Bishop Lane: Learning from Asia how to "be Church" in the World

By the Right Reverend Stephen T. Lane
Diocesan Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Maine

> Click here to read Bishop Lane's candid comments about his recent trip to the Episcopal House of Bishops' meeting in Taiwan.

This was Bishop Lane's first visit to Asia.



Asian archbishops say, "Be prophets, agents of reconciliation"

September 22, 2014

The Episcopal Church House of Bishops, meeting in Taiwan, hears about mission in three different contexts

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Taipei, Taiwan] God is calling the church in Asia to be an agent of reconciliation and a prophetic witness, three Asian Anglican archbishops told the House of Bishops, and they said the church across the world also must respond to the same call.


Seoul Archbishop Paul Kim, who is also the primate of the Anglican Church in Korea, tells the Episcopal Church House of Bishops Sept. 22 that “reconciliation should be the core message of the church not just on the Korean peninsula but in the world.”

The Rev. Aidan Koh, of St. James in the City in Los Angeles, translated for Kim. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

“Reconciliation should be the core message of the church not just on the Korean peninsula but in the world,” said Seoul Archbishop Paul Kim, primate of the Anglican Church of Korea.

Kim, Archbishop Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu, primate of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church in Japan) and Episcopal Church in the Philippines Prime Bishop Edward Malecdan all spoke to the house Sept. 22, describing the theological context and mission challenges of their provinces. Each spoke of how paying attention to the poor in their countries has strengthened the faith and witness of their churches.

The threat of war across the world has led to increased nationalism and militarization, in northeast Asia and elsewhere, which has at times lead to threats against those who “proclaim Christ’s gospel message of reconciliation and peace [and they are] treated as traitors in the nations to which they belong,” Kim said through translator the Rev. Aidan Koh of St. James in the City in Los Angeles.

Even within churches there can be differences of opinions about how to work for reconciliation, Kim said. Rather than being able to use those disagreements to find “new creative possibilities,” discord can develop and such discord can easily make Christ’s gospel of reconciliation “a laughing stock.”
Kim said it is time to unite the worldwide church “as a prophetic witness to reconciliation” against the violence of domination.

“We as Anglicans are chosen by God to be the servants and witnesses of forgiveness and reconciliation,” he said.


Archbishop Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu, the primate of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church in Japan), says the Japanese church is trying to be an agent of reconciliation in that country. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Both Kim and Uematsu of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai spoke of the reconciliation that has happened between their two churches. Uematsu said that Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910 was the start of a militaristic period in his country’s history that only ended with its defeat in World War II. The church did not protest as Japan began to occupy and colonize other Asian countries, he said.

It wasn’t until the late 1990s that the church began to look critically at its past and its role in the nation’s history. “We especially felt called to repent and seek reconciliation and a deeper engagement with our neighbors” who had suffered under Japanese occupation and colonization, Uematsu said.

In 1996, the church’s General Synod pass a Statement of War Responsibility in which the NSKK “confessed to God as a church” and apologized to God and to its neighbors. Since then, Uematsu said, the statement has been the basis of NSKK’s sense that it is called to serve the marginalized in Japanese society.
The NSKK has sought reconciliation and “restoration under our bond in the same Lord” with Taiwan, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and other countries that suffered from wartime Japanese occupation.

“We are especially blessed by our fellow Anglicans in the Anglican Church in Korea who opened their hearts to our people even before Japan had come to terms with and apologized for its role in the colonization of the Korean peninsula,” Uematsu said. Nearly 30 years ago the Koreans “opened the door” to exchanges between the two provinces at all levels, he noted.


The Most Rev. Edward P. Malecdan, prime bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, describes for the House of Bishops how his church worked to become self-supporting and how it tries to be a prophetic witness in the country. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Meanwhile, Philippines Prime Bishop Malecdan told how Islamic unrest in Mindanao and a continuing communist insurgency means there is a “never-ending absence of peace in some parts of the country.” And the church is aware of the lack of peace elsewhere in the word. For instance, it will soon host a forum at its St. Andrew’s Seminary chapel on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“In other words, the doors of ECP churches and other institutions are open for peacemaking gatherings,” he said.

The biblical mandate to give voice to the voiceless at both the local and global level, Malecdan said, “is about contributing positively to the establishment of just peace and the commitment to social action for the transformation of unjust society and structures.”

“We are only a minority church often neglected and overlooked by bigger sister provinces in the Anglican Communion, but for the ECP we are aware that what we are doing is like a little drop of water in the vast Pacific ocean and the turbulent China Sea,” he said, adding that that “little drop” is better than being “part of the problems by silence and inaction.”

Three examples that Malecdan gave seemed to be much more than little drops. One involved buying land and reselling it to landless people whose makeshift homes were swept away by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013.

Another example concerned three kidnapped young people who were killed and buried in a shallow grave beneath concrete and dirt. Their people were afraid to go and exhume the bodies for fear they would be killed, but they were “emboldened” when Northern Luzon Bishop Renato Abibico and two priests came to the graves and began digging.

Thirdly, Malecdan said, the ECP’s relationship with the Church of the Province of Myanmar as that country transitions to democracy is a way for each church to learn from the other.

“Our relationship and concern for one another is a clear testimony to a conflict-laden world,” the prime bishop said.

Malecdan also outlined how the ECP became a self-supporting province after making a “heart-rending decision” to stop receiving money from the U.S.-based Episcopal Church.

The church was receiving a subsidy from the Episcopal Church that was due to end in 2007. The ECP decided in mid-2004 to ask that it be stopped. Because the money was already budgeted, Malecdan said, the Episcopal Church decided to continue sending the payments while the ECP decided to stop using the subsidy as operating revenue. It put the money into an endowment with the aim of becoming self-sufficient.

The church built many churches after that decision, had budget surpluses and saw both lay and ordained vocations increase, according to the prime bishop.

“We have dug deeper into what we have – all our assets as a church – and started maximizing them for doing mission,” Malecdan said. “And we realized that even a struggling church can have something to share with others.”

After the meeting ends a number of bishops are heading to Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines or Korea to continue learning about mission and ministry of the Anglican Church in those contexts.

The meeting is taking place at the Grand Hotel in Taipei. Some bishops are blogging from the meeting about their visit to Taiwan, including ...

Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith
Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce
Nevada Bishop Dan Edwards
Western Massachusetts Bishop Douglas Fisher
North Dakota Assisting Bishop Carol Gallagher
Bishop Doug Hahn
Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely
Bishop Suffragan for Armed Services & Federal Ministries Jay Magness
Bishop Greg Rickel
Delaware Bishop Wayne Wright

Others are tweeting during the meeting using #HOBFall14.

The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs

Episcopal Church House of Bishops Fall 2014 meeting:

Statements following the conclusion of the gathering

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church met in the Diocese of Taiwan from September 17 to September 23.The following are statements concerning the meeting.

The theme for the fall meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Expanding the Apostolic Imagination.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:

This meeting has offered abundant opportunities to expand our vision of what is possible as we engage God’s mission.  Our chaplain the Rev. Simon Bautista reminded us this morning that we are all bound for home, that we’re meant to travel light – and that home” is the Reign of God.  Our chaplain the Rev. Stephanie Spellers challenged us yesterday to take the journey to unexpected places and communities. The bishops of this Church will return to their dioceses with renewed energy and increased willingness to risk more for the gospel and travel a bit lighter.  We have built new relationships with our partners in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and with our brother and sisters in Taiwan.  We’ve discovered new readings of the old, old stories and new theological perspectives rooted in different parts of God’s creation. With hearts and minds expanded, we know ourselves part of a body larger and with deeper bonds than we imagined. And we give thanks for knowing what it is to be received as Christ himself. The hospitality of the Diocese of Taiwan has been full measure, pressed down, and overflowing.  May God continue to richly bless this part of The Episcopal Church.

Bishop Dean E. Wolfe of Kansas, vice president of HOB and co-chair of the HOB Planning Committee:

The 2014 meeting of the House of Bishops has been an extraordinary and historic gathering. 

The first meeting of the House of Bishops in Asia, this meeting has turned our attention to the vibrant ministries of The Episcopal Church taking place in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. The Bishop of Pakistan, Samuel Azariah, challenged us with reports of Christian persecution in the Middle East and the heroic witness being made by Christians in that region. We have been inspired by visits from the Primates of this region and their forthright descriptions of their context for ministry.  We have been encouraged by our visits to the faithful congregations of Taipei, motivated by fresh models for theological education, and touched by the overwhelming generosity and hospitality exhibited by our hosts.

All of us who have congregants from Asia have gained a deeper understanding of the context from which our brothers and sisters have come and a greater appreciation for the Christian witness along the Pacific Rim.  We traveled a very long way and at no small expense to come to Taiwan to reinforce a principal which is dear to us; that every diocese is an essential member of our family of faith and no diocese is too small or too far away. We are present here as an outward and visible sign of our commitment to our brothers and sisters in Asia and we have been richly blessed by our time together during this meeting in Taiwan.

Bishop Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan, co-chair of the HOB Planning Committee:

This gathering of the House of Bishops in the Diocese of Taiwan has been the perfect crucible for engaging our theme, “Expanding our Apostolic Imagination.” Removed from the familiarity and comfort of our own dioceses and cultures, we have been challenged by stories of Christian witness not only in Taiwan but also in other Asian contexts such as Hong Kong, Pakistan, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. My own imagination continues to expand as I consider the vision of the future shape of the Church as shared by Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu of Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Church in Japan): the Church as a Community of the People of God who are gathered, nourished, and sent to proclaim peace and reconciliation, grounded in repentance.  I leave this meeting reminded that to be an apostle, one who is sent, and to invite others to be people sent to proclaim God’s message of peace and reconciliation, we must not rush headlong into action with programs and events.  Rather, we must begin with self-examination and spiritual acts of repentance that ground our message and lend it integrity.  Only then will our message of peace and reconciliation be received as the Good News that it indeed is.

We are immensely grateful for Bishop Lai and the gracious hospitality of the people of the Diocese of Taiwan for their tireless efforts to provide this experience and space for creative reflection.  On behalf of the Planning Committee and the entire House of Bishops, we give thanks for Lori Ionnitiu of the General Convention Office who has coordinated all onsite arrangements.  Finally, the  Rev. Canon Charles Robertson and Ednice Baerga of the Presiding Bishop’s staff have once again worked tirelessly behind the scenes to afford us this opportunity to expand our apostolic imaginations.

Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce of Los Angeles, assistant secretary of HOB:

There were 112 bishops and many spouses in attendance at the meeting, with the Bishop Bob G. Jones, retired from the Diocese of Wyoming, being the senior bishop present. This has been an extremely worthwhile and valuable trip as a member of The Episcopal Church and especially Province VIII.  With the growing Asian community in the United States, especially on the West Coast including my home diocese of Los Angeles, having firsthand knowledge and witness of the context and content of ministry and mission, we are able to more directly address our mutual needs.  I am grateful to Bishop Lai and his clergy and laity and the people of the Diocese of Taiwan for their radical hospitality and their ability to do mission and ministry in the name of Jesus Christ in diverse locations. We have much to learn and share

Bishop David Lai of Taiwan, host of the HOB meeting:

Dreams come true not just for me, but also for all the bishops and their spouses – everyone of us. I believe the trip may have taken a loong time – 16 hours – to get here, but the things we experperienced are full of experiences to remember, to share and to learn about and to tell their church members. The memories will remain longer than 16 hours. All praise the Lord.

For more info contact:
Neva Rae Fox
Public Affairs Officer
The Episcopal Church



Citizenship Application Information and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Dear friends,

I ask you to disseminate the following information to your congregation and contacts.

In fraternal cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Francis of Assisi's Migrant Center, the Episcopal Church of Our Savior (Episcopal Diocese of New York) in Manhattan is hosting an immigration clinic on Sunday, July 20, from 2 PM to 4 PM to provide information on the following legal issues:

A) Citizenship Application 

Providing information to Permanent Residents ["Green Card" holders] on how to apply for US citizenship. 

You may have some Permanent Residents in your congregation who might wish to apply for citizenship. While permanent residency is a good thing, non-US residents are not given the full protection of the law. Under some extreme circumstances, they could still be deported even if they have lived in the US since their childhood years. 

B) Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). 

DACA was instituted to defer the prosecution and deportation of undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. 

There may be some in your congregation who are undocumented immigrants and arrived in the US as minors. (They don't have to be minors now but should not now be older than age 31). Under DACA, they might receive protection.

Deportations of non-citizen U.S. immigrants - documented and undocumented - are not only ongoing but are at an all time high.


The Rev. Noel E. Bordador
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior
48 Henry Street
New York, NY  10002


June 14 - "Bridge Committee" Strawberry Festival at All Saints in Great Neck, NY

Dear Friends,

All Saints Church in Great Neck, NY, has formed a "Bridge Committee" to help bridge the ethnic and cultural diversity that exists in our church and in our community.

On behalf of the Bridge Committee, you are invited to our upcoming Strawberry Festival on Saturday June 14 from 10 am until 7 pm, and perhaps later, to continue the wonderful conversation that was begun among those of you who were at the recent Faith Formation Convocation at the Mercer School of Theology.

It should be a fun day.

In addition to a food court, face painting, strawberries, the country store, the Book Nook and the Thrift Shop that will be open, we are holding a SuperPet Contest beginning at 1 pm (so bring along your pets); at 1:30 pm there will be a special presentation by Alice Kasten, a local author who co-authored a book entitled, "Great Neck."

In the evening beginning at 5:30 pm, we will be entertained by a Jazz Pop Group sponsored by the Great Neck Korean Civic Association with dinner served, with a request for donation. The proceeds will go to the Drug Awareness Music Festival which will be held at All Saints at the end of June.

I hope you can join us.

Deacon Connie

For a Music Contest Application go to:
Submit the application by June 21, 2014 to:


An Episcopal Youth Scholarship Award,
sponsored by the Diocese of Long Island,
for Leadership and Community Service
will also be presented at the above contest event.  

For information about this scholarship,
contact the Rev. Canon Joseph Pae.

Photos from last year's Music Contest



Bishop Suffragan-Elect Allen Shin receives required majority of consents

Bishop Suffragan-Elect Shin
The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
Presiding Bishop’s office notifies New York of successful consent process

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop’s office notifies
Diocese of New York of successful canonical consent process

Bishop Suffragan-Elect Shin ordination and consecration on May 17

[February 13, 2014] The Office of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has notified the Diocese of New York that Bishop Suffragan-Elect Allen K. Shin has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

As outlined under Canon III.11.4 (a), the Presiding Bishop confirmed the receipt of consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction, and has also reviewed the evidence of consents from a majority of standing committees of the Church sent to her by the diocesan standing committee.

In Canon III.11.4 (b), Standing Committees, in consenting to the ordination and consecration, attest they are "fully sensible of how important it is that the Sacred Order and Office of a Bishop should not be unworthily conferred, and firmly persuaded that it is our duty to bear testimony on this solemn occasion without partiality, do, in the presence of Almighty God, testify that we know of no impediment on account of which the Reverend A.B. ought not to be ordained to that Holy Office. We do, moreover, jointly and severally declare that we believe the Reverend A.B. to have been duly and lawfully elected and to be of such sufficiency in learning, of such soundness in the Faith, and of such godly character as to be able to exercise the Office of a Bishop to the honor of God and the edifying of the Church, and to be a wholesome example to the flock of Christ."

The Rev. Allen K. Shin was elected on December 7, 2013.  His ordination and consecration service is slated for May 17; Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will officiate.

While Bishop Suffragan-Elect Shin has received the necessary majority of consents, consents will continue to be accepted up to and including the April 19 deadline date.

A recap of the process

Upon election, the successful candidate is a bishop-elect.  Following some procedural matters including physical and psychological examinations, formal notices are then sent by the Presiding Bishop’s office to bishops with jurisdiction (diocesan bishops only) with separate notices from the electing diocese to the standing committees of each of the dioceses in The Episcopal Church. These notices require their own actions and signatures.

In order for a bishop-elect to become a bishop, Canon III.11.4 (a) of The Episcopal Church mandates that a majority of diocesan bishops AND a majority of diocesan standing committees must consent to the bishop-elect’s ordination and consecration as bishop. These actions – done separately - must be completed within 120 days from the day notice of the election was sent to the proper parties.

If the bishop-elect receives a majority of consents from the diocesan bishops as well as a majority from the standing committees, the bishop-elect is one step closer. Following a successful consent process, ordination and celebration are in order.



Year of the Horse - Unexpected Adventures and Surprises

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
Saratoga, CA

By the Rev. Debbie Low-Skinner

January 31st marks the start of the Chinese New Year of the Horse.

Also, January 24th marked the 70th anniversary of the ordination of the Rev. Florence Li Tim- Oi, who was the first woman priest ordained in the Anglican Communion.

Both dates are worthy of note.

The Year of the Horse promises (according to one website) to be “a year of great energy and power for those who can grab hold and hang on. You won't get left in the dust if you've planted a lot of seeds in the previous Snake year (2013).” If you were born in the Year of the Horse (i.e., 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1980, 1992) you “will want room to run, so have big dreams and goals worthy of a powerful steed and you'll ride your way to success.”

According to astrologer and feng shui expert Susan Levitt, this Year of the Horse will be "a time of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance."

Speaking of unexpected adventures and surprises, both were true for seminary-trained deaconess Florence Li Tim-Oi, when Anglican Bishop Ronald Hall of Hong Kong made the unprecedented move in 1944 of ordaining her a priest.  He wasn’t trying to make a symbolic gesture in support of women’s ordination.  He simply saw this as filling a dire pastoral need, in response to the dearth of priests in China in the midst of World War II.

Florene Li Tim-Oi served in Macau until after the war. Then, in the face of opposition by the Anglican Communion, she chose to not exercise her priesthood. She faithfully continued to serve in a parish in Hepu then at the cathedral in Guangzhou.

For 16 years, while the Cultural Revolution closed churches, she was forced to work on a farm then in a factory and undergo “political reeducation”.

In 1981 she was allowed to visit family members in Canada. To her great joy, she was licensed as a priest by the Diocese of Toronto and lived there until her death in 1992.  On the Episcopal liturgical calendar, she is recognized as a saint and her feast day is January 24th.

I give thanks for her courage and faith, and for paving the way for other women priests to serve in the Anglican Communion.  These include the first Episcopal women priests (called the Philadelphia 11) ordained in 1974; the Rev. Fran Toy, the first Episcopal Asian-American woman priest, ordained in 1985; my ordination in 1997; the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts-Schori ordained Presiding Bishop in 2006; and the Diocese of El Camino Real's own Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, ordained in 2007.

These events may not have taken place in a Year of the Horse.  But, serving the Episcopal Church as women priests, has been a wild ride for us all!  And we are all still holding on to see what God has next in store for us and our ministries.

Wishing you all “Gung Hey Fat Choy”!


The Rev. Debra L. Low-Skinner
Episcopal Priest, Diocese of California
Pastoral Associate, St. Andrew's Parish
13601 Saratoga Ave., Saratoga CA  95070