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WACCF CONFERENCE 2024: Jeff+, Tim+, and Hannah's trip to Taiwan

The Chinese greeting Ni chi guo fan le ma, a common one, means “Have you eaten?” While I found this a little confusing at first, after a week at the World Anglican Chinese Clergy Fellowship (WACCF) conference at Taipei’s St. John’s Cathedral, and being immersed in Taiwanese and Chinese culture in Taiwan, this expression made all the sense in the world.


The Rev’ds Jeff Thornberg and Tim Hartley, and I traveled to Taipei last week. The WACCF conference occurs every four years; however, because of the pandemic, the WACCF had not met since 2016, in Hong Kong. The WAACF conference originally started as way to encourage and provide support for Anglican Chinese clergy who had left China after 1949. This year, about 140 clergy and their spouses attended in Taipei, including 7 bishops.


Monday morning, we were warmly welcomed upon our arrival by Catherine Lee, who picked us up at the airport (we arrived at 5:40 am!) and took us to the Taiwan diocesan offices. Bishop Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang (Taiwan’s bishop and the conference’s hosting chairperson) took time out of his busy schedule to greet us, and Joanna Fu, one of the organists at St. John’s, welcomed us with an enormous breakfast. Through support from the Li Tim-Oi Center, Joanna studied organ here at Church of Our Saviour in 2015. She, Catherine, and cathedral priest the Rev. Joseph Ho would serve as our guides throughout the week.


After Holy Eucharist in the diocesan office chapel, we visited Taipei’s Daan Park (a huge urban green space that reminded me of New York’s Central Park) and the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial in Liberty Square. And then, of course, we enjoyed a huge lunch!


Tuesday, the official WAACF conference began — we attended a grand Holy Eucharist at the cathedral and ended the day with a formal dinner. At our table were Wednesday’s guest lecturers and seminarians from the Diocese of Taiwan. Their lectures would be in Chinese, but the lecturers gave us a summary of their talks in English. The dinner, naturally, included course after course of traditional Taiwanese fare. The conversation was lively, and over the meal some lifelong friendships were forged.


Wednesday through Friday brought a whirlwind of lectures, Holy Eucharist (each day led by a different diocese), fellowship, reports, and of course, food. By then, the question “Have you eaten?” had begun to make sense. Ni chi guo fan le ma is not just a blanket, catch-all inquiry of “How are you?” Instead, it carries with it the notion of fullness and fulfillment — not just of the body but of one’s experience. Do you feel nourished? Have you found things in life that make you feel fulfilled? “Have you eaten?” is a question that invests in our supporting the well-being of one another. After experiencing the incredible hospitality of our brothers and sisters in Taiwan and making what we know will be lifelong connections with Chinese clergy across the globe, we have certainly eaten. The relationships we’ve established will continue to nourish us, and COS, for years to come.


To learn more about our trip to Taiwan, please join us on Sunday, April 28th at 9 am in Cleaver Hall for an Adult Forum. We will share photos, stories, and offer more detail about the WAACF conference!

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