Monday, September 22, 2014

Far East Daily Blog #9

September 21, 2014 On this Lord's Day, the bishops and spouses had the opportunity to go to any of three different congregations. Carolyn and I chose to attend worship at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Taipei. This congregation is led by the Rev. Lily Chang, parish rector, and consists of Chinese, Taiwanese and English speaking people. The service, interestingly enough, is in all three languages. How, you might ask? Believe it or not it is very possible to do this through saying parts of the service in any of the languages, but rarely all three. The preacher was the Rt. Rev. Richard Chang, resigned (from the Diocese of Hawaii) and retired. Bishop Chang's sermon was one of the longer parts of the service because each time he spoke several sentences in English, a woman from the choir translated his words in to Chinese (Mandarin). After the service we had a delightful congregational meal that had been prepared by the women of the church. Regarding the mission of Good Shepherd Church, the the leaders are very clear that their primary reason for existence is to make Christians, not Anglicans or Episcopalians. The denominational affiliation is always secondary to the task of discipleship. We learned this during a Q&A session with the Rev. Ms. Chang. It was both refreshing and comforting to hear this, especially when I know that most of the priests who serve in the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries episcopate are also dedicated to the primary task of making disciples of Christ. After returning to the Grand Hotel, bishops and spouses spent an hour or so in conversational small groups discussing our Taipei and greater Taiwan trip highlights. Interestingly enough one of the most common themes was appreciation the missional goal of making Christians in this overwhelmingly non-Christian population. Thinking about this, as I read the prognostications of futurist social scientists, someday this could the state of the USA. If so, rather than fear that possibility, we might want to think in terms of embrace. The church in Taiwan may be an example for us. Every indication is that the Taiwanese Church here is both healthy and growing. In fact, there may be something to be said in favor of being in the minority. Some of us believe that the early church in Palestine was its healthiest when it was a distinct minority. The last event of the evening was something that happens at every House of Bishops meeting, a "fireside chat" with the Presiding Bishop. Though these conversations are always permanently embargoed, I hasten to say that invariably this this conversation one of the highlights of the entire meeting. Once again, as a bishop of the church, I have to be present in order to participate. +Jay

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