Building Community in Taipei

25 06 2011

Bill Gunlock with members of Community of Christ-sponsored Community in Taipei

by BILL GUNLOCK, Maple Grove, Minnesota, USA

It’s sipping and eating chicken-claw soup and a concoction of corn silk and watermelon rinds, two ancient Chinese recipes to treat illnesses.

It’s singing a Taiwanese folksong with some Chan (Zen) Buddhist monks and nuns at a monastery in south central Taiwan.

It’s singing American and Chinese folksongs with wealthy business people at a high-class karaoke center.

It’s being inspired by 18-year-old Johnson Sun, who takes two buses for the hour trek across Greater Taipei to be in Community…and returns home late.

Community is where relationships enrich people’s lives. Community is the name of our Community of Christ-sponsored get-togethers on Saturday nights.

April marked the 35th anniversary of my first arrival in Taipei, which lasted almost 10 years. I vowed to immerse myself in the Taiwanese culture. Today, at age 71, I still hold that philosophy. My return to Taipei brings much satisfaction…and deep and varied relationships.

World Service Corps invited me to volunteer support in the Taipei Community of Christ, known in Taiwan as Fu Yuan Jesu Jidu Jiao Hwei. I recently had retired as an educator—English as a Second Language, English/language arts, and part-time corrections teacher. I taught students from kindergarten through the first two years of college. They came from many cultures.

I didn’t choose these careers accidentally. In my childhood, my parents taught me that whatever I chose to do I should dedicate those skills for service to the Divine and our church. I’m still reaping the benefits of that approach.

Saturday evenings in my home, we have Community of Christ-sponsored Community. Varied activities encourage intimacy among individuals and groups. We respect our diversity—mainland Chinese, Taiwanese, foreigners, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Chinese traditional religion practitioners, and non-believers. Community is a holding pond to establish authentic relationships.

We don’t talk religion, though the church’s nine Enduring Principles are also Community’s. Folks sing, practice their spoken and written English, have fun, and eat. Community includes singing in three languages, oral reports of events and issues related to the nine principles, a lesson in English writing or speech, and time for quiet meditation for wellness and well-being.

Inevitably, someone wants to hear more about the sponsoring church. After three months, two Bible classes have formed. Another is being planned. They will become vehicles for the Divine’s workings and for sharing the gifts of our church.

It’s already happening. Chi Ming, Angela, and their 18-year-old son bring groceries to a member low on money. Le Wei encourages and supports 14-year-old Hsi Chao by attending his school play. Hsi Chao volunteers to help younger members with their English writing skills. Ten- and 11-year old Allan and Joseph Chueh volunteer to do deacon-like jobs. With the authority of being elders, Ben Hwa and I share our gifts of healing.

I will end with a story. I asked Kwan Chuan and his girlfriend, Wen Nin, “Why do you give so much time to motor scooter across town to my home to treat my sciatic soreness? And why do you bring the chicken-claw soup and watermelon rind-corn silk tea and spend two hours cooking it and massaging my leg?”

They had three answers. One: they were impressed that I gave up the comforts of my American home and family to come to Taipei to be a long-term volunteer. Second: I dropped some coins into a Buddhist nun’s begging bowl. The third was interesting.

Kwan Chuan said his ancestors led bands of marauders in Taiwan. By doing good works as a model for generations ahead, he and his father now want to turn that heritage around.

Kwan Chuan’s unselfish ministrations to people like me brought an unexpected return. His father, who formerly had distanced himself from his son, now has reconciled their relationship. Kwan Chuan is now to be the next son in the ancestral line to teach the ancient Chinese therapies kept in their family for generations.

Kwan Chuan and Wan Nin saw the Divine at work in their goodness. Understanding the relationship of goodness to the Divine is one of their goals. They will be two of those starting Bible classes.




One response

27 06 2011
Susan Mullins

Hi! I am a church member in Atlanta and have a good friend in Taipei who would like to met this group He is a Buddhist monk and speaks some English and would like to meet others. Can you connect me with the author of this artlcle or provide any information about when the group meets, location, or a phone number in Taipei??

My email is or cell 904-993-5688

Thanks very much!!
Susan Mullins

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