As Bishop Michael Ingham holds a microphone for him, Bishop David Lai of Taiwan speaks to the final session of Diocesan Synod. (Julie H. Ferguson photo)
Bishop David Lai of Taiwan is a strong believer in the teaching power of symbols -and the healing gifts of laughter. He informally addressed Synod 2009 as the late afternoon temperature in St. Mary's, Kerrisdale began to rise.

The delegates and officials, some a bit weary from a full afternoon, looked up expectantly.

Bishop Lai held high a pectoral cross. "These we present to every new member we receive. It is their Confirmation Cross. It is a visible reminder of who they are now. I get them in Malaysia. You can't buy these in Taiwan."

The House, not for the first time, echoed with the peals of laughter that seem to follow Bishop David like a flock of sea birds chasing a returning trawler. As is his habit, he had said many things in a few words.

Bishop David further remarked by how moved he was by the evident joy he felt in the House from all present, specifically; "No conflict, no argue, no fighting!"

Visiting the Diocese of New Westminster is one more high point on David Lai's long journey in the Year of the Ox. In the Diocese of Taiwan 2009 is officially dedicated to "Training and nurture of Clergy, Evangelists and Church members."

The visit comes as Bishop Lai's diocese and the Diocese of New Westminster are coming to the end of a partnership agreement signed at the May 2000 Diocesan Synod by the bishop (then still a coadjutor bishop) and renewed in 2005.

Several exchanges have taken place, many sponsored by the diocesan Partners in Mission unit. A visit to Taiwan by youth in 2002 was reciprocated in 2005 when a dozen Taiwanese youth came to BC.

As the leader of the Episcopal Church in Taiwan, Bishop David does not limit his mission to his home island. His messages of encouragement and uplift, along with the laughter, travel with him everywhere he goes. This year he has observed conflict and the results of conflict at close hand.

His optimistic good humour did not desert him when, despite severe fighting at the time, he refused to cancel a long planned pilgrimage to the Holy Land. For nine days Bishop David led a group of 28 intrepid pilgrims through the cities and sites of Israel, Egypt and Jordan during the Chinese New Year holiday period. Their visit took them to Gaza in the immediate aftermath of the fighting.

At the conclusion of his remarks the well-travelled bishop presented our Bishop Michael with one of the newly-published Bibles (complete with Apocrypha) awarded to the best individuals and families for their performance on the text exams. Bishop Ingham also received on behalf of the diocese a sculpture depicting twin fish symbolically arched over a cross.

Bishop Michael presented Mr. Lai with a commemorative tie and for his grandchildren several Vancouver Winter Olympic 2009 items.

We will remember his visit fondly. And in the thousands of prayers we offer weekly with our partners in Taiwan give thanks for his ministry of symbols.