Bishop David Lai signs partnership agreement while Bishop Michael Ingham looks on.

The Dioceses of New Westminister and Taiwan have now officially  agreed to continue for another five years as partner dioceses within the Anglican Communion.

Bishops Michael Ingham and David Lai signed a partnership agreement during the annual Diocesan Synod of the Diocese in St. Timothy’s Church, Kaohsuing, in the south of Taiwan, on Feb. 17.

The short ceremony followed the Canadian bishop’s sermon at the opening service of the synod, which was translated into Mandarin Chinese for members of the synod who do not speak English.

Bishop Ingham told the synod of about 80 people to expect in a church as large as the Anglican Communion that differences will arise.

“This is not because Christians in one part of the world follow the Bible while Christians in another part of the world do not. All faithful Christians accept the authority of Scripture. But we read Scripture from different historical places. We read through different eyes.”

“This is not a reason to be afraid or angry. God speaks to the church in many ways,” said Bishop Ingham. “Sometimes God speaks from Africa, or Asia, or North America. Sometimes God speaks to the church through the world. The point is, when God speaks we should listen.”

Bishop David Lai while visiting Vancouver.

In January, New Westminster’s Diocesan Council has decided to continue for a second five-year period the relationship with the Diocese of Taiwan. The arrangement has resulted in several visits of youth and other groups, the posting of a New Westminster priest, the Rev. Graham Witcher, to Taiwan for two years, and visits to Vancouver by Taiwan's Bishop David Lai.

Bishop Ingham told his own council that he and Bishop Lai were exploring the possibility of a Taiwanese priest serving in the diocese in the near future to work with Mandarin- speaking Anglicans. In additions, in each diocese, prayers are said on a regular basis for the companion diocese.

The Diocese of Taiwan, while made up of Mandarin speaking Anglicans, is part of the Episcopal Church of the USA.

Bishop Lai participated in the American Church’s General Convention last year and voted against endorsing the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, which was controversial because Bishop Robinson is gay.

However Bishop Lai continues to have good relations with all parts of the Anglican Communion, and has refused those who have urged him to condemn the Diocese of New Westminster for deciding to bless same sex unions.