Every three years the House of Bishops meets in a diocese outside the United States, but within the Episcopal Church (TEC). This week we are meeting in Taiwan, which has long been a member of TEC – despite its distance from the continental United States. The Diocese of Taiwan was eager to host the TEC bishops and spouses, especially on the occasion of their diocesan 60th anniversary.
(There was an Episcopal, or Anglican, presence in Taiwan prior to that, but it was under the auspices of the Japanese, who exercised colonial rule over Taiwan from 1895 to 1945).
The anniversary celebration is a very big deal. Yesterday, the President of Taiwan, Ying-Jeou Ma, came to greet us. Today we were welcomed by the Mayor of TaiChung, the second largest city in the country. Christians make up about 5% of the population of 23 million people, but they have a vital presence in the public arena. I think a lot of it has to do with their commitment to hospitality – which we have received in remarkable abundance. Everywhere we go we are showered with welcome, blessings, gifts – and food.
"When a guest comes, Christ comes," St. Benedict wrote some 1400 years ago as part of what has become the Benedictine Rule of Life. The Taiwanese Episcopal Church has that in their DNA – and it has quite an impact.
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