Friday, September 19, 2014

Taipei Day Five

This morning one of the readers at our opening Eucharist was our own Bishop Glasspool! It is always good to see her in the ambo.

Our preacher at the Eucharist this morning was the Rev. Simon Bautista, one of our chaplains. In response to the Gospel lesson of Matthew 8:23-27, he asked the question -- "What do you do in the face of a storm?" He shared with us that on August 31, 1979 a great storm whipped through the Dominican Republic. He shared with us that during the frightening reality of the roof of his home being ripped off and the torrential rains, the experience did not take away their spirit, but brought a new spirit to the community. There was a joining together, a strengthening of the community. Simon went on to share that there is a bit difference between learning stories and living stories. How do we do in the time of storms? What story of us and of our reactions will be written in the book of faith? A very profound question indeed!

Our first presentation was by Bishop David Lai, talking about the theological context and mission challenges in Taiwan. As David is my table mate at the House of Bishops AND the Bishop of Taiwan, his words in the opening of this series about mission and ministry in the Asian context were important. David shared with us his thanks to us for the last 60 years of mission and prayers and support of the Diocese of Taiwan. in 1954 the diocese started from 0, now they have 7 parishes and 13 missions.

The Missionary Diocese was started in response to the needs of service men and women stationed at bases in Taiwan in the early 1950's. The Missionary Bishop, Bp. Kennedy was the first Bishop in Taiwan. Bishop Wong was the first Chinese Bishop in Taiwan. For the first 30 years, services were held in Mandarin. At that time, people were punished in school for speaking Taiwanese. It was difficult to evangelize in Mandarin only, as 70 percent of the population only spoke Taiwanese or a little bit of Japanese (from 1895 to 1945 the Japanese occupied Taiwan). The Book of Common Prayer was written in Mandarin, which also made it difficult for people to use. In addition, the first logo had in it a bit of the flag of Taiwan and the symbol for the ruling party, leading the Taiwanese who saw it to think that the church was part of the government.

The second Bishop after the move from a Missionary Diocese or a Diocese was James Pong. He retired in 1979. The third Bishop was Bishop Cheung. The next Bishop was John Chien who served from 1988-2000.

David told us it took 15 years to translate the Book of Common Prayer. There are two versions -- one with white edging, the other with gold. The gold edging is for home use. He also worked up a supplemental liturgy book, in which is included a service for honoring/respecting ancestors which is culturally relevant which happens on the Sunday before Chinese New Year. Two scrolls that are hung at the time of this worship -- the translation is as follows: To bathe together in heavenly grace, to retain long from ancestors' virtues. It is important for the Chinese and Taiwanese here in Taiwan.

At the 50th anniversary in 2004 the logo was changed to separate it from the KMT (the ruling party which was incorporated into the original logo).

When the church (St. Stephen's) started to partner with a local community center that was particularly staffed and serving Buddhists and Taoists, the leaders of the center became angered when people wanted to convert to Christianity. The leaders kicked the church out. Part of the reason was the way St. Stephen's is written, the last character means AGAINST. The leadership of the community center kept asking, "why are you against the community?". It had to be explained that it is a name, the church is not against the community. This is just a small example of the misunderstandings that happen.

The Rev. Cn. Peter Koon addressed the current situation in Hong Kong. They are facing a challenge in having one country with two systems. Hong Kong is still using British law, and China using basic law. In terms of election, the challenge is to allow Hong Kong to have it's local elections in the way they have been accustomed.

Peter shared that nothing can separate us from Christ, but the issues that could separate us are political. During the British times, the Anglican Church in Hong Kong was the National Church, and as such was viewed as political because of that. The Hong Kong Christians, not just the Anglicans, are facing these issues. The Cathedral in Hong Kong is close to what will potentially be Occupy Hong Kong regarding the election process.

Dr. Gareth Jones, Dean of Studies at St. John's College in Hong Kong, talked about the theological challenge in Hong Kong. The theological model they are employing in Hong Kong is based on the garden stories. The Garden of Eden story is very important for those in Hong Kong (and there are now two seminarians from Taiwan studying there). Gareth shared that when he was serving in Africa, he offered a Bible study on the passage from Genesis regarding the Garden of Eden. What happens in that story is that it is a very African story -- God goes into his garden in the cool of the evening for relaxation -- what he looks there for companionship. What God finds after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge is that Adam and Eve have abandoned him. "Where ARE you" God asks, insinuating that -- God has created them to be his companions and they have abandoned him.

What the seminary is now modeling is a model of companionship with God, which is about spending time with God. The theological question is -- companionship. They talk about the seminary as garden. The crisis of our faith originates in two places -- Eden and Gethsemane. The doctrinal questions they are interested in are located in the Garden -- that's where the practical problems they are addressing all come together.

The have a very extensive Holy Week program, which is the central week of the whole year. At the heart of the program is the Stations of the Cross. Starting off with the theology of the garden, the students are asked to express it as a group in a piece of work they develop and present.

From the first day to the last moment before they are ordained, they are trained as Anglicans. The polity of our garden is Anglican.

For the seminary, in their four year program they stripped out 50 percent of the Academic Study and instead are included Fellowship and a daily afternoon of formation training. These three ideas are integral to the school. At the beginning of the day is Bible Study, followed by intellectual study, then they come out of that into prayer. They then have lunch with a member of the faculty. Everything is rooted in prayer. After lunch is formation training. Taking their academic work into the chapel, then taking prayer out into the formation piece. Each of the seminarians has a parish placement and a workshop placement each week (mission to seafarers, hospitals, prison, etc.) This puts them into the community.

Bishop Samuel (Sammy) Azariah, the Presiding Bishop of Pakistan, shared his experiences with us. Sammy asked us to suspend our identity as bishops and asked us to identify ourselves only as disciples of Jesus Christ. As a disciple of Christ we need to hear and work together towards wholeness as responsible co-creators with God.

Sammy talked with us about the difficulties facing the Church in Pakistan. He called upon us to partner with the Church in Pakistan, to work with them in helping them learn about development.

A lively discussion followed the presentations.

Tonight was the night for our class dinners. I leave you with pictures from ShinYeh Restaurant on the 85th floor of Taipei 101. The class of 2010 adopted the class of 2012 for the night, and added our own Ada Wong-Nagata as chief translator and protector of this Bishop's allergy to eat shell fish.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

No comments:

Post a Comment