Tag Archives: Taiwan News

News from Taiwan of Consecration and Celebration in a time of Coronavirus

The consecration and installation of Rev. Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang 張員榮 as the new Bishop of Taiwan will take place this coming Saturday, February 22, 2020 at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei, starting at 2:00 pm Taiwan time (UK time: 6:00 am). You can watch it on this live stream, via YouTube …

CMS (Church Mission Society) asked me to write a short article about the Coronavirus situation in Taiwan, how it affects daily life and an update about the coming consecration. This is the CMS article here, published today. They asked for only 300 words, but it grew to over 500, and I’ve now added a few updates from today’s news, so bear with me….

“Taiwan holds its collective breath. We hope and pray that the coronavirus situation improves and that a community outbreak does not occur. The Taiwan government is being cautious and vigilant, schools have an extended 2 weeks’ holiday, many people are working from home and others are driving rather than using public transport. After panic-buying of face-masks caused a major shortage, the government wisely urged that healthy people wear them only in crowded places, on public transport and in hospitals. So far, Taiwan has 22 (now 24) confirmed cases and one fatality, a 61-year-old taxi driver in central Taiwan, thought to have been infected by transporting infected passengers recently returned from China. The passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship (currently quarantined in Japan) visited Taipei’s famous tourist sites on January 31, and the government had a busy time following up all those in Taiwan who might have been infected. The all-clear was given a few days ago, and tourist sites are open, along with hotels and restaurants, though all are seeing far fewer visitors.

This coming Saturday, February 22, the Taiwan Episcopal Church will hold the consecration and installation of our new bishop, Rev. Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang, succeeding Bishop David J. H. Lai, who has faithfully led the diocese for almost 20 years. As the coronavirus so far remains contained, we will go ahead with the welcome dinner for international visitors on Friday night and the service on Saturday, but we have cancelled the consecration banquet, originally scheduled for Saturday evening. Travel restrictions mean that the archbishop and bishops of Hong Kong have had to cancel their visit; we hope there will be no further such cancellations. Fortunately the group of 16 from our companion diocese of Osaka, Japan led by Bishop Haruhisa Iso, arrived safely this afternoon. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will be the chief consecrator, and we are expecting 13 other archbishops and bishops from Japan, Korea and the USA, plus church leaders from within Taiwan (including the RC Archbishop of Taipei), and over 300 in the congregation, many of whom will have to sit outside in the cathedral courtyard watching by video. All who enter the cathedral compound on Saturday will have their temperatures checked, in accordance with current Taipei City Government regulations, and hands sprayed with alcohol-based sanitizer.

For several weeks now, many of our clergy and church members have been wearing face-masks for worship services, while most other church activities have been cancelled, and all those with colds or fever told to stay home. For Saturday, we are trying to be careful without being fearful. Clergy, servers and those processing into the cathedral for the service will not wear face-masks, while for the congregation it is by personal choice. There will be bowing instead of hand-shaking during the peace, and everyone will take Holy Communion by dipping the wafer into the wine. We pray for safety and God’s protection at this time, especially on Saturday, and pray that this situation will draw us closer together as the body of Christ, committed to caring for each other and striving to be tolerant, understanding and patient with others. We pray also for the Diocese of Taiwan in this time of transition, and for Bishop Lai and Rev. Chang. May God’s peace fill our hearts and minds, and may our witness be strong and courageous. Amen.”

Wall-to-wall coverage of the coronavirus situation: the 3 collages used in this post are random shots of Taiwan’s TV News Channels taken this Thursday lunchtime…

And finally, do check out the live stream on Saturday – and watch out for the celebratory firecrackers and Taiko Drum Performance immediately after ‘The Seating’ of the new bishop!

CMS Link Letter #79

Published yesterday by the Church Mission Society, my latest link letter, click on the link below…

I wrote the original letter on January 22, just before Chinese New Year, but the corona virus situation has developed so fast since then that the letter is already vastly out of date. So I have sent a prayer request to CMS for this week’s Prayerspace email, as follows:

“Catherine Lee requests prayer for the consecration of the new Bishop of Taiwan, Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang, on Saturday February 22 at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei. Taiwan has 18 confirmed cases of the corona virus, and fortunately so far all are contained. The Taiwan government is being cautious and vigilant. So far there has been no community outbreak, and as long as it remains this way, then the consecration service will go ahead as planned, although we have cancelled the consecration banquet on the Saturday evening, and travel restrictions mean that the archbishop and bishops from Hong Kong will not be able to come. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry (of Royal Wedding fame) will be chief consecrator, and we are expecting archbishops and bishops from Japan, Korea and USA, VIP church leaders from Taiwan and a congregation of over 300 people.”

Your prayers are much appreciated, thank you – and please continue!

Happy Chinese New Year of the 🐭🐀!

Chinese New Year (CNY) Celebrations for the Lunar New Year / Spring Festival have been going on non-stop all week here in Taiwan! There are mice and rat characters everywhere 🐭 🐀 and Mickey Mouse and his friends have never been more popular. Plus red lanterns galore 🏮🏮🏮….

However, the Taiwan News is dominated by wall-to-wall reporting of the Wuhan Coronavirus situation, which has created a lot of fear, particularly among those who have stayed at home over CNY and watched a lot of TV. We all remember the SARS outbreak in 2003, which the Taiwan government handled really well, but still, many have cancelled their travel plans and are avoiding large gatherings and public transport, and we’re all hoping that the situation does not get worse. There are quite a few suspected – and some confirmed – cases in Taiwan, but so far all remain contained. Kindergartens are back in action as from yesterday, state schools start on February 11. I’m here at St. James’ Kindergarten, Taichung, where all children and staff have their temps checked on entering the school, and everyone is wearing a face-mask and being extra-careful. Face-masks will be worn by all in our churches on Sunday too, and church activities limited for the next few weeks, just to be on the safe side.

But Taiwan people know the importance of celebrating the new year, and despite the concerns, we all had great CNY celebrations! On Chinese New Year’s Eve, I was invited by the Wang family from St. James’ Church, Taichung for their traditional family reunion dinner. Very honoured to sit next to Grandma Wang, aged 87, who kept us all entertained with stories of her early life and 20 years of living in Paraguay. And delicious food, as always – thank you!

Saturday January 25 was officially the first day of CNY, and my good friend A-Guan had invited me to join her on a 6-day road trip to southern and eastern Taiwan. None of her children wanted to go with us, so the two of us set off, in sunny weather heading south for Tainan, en route visiting all sorts of interesting sightseeing spots. First to Gukeng to the Pink Castle 古坑珍粉紅城堡, then to Rosahill, followed by some famous Gukeng coffee, and lastly to Wushantou Reservoir 烏山頭水庫 where it was overcast, but hey, it didn’t rain!

The Temple of Heaven at Wushantou Reservoir is being repaired, but it is modeled on the one in Beijing…. impressive eh?!

In Tainan, we were warmly welcomed by Rev. Philip J. L. Ho, his wife, their second son and his family, plus their daughter, all of whom had gathered for the CNY celebrations – actually his second son and family live very near me in Tamsui, ha ha! On Sunday we worshiped with the congregation at Grace Church, Tainan, and I was delighted to meet Rev. Samuel Liao and his family. We were all given red envelopes – as is the tradition, but instead of a token one dollar coin or chocolate money inside, we each received a new NT$ 100 note, plus a Bible verse. Mine was Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer 在盼望中要喜樂,在患難中要忍耐,禱告要恆切”. Thank you Grace Church!

After coffee time and a delicious Korean lunch, kindly hosted by Hsiu-Chin and her husband, we set off for Fengshan, Kaohsiung, where we were to be staying 2 nights with Ichen, our good friend from St. James – and her family. Once there though, it was such a beautiful day, that we couldn’t stay inside for long, and so we went by MRT along 3 stops to Weiwuying, Kaohsiung (still in Fengshan District), famous for it’s street art and wall murals, and the new state-of-the-art performing arts centre. I love Weiwuying – and there’s always new murals to look at – and this time a new multi-coloured seat to take photos on 🙃🙃 and hey, I met one of our church families from Advent Church, Tamsui visiting their family home in Fengshan for CNY!

On Monday, the weather forecast was good, but rain and cold were promised from Monday night onwards, so we needed to make the most of the sunny weather! A-Guan took us first to see the old iron-bridge 舊鐵橋 that used to link Kaohsiung to Pingtung across the Kaoping River 高屏溪, originally built to transport sugar. It was once the longest bridge in East Asia – built in 1914 in the Japanese Era. I loved it! The middle section was washed away in a typhoon some years ago, but much survives and is open to the public. The main train line crosses the river on a bridge close by. We also visited the nearby kiln and tile workshops, and in the afternoon we went to Pingtung to Liudui Hakka Park, plus other places – but there was a lot of traffic, everyone making the most of the fine weather!

On Monday evening, Rev. Lily Chang joined us, ready to leave bright and early on Tuesday morning. By 9:00 am, we were saying goodbye to Ichen and her family – they were so good to us, with delicious breakfasts and dinners, lively conversation and lots of laughs! We drove down the coast and over the mountains to Taitung – by the newly-opened road that goes through the tunnel – it’s great and saves a huge amount of time! We were heading for Bunun Village Farm 布農部落, our favourite place to stay in Taitung. This village project was started by Rev. K. S. Pai over 25 years ago, and is supported by many churches in Taiwan, with the aim of encouraging the local Bunun Indigenous people to remain in the area, rather than leaving for the cities in search of work. The village is a self-sustaining business with guest houses, restaurants, traditional dance performances, weaving, an organic farm and bamboo factory. We love it! We met Rev. Pai, who knows Bishop Lai and our former dean, Rev. Samuel Y. C. Lin from Tainan Theological College days – see the first photo below. I was very surprised to meet 4 Tanzanian students and one from Burundi, most on 4-month internships from Chang-Jung Christian University, Tainan studying Sustainable Development, sponsored by the Jane Goodall Institute 國際珍古德協會. Ah, it was nice to rekindle my Kiswahili!

The photo below left shows the very special traditional Bunun dinner we had on arrival – with millet wine in the bamboo holder ~ and A-Guan won a large glass of the same at the evening show!

On Wednesday, A-Guan took us all over Taitung, a huge circular tour – she really planned everything so well! We went to the local Farmer’s Association – famous for it’s rice products, to the Bunun Village in Haiduan 海端鄉 with its painted walls, to the Hakka Cultural Park and Dapo Lake, and then up to Fuli, Hualien County and over the long and very winding mountain road that led us down to the coast at Dulan 都蘭, famous for its Amis indigenous culture, elementary school bags (one recently spotted at the Paris Fashion Week), surf, old sugar factory turned into art space, and the new RC church. Phew, there was so much to see! And hey, it didn’t rain!

In Chishang 池上 we called in on Yihua and her husband to buy some of their delicious rice-cakes at their shop ‘池上樂米燒’ on the main street opposite the local government offices – they are church members originally from St. Paul’s, Kaohsiung and Grace Church, Tainan – and we also called there 2 years ago when they had just opened their business (see my blog post for that visit at CNY 2018 here). Yihua has a great testimony to share, as well as really yummy goodies to eat!

Our return to Taichung was Thursday, which was actually the return-to-work day for most people in Taiwan after the CNY holidays. We had an extra day, so we avoided the worst of the traffic. On the way, we stopped on the roadside to buy some of Taitung’s famous sugar / custard apples 釋迦 ….

And we also stopped at Dawu, south Taitung to see the painted walls and houses. Nearby is a relocated Paiwan Village built in cooperation with World Vision – the village was originally up in the mountains, but the destruction caused by Typhoon Morakot in 2009 meant they had to relocate to safer lands…

And so back to St. James’ Church, Taichung by 5:00 pm on Thursday evening, after a mega-trip. Grateful thanks to A-Guan, Lily, Ichen and her family, Rev. Philip Ho and family, and all who we met on the way! And thanks be to Almighty God for His many blessings, safety, good weather, friendly people, lots of laughs and tons of beautiful scenery!

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year of the 🐭🐀!

Happy Chinese New Year’s Eve 2018!

What a beautiful dawn and sunrise this morning, viewed from the 8th floor of St. James’ Church, Taichung!  The start of a day of gorgeous weather!

One of the great traditions of Chinese New Year is catching up with old friends, often those not seen for a whole year or even longer.  I’ve been riding around Taichung on a u-bike all week doing this – and today was special, because I visited Fr. Toon Maes, CICM, at St. Paul’s RC Church, Taichung, where he is enjoying the sun after all those cold, wet and windy years up near us on the northern coast in Jinshan!  He’s 86, and in charge of a church which has about 120 people in the mass on Sunday.  His church is beautifully decorated for Chinese New Year…

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On Tuesday I visited another RC priest friend, Fr. Joy, MM, based at Tanzi Migrant Church, just north of Taichung and working with the Filipino migrant workers, who are mostly employed in the nearby export processing zone.   He has a huge church of thousands, and lots of outreach and social programmes….

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In case you’re wondering, both Fr. Joy and Fr. Maes did actually hold small Ash Wednesday services yesterday.   But in fact, Joy told me that Lent has been postponed in the local RC Churches, due to Chinese New Year coming this week.  After all, it’s really quite extraordinary to have Ash Wednesday – all that fasting and ashes – one day, followed the next day (tonight, Chinese New Year’s Eve) by the biggest family feast of the whole year!  So I think it really makes good sense to delay Lent for a week.  Not just delay Ash Wednesday, but actually Lent itself.   I know it’s supposed to be 40 days, but hey, a few less really won’t make much difference.  Otherwise people won’t know whether they’re supposed to be piously fasting, thus annoying all their family or friends by not participating in the New Year celebrations, or the alternative – eat, drink and be merry and then feel guilty afterwards! And we really don’t need any more guilt in this world and in the church, in my humble view at least.  In the Taiwan Episcopal Church, it’s been left to individual churches to decide, and in St. James, the church council decided not to hold a service – as everyone was so busy getting ready and travelling.

And of course, having no Ash Wednesday left us all free to focus on Valentine’s Day instead ~ and in connection with Valentine’s Day, you must read this BBC News report about how some of Taiwan’s little green traffic light men down in Pingtung have got girlfriends in time for February 14….

Taiwan’s pedestrian crossing men get girlfriends – BBC News

Isn’t that wonderful?!

Red is the colour of Chinese New Year ~ and isn’t this doorway beautiful?  Saw it in Taichung yesterday.  And so, wishing you all a very Happy Chinese New Year!

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Have good celebrations, wherever you are – we’re off on a little trip ourselves tomorrow.  See you in a few days ~ but for now I’m off for Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner ~ yippee!

Hualien Earthquake, Taiwan’s East Coast, February 2018

Please pray for Hualien on the Taiwan’s east coast, battered by a legion of earthquakes, starting with a magnitude 5.8 earthquake on Sunday February 4 that peaked with the main quake, magnitude 6.4 (registered as 7 in downtown Hualien) at 11:50 pm, last night, Tuesday February 6. Between those 2 major earthquakes, 94 shocks were recorded, with five of them reaching magnitude 5.0 or higher. Since last night, there have been seemingly non-stop aftershocks. Many of these have been felt throughout Taiwan. So although last night’s earthquake was not totally unexpected, the fact that 4 major high-rise buildings in Hualien collapsed as a result is a huge shock and major disaster, with the death toll rising by the hour and many still missing. The weather has been very cold, with snow on the mountains, but now there is heavy rain, which together with the instability of the tilting buildings is hampering rescue efforts.

The Taiwan Episcopal Church has one church in Hualien, St. Luke’s Church, and the vicar, Rev. Joseph M. L. Wu posted photos of the damage to the building (see below – click on each photo to enlarge). The church altar table, made of glass, was completely destroyed in the earthquake. Like many church buildings in Taiwan, the church is actually the ground floor of a high building, with apartments above. Fortunately, the building did not sustain any structural damage.

Bishop David J. H. Lai has today transferred an initial NT$ 200,000 (US$ 6,850 / GB£ 4,915) to St. Luke’s Church for repair work, and is encouraging all our church members throughout Taiwan to donate to St. Luke’s Church for relief and repairs. All church members are reported as safe, but many with damage to their homes and businesses, and of course shock and concern about ongoing aftershocks. Mr. Yang, chair of the St. Luke’s Church council, runs a guest house in Hualien directly opposite the multi-story Marshal Hotel, which collapsed in the earthquake, yet his building only sustained minor damage in comparison. Power and water cuts are an ongoing problem, and drinking water is in very short supply. Hualien has a high number of people belong to the indigenous people groups, and many are Christians, belonging particularly to the Presbyterian and Roman Catholic Churches. Their faith and church community support will be a great source of strength to them at this time.

This earthquake comes exactly two years to the very day since Taiwan’s last major earthquake, in which another high-rise apartment building collapsed in the southern city of Tainan resulting in 117 deaths. That earthquake occurred during the Chinese New Year festival. This earthquake occurs one week before Chinese New Year, and people are obviously busy in preparations. Hualien is a major tourist city, due to the nearby scenic beauty of Taroko Gorge and the east coast, plus the indigenous cultures. Roads, infrastructure, hotels and scenic spots are badly damaged. Many people will now be putting their travel plans on hold, and sadly this will have a major effect on the economy of the region.

Your prayers are much appreciated. Thank you.

Updated on Thursday February 8: For latest news, check out these 2 reports both from the Taipei Times website:

Seven dead, hundreds injured in temblor

Building rescue efforts continue – about the way the leaning angles of one of the tilted buildings increased from 30° to 45° through the day, then at 3 pm, the building “visibly moved 4 cm within 10 minutes”….

Update from Bishop Lai’s office: The Rev. Joseph Wu reports today that the church is already cleaned up, and repairs are starting.  Joseph has sent these 2 photos of the church today.  Doesn’t it look different from yesterday?!

He also says that money donated by our churches in Taiwan or overseas will be used in possible relief work in the local community, but all relief will be done in and through cooperation with Taiwan World Vision (Eastern Region) in Hualien, who are on the ground with experts and resources in place, and are coordinating relief ministry in that area. Joseph is still in the process of getting in touch with them and offering his help.

Updated on Monday February 12: Rescue work ends as quake toll hits 17

Updated on Wednesday February 14: Article from the Anglican Communion News Service: Church aids relief effort after 6.4 Magnitude earthquake strikes Taiwan’s Hualien county

Thank you all for your concern and prayers.

Taipei Transforms Subway Cars to Mimic Sporting Venues for Upcoming Summer Universiade | Colossal

To spark interest for the upcoming 2017 Summer Universiade, the city of Taipei has employed a fantastic marketing strategy that sees the city’s subway cars turned into realistic backdrops of several popular sporting venues. The floors of each car have been replaced by laminate overlays of track lane, grass turf, basketball courts, and baseball fields—though by far the most popular car is the swimming pool. The Universiade begins August 19th and involves 22 different sports across 70 venues. ….

Source: Taipei Transforms Subway Cars to Mimic Sporting Venues for Upcoming Summer Universiade | Colossal

Update on July 24, 2017:  I found this train today (greatly helped by staff at one of the stations) and here we are!

Fun eh?!

Rainageddon Hits Taiwan

And it was quite some weekend….

644 mm of rain fell on Sanzhi on Friday from about 2:00 – 11:00 am. That was the start of it all.  This was the scene on the coastal road on Friday morning from inside my bus….

Fridays’s report about the situation from the Taipei Times is here….

The local river at Sanzhi on Friday afternoon ….

The rains spread south over the weekend.  Tons and tons of rain.  2 dead, several missing, homes and businesses washed away or flooded. Terrible damage to infrastructure, agriculture and businesses.  This is today’s Taipei Times report here

Yesterday I went round the coastal road to Keelung.  The road passes along by some of the worst hit areas.  In Keelung, an area of the town along by the river had been flooded, and the army was helping clear up. This was the scene outside a dentists, they’re all there clearing up.  The whole road looked like this. People everywhere.

The road round the coast is open for one lane only each way.  Landslides everywhere cos the mountains there are steep.  This was the scene near the nuclear power station…  see all that mud?

This is not a typhoon. It’s the Plum Rainy Season.  Never normally like this.  Tragic.

Fortunately, the rains are expected to stop today, and repairing the damage can begin in earnest.

On Saturday I spent the morning writing a CMS newsletter.  I had decided early last week that Saturday was to be the day, but I had no idea at that point what my theme was going to be.  Events last Friday kinda of decided for me.  Am sending it off today to CMS for processing.  Check back in a few weeks time!

And finally, the reason for going to Keelung was to attend the Pentecost service at Trinity Church.  This is the back wall of the church….

Pentecost greetings to you all!  May the fire, passion and love of the Holy Spirit bring healing, grace and mercy in this dark, broken and suffering world.