Photo Credit: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service
The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church is meeting in the Diocese of Taiwan from September 17 to September 23. The following is an account of the activities for September 19.
The theme for the fall meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Expanding the Apostolic Imagination.
The day began with Eucharist, celebrated by Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick of Hawaii and Bishop-in-Charge of the Church in Micronesia (Guam and Saipan). Preacher was HOB Chaplain the Rev. Simon Batista, Canon Missioner for Latino Ministries and Outreach of the Diocese of Texas.
Throughout the Eucharist, Bishop Fitzpatrick used Hawaiian language for the prayers and concluded with a Book of Common Prayer blessing in Hawaiian: Ka ho’opomaika’I ‘ana o ke Akua mana loa, ka Makua ke Keiki, a me ka ‘Uhane Hemolele me ‘oukou a e noho pu me ‘oukou amau loa aku. ‘Amene. (The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be upon you and remain with you forever Amen.)
The emcee for the day was Bishop Dean Wolfe of Kansas.
Bishop David Lai of Taiwan, and the host of the HOB meeting, presented Theological Context & Mission Challenges in Taiwan. Bishop Lai gave an overview of the history of the Diocese of Taiwan, from a missionary district to today’s diocese, beginning with the Episcopalians in the American military. The diocese grew to 20 congregations. The ministry context of the diocese is defined by Taoism, Buddhism and ancestor worship. Using the Book of Common Prayer in Mandarin is mandatory, even though 70% of the nation’s population speaks Taiwanese Hokkien. Table conversation focused on two questions: What surprised you about the theological context or challenges for mission in Taiwan; and are the theology and/or challenges in Taiwan very similar or different from the context of my diocese?
The first afternoon session was devoted to the Rev. Peter Koon, Principal Secretary, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, and Dr. Gareth Jones, Principal, SKH Ming Hua Seminary, Hong Kong, presenting Theological Context & Mission Challenges in Hong Kong.
The shifting political realities of Hong Kong’s special relationship with mainland China shape the missional context of the school. Theological education in the Ming Hua seminary revolves around an interpretation of seeking the restoration of companionship with God, which the original couple lost when they abandoned God in the Garden of Eden.
That was followed by Theological Context & Mission Challenges in Pakistan by the Most Rev. Samuel Robert Azariah, Bishop of Raiwind and Moderator of the Church of Pakistan. He prefaced his remarks about Pakistan with a broad characterization of the mission context of South Asia. It is a place of multiple languages, many religious traditions, different climates, and a variety of cultures. Turning more specifically to his home Pakistan, the Bishops were asked to imagine that we were not bishops but simply disciples of Jesus Christ. He then led us in imagining ministry in the third largest Islamic state. He detailed for us the numerous challenges that the small minority of Christians in Pakistan face daily. When asked how the Episcopal Church could be helpful to the Church in Pakistan, he replied that we could help them learn how to do development and capacity building. Additionally, there is a great need for addressing theological education. His example humbled and encouraged the members of the House of Bishops.
The evening was focused on class gatherings, discussion and dinners.