Taiwan Church News
December 3 – 9, 2018
Taiwan Ecumenical Forum Launched To Pursue Justice And Peace In East Asia
Reported by TCN reporters
A history-breaking ecumenical assembly – Taiwan Ecumenical Forum(TEF) – ever held in Taiwan, entitled as “A prophetic call to journey together with the PCT in pursuit of justice and peace for the people of Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific”, was formally launched at the Presbyterian Bible College from 27 to 30 November, 2018.
About 150 representatives from ecumenical churches, Christian institutes, theological seminaries, and specialists in the ministries of women development, indigenous peoples, climate change, human rights and youth generation were invited to participate and witness this extraordinary journey to pursue justice and peace at a very critical kairos(timing) for Taiwan and East Asia.
Citing the famous biblical story of the fragile, vulnerable and helpless adulteress brought to Jesus(John 8:1-11) at TEF’s opening sermon on November 28, Rev Dr Colin Cowan, General Secretary of Council for World Missions(CWM) and a co-convener of TEF, urged the ecumenical church respond to the interrogation of “What do you say?” from the hypocrite scribes and self-righteous Pharisees with a simple and straightforward answer: “Let justice prevail!”, just like the brave stance echoed many years later by Benjamin Franklin: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
Explaining the cause of this historical TEF assembly, Rev Cowan said:”We are here today because we have made a choice for justice and peace; a choice to be part of the journey with the PCT in its quest and commitment to be the church, walking with Jesus amid the suffering and the brokenness that defines its context and the wider world….In this regard, we are here because we believe in the dignity, the worth and the rights of every human being; and because we believe in the freedom that ought to be accorded to every geopolitical space to legislate and ensure that such basic human conditions are guaranteed and experienced by all.”
After defining the precariously simmering and contentious geopolitical contexts from North Korea to Taiwan and South China Sea faced by TEF, Rev Cowan unveiled the objectives established by the TEF steering group: “to strengthen and widen ecumenical participation in the pilgrimage for justice and peace in North East Asia with Taiwan as a case study in conflict management and resolution; to serve as a platform of common ecumenical action and advocacy in solidarity with the PCT, as it seeks national dignity, national sovereignty and a Taiwanese society built upon a solid foundation of love, justice and mercy; to mobilize and broaden ecumenical and Church support for the transitional justice process for the rights of indigenous peoples and victims in the context of the global ecumenical commitments; and to support PCT priorities for renewing relationships with the Chinese churches and the China Christian Council.”
Rev Cowan emphasized “TEF is, therefore, a statement of defiance, a statement which asserts that we will stand up for that which is right at whatever cost, that we will not be cowered, controlled or coerced into compliance. TEF is a statement of courage, which asserts that we will not be tricked into alliances with the scribes and Pharisees of our time; and that we will not be seduced by the incentives and inducements of empire. TEF is a statement of solidarity, a statement which asserts that we will stand together for justice and peace, even if we are the minority; that we will pray and act in hope together as the followers of Jesus; and we will do that which is right, despite the price; because Frederick William Faber is right: ‘For right is right since God is God and right the day must win; to doubt would be disloyalty, to falter would be sin'”.
Following Rev Cowan’s opening sermon, Taiwan’s Vice President Dr Chen Chien-jen was also invited to deliver a speech to the assembly. Quoting the biblical verses from James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves”, Vice President advise the audience to take concrete actions to transform the consensus of this meeting into practical public policies in order to speak out for the marginalized and the voiceless.
Translated by Peter Wolfe