Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Taipei Day Three -- HOB begins
We began the House of Bishops gathering this morning with a celebration of the Holy Eucharist. This being the Feast Day of Hildegard of Bingen, the Presiding Bishop preached a stellar sermon weaving the readings, the creative and diverse work and life of Hildegard and our gathering here in Taiwan into a colorful tapestry highlighting creation, creativity, emergence and our work as a church. Always a gifted and profound preacher, the Presiding Bishop offered us a glimpse not only into the multitalented life of Hildegard, but into the creative and diverse ministry of The Episcopal Church and especially the Diocese of Taiwan. She began her sermon with a prayer in the baptismal rite that ends with the words, "joy and wonder in all your works." At the end of her sermon, she invited us to discover joy and wonder in all that God is doing -- in us, in the church and in the world.
Celebrating the Eucharist together as Bishops is always a wonderful feeling, and even more so, at least for me, to sit with my husband Steve. We don't get this opportunity very often, and it was wonderful for us to be together. One thing I noticed on the tables (or on chairs in the back of the room that were not at a table) was a prayer card. This card was put together (at my suggestion) so that as we Bishops on the House of Bishops Planning Committee took charge of outings outside of our meeting site, that we could have a prayer that we say which all of us say. This particular prayer is used in the house churches established out of the Church of the Good Shepherd here in Taipei. The Rector is the Rev. Cn. Lily Chang.
After the service, the Rt. Rev. David Lai, Bishop of Taiwan, addressed the group. He welcomed us warmly and told us that the Diocese of Taiwan has been praying for us for 40 days leading to this day. He also apologized to the Bishops who had connections through Hong Kong -- due to a typhoon in that area, they were delayed many hours.
Immediately after opening remarks and announcements, all the Bishops were lead outside for a group picture. It was sweltering out there, and as many had jackets on, when the picture taking was over they (and well, me too) -- we were all soaked! We also had our pictures taken with our spouses. After that, as the bishops deserted their spouses in the heat (me included!) the spouses had their picture taken. The photos I have here are not the "official" photos, these are photos that others took while we were in the process of getting ready or being photographed by the professional photographer. The hotel is in the background. Thanks to the Rt. Rev. David Rice of the Diocese of San Joaquin for posting these on Facebook -- and to Facebook for having that nice "save" feature! Another group photo was (thankfully) taken inside.
Lunch today was on our own, so I went to lunch with Ada Wong-Nagata who is here as a guest of the meeting (Ada is the Chinese Convener for EAM (Episcopal Asiamerican Ministries) for The Episcopal Church. Also with us was Canon Peter Ng and the Rev. Canon Lily Chang. Lily, Ada and I became friends when we (along with Fr. Joshua Ng) visited Taiwan two years ago. Lily is the Rector at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Taipei. Here is a picture of Lily ordering our lunch at the dumpling/noodle restaurant in the hotel.
We had a little time to catch up on some work and then we were back to our gathering in our meeting room. The room itself is beautiful -- decorations were primarily green on the ceilings with beautiful paintings on the beams. The altar and ambo hangings were from the Church of the Good Shepherd -- Lily vowed to take me to where she purchased the fabric! Oh, and while I thought I could get into the room a little early to catch up on my work, I was told that the spouses were having a meeting in there. I was able, through the door that was slightly open, to catch my husband Steve and Jeanne Provenzano talking with the spouses -- orienting them to our time together.
Gathered at our tables, I was able to catch up with my fellow table mates for this triennium -- it is always a blessing to be with them. While I will not share what we discussed, I can share this -- Mike Klusmeyer, the Bishop of West Virginia shared a story with us about a young man working in a diocesan office who shared that church signs don't attract people like him or people his age. Apparently he changed a particular church sign (I will use St. Swithins as an example) from saying -- St. Swithins, Holy Eucharist 8 and 10, all are welcome -- to -- St. Swithins, Holy Eucharist 8 and 10, We don't suck. Well, Mike liked this so much he had pins made, and had his youth pass them out at the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) a few weeks ago. He gave me a pin, seen here. Apparently one of his priests refused to hand these out at EYE. That Sunday she and her group went to church in Philadelphia and the usher, and older woman (70+) greeted them and asked them where they were from. When they told her "West Virigina" the usher leaned into them and asked, "do you have any more of those pins?" You just never know.
We had time after our table sharing to change quickly and come back for the Diocesan reception. Our guest speaker was none other than the President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Ma Ying-Jeou. There was, of course, extra security there, with people guarding him. He was eloquent and gracious, sharing his love for Taiwan and my favorite phrase of his is that Taiwan strives to "export compassion." I leave you with pictures from the Diocesan reception, including the picture of the President walking along the welcome line.
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