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Taiwan Church News

3391 Edition

February 20 - 26, 2017

Church Ministry

 

Rev Dr Collin Cowan, General Secretary Of CWM, Challenges PCT To Speak Out For The Marginalized Without Voice

 

Reported by Lin Yi-yin

 

In his keynote speech, entitled as "Discerning the role of PCT in the unfolding Taiwan" among the International Forum of the Mission of the Church in Taiwan Today held by PCT, Rev Dr Collin Cowan earnestly challenged PCT if she would take up her responsibility as a prophet to speak out for the marginalized, especially when the immigrant workers are inhumanly treated, exploited, abused and even raped by their employers in Taiwan.

"To let the voices of those suffered be heard, PCT has to engage Taiwan society as a prophet and raise up the banners of justice and peace for those marginalized without voices!", Rev Dr Collin Cowan solemnly unveiled the theme of his keynote speech to the audience.

Taiwan's Gross Domestic Product(GDP) in 2015 was less than 1%, though, her investment in China reached an unnerved 40%, Rev Dr Collin Cowan straightly pointed out that such an imbalanced economic structure exasperated the unemployment of the youth and prompted some infrastructure industries to keep relying more heavily on immigrant workers with low wages.

But a more miserable truth was that these 600,000 immigrant workers, mostly from south-eastern asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippine, Thailand, Vietnam and etc, were not honored by Taiwan society for their irreplaceable contribution to support the faltering economics, Rev Dr Collin Cowan remarked, instead they were usually stigmatized as wrongdoer, offender or even criminal and accordingly those exploitation and abuses imposed upon them were easily silenced, neglected, or even swept under the rug!

Various hardships confronted these immigrant workers in Taiwan, as President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her concerns several times in her public speech and noted by Rev Dr Collin Cowan, includes serious overtime, hazardous environments, incredibly low-paid jobs, abuse, sudden death due to accident, violence, rape, absence of labor insurance, and high commissions to labor agents.

Rev Dr Collin Cowan encouraged 1,244 churches of PCT to care more about the sufferings and wants of all inhabitants across this island. Let more people in sufferings encounter God to find out their own lives' meanings in God's infinite generosity and compassionate presence inside diverse cultures, races, and religions on this beautiful island, Rev Dr Collin Cowan called, just like the inflicted and helpless church without the shepherd could still cry out to God face to face through the spiritual strength and passionate hope blessed from God!

"Are we ready?!", Rev Dr Collin Cowan asked the audience at site with two questions further: What we Christians see though the eyes of those children and youth suffered by all these unbearable looting and exploitation on themselves? While the people anticipate to be saved from all kinds of devastations such as theft, robbery, killing and ravaging, what are the actual solutions of PCT? These two questions have to be replied seriously if we want to discern the role of PCT in the unfolding Taiwan, Rev Dr Collin Cowan concluded in his speech.

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 

Rev Dr Collin Cowan, General Secretary Of CWM, stressed an attitude of constantly think and review should be a common stance of contemporary church to deal with all kinds challenges lying ahead. It means to use our spiritual insight, based on God's wisdom and spiritual practices, to learn the quintessence under all superficial phenomenons. Especially, when people are under special social and political circumstances, such spiritual insights could help us to understand God's will and our destiny in that particular context.

Photo by Lin Yi-yin

 
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Taiwan Church News

3391 Edition

February 20 - 26, 2017

Church Ministry

 

PCT's Participation in Ecumenical Movement As A Beacon Of Taiwan's Diplomatic Relationships

 

Reported by Simon Lin

 

Two panels, "Meaning of PCT's Church Partnership" and "Role of Ecumenical Movement in supporting PCT" among the International Forum of the Mission of the Church in Taiwan Today held by PCT from February 14 to 17, specially discussed the backgrounds and implications of PCT's participation in ecumenical movement since 1950s.

As an enthusiastic supporter of ecumenical movement and the only Taiwan denominational church participating in the central committee of World Church Council(WCC), PCT had worked with about 40 ecumenical churches around the globe, said Mrs Cheng Min-Ming, former PCT representative in WCC central committee.

Mrs Cheng expressed that, as PCT had been severely controlled and infiltrated by KMT(the Chinese Nationalist Party) in 1940s and 1950s, the renown Rev Kao Chun-ming and his ten church co-workers were soon arrested after Taiwan's first ever democratic event - the Formosa incident - was broke out on 10 December 1979.

In 1980s, it was a time period that PCT did receive most cares and concerns from the ecumenical church bodies, Mrs Cheng said, adding that PCT's strong advocate in the issues of youth, women, and aborigines was also greatly enlightened and inspired by the ecumenical partnerships since then. As a consequence, PCT started to share her experience in the ministry of first-aid relief with ACT Alliance in recent years, Mrs Cheng remarked.

But, after the China's Christian Council(CCC) was successfully admitted into WCC in 1991, due to CCC's shameless kowtow to the political will of the Chinese Communist Party, PCT's identity within WCC became greatly jeopardized and frequently asked to change name to become a part of CCC. As many ecumenical churches were also aspired to develop ecclesiastical relationship with CCC, the issue of PCT's difficult identity in WCC seemed to be neglected or even intentionally overlooked by most partner churches, Mrs Cheng reported, adding that this was very unfair for a productive ecumenical member of WCC like PCT to be treated like that!

Concurring Mrs Cheng analysis, Rev Prince Devananadan, the President of The Methodist Church of New Zealand, spoke out in straight and challenged the audience: why the voices of self-determination from Taiwan and PCT had been seldom mentioned in WCC's files and documents? Was such dishonorable action in ecumenical community only to appease some strong powers? Rev Devananadan reminded the audience that the Taiwanese as an independent people absolutely deserve to have a sovereignty country to rule themselves.

Dr Victor Wan-chi Hsu, PCT Associate General Secretary, expressed that PCT had developed an outstanding network with many ecumenical churches around the world. And it is an amazing achievement outperforming current Taiwan government, Dr Hsu remarked, and PCT should well manage such ecclesiastical relationships to facilitate the ecumenical movement and help Taiwan to become "a new and independent country!"

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 
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Taiwan Church News

3391 Edition

February 20 - 26, 2017

Church Ministry

 

PCT Panel Discussion Broadcast Live On Internet, Concerning The Issues Of Gender Justice, Role Of Youth In The Church, Economic Justice, Climate Justice, And Inclusive Ans Life Affirming Community


Reported by Chiu Ya-ming

 

In order to help the church find solutions to modern challenges confronting contemporary ecumenical churches, PCT's International Forum of the Mission of the Church in Taiwan Today specially held three panel discussion broadcast live on internet concerning the issues of gender justice, role of youth in the church, economic justice, climate justice, and inclusive and life affirming community respectively, on February 15 and 16.

Rev Wang Jin-chai, director of PCT Gender Justice Committee, and Ms Necta Monte, Chief Executive Officer of World Student Christian Forum(WSCF), co-chaired the panel of gender justice to discuss the issues like the participation of women in the church, and what the church could do on gender equality when the issue of LGBT was concerned, and etc.

Rev Cheng Chun-ping, Ms Chuang Yu-yu and Ms Sunita Suna co-chaired the panel of Role of Youth in the Church. Rev Cheng Chun-ping, secretary of PCT Youth Ministry Committee, encouraged the youth not to overlook their evangelical mission on campus, at workshop, and in family.

In the meantime, to train the youth as speak out for truth, Rev Cheng also urged the church elders to open up their session meeting and invite the youth to join their decision making. Acknowledging that "a conflict is good yet th cooperation is better", Ms Chuang Yu-yu encouraged the youth to cooperate more with the church and become the holy tools of God.

Ms Yeh Ta-hua, General Secretary of Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare, and Ms Omega Bula, ecumenical specialist of United Church of Zambia, co-chaired the panel of economic justice. Ms Yeh Ta-hua focused her message on the conundrums faced by the poor youth in Taiwan; Ms Omega Bula reported her observation about the impact of the globalized economics to human beings and the world.

According to Ms Yeh Ta-hua's studies, the poor youth in Taiwan are mainly composed by two groups: one group is the youth in unemployment, the other is the hardship youth working from hand to mouth without savings. Yeh hoped PCT could make good use of their current resources to establish some consulting center for the youth's career, and proceed a review of the working conditions of the youth inside the church related institutes in order to become a model of youth-friendly workshop.

Rev Chen Jier-ing, pastor of Lu-san Presbyterian Church at Changhua Presbytery, reported his own experience as a rural pastor of a distant village. He said frankly that, based on his observation, the social structure of the youth's low salary could hardly be overhauled within one night. So, he suggested the youth to work for values in meaningful life and not pursue after the prices on job market!

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 
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Taiwan Church News

3391 Edition

February 20 - 26, 2017

Church Ministry

 

Prophetic Role Of The Church: Responding The Public Spheres Through Public Theology

 

Reported by Simon Lin

 

In the Panel on Prophetic Role of the Church, a session of the International Forum of the Mission of the Church in Taiwan Today held by PCT on February 16, Professor Zeng Yang-en, a WCC Central Committee member and a church historian from Taiwan Theological Seminary and College, was invited to deliver a speech on the prophetic role of PCT.

Professor Zeng retrieved, since PCT's participation into several ecumenical church bodies from 1951 and under the influence of these ecclesiastic communities, the issues of human rights, social justice, ethnic harmony, environmental protection and etc gradually became the important perspectives of PCT's  understanding of the ecumenical Christian faith.

These ecumenical concerns gradually became the bedrocks of three renown PCT statements, urging Taiwan authorities to respect the self-determination of all Taiwanese people, implement a political reform, and treasure the languages of mother tongue, in the 1970s. The Urban Rural Movement (URM), supported by the ecumenical movement, began to educate social activists and grass-root-workers for Taiwan's social movement in these 1980s.

And the human resources trained by URM also played a very critical role in Taiwan's social reforms afterwards.In the past three decades, Professor Zeng observed, public theology in Taiwan gradually became a very important theological movement. Quoting the remarks of Professor Sebastian Kim, a famous British theologian versed in public theology, contemporary theology has to respond three major interlocutors: church, academy, and the public sphere, which includes government, enterprises, NGOs, and the media, Professor Zeng said.

And the point to engage a public theology decently is offer a fair and balanced viewpoint between church, academy and the public spheres, proposed Professor Zeng, adding that public spheres were usually most easily to be overlooked. Therefore, in addition to traditional theological concerns, such as ethics, pastoral theology, and mission studies, theologians have to consider more about the public dimension of the Christian faith and respond to the issues of public interests or civic society, etc, Professor Zeng said.

Following the end of World War II, the demise of the mainstream Christianity denominations, the increase of the independent churches, and the expansion of cold war's stand-off between communism countries and anti-communism blocs, most Taiwan churches and denominations other than PCT were deeply skeptic and repulsive about ecumenical movement or any theology concerning public issues, Professor Zen observed.

Worse was that, under the negative impacts of KMT's parochial political culture, Taiwan church were cultivated to treat our neighbors from an isolated or even a self-centered perspective overlooking the macroscopic or structural issues, like social justice, ethnic equality, ethical values, and social norms, according to Professor Zeng.

Facing the rise of public theology, Professor Zeng encouraged the audience, not only PCT should carry on her past ministries in kinds of political reform, human rights improvement, immigrant workers, aboriginal peoples, LGBT people, but also respond those critical life and death issues, such as the context of colonialism/post-colonialism, gender issues, economic justice, materialism and consumption culture, ecological concerns and etc, concerning this land and our people.

In order to build up the society's "third sector"(civic society), engaging with the government and the enterprise independently, Taiwan church has to stand by and walk beside the Taiwanese people. Until the civic society could be grown up strong enough to walk in his indispensable role, the church should not stop her prophetic voice to speak out and warn against the possible dangers toward the society, Professor Zeng concluded.

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 
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Taiwan Church News

3391 Edition

February 20 - 26, 2017

Church Ministry

 

Today's PCT Context As A Kairos For PCT Mission

 

Reported by Lin Yi-yin

 

At the seminar meeting entitled as "Today's PCT Context", which is the first session of the International Forum of the Mission of the Church in Taiwan Today held by PCT, Professor Zeng Yang-en reports an ecclesiastical viewpoint on PCT's contemporary mission. Professor Zeng, a member of WCC Central Committee and also a distinguished church historian of Taiwan Theological Seminary and College, points out PCT are under multi-dimensional challenges in current Taiwan contexts.

These challenges and impacts includes the identity of Taiwan as a country, the Taiwanese identity, threatening of cultural monotony via globalization, technological materialism, consumption culture, bankruptcy of traditional values, the demise of the network of interpersonal relationships and etc.

In order to launch a brand new strategy for PCT's mission today, Prof Zeng suggests, a more inclusive agenda to accommodate contextual concerns and issues becomes urgent for PCT, such as how to materialize our contextualized theologies and weld the Christian faith into the Taiwanese traditional worship & ritual, ethnic relationship, and gender issues; how to honor the subjectivity of each people; how to practice the ideal of "gender equality" and work out a new culture of "bi-sexual joint-management"; how to empower an "awakening, reforming and transforming" faith revival from within the wall of the church and etc.

In the meantime, Prof Hsiao Sin-huang, a senior counselor to the Presidential Office  and an renown sociologist from Academia Sinica, indicates there were five distinctive shifts of social paradigm emerged from Taiwan island since 1980s: beginning of a citizen society, built-up of a democracy, multiplicity of ethnic peoples, emergence of identities on different ethnic people, and proposal for a sustainable ecological development.

Prof Hsiao also stresses there is no way to consolidate Taiwan's democracy in a permanent peace without facing the challenges and conundrums from various social dimensions, such as China's military threatening, Taiwan's diplomatic isolation and blockade from China and International communities, economical inequality, welfare of immigrant labor, unequal development between urban and rural areas, gender justice, pro and con for death penalty, self-identity and etc.

In order to reduce the possible conflicts and reach an inclusive consensus in Taiwan society, a highly patient social dialogue and an inclusive mutual respect between the concerned parties would be the most healthy way for everyone's interest, concludes Prof Hsiao.

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 
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Taiwan Church News

3391Edition

February 20 - 26, 2017

Church Ministry

 

"Update Of Transitional Justice In Taiwan" Reported In A PCT International Seminar

 

Reported by Umav

 

A session of "Update of Transitional Justice in Taiwan", among the 4-days seminar as "International Forum of the Mission of the Church in Taiwan Today", was opened in the morning on February 15. Two major speakers, Dr Wu Jui-jen, a research fellow of the Institute of Taiwan history in Academia Sinica, and Rev Omi Wilang, a member of the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee, was invited to report their respective observation of how transitional justice should be implemented within both the period of white terror period from 1949 to 1991 and the 400 years' historical exploitation on Taiwan aborigines.

After briefing some major horrendous terror events and atrocities committed by KMT, the Chinese Nationalist party led by the dictator Chiang Kai-shek, Dr Wu Jui-jen lamented deeply that up to now there was still not even any KMT perpetrators was convicted in the court. Several times in his reports, Dr Wu lashed out on President Tsai Ing-wen's wariness to chase after these still unidentified perpetrators as she seems too cautious to kick off this urgent and tough job! In the meantime, Dr Wu affirmed that the task of transitional justice in Taiwan should be a grand team work connecting all the necessary resources and networks across diverse sectors and social layers.

Dr Wu also paid his high tributes to what PCT had contributed to Taiwan society, as she is the only existent religious group with civic consciousness. "The only pity is that Taiwan religious group, like PCT possessed with a fervent civic consciousness to speak out for the people, is so scarce!", Dr Wu said, adding that, in order to cast Taiwan as a vibrantly dynamic and diversely democratic society committed to transitional justice, all civic groups in Taiwan should work together with global citizens instead of fighting alone!

Mentioning the legal case of Tama Talum, a aboriginal Bunun hunter prosecuted for possessing hunting rifle illegally, Rev Omi Wilang pointed out this event fully showcased the giant gap between current aboriginal cultures and the actual administrative legalities within the governments in Taiwan.

Quoting the PCT statement, Support of the Indigenous Peoples to Recover Their Rights and Autonomy officially delivered on 18 October 2016, "when we reexamine the indigenous peoples’ mission, we realize that we have made progress in recovering tribal languages and traditional territories and in protecting and raising awareness of their autonomy. However, there remain many instances when the gospel enters the tribes, the cultural artifacts and rituals are arbitrarily deemed evil. These are pejorative concepts and activities. They continue to hurt many indigenous peoples. Through theological reflection, we repent of these mistakes and confess our sins to the nation and to the indigenous peoples", Rev Omi Wilang stressed that the innermost core of historical and transitional justice for the aborigines on Taiwan is just let the aborigines "take back what they originally have from the very beginning!".

Ms Gemma Cruz, the respondent of this session of transitional justice, expressed she was extremely impressed by a critical difference, explained by Rev Omi Wilang, about a nuance generated between "balay(truth)" and "s'balay(reconciliation)", especially when the aborigines struggled with the government to restore a historical truth and search for a permanent peace in reconciliation. Ms Cruz agreed that, for the sake of justice, the Taiwan aborigines absolutely deserve to speak out more about those suppressed voices and subjective interpretations of their colonized past in sufferings.

Translated by Peter Wolfe

 


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