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2024/5/18
To Be or Not to Be, NTPC Considers its Next Stop

Taiwan Church News

3767 Edition

May 6 ~ 12, 2024

Weekly Topical

To Be or Not to Be, NTPC Considers its Next Stop

Reported by Lin Yi-ying

To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the National Taiwanese Presbyterian Council (abbreviated as NTPC below), which is affiliated to the Presbyterian Church (USA), held a thanksgiving service at the Shepherd of the Valley Presbyterian Church in Southern California on April 27. About 140 members of NTPC attended the service.

Another 42 NTPC representatives, participating the seminar entitled as “A Church to Root Deep or Return Home?”, took a cruise ship from the Los Angeles Harbor to commence an eight-day and seven-night’s meetings and tour.

(Photo by NTPC)

Rev Yank Lee, chairman of NTPC from 2022 to 2024 and pastor of the Shepherd of the Valley Church, said that in the 1970s, waves of Taiwanese immigrated to the United States and established Taiwanese churches. At present, there are 42 Taiwanese churches affiliated to PC(USA) and NTPC as one of them was established in 1974.

Rev Lee said frankly that a common phenomenon in Taiwanese churches across Northern America is that the first-generation believers are aging, and the second and third generation Taiwanese Christians showed up less in Taiwanese church services and turned to the English-speaking churches instead.

Rev Lee observed that most Taiwanese immigrants had not been prepared or trained to become pastors in the US, plus that pastors in Taiwan are not willing to go overseas to pastor the overseas churches, all these factors combined to result in a shortage of pastors to administer Taiwanese churches across Northern America. Rev Lee also found that most of the first generation Taiwanese immigrant want to return Taiwan to retire when they grow aged.

In order to learn whether NTPC should become a church to root deep in America or return home in Taiwan, a cruise seminar was therefore held to figure out the future through thematic speech, insightful discussion and biblical messages.

Rev Chuang Ya-tang, the key-note speaker of the seminar, who had administered the Chesterbrook Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Northern Virginia for more than two years. Under the theme of “Exploring the issues of the Rise and Fall of Taiwanese Immigrant Churches in North America from a Biblical Theological Perspective”, Rev Chuang led the audience to reflect and think via the immigration stories of the Bible.

(Photo by NTPC)

Rev Chuang quoted various biblical examples, ranging from Adam and Eve’s launch of human immigration, when they left the Garden of Eden; to Abraham who immigrated because of God’s calling, and become the father of faith; to Jacob, who immigrated to escape his brother’s killings; to Joseph who was sold as an immigrant by his jealous brothers; to Ruth, as an immigrant bride; to the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah as the captive immigrants; to Jesus, when his parents fled to Egypt when he was born; and until Jesus traveled around to preach as he grew up.” As a matter of fact, Rev Chuang concluded, “Christians are also strangers and sojourners in this world.”

Rev Chuang also pointed out the significance, development and challenges of Taiwanese immigrant churches in the United States. On the backdrops of global immigration history, he indicated that 49% of international immigrants are Christians, and among Taiwanese immigrants in the United States, 74% have a college degree. In particular, the average annual salary of Taiwanese Americans is US$68,089, and 76% of Taiwanese Americans own their own houses.

Based on Rev Hsu Jun-fu ’s observations of the immigrant churches’ historical pattern, “rise, fall and change”, Rev Chuang detailed the Immigrant churches’ drawbacks, including immigrants Christians were busy to make a living and overlook the faithful life; lacking a strong affiliation or loyalty to their own churches; stressing the church function of ethnic cohesion and community support over the function of evangelical mission; and church members lost in gossips, divisions and disputes; unconscious of the social realities of Taiwan and US; aging of the old immigrants; absence of the second generation to participate into the church ministry and etc.

Rev Chuang listed challenges currently faced by the immigrant churches in US, such as the decrease of new immigrants, 53% of first-generation immigrants returning to Taiwan to retire, weak Taiwanese language ministries and services, the impact of the digital age, impacts of COVID-19 pandemic still lingers, drastic changes in Taiwan’s international situation and etc.

Therefore, Rev Chuang urged the immigrant churches to hear and respond to the Great Commandment(Matt 22:37~40) and the Great Commission(Matt 28:19~20): the Great Commandment shall be followed as the norm for practicing the Great Commission, and the Great Commission shall be practiced as the fulfillment of the Great Commandment.

Meanwhile, Rev Chuang suggested: The immigrant churches must adjust language policies in church properly, in order to train and cultivate the next generation accordingly; church leaders should create programs and activities that generate cultural contents for people to learn and inherit; digital tools should be well utilized for ministries. “Whether to root deep or to return home, this is time for a critical decision for the future of immigrant churches! ”, pleads Rev Chuang.

(Photo by NTPC)


Rev Chen Hao-der, pastor of Ann Abor Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, also shared his thoughts in a speech entitled as “Root Deep or Return Home? A perspective from the church within the Central Plains Area of the United States”

Rev Ho Sah, pastor of Fong-Lin Church in Hualien, Taiwan, was invited to share the immigrant stories of the 228 victim, Dr Chang Chi-lang, his family’s migration, settlement and contributions in eastern Taiwan. During this trip to the United States, Rev Ho Sah also made a special trip to visit the descendants of Dr Chang Chi-lang.

Rev Chris Romine, deputy director of Racial Equality and Women’s Ministry of PC(USA), quoted Luke 10:1-9 to encourage the assembly: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” He urged everyone to preach the gospel diligently.

Rev. Ralph Su, secretary of Ministry of Asian Diverse Ministries of Mission Department of PC(USA), affirmed the historical significance of this meeting that NTPC members were invited to focus on how to work hard, serve well and root deep in the promised land of God!

Translated by Peter Wolfe

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Submitted by:Taiwan Church Press
 
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