Eva invited me last week ~ along with newly-married Yu-Lin and San-Yuan ~ to their home for a Malaysian meal in honour of Thanksgiving. Wow, it was so special!

Sheerah is from West Malaysia, so she cooked her hometown food while we entertained the kids. There was Uncle Wah chicken curry, stir-fried marinated pork strips, braised pork ribs with white radish, stir-fried vegetables and miso soup. Everything was oh so delicious!

Sheerah had ordered this amazing cake for dessert, ‘Sea salt cheese lava pandan cake 爆漿海鹽芝士奶蓋斑斕蛋糕’. The green pandan cake is Malaysia’s national cake, and with the sea salt cheese lava added, it was a delightful mix of sweet and savoury. Loved it!

What a great Thanksgiving Celebration, and we even had a turkey – but I’m holding it cos it kept falling off the wall!

Even if we’re not American, even if we don’t normally celebrate Thanksgiving, even if we’re adamant that turkeys are only for Christmas, hey really, what’s not to like? We can give thanks to God for family, friends, food, health and strength, and for Taiwan being relatively safe in this pandemic so that life can resume and go on. So much to give thanks for ~ not least for these bright yellow turkeys!

So wishing you all a very….

🦃 Happy Thanksgiving!🦃 🦃 感恩節快樂!🦃

Taiwan Methodist & Episcopal Churches Sign Historic Agreement of Cooperation in Theological Education 衛理神學研究院與三一書院合作簽約聯合感恩聖餐崇拜

Bishops, deans and clergy of Taiwan Methodist & Episcopal Churches

This special event was given added significance through the kindness of Mr. Gregory Chen 陳國瑞 of the Roman Catholic Church, who designed and made four beautiful stoles for the occasion, two for each church. The stoles have the logos of the Methodist Graduate School of Theology (MGST) 衛理神學研究院 and the Taiwan Episcopal Church’s Trinity School for Christian Ministry (TSCM) 三一書院, and were worn by both bishops and their chaplains at the service …..

Stoles: (left to right) Rev. Tai-Yao Chiu, Bishop Kwan-Wah Pong, Bishop Lennon Y. R. Chang, Rev. Antony F. W. Liang, Mr. Gregory Chen

The signing of the agreement took place during a Thanksgiving Service held at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei at 3:30 pm on Saturday October 30, 2021, postponed from the original date of Trinity Sunday, May 30, due to the pandemic. Taiwan is currently under Level 2 Restrictions, so facemasks are compulsory at all indoor events, but are allowed to be removed for a few seconds to take group photos. This was the whole group after the service …..

Bishop Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang 張員榮主教 of the Taiwan Episcopal Church and Bishop Kwan-Wah Pong 龐君華會督 (Pang Jun-Hua) of the Methodist Church both spoke of how they share a common vision for cooperation together in the field of theological education, drawing on much that our churches share in history, tradition, experience and culture. In fact, when Bishop Chang first approached Bishop Pong about the idea of working together, Bishop Pong said he had already been wondering whether such cooperation would be possible, so he was delighted!

Agreement of Cooperation signed by: (left to right) Bishop Chang, Rev. Canon David Chee TSCM, Rev. Feng-Chuan Lin MGST, Bishop Pong

Since becoming Bishop of Taiwan last year, Bishop Chang has re-established and expanded Trinity Hall (originally founded in 1984), the diocesan theological program through which he himself did all his theological study. It is now known as Trinity School for Christian Ministry, under dean Rev. Canon David Chee 徐子賢院長, and working in cooperation with St. John’s University, Taipei. The Taiwan Episcopal Church has always been too small to operate its own theological college, and in the past has relied on sending seminarians to be trained at Taiwan’s Presbyterian or RC colleges (with supplementary courses at Trinity Hall on Anglicanism), and more recently Ming Hua Theological College in Hong Kong. Currently we have one first-year seminarian studying at Virginia Theological Seminary in the USA, two who have studied elsewhere and are now upgrading / completing their courses through TSCM, and we have two first-year seminarians who have just started full-time at TSCM this semester (they led the procession into the cathedral)….

‘The Methodist Church in the Republic of China’ (its official name) 中華基督教衛理公會 is much larger than the Taiwan Episcopal Church, and its Methodist Graduate School of Theology (now under their acting president, Rev. Feng-Chuan Lin 林烽銓院長) was established in 1997, with a permanent college base in Taipei City. Their students all attended the Thanksgiving Service, as did ours from TSCM. The Methodist Church also brought a choir to the Thanksgiving Service, and they sang 2 beautiful songs, one in English, ‘Jesus Changes Everything’ during the signing ceremony, and ‘I the Lord of sea and sky’, sung in Chinese during Holy Communion.

According to the new theological education cooperation agreement, seminarians from both churches are eligible to study on courses at both institutions, credits will be transferable, and there are plans for faculty exchange, joint seminars and other sharing of resources as the program develops. Each church normally has stringent procedures and discernment processes for admittance as a diocesan seminarian; under this agreement, each church will also accept the other church’s seminarians into their theological programs, meaning they will not have to apply for admission separately. Already our two first-year seminarians are taking courses at MGST, with some classes online and others in-person.

The Signing Ceremony….

Both Bishop Chang and Bishop Pong mentioned that the founders of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley remained in the Church of England, the Anglican Church, until the day they died. They did not join the Methodist Church. Now, as Anglican and Methodist Churches in the UK and USA are working together more and more, so we in Taiwan are also called to cooperate together in a spirit of ecumenism and unity. In Taiwan our denominations are small, so collaborating together in theological education will bring great benefits to both churches, helping us to train seminarians and church workers more effectively in ministry.

After the signing ceremony, Holy Communion was celebrated together by Bishop Chang and Bishop Pong, symbolizing our belonging to one family in Christ. Bishop Pong gave the final blessing.

We give thanks to God for this historic and memorable day, for the agreement signed and those who are on the frontlines at TSCM and MGST in making this cooperation happen, including Rev. Antony F. W. Liang 梁凡偉牧師 and Rev. Tai-Yao Chiu 邱泰耀牧師 who served as bishop’s chaplains at the service and wore the specially-designed stoles. We ask you to pray in the days ahead as our churches work more closely together in the field of theological education. To God be the glory!

A great day indeed, and yes, John and Charles Wesley would have been so proud!

The Christian Tribune report of this event in Chinese is here