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2023/12/9
A Declaration on Human Rights Commemorated to Respond the Calling

Taiwan Church News

3744 Edition

Nov 27th~ Dec 3rd, 2023

Weekly Topical

A Declaration on Human RightsCommemorated to Respond the Calling

Reported by Dalul from Tainan

It has been 46 years since the “A Declaration on Human Rights” released by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan in 1977. Its advocacy of human rights, social justice, peace, independence and freedom have become the important milestones to Taiwan’s democracy.

The Practical Theology Research Center of Tainan Theological Seminary held a seminar on “Social Issues and the Mission from the perspective fromA Declaration on Human Rights” at Shoki Coe Memorial Library on November 21st2023. In addition to a review of the historical contexts of Taiwan church within that period, it also explored the specific meanings of the PCT’s history-breaking statement of A Declaration on Human Rights. Former President Chen Shui-bian also attended the seminar and delivered a speech.

The seminar invited Elder Tsai Ming-hsien, former defense minister, and Rev Chang Chong-long, one of the draftees of “A Declaration on Human Rights“, to share their thoughts and reviews. Elder Tsai pointed out that the PCT’sA Declaration on Human Rightsis an important indicator of Taiwan’s democratic process under KMT’s martial law rulings. In addition, the establishment of diplomatic recognition between China and the United States in 1970s had indeed affected Taiwan’s international status. Fortunately, through eloquent statements and resilient lobbying, many Taiwanese colleagues and compatriots had made the United States realize that it must attend to the importance of Taiwan’s human rights and democratic values. The “Taiwan Relations Act” was born accordingly, demonstrating a necessity of US action to support Taiwan.

Regarding how Taiwan can become a normal country, Elder Tsai pointed out that Taiwan historical sufferings had to be dealt with first. This includes dealing with the past injuries inflicted to people due to of KMT’s authoritarianism, rectifying the names of unjust historic-sites, and opening past political surveillance archives. It is not just about compensation or restitution, but facing the historical pains of the past through an ideal of transitional justice. Only then can legitimacy of modern society be recovered and Taiwan’s democracy carry on to move forward.

Rev Chang Chong-long recalled the situation at the time when“A Declaration on Human Rights” was drafted. In an authoritarian era, lives were always under threat and harassment when the statement was prepared, Rev Chang said. However, he said, the group of pastors engaging in drafting the statement all bravely spoke up for Taiwan’s social issues based on their confessional faith. “Even, up to nowadays at present, we should do more and continue to march forward to speak out for the voiceless in Taiwan”, he stressed

Rev Chang expressed that during the missionary histories of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT), God planted a confessional gene (DNA) about ideals of human rights into the church community across different epochs. At the evangelistic ministries, for example, through worship service, social charity, fellowship sharing, education, cultural exchange, and even in the one-leads-one doubling mission at the 100th anniversary of the PCT missions, such human rights DNA were amazingly witnessed, he reminded. Although there is no specific designated PCT committee or institute to engage in these evangelical missions, the entire PCT had marched towards the goal of human rights together, established relationships with the non-Christians, and preached the Gospel to Taiwan society, he stressed, and this is the duty and responsibility of Christians.

Speaking about the PCT’s DNA of social concern, it had taken root as early as the missionaries came to Taiwan, Rev Chang pointed out. For example, he indicated, the transmission of knowledge through Romanized (POJ) language allows Taiwanese to have a broader world view and also paid attention to values such as reverence for life, democracy, freedom, and human rights, as well as legal concepts engraved in the faith and order of the PCT. Following a second thought about different colonial oppression, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan also gradually became much more conscious about the Taiwanese subjectivity, and started to reflect on mission and pastoral care from an indigenous perspective, he indicated.

Rev Chang Chong-long concluded that the PCT’s confessional DNA aboutA Declaration on Human Rightswill never die out. Since God has called the PCT to lead Taiwan become ” a new and independent country “, he urged the PCT members be more actively engaged in the mission of God’s Kingdom for its arrival in Taiwan and take up the responsibility of leading Taiwan’s churches and people, and assume the PCT’s prophetic role as the “leader”, determining to live on the promise from God and endeavor to become “a new and independent country” for Taiwan.

Translated by Peter Wolfe


Submitted by:Taiwan Church Press
 
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