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Christmas and New Year Greetings from Around the Globe(2020)

Let’s Go to Bethlehem
Christmas message of the General Convent of the Hungarian Reformed Church toCongregations in the Carpathian Basin and around the World

"When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15)


Even in fear and darkness shepherds of the first Christmas were able to listen to the message of the angel and embraced the testimony of the heavenly host. These ordinary people saw a wonder and heard about the glorious God who is transforming the world where unprecedented peace and goodwill will prevail and fill all the people with joy. Christ was born, thus the grace of God has appeared. (Titus 2:11) He opens up new ways for his people, not because of righteous things we had done, but through the renewal by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 2:5)

Prophets of the Old Testament became silent amidst of the overwhelming destruction. Zackary – the father of John the Baptist – expresses the desire for a completely new world. “... The rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79) Throughout our history, our predecessors found themselves in a similar deep darkness and many turned with a plea to Heaven hoping for mercy. We can’t hide ourselves in our everyday dramatic struggle, which is similar to Paul the Apostle’s experience in shipwrecking. “When neither the sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.” (Acts 27:20)

In the dangerous valleys of death, where we are writhing to forces of loneliness, darkness and helplessness, it is time to follow the example of the shepherds of the first Christmas. Amongs traps, gaps and hostile forces we have to listen to the heavenly voices, understand the words of our Creator, follow Christ and strive for the community of the Holy Spirit. This is an act of self-defense supported by God's mercy, protecting against our own sins and those of our debtors.

The departure of the angel and of the great company of the heavenly host didn’t exasperate the shepherds, they didn’t fall victim to melancholic self-pity. They never cursed God for the brevity of the angel's visit and didn’t blame him for giving them too little of the good! They knew it was their turn to act. One of them said aloud the sentence which can be interpreted as the antidote to fear, surrender and self-abandonmet: “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Today, in a period where we witness persecution of Christians worldwide, we are compelled to take part in the worship of our own local congregation, whether in person or online. We have to consider what actually happened at Christmas. The shepherds refer to this as the desire to experience closely the word which came true, the real promise. John put down what actually “happened” like this: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

The shepherds of the first Christmas recognized and told it openly that in everything what happened our Lord was at work. This is why it is impossible for us to receive and answer this message; the Good News with uncertainty and irresponsibility. Let us become the old-time shepherds’ current successors and shape our everyday life like it would be Christmas; in credibly communicating the Gospel, building community and humility serving others with the power of the Spirit.


Source:Hungarian Reformed Church

Embracing the advent of watchful discernment

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help and you will not listen? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrongdoing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails. The wicked surround the righteous—therefore judgement comes forth perverted.

I will stand at my watch-post, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint. Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.
—Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-3

This Advent and Christmas even as we welcome the Good News of Jesus Christ and Emmanuel, God with Us, the bad news just keeps coming. We would be betraying those who suffer, are oppressed, dying, rising up, demanding justice, reaching out, caring, and building stronger community if we did not confront the truth of our situation.

Mourning, lament, protest, and deep fatigue join us with the prophet Habakkuk in both spiritual and material desperation as the COVID-19 pandemic has served an “apocalyptic” purpose in the New Testament sense: To expose, reveal, unveil. The death-dealing crises facing people and planet before COVID-19 persist and are getting worse.

How could we not bend and fold in bone-shattering weariness and yell with Habakkuk, “Violence! Will you not save us?”

Contrary to an easy set piece answer about “waiting patiently for God’s answer” or Advent as an anticipation of the Good News which is definitely going to arrive on the 24th of December without fail, both Habakkuk and John’s Gospel bend into the reality of current suffering and let the enormity set in. They embrace waiting not as simple, passive biding of time but actively, arduously, and alertly watching, detecting, and discerning how God is acting and answering from and within the pain and suffering. Advent is a collective time of alert discernment. It is the “watchtower” of collective suffering, from the margins of power and privilege that the vision is made plain.

As a global koinonia we meet Christmas 2020 exhausted, but true to the deep moving of the Spirit the struggles of this past year and the burden of grief and the uprising of resistance to racism and authoritarianisms and ecological, economic, and gender injustice has become for our worldwide family a watchtower of discernment. We are gifted to read the signs of the time from the places in which we are, to actively receive the plain vision of God in our midst, mobilizing us for life, justice, and peace, detectable through the eyes of the dispossessed. We have met and will continue to meet virtually to uphold each other in prayer and to discern, confess, and witness together, to actively seek to incarnate an answer to the question: What does God require of us in times of COVID-19 and beyond?

There is a vision, says Habakkuk, for an appointed time—a time of global oppression and global disaster. And it speaks of the end. No, not the end of the world, not the end of all history. But in the words of Pablo Richard, a Chilean Liberation theologian, an end to the history of oppression—a desired, God-driven end to this unjust world order.

And it requires us to embrace the advent of watchful discernment, to see the stirrings of that life-giving Word, incarnate in the poor, powerless, landless, despised, dispossessed, the refugee, the abused, the women—and to make plain the vision and to embrace it.

From that watchtower built from weariness, uprising, and struggle we are called, led, and nurtured into the discernment that “what has come into being was life and life was the light of all people” and that from his fullness we have received grace upon grace.

That grace is seen in the faithful witness of our global family, in the leadership of our Executive Committee, officers, and president. In all those who cry out for change and rise up for justice—all who reach out to serve.

The free, unencumbered grace to faithfully discern the stirrings of life in the face of it all to join as a global family in Jesus Christ and defend, protect, and nurture the vision of abundant life or empowered by the good news…not that it is all behind us, but that God has pitched God’s tent among us, and the vision of an end to this story of injustice is for this appointed time does speak of an end, and, no, it does not lie.

In the words of a New Creed of the United Church of Canada: “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone.”

Thanks be to God.

Rev. Chris Ferguson
General Secretary (World Communion of Reformed Churches)


To my Friends and colleagues at PCT,

Warmest Christmas greetings, and many thanks for this wonderful message and report. My thoughts turn often to your church and its witness during this time, with treasured memories of my visits with you.

Let me humbly share a word about my new book, "Without Oars: Casting Off into a Life of Pilgrimage." In it I share how faith is best known through embodied practices, and is a pilgrimage for us all. We're invited to an inward journey to prepare for the challenging outward journey in the days ahead.

If interested, more information is here: www.wesgm.com

May you know the unexpected joy of God's love breaking into our lives and into our world during this Christmas season.

Rev. Wes Granberg-Michaelson
General Secretary Emeritus
Reformed Church in America

"Without Oars: Casting Off into a Life of Pilgrimage" Order here:
Website: www.wesgm.com

Dear Mr General Secrtary, dear brother in Christ,

I very much hope this finds you well! We have been praying for you all along …

I know these are trying times, so the words „merry“ and „happy“ don’t come lightly off my keyboard. But since it is not us who are in charge of the real Christmas, but the one who came into this messy place to tackle once and for all Evil, Eternal Death, our guilt and our suffering, I insist there are good reasons to be merry and hopeful even in the valley of the shadows.

Thank you so much for your friendship and our wonderful partnership in the Gospel!

There is so much left to feel grateful for …

Our new Bishop Dr Staeblein sends you warm greetings and I join him in saying: May our Lord bless you and keep you!

Yours ever,


Dr. Christof Theilemann
Georgenkirchstr. 69/70 • 10249 Berlin
Tel. (030) 243 44-148 • Fax. (030) 243 44-124
www.berliner-missionswerk.de • facebook.com/BerlinerMissionswerk
Evangelische Bank
IBAN: DE86 5206 0410 0003 9000 88 • BIC: GENODEF1EK1

In this time of grief, loss, and uncertainty, the President of the Uniting Church in Australia Dr Deidre Palmer says the central message of Christmas is that we are loved.

“As we approach this Christmas, what matters most is not the gifts, the decorations or the Christmas carols, what matters most is the love we share with each other, the friendship and community that gives us life,” said Dr Palmer in her 2020 Christmas video message.

"We are loved by the God who comes to us in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ who lights up our lives and world with a message of peace, love and hope. This is an enduring message, and one that transcends our distance and separation."

The President's 2020 video message is available for download to play at Christmas events and services.

President's Christmas Message 2020 from Uniting Church in Australia on Vimeo.

Source: UCA

Dear colleagues

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ

Please receive Season´s greetings from the Mission House in Basel. I do hope that you and your families are all well in these troublesome times.

In other organisations one might expect these days a formal Christmas message from the Director. In Mission 21, however, the voice which we rather want to be made heard ahead of Christmas and the New Year is that of our Sisters and Brothers in South Sudan. After decades of war with continued violence and fighting, flooding, a gigantic plague of locusts, famine and the present threat of the Corona virus one might wonder: What does Christmas mean to them? How do they approach the New Year? - Different members and groups of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) have sent us their votes and greetings to the worldwide fellowship of Mission 21, which we have compiled to a small video. You may find it on our website or directly under this link: South Sudan Christmas 2020 on Vimeo. Enjoy their heart warming and encouraging messages!

Merry Christmas and a very happy and blessed New Year


Mission 21
Rev. Jochen Kirsch
Missionsstrasse 21


Dear sisters and brothers of PCT,

Thank you very much for this encouraging Christmas Greetings. We are grateful for the mutual solidarity, the strong feeling of being part of a worldwide community of faith and solidarity and all the prayers. We keep praying for you too.

We are currently having many cases of Covid-19 here in Switzerland (in relation to our relatively small population of 8.4 Mio.), thanks God all the staff of Mission 21 are doing well and we try our best to remain healthy.

May we all feel the hope awaiting the light of the new born child!

In Peace

Katharina Gfeller
Mission 21
Katharina Gfeller
Head International Relations
Member of the Management
Missionsstrasse 21

Rev. Abus Takisvilainan
PCT 65th GA Moderator

Rev. Lyim Hong-Tiong
PCT General Secretary

Rev. Chhoa Lam-Sin
PCT Acting General Secretary

Dear Ecumenical Colleagues at PCT,
Greetings of the advent.
Many thanks for your Christmas Greetings and also an update on PCT’s witness during theyear despite the adversities amidst the COVID-19.
We have been receiving the news about the sickness and hospitalization of PCT General Secretary, Rev. Lyim Hong-Tiong as he suffered a stroke. He has been in our prayers and thoughts. Glad to hear the news that Rev. Lyim Hong-Tiong is slowly recovering and he continues physiotherapy in a rehabilitation centre. May God almighty’s healing touch enable him to recover fully from his illness.

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas and New Year.
Yours along the journey,
Dr. Mathews George Chunakara
General Secretary, CCA

Festive Greetings from all at Crossreach

Rev. Glynis Williams
Associate Secretary

Lily Ko
Program Coordinator

International Ministries
The Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC)

Dear Rev. Takisvilainan and Rev. Chhoa and colleagues:

Blessings in Advent and at Christmas to the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. Be assured of our continued prayers for you, and particularly for Rev. Lyim Hong-Tiong

We look forward to the new year, and the promise of life renewed.


Patti Talbot
Team Leader, Global Partnership Program, and North east Asia Partnerships

United Church of Canada (UCC)

Greetings from the National Council of Churches in Korea
Updates from summer through the end of this year, living faith amid a pandemic.

Christmas Message from the General Secretary

Today the community of humanity is experiencing multiple crises amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The life-safety crisis caused by infectious diseases, the social-safety crisis caused by the spread of disgust and discrimination, and the climate crisis caused by the destruction of the natural ecosystem are all casting a deep shadow of despair. In addition, Korean society is engulfed in a crisis of constant anxiety from societal schism which stems from peninsular division and the Cold War crisis brought on by the ongoing war. Throughout this general crisis, our Church is facing its own existential crisis due to the large number of Korean churches embracing exclusive fundamentalist attitudes toward the world.

Nevertheless, the human community and Korean society are rediscovering the human family amid the tragic outlook of COVID-19. Human beings are realizing their new interdependent relationship with all beings of the cosmos. We realize the uncertainty and futility of the path to self-reliance that encourages competition for monopolization and privatization. We are repeatedly confirming that love is the only force that enables community cooperation and that solidarity and co-prosperity are the only paths we should follow.

Today, with the chaos and disorder from the COVID-19 situation, we hear the good news of the birth of Jesus, who proclaims the salvation and liberation of God. The event of the incarnation, in which Jesus came to this world wearing a human body, illustrates the paradigmatic way in which God communicates the truth to the world for its salvation and liberation. That is love. The news of Christmas is now testifying to the existence of the living Jesus in the midst of a love event.

God loved the world and opened the way for salvation and liberation through the death and resurrection of Jesus' cross. Jesus has now asked us to practice the love of God through a new commandment. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) The event of Christmas is an eternal message testifying that love is the path to justice and peace, and the road to salvation and liberation.

Today, many extraneous motivations rooted in human greed and selfishness for the pursuit of money, power, and honor are distorting the practice of love and twisting the path of justice and peace. The event of the incarnation, in which the Word became the Body, testifies to the process in which the truth of love is practiced, and in itself is a process of self-emptying. The joyful news of Christmas is that we are all invited to practice love through "self-emptying" by being the receivers and messengers of God's truth of love. Like salt, like light, like the scent of flowers, like the wind, when we take on the form of "self-emptiness," we can become a medium of truth that testifies to the existence of God through the practice of love.

A Church that takes on values of exclusivity which others its neighbors and objectifies the world cannot bear responsibility for the whole community in love. As soon as the Church is reduced to a means of carrying out political interests and becomes entrenched in a system that projects its own exclusive desires, the Church will experience alienation from the whole community. The Church should reflect on and repent deeply for the reality that it is losing its meaning in society.

As we meet Christmas in 2020 along with COVID-19, let's all pledge to take the path of the new commandment.

Let's walk the path of a new commandment, actively accompanying the vulnerable and the minorities of our society. Let's confess before God that we ourselves are sinners and hold the feast of God's Kingdom of hospitality with the love that overcomes the dangerous society of inequality where hatred and discrimination prevail.

Let's walk the path of a new commandment that achieves a life-centered transformational period in civilization through our Emergency Action for the Climate Crisis. As a model for human life, let us achieve ecological justice and peace through love and through taking care of the created world, the web of interdependent life, with our whole bodies for the salvation of life.

Let's walk the path of the new commandment that accomplishes a Korean Peninsula of healing and reconciliation, peace and reunification through the "Movement for Ending the War and Bringing Peace on the Korean Peninsula." Let's take this Korean Peninsula of division and the Cold War and out of it create a healed and reconciled Korean Peninsula where justice and peace kiss each other; a Korean Peninsula of living-peace where all life enjoys abundance.

The only way to overcome the Church’s crisis and testify to the gospel in the world is to follow the path of transformative disciples who achieve justice and peace through the love of Jesus Christ. May the joy of Christmas overflow for all the little humble ones and all the world.

Introducing the New NCCK President

At the NCCK’s 2020 General Assembly a new president was elected, Bishop Peter Kyongho Lee, who has been serving as the Primate of the Anglican Church of Korea. You may read his greetings below:

With the birth of the baby Jesus, who comes as the Prince of Peace,
May you this bring good news of comfort and hope!

For nearly 100 years since 1924, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) has devoted itself to delivering the gospel of Christ and fulfilling its social responsibilities amid rapid changes in Korean society and Korean churches. I am well aware of the brilliant history and tradition that NCCK has endured. I am grateful for the hard work and dedication of the past presidents and general secretaries to the unity of the church, democratization, human rights, and peace and unification.

I will try to maintain the path of the history and tradition that NCCK has walked. In addition, we will try to achieve unity and solidarity through dialogue and cooperation with our member denominations and institutions so that the NCCK does not lose its direction and goals.

COVID-19 has spread around the world over the past year or so, and it demands a significant change in our daily lives as well as in our religious lives. Human beings are in a deep struggle with COVID-19. The prolonged crisis COVID-19 is raising feelings of depression, anxiety, and anger caused by social isolation and economic recession.

Despite this difficult situation, the National Council of Churches in Korea will work harder to identify the signs and meanings of this era and restore the public character of the church by strengthening a deeper unity and solidarity with domestic and overseas partners and like-minded people of good faith. I hope that the birth of the baby Jesus, who comes as the Prince of Peace, will be good news of comfort and hope to you this Advent.

Summer Action Reports: A Women's PTV Visit and the Korea-Japan Platform

Global Ecumenical Women’s Program: Women of Faith Pilgrim Team Visit (PTV)

A team from the World Council of Churches (WCC) planned to come to Korea and visit women's organizations that had worked for peace, human rights, and justice on the Korean Peninsula, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, we converted plans for an in-person visit into an online visit program which we held July 13th to 15th, 2020. It was conducted with the theme, “The Korean War and Women's Life: The Journey towards Peace and Reconciliation.” It was organized in collaboration with the WCC Gender Justice Committee, the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace Team and the NCCK Women's Committee and hosted by the NCCK Women's Committee. This was an opportunity to share the activities of Korean Christian women and Church members of the WCC in regard to issues such as, Military Base Camptowns, Japanese Military Sexual Slavery, and the DMZ border between the two Koreas.

Korea-Japan Reconciliation and Peace Platform

In response to the growing tension between the countries of Korea and Japan the civil society and religious communities from both countries decided to gather together in June, 2019 to create a civilian platform to promote people’s participation and solidarity with the ultimate aim of building a “Common House in the North East Asia.” After almost a year’s preparation period, this platform, dubbed as the "Korea-Japan (Japan-Korea) Reconciliation and Peace Platform" (hereafter the JK Platform), was launched on July 2, 2020. The JK Platform plans to cultivate this understanding across the two countries by:

1) Remembering the painful past, sharing a correct recognition on it and healing the wounds of its victims, which will eventually open a new era of co-existence.

2) Consolidating all its effort to promote peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula and protect Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.

3) Working together to realize a nuclear free Northeast Asia and promoting a common vision for peace among the Asia Pacific regional community.

4) Developing young leadership in both countries through human rights and peace education.

Actions for Peace in Korea

A Convocation for Declaring a People’s Korea Peace Agreement

On July 23, 2020 the NCCK Reconciliation and Reunification Committee held an international online convocation for declaring a People’s Korea Peace Agreement (PKPA). More than 140 partner Churches and civic NGO representatives from around the world participated in the online convocation and endorsed the guidelines of the PKPA. The PKPA included text for guidelines that we believe are necessary steps for ending the Korean War and guaranteeing a sustainable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. These PKPA guidelines will be a basis on which we, together with domestic and overseas partners, consolidate all our efforts towards the peace and reconciliation movement on the Korean peninsula.

Korea Peace Appeal

In addition to the PKPA campaign with the NCCK has also joined on the Korea Peace Appeal to gain broader support from the member churches and civic groups. The Korea Peace Appeal was created by civil society organizations in Korea and abroad, some of whom participated in the NCCK's PKPA Declaration.

All these organizations including the NCCK are looking to expand our efforts beyond our usual circles seeking a movement powerful enough to move the decision makers. This campaign will operate until July 27th, 2023, the 70th anniversary of the Korea Armistice, and aims to collect 100,000,000 signatures. At this moment, more than 350 South Korean civil society and religious organizations as well as international partner organizations are participating.

Our mailing address:
Suite 706 Korea Christian Building
19 Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu Seoul 03129 Republic of Korea

NCCK International Team:
Rev. Shin Seung-min - Director
Rev. Hwang Bo-hyun
Rev. Roh Hye-min
Rev. Kurt Esslinger

You may direct any inquiries to Rev. Kurt Esslinger, ecumenical partner staff at NCCK.
Email: ncckintl@kncc.or.kr

Dear Friends -

Warmest greetings!
Receive our greeting and prayer for you as well, for this Christmas.
Document attached.
Many blessings, liza

Dr. Ms. Liza B. LAMIS
Executive Secretary, ICFLC
Office Mobile:63 9175267010
icflcph@gmail.com; http://www.flc.net.ph/

Dear Friends
Warm Greetings from the Church of Christ in Thailand.
It was honored to receive the Christmas Card and the message from the PCT Officers.
Thank you very much. I will bring these messages to the CCT Officers.
May a Happy of Jesus Christ was born be with you always.

Best regards,
Rungtiwa Mamo
Ecumenical Relations Officer (The Church of Christ in Thailand)

Dear Friends

Thank you very much for sharing the Christmas greetings of the PCT. Indeed the “new normal” is becoming part of our life. We are experiencing something we had never imagined! I hope and pray that the situation of the COVID19 pandemic will be better and we restore the real human connections from the virtual connections! I continue to remember Rev Lyim in my prayers for a speedy recovery.

Let’s continue to stay in touch in whatever way is possible during the “new normal” situation. May the Christmas bring hope, and joy in our lives to enter in to a better new year in 2021!

A blessed Christmas to you and colleagues at the PCT and a better New Year 2021!

Peace and virtual hug,

Sunita Suna
Executive Secretary for Programmes
of Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY)

Christmas greetings from the Church of Scotland, Faith Impact Forum.

It has been a strange year for us all, in every part of our world. More than ever we need to hear the message of Christmas: Immanuel: God with us. When we have been unable to meet each other in person, only virtually, it is a comfort and a joy to know that God is with us, each one of us, in every situation.

After his birth, Jesus and his family immediately had to seek refuge. As we celebrate his coming to be amongst us, we remember all those today who seek refuge. Even in a time of pandemic, the Christmas message is one that is principally about hope. The baby’s birth is a challenge to the whole of humanity to dare to look beyond ourselves to the needs of those around us, in the knowledge that God thought everyone was worth sending Jesus for.

All of us at the Church of Scotland wish you a very peaceful
Christmas, filled with the welcoming love and generosity of Jesus

God of light and love,
As we await this Christmas -
one like no other lift our eyes to the first Christmas -
one like no other.
Amid the chaos and trouble, let the message—
Good News, Christ is bom! —
ring louder than all that surrounds it.
In places tom apart by war, disease, sorrow
Let your love light the way.
During these times of great uncertainty
may your Word be the lamp that lights our way.
For those living in poverty, suffering illness, grieving,
be the candle of hope burning bright within them.
May all who know trouble, hardship, oppression know
that you are the light of the world,
that your birth is the good news of salvation.
All of this we ask through Christ our Saviour,

The light shines in the darkness
and the darkness has not overcome it - John 1:5

Holiday Greetings from MIGRANTE International

Dear 65th GA Moderator
Rev. Abus Takisvilainan,

General Secretary
Rev. Lyim Hong-Tiong,

Acting General Secretary
Rev. Chhoa Lam-Sin,

Praise the Holy name of our Lord the Savior.
We will send you our warmest greetings of Christmas and the New Year 2021.
We are so thankful for your greetings and prayers for us.

We are in a difficult situation due to the effects of COVID-19, but let us pray and encourage each other and fulfill our mission with hope in Christ.

We pray for the blessings and peace of the Lord onto the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and we continue to pray for the Divine healing of Rev. Lyim

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Rev. Tsugumichi Onodera
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Kirisuto Kyodaidan (Brotherhood of Christ Church/BCC)


Dear our Partners and Friends in Christ,

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. "(John 1:5)

On behalf of the United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ) we pray for you a hopeful and Joyful Christmas as we continue to serve the Lord together in the darkness of global COVID-19 pandemic.
Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Rev. Hideo Ishibashi
UCCJ Moderator
Rev. Toru Akiyama
UCCJ General Secretary


Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan,

Thank you so much for your Christmas greetings!
It's our pleasure to have a rich partnership with PCT.
We will keep pray for Taiwan, PCT and for our dearest Rev. Lyim Hong Tiong.
Although the darkness surrounds us, but Wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New year.
In Christ,
Rev. Ishibashi Hideo
Rev. Toru Akiyama
General Secretary


Christmas is coming soon...

As a child, I loved to hear this sentence! It meant that my family would soon be reunited. We would have delicious meals and above all, lots of presents! As an adult, I also like this sentence, and I do have an incredibly long "to-do-list" for this festive period.

Today, in France, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are uncertain if we will be able to gather indoors with the extended family to celebrate Christmas. All the plans for big meals and presents seem useless and selfish. We may have to review our priorities to celebrate Christmas in light of what we have learned during this time of lockdown to control the spread of the COVID-19.

Christmas is coming, as well as World Day of Prayer on March 5th 2021.

“Build on a strong Foundation” is the 2021 theme written by Christian women in Vanuatu. We listen to women’s voices through the worship service, which invites us to focus on the Bible story in Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus tells a story about the kingdom of heaven using the image of a house and the land on which the house is built.

In Jesus’ story, the wisdom of the builder of the house comes from hearing and acting on the word of God, which is a word of love. This is the foundation on which our sisters in Vanuatu call us to build our homes, our nations and the world. A call of faith to be earnestly considered when responding to the prayer of commitment: “What is the house that you would build?”

Today, I know that what is essential and unique in each Christmas celebration is the human connection. Christmas could be an opportunity to say to my family and all my friends how much I love them. This is much more important than the gift I was running to get for each one of them.

The Christmas celebration is unique as well as World Day of Prayer.

Every year it happens as a great gift. In the midst of the pandemic, it is like an opportunity to give the best of ourselves to the common good.

In the face of the millions we have lost, who will be greatly missed in the family reunion, we commit to making Christmas an opportunity for transformation.

We are reminded by the women of Vanuatu that nothing prevents us from having our trust in God. I invite you to listen to the words of the angel to Mary, “Rejoice! The Lord has granted you a great favor. God is with you!” (Luke 1,28) Isn’t it the greatest of all promises?

Let us therefore celebrate Christmas affirming the foundation of the Gospel, which is God's love for the world. Friends of the WDP, feel blessed!

Merry Christmas!
Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson


Dear brothers and sisters,

Thanks very much for counting the blessings and challenges that we went through this year. Living it from the USA context, we can tell you how painful is to hear the daily news about the thousand lives lost a day. It is a relief to know that this is not the case in Taiwan. Praises be to God!

We are thankful to PCT leadership and the support we are receiving for the material preparations for the World Day of Prayer celebrations in 2023. The writing process was unusual, but our sisters navigated wisely through the restrictions to accomplish one of the steps of the process. We really appreciate it.

May God continue blessing Rev. Lyim Hong-Tiong with healing.

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to the people of Taiwan and PCT leadership and churches,


Rosângela Oliveira
Executive Director
World Day of Prayer International Committee

Merry Christmas from the Board of Pensions

Dear Friends in the PCT,

Thank you so much for your Christmas and New Year Greeting and sharing the news from the church. I am especially glad to hear of the improvement in the health of General Secretary Lyim and I pray that it will continue in the New Year.

I am so thankful and proud of the worldwide witness of the PCT that also contributed to the witness of the nation of Taiwan to progress in democracy and in wise security of the people in the midst of the pandemic. It spite of the various autocrats around the world, I believe we are seeing the growing influence of democratic ideas among the peoples of the world. The U.S.A. has had its brush with an President with autocratic tendencies, but I am glad that the country seems to be moving beyond that, especially by making the President a one term leader.

My seventeen year term (13 years actually in Taiwan) to Taiwan was a wonderful and unforgettable experience in my life. I believe the TCP and Taiwan will be of worldwide significance as God continues to work in human history.

May God continue to bless and guide the TCP and its leaders in 2021.

Rev. Robert (Bob) Montgomery (Former Mission Partner, Presbyterian Church (USA))

Christmas 2020

I nearly used the first two paragraphs of last year’s letter as the start of this year’s! We were really looking forward to 2020 – retirement at last, a move back to Manchester, etc. And all that was completely blown out of the water and it wasn’t just Covid-19!

David continues to live with us and had every intention of finishing his dissertation but was one of the early people to fall with Covid. He was not bad enough to be in hospital but was utterly wiped out and was off work for 8-10 weeks. He’s now busy writing the dissertation.

Just as things started to get back to what passes for normal in our household Yvonne unexpectedly went into A & E at St Mary’s, Paddington, in June, to come out ten days later having been operated on for bowel cancer. It seems it was quite well developed but was caught in time. Since then she’s been having chemotherapy which turns out to provide more discomfort, nausea and fatigue than the then, hitherto unknown, bowel cancer itself. Cooking for her has proved difficult at times since the chemo leads to a lack of appetite and taste. ‘Everything tastes like cardboard’, she tells me, so does anyone know of good, tasty recipes for cardboard? As I write she’s just come off chemo-holiday because of a low white blood-cell count, but it did mean that she can eat and enjoy food. She’s now back on therapy but at 60% dose and feels so much better with less nausea.

Meanwhile Gareth and Camille, back in Manchester have been coping reasonably well with Covid. Camille is a research pharmaceutical chemist who continued work right through the first lockdown. Gareth was furloughed first time around and is still employed by Jet2.com, almost surprisingly, given the state of the airline industry at present. Back in the south the chaplains at Heathrow were stood down, just at a time when thousands were laid off and wanted to talk to us.

It was our intention to return to Manchester last September but Yvonne’s treatment precluded that. We think it will probably be about March/April when we move back to our flat in Manchester. That really requires downsizing. In preparation I’ve already given away five bookcases worth of books to two PhD candidates in Edinburgh – that was in August. I’ve just finished the bereavement process! I have yet to discover retirement which was due to start last July. Since then a good deal of our time has been given to trips to Charing Cross hospital (in Hammersmith) or Hammersmith hospital (in Acton) for Yvonne’s treatment. At the former there is a branch of Maggie’s. It’s a cancer support foundation providing a listening ear, financial advice and lots of coffee for both patients and their relatives. I’ve spent ages there chatting and reading in warm, homelike surroundings. I cannot speak of them highly enough, they have been a godsend, as have been so many of our friends to whom we give our thanks for their good wishes and gifts of flowers – a welcome antidote to our lack of horticultural involvement this summer.

Well, here we are with another year gone, indeed virtually written off. Yvonne and I hope you’ve managed to survive reasonably intact and we look forward to a fresh start in this coming year.
May it be a good one for you and yours, and meanwhile have a very happy and blessed Christmas.
With love,
Yvonne and John

(Rev'd Dr John Parry, Mrs. Yvonne Parry, United Reformed Church (URC), Retired professor)

Thanks for the Christmas greetings and message.

I am continuing to pray for the full recovery of the Rev. Lyim Hong Tiong, a dear friend and ecumenical colleague.
I am also praying for the continuing ministry and service of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.
May we all experience the love, faith and hope in the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem, which we celebrate on Christmas day.

Regards and blessings,

Uniting Church in Australia
Melbourne, Australia

Rev. Dr. Rowland Van Es
Mrs. Judy Van Es
(Ban Bok-su, Ban Jiu-li)
Reformed Church in America (RCA)
Former mission Partners

The Three Kings (1958)
Words: Laurence Housman (1865-1959)
Music: Healey Willan (1880-1968)

"Who knocks tonight so late?"
the weary porter said.
Three kings stood at the gate,
each with a crown on head.

The serving man bowed down,
the Inn was full, he knew.
Said he, "In all this town
is no fit place for you."

A light in the manger lit;
there lay the Mother meek.
Said they: This place is fit.
Here is the rest we seek.

Come, come. They loosed their latchet strings,
so stood they all unshod
"Come in, come in, ye kings,
and kiss the feet of God."

Rev. Michael Stainton

United Church of Canada (UCC)
Former Mission Partner

Rev. Wendell Karsen
Mrs. Renske Karsen

Reformed Church in America (RCA)
Former Mission Partner

Dear Friends and Family,

Christmas 2020 has crept up so quickly. Everyone will be mentioning COVID-19 so I will not dwell on it as that is all we hear and to be honest I am tired of it and also the name of Trump. I suspect you are as well. All I can say is God bless America – they need as many blessings as possible. Canada has a long border with our southern neighbour that is closed.

I have been keeping reasonably well. I lost several very good friends in 2020 that will be missed. Some I was in touch with more frequently. They are Joy Randall, Gloria Graham, Helen Tetley, May Nutt, Doreen Morrison, and Dr. Debora Tezlo (India). Thanks to my dear Taiwanese friends I was able to get to Joy’s burial in Cobourg. Joy and I lived together in Taiwan and were like sisters. We talked on the telephone at least three times a week. I have since talked with her nursing colleagues in Taiwan who like me, and her Canadian/Taiwan colleagues, were saddened by her passing. The hospital that Joy worked in for over 30 years had a lovely service for her that was live-streamed.

I am excited that I hear frequently from two of my Taiwan nieces from Vancouver – Karenne and Karelle (Embree). They and their husbands each have two children –one is a grandmother now. They are twins and both nurses. Debbie Sutherland (Rev. Peter Bush) and her husband have moved to Fergus just north of Guelph. As you will guess I hear frequently from my Taiwan family.

I did not travel at all this year. I only used one tank of gas from the end of March until September but have used a couple since then. This meant I got a reduction (very little) in my car insurance. Pauline Brown was to come again from India but was unable to travel. Hopefully she will come in 2021. Although she will be 95 in May so may not feel like travelling. My cousin Dallas and her husband were to come from the UK but that trip has also been postponed. Karenne and Karelle speak about coming for a visit from Vancouver if everything settles down.

Sadness hit here with the passing of Sterling’s two cats, Sam (March) and Princess (two weeks ago). They were litter siblings, born in June of 2001. They were a good age but still missed so much. I still have 10 year old Snoopy (ragdoll cat). Joey is still with me (14 year old Cockatiel) He was also my brother Sterling’s.

A couple of birth celebrations of friends and family -
• Nathan Emmanuel Evaristo, son of my Godchild Amanda and her husband Chris Ewanyshyn and grandson of my friends Diane and Rodger Evaristo. He was born on July 14, a brother for one year old Beth to play with.
• Aubrey Katherine Amanda Spira, a daughter born to parents Kimberly and Dave Spira ion June 26th. A sister for 4 year old Cayden. Carole Ann is his loving grandmother.

My mother still has two siblings, Nicki and Don (Maria). They all keep reasonably well and very busy. Don celebrated his 90th birthday over a year ago and Nicki will celebrate hers next March.

My friends Gladys and Mahfouz were in need of a larger home so purchased a lovely home in the east end of Kitchener. Mahfouz’s sister Amani was married two years ago. They have been working on Fadi’s Canadian visa and he finally arrived a few weeks ago from Syria. Of course he had to spend his first two weeks in isolation. They have an apartment in Toronto on Sherbourne St. He has already found temporary work while he upgrades his profession to Canadian standards…cont’d over…cont’d over.

I am not taking on any new responsibilities. Thinking of resigning the few I have. Time will tell. We are having our Session meetings using Zoom. I am not finding Zoom too comfortable for me.

I am still knitting children’s sweaters and tried to sell them. I have quite a supply of girl sizes 2, 4 & 6 and a few for boys. I think I even have a couple of girls size 8. The proceeds are to go for Community Health in Mendha, (Bhil Field India). I had booked a rental table at the Women’s Gathering in May in Toronto, but like everything else the event was cancelled.

May you know the peace of the season and the reason for the season. I look forward to hearing all your news.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

With love and blessings to all,

Dr. Wilma Welsh
Presbyterian Church in Canada
Former mission partner


It was wonderful to begin this new your with your words of blessings and hope.
2020 was a challenging year for God’s kingdom. Yet, God has been with us on our journey through COVID 19, ecological devastations, racial unrest and all the effects of them, including death, poverty, grief and pain. We are grateful that God’s faithful people has been there and will continue to be God’s light to the world.
We pray that our ministry together in 2021 will continue to be a shining example of God love for God’s creation (earth and humanity) as we share in her ongoing healing process.
On the journey with the wise ones, following the star toward the baby in the manger (Epiphany)


Dr. Dianna Wright
Interim Director of Ecumenical Relations
Presbyterian Church (USA)
(TEF Steering Group member)


Dear Friends, HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Hope you are doing well and staying safe from the virus. It has certainly been a different and difficult year in the States for everyone. The area where I live is now on the increase with the virus, so needless to say, I am staying inside as much as possible. Please pray for our country that we will soon recover from COVID. Many people are suffering physically and economically. So sad!

My prayers and good wishes for you and the PCT, especially leaders, is that God will continue to richly bless you all and give you peace and joy throughout the entire year and daily give you all a greater sense of his presence. IMMANUEL...for sure!

Joy to you,

Ann Broom

former missionary partner from PC(USA)

Hello Friends,

Thank you for sending greetings to the PCANZ from the PCT, with news of life within the church, and throughout Taiwan. I took an early Christmas break and so am catching up with emails now. So now it is time to reply, and to wish you and all at PCT a Happy New Year!

Yes, 2020 was a difficult and troubling year and life will continue to be challenging for us all in 2021. We are fortunate in Aotearoa New Zealand that as a result of our response to the virus, we are now able to enjoy many freedoms that are not possible in most other countries at this time. As mentioned in your email, Taiwan has also benefitted from good leadership and coped very well with Covid-19 in comparison to most other countries around the world.

Thank you for the news about the Rev. Lyim Hong-Tiong. While the news has been all about Covid-19 in 2020, we must never forget that so many others among us face challenges of a very different nature. We are grateful for his warm friendship towards the PCANZ, and are mindful of his daily struggle to return to health and send our prayers for his ongoing recovery.

Wishing you and all at the PCT our warmest regards as we journey into the unknown in 2021 and as we pray for better news and look for positive signs of hope. We are grateful for ecumenical partners who are walking this journey alongside us as we try to be faithful servants of Christ both within our own countries, and throughout the world.

Together in service,


Rev. Phil King

Global Mission Coordinator

Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand

Dear Far-flung Family and Friends,

For the record, Shirley and I are still very much “together” (after 46years!), but rather than writing one joint letter to you this year, we each wanted to share our separate perspectives on what has been, world-wide, a most unusual and unanticipated year.

Quite apart from COVID concerns, the past year has definitely been a transitional year for both Shirley and me. After nearly 45 years of ministry, I did not retire from service to Christ, but I did transition out of full-time pastoral service when I completed more than ten years as pastor of the United Church of Painted Post on December 31, 2019.

This transition, along with the limitations on travel imposed by COVID, has provided me the opportunity, along with Shirley, to focus more explicitly on working to fulfill the dream we have had for many years of making our property—which we have always referred to as “The Land”—a unique place for ministry. During this past spring, summer, and fall, Shirley and I have concentrated on this effort more than we have ever before been able to do in a similar time-span. This year our efforts have focused primarily on improving the “landscape” of our property. In the next year, we hope to continue this focus, while also moving forward to finish construction of the buildings on our property.

I still have church-related responsibilities—though these are all volunteer roles at this point. For 2020, I served as Moderator of Geneva Presbytery, which made me part of the Presbytery's Leadership Team that helped shepherd 52 churches through this pandemic year. I have observed first-hand the great stresses that both church members and pastors have endured due to COVID. Please do keep your pastor, church leaders, and members in your daily prayers.

I have also done some Sunday preaching during the year (though mostly via Zoom), and, for now, remain on the Board of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), an organization that trains volunteers to assist children in need who are involved with New York's Southern Tier court system.

Many of you are aware that I had a cancerous kidney removed in March of 2019, but I am thankful to report that I have experienced a good recovery and all of my post-op check-ups in 2020 have shown me to be free of cancer at this point. So, there is much for which to be grateful!

As we face all the uncertainties of a New Year in which the COVID threat (among many others) remains very real, I would like to share with you a special internet link to the familiar hymn, Amazing Grace. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA7pdABvpnc

In some cases, you may be taken directly to the YouTube site of this hymn just by clicking on the link; otherwise, you will need to copy and paste the link into your internet browser. I hope you find this particular rendition of a familiar hymn both inspiring and encouraging.

Have a most blessed New Year!

Rev. Glenn Kennedy

Former missionary partner from PC(USA)


Dear Precious People,

Greetings! I have two things to say, at the end of this holiday season, that are late being said (and for which I apologize) due to many reasons with which you do not need to be burdened:

(1) From childhood until this very day, my very favorite part of the Christmas account has been the entrance of the wisemen (kings, magi) upon the scene. I identify with them the most. They come out of the blue from an odd culture following a star, cause terrific upheaval, lay down their treasures, and disappear into the night, leaving the resources for the Holy Family to flee to Egypt and survive there. I love them because they are the odd ones. The Scripture writers know little about them…maybe nobody bothered or dared to ask questions…maybe the men themselves saw no reason to give explanations…maybe they would have been even less understood if they had tried to explain…maybe they knew only enough of the local language to find the Child. But they represent God’s purpose—the salvation of the whole world—not just of the Jews—and illustrate the way God can use even the Gentiles.

In this mysterious year of many unanswered whys and many questions that should have been asked earlier, but no one thought to ask or wanted to ask, we are staring in the face of another act of God. I stand open-mouthed in awe of the events chronicled day after day world-wide, nationally, state-wide, locally, and in my own circle of acquaintances, friends, and family at how I see God working all things together for good to them who love Him.

(2) When our three children were young, we began the practice, which Glenn and I maintain to this very day, of saving all the Christmas cards and opening them on Christmas Day, along with the presents for I consider the cards presents, taking turns reading them aloud. This year Glenn and I opened them on New Year’s Day evening, our first quiet moment in the season. It took us two hours, finishing in the late evening hours. It was very difficult for me. It always reminds me of all the places I have been, all the people with whom I have shared a bit of myself—never all of it—like the wisemen, then leaving the dear ones behind.

I left my teaching job on June 30, and, on July 1, I, as well as my husband, became the self-employed, full-time, small estate manager of over 21 acres and five buildings including new construction, renovation, repair, and events (which have been minimal due to COVID). By direction of Scripture (Proverbs 24:27) and Lowe’s selling blue rug juniper for five dollars a plant, we spent the summer, fall, and early winter all on outdoor projects. COVID changed my intentional solitary life little, except I constantly wear masks shopping very early or late, and I ended up dropping off daily notes and treats with occasional window visits to Mom instead of in-person visits, until my mother herself came down with COVID and at 91 miraculously survived it and until we could not get together with the family for the holidays. But, happily, here at 12:42 a.m. on January 2, 2021, we all have had good holidays together via the phone or zoom or with neighbor Nathan and Toby in person and have survived. We all have jobs, and our health is intact enough for all of us to continue our work for the Lord.

Thus, I carry on, endeavoring to obey I Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Looking for God’s will for your life at this difficult time? There it is, straight from Scripture.

Love and prayers for a blessed New Year (and many thanks for the gift of your messages),

Mrs. Shirley Kennedy

Former missionary partner from PC(USA)

Dear Colleagues,

Merry Christmas to you and your family from India.

Hope you are aware that after finishing my term as Executive Secretary of CWM, We have returned to New Delhi. In addition to challenges posed by COVID 19 our farmers in this country are fighting against draconian laws imposed by our fascist government. Our brothers and sisters are fighting against the nexus of corporate empires and ruling elites in this chilling cold weather.

Rejecting the dominant trajectory, the wise people of the east decided to re-engage with the star, the signs of the time, and reached at the manger instead of the Palace. Their journey to the margins offered a different experience of epiphany and provided new visions that unsettle the prevailing order. Today the star, the signs of the time, inviting us to the places where our farmers are struggling for their rights.

Sanjana joins me to wish you all a Blessed and Safe Christmas and a meaningful New Year.

With best wishes.

Sudipta and Sanjana Singh

Rev. Michael Stainton (UCC) - Annual_Epistle_2020.pdf
Reformed Church in America (RCA).png

Submitted by:普世
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