Tuesday, 18 July 2017

More than crunchy jellyfish

Many of the facebook posts that I have published during the Conference of the World Federation of Chinese Methodist Churches have been about food or have been pictures of groups sharing meals together. The food has been wonderful and sometimes very interesting. Jellyfish was surprisingly crunchy, the whole roast pig was dramatic, crayfish balls were delicious, eating whole king size prawns with chopsticks was challenging.

Talking with Revd Lawrence Law(UK), Revd Boh Che Suan (Former President of MC in Malaysia) & his wife
The fellowship around the table has been important and stimulating. I have talked with delegates from Malaysia. Sarawak, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, America, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong.
With Dr Raymond Chung-I Chen, General Secretary of the 7th Mission Conference & Revd Lawrence Law
 Many of those conversations have been about mission, the theme of the conference. I have learned a lot and shared a lot. I have networked and made good contacts. I have been warmly and generously received, standing out as one of very few (I think only 2) who were clearly not Chinese and could not speak or understand Mandarin. I have written pages of notes which need to be written up, thought through and then shared as appropriate.

Bible Study, Monday
Every morning began at 8.15 with worship and a bible study. The bible studies were excellent and thought provoking and I especially enjoyed the one on the final day. I would love to be able to give you the names of the speakers but they are written in Mandarin on the programme and Google Translate is not at all helpful with names (Wan enrich Pastor and Bell Blog state professor don't make any sense!) I will try to find out but it will take time.

Following the Bible study and group discussion there was a tea break at 9.45. Friends, this was not tea, coffee and biscuits. This was a selection of hot and cold drinks and a wide and bountiful selection of pastries, fish balls and other delicious chinese food, it was a veritable feast - abundant generosity and generous hospitality.

The second session on each morning was the key note address. These three addresses were given by a Malaysian Professor of theology and his themes were:
  • Re-examining the holistic gospel
  • The clash of civilizations
  • The rise of China and its significance for the world mission of Chinese Christians
With Dorothy one of the translators
Our translators were Cantonese speakers translating from mandarin to English, they were excellent but the key note addresses were particularly difficult. The speaker was clearly superb, he also used quite a lot of humour much of which involved puns on Mandarin words and other Chinese dialects, translation was often impossible. I have a good idea of the content of the first lecture, absolutely no idea of the content of the second and my understanding of the third was hindered by my lack of knowledge of Chinese history.

We discovered on the cultural evening that the key note speaker also had a superb singing voice and he introduced the second and third lectures with song. It was wonderful to be able to join in on the third occasion as we sang, in English, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?"

We had lunch in different places. On the first day we spent the first hour of the lunch break in prayer for those working as mission partners and then went for a "light lunch" of sandwiches, fruit, pastries, and ice creams. This was served in the Methodist college, opposite Kowloon Methodist Church where we were meeting for conference sessions. On the second and third days (excluding Sunday) we divided into two groups, each group having a Chinese buffet one day and Dim Sum on the other.

On both Friday and Saturday afternoon we attended two workshops having chosen from an extensive list. I chose from those that had English translation available or were given in English:
  • How Chinese Methodist churches see homosexuality
  • The role of proclamation in mission
  • How Methodists see individual piety and social justice
  • Ministry among migrant workers (Indonesian and Filipino)
Dinner was served in a number of different venues and was always sumptuous and then, in the evening on Saturday and Sunday we heard reports from the different areas represented in the conference and from the various sub-committees. On Thursday evening the welcome dinner was in the context of a cultural evening, each area giving a performance. The performances included a traditional dragon dance, three operatic performances and a variety of other songs and dances.
Dancing by delegates from Taiwan

Some of the delegates from the UK, they sang for us.
Cantonese Opera

 On Sunday we went to different churches to worship. I went to the Methodist International Church where the senior pastor is Revd Eden Fletcher, he was stationed in Newcastle until recently. I will blog separately about the service. After lunch in the church I joined a city tour which was interesting as there was no translation! Fortunately I sat next to one of the other delegates from the UK and she was able to translate for me when I really needed to hear something. Here are some pictures from the tour:
View from the Peak
View from the Peak


The closing service
On Monday afternoon there were no workshops but we heard more about mission ventures by the Chinese churches. We then went to a fairly local restaurant for dinner and walked back to the church through a torrential sub-tropical downpour, I was soaked to the skin (literally), the umbrella had no chance! The conference then ended with a revival meeting and closing service.The President of the Methodist Church in Hong Kong preached, there was beautiful singing and prayer and a sending out and rededication after we shared communion. We left at 11.15pm and were given gifts of holding crosses and ice cream as we left.

The holding cross, engraved with Chinese characters for faith, hope and love

This has been a rich and varied experience. I am privileged to be here, I have talked with many people, prayed with many people and have a deeper understanding of aspects of Chinese culture.

No comments:

Post a Comment