September 22, 2014

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

Since Tuesday of last week I have been at the week long House of Bishops and Spouses’ meeting in Taipei, Taiwan. It has been a time of immersion in a different culture in which only 4% of the population is Christian. On Sunday, my wife, May Ruth, and I visited Church of the Advent in Tam Sui—a costal area in the Taipei metropolitan area. We learned that many members of this Church are first generation Christians. In most instances their families of origin disowned them for embracing Jesus as Lord and Savior. At the Church of the Advent the members are not only sisters and brothers in Christ; they are also sisters and brothers. They are family in every respect.

This trip to Taiwan has made me keenly aware of the People’s Republic of China. China is only 100 miles away. In the United States we KNOW of China with its enormous population and powerful economy. Here in Taiwan I FEEL the strength of this giant nation. It is like being on a moon and sensing the strong gravitational pull of a large planet. How do we as Americans respond to China and its power? I don’t have specific answers, but it is time we realize China’s impact on world affairs. Perhaps a small country like Taiwan can provide bridges of understanding. Taiwan had been an authoritarian nation until the last years of Chiang Ching-kuo, son of Chiang Kai-shek. Since 1988 Taiwan has emerged as a free and vibrant society. It is a happy and prosperous place. China has noticed Taiwan’s transformation, and tensions between the two have subsided.

As Christians and Americans we are increasingly part of a global environment. We need to understand our heritage and at the same time appreciate societies that are different from our own. The Episcopal Church of Taiwan is small, but it is the family Jesus embraced in Mark 3:33 when asked, “Who are my mother, and brothers?” Taiwan with its 23 million people seems small when compared to China’s population of 1.3 billion. We in Eau Claire are also a small diocese, but we have much to offer the larger Episcopal Church and Christianity in general. The Diocese of Taiwan and the Diocese of Eau Claire are 11,500 miles apart. Our respective dioceses walk with Jesus in radically different cultures, but we have strikingly similar patterns. God wanted me here to see and understand. I hope one day you can come here and experience the same grace and hospitality this Church and nation have extended to May Ruth and me. With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,