By Matters India Reporter
Taipei, Nov. 5, 2018: Preparations are underway for the first meeting of the Taiwan Ecumenical Forum for Justice and Peace (TEF) to be held from November 27 to 30.
TEF is being hosted by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) at the Presbyterian Bible College in Hsinchu, Taiwan.
Some 140 participants from Taiwan, Asia-Pacific, Americas, Europe and others parts of the world are expected to attend the forum.
It will begin with an opening worship in the morning on November 28. Reverend Collin Cowan, TEF co-convener and general secretary of the Council for World Mission, will preach at the worship. President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen will bring her greetings to the gathering.
The program is designed to highlight contextual Bible studies, theological reflections, inputs from partner churches in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and the Philippines, presentations on various topics, including Transitional Justice, Indigenous People, Taiwan’s International Status, Broadening Ecumenism, testimonies and reports.
The closing worship and formalities are scheduled for November 30 evening. The preacher for the closing communion service will be Rev. Sandy Sneddon of the Church of Scotland.
As the voices of youth are integral to TEF, a Youth Forum will be held on November 27.
The geo-political context of the upcoming TEF is the simmering political and diplomatic tensions involving Taiwan, unresolved denuclearization issues in the Korean peninsula, military brinkmanship and skirmishes in the South China Sea, that has the potential to threaten regional security and pose grave challenges for world peace and people’s security in the region.
TEF was established early this year as a response to a recommendation by an international consultation on “the mission of the Church in Taiwan today,” held in this north Asian country in February 2017.
TEF serves as a cooperative endeavor of the ecumenical movement in accompanying the PCT mission priority for justice and peace in Taiwan and in East Asia.
As the PCT seeks to be faithful to God’s calling to identify with the suffering of its people and to give an account of its faith (1 Peter 3:15), it seeks the support of its partner churches, regional, global mission and ecumenical agencies.
TEF represents an ecumenical quest and pilgrimage for peace and justice in Taiwan, East Asia and beyond due to the serious regional security challenges and their implications for world peace.
TEF is set up in the spirit of the ecumenical accompaniment programs, such as the Ecumenical Forum on Korea, Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum and the Colombian Peace Process.
The TEF objectives are to:
• Strengthen and widen ecumenical participation for justice and peace in North Asia with Taiwan as a case study in conflict management and resolution
• Serve as a platform of common ecumenical action and advocacy in solidarity with the PCT to seek national dignity, sovereignty and a Taiwanese society built on love, justice and mercy
• 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
• Support PCT priorities for renewing relationships with the Chinese churches and the China Christian Council.
The TEF tasks include initiating dialogue and cooperation among participating Churches, ecumenical bodies and Church agencies for common action for justice and peace in East Asia with specific emphasis on Taiwan; gathering and mobilizing financial resources for the TEF process; and developing and maintaining systematic communications among TEF members.
The co-conveners of TEF’s steering group are Rev Dr Chris Ferguson, general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches and Rev Dr Collin Cowan, general secretary of the Council for World Mission. Other steering group members represent PCT, Mission 21, World Student Christian Federation, Berliner Missionwerk, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Reformed Church, United Church of Christ in Japan, and the partner churches in Korea, the Philippines and PCT.