From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Taiwanese Christian Takes Buddhist University Presidency

From Taiwan Church News <>
Date Mon, 06 Jan 2003 09:13:53 +0800

Taiwan Church News 2653, January 5, 2003
Reported by Gu Hao-ran. Translated and rewritten by David

   "I still don't know why I came to Tzu-chi." Dr. Fang
Jyu-hsiung (Png Kiok-hiong), an elder in the Presbyterian Church
in Taiwan (PCT) who has been acting president of Tzu-chi Buddhist
University since August, was formally installed in the post on
December 4th.  Ten years ago, when  he chose to return to Taiwan
from North Americam, he went to work for the Tzu-chi Buddhist
Welfare Association at its university.	Over this decade he has
over and over said that he trusts his life and work have been
guided by God.
   When Dr. Fang's confirmation as university president presented
him with some faith related hesitancy university board members
assured him, "we are not afraid that you are a Christian, we
would fear more if you had no faith of any kind." Upon hearing
this, he accepted the appointment.
   Years ago in North America, because of his associations, he
was reported by an anonymous agent and placed on the "black list"
of Taiwan's then ruling Nationalist Party. The listing prevented
him from returning to Taiwan.  When the ban was lifted he applied
for an open faculty position in genetics, his specialist field,
at Tzu-chi University.
   Since he neither neglected nor denied his faith stance in his
early years at the school, how can anyone be concerned that he
will do so now in th president's office?     No matter what may
subsequently develop, he is firm in his commitment.  He says,
"Whether or not Tzu-chi University is a Buddhist institution, or
whether or not the people who belong to the association are
considered 'exalted' or recognized as doctors of Buddhist
doctrine, from the standpoint of love, they hold much in common
with Christians.  They rise and fall with Tzu-chi, and I respect
their integrity."
   Dr. Fang recognizes that in his position he must walk with
care.  There are many religious ceremonies that are part of the
university's life. He says, "Some of these are not in accord with
Christian faith." He says he will operate in a spirit of
cooperation but not full participation.  As he sees it, "This is
essential to the maintenance of my own faith."	As opportunities
present themselves, he will openly testify to his faith and his
experience as a member of the PCT.
   In discussion of the work of the Tzu-chi Association's
humanitarian relief operations, he believes that all religions
should cooperate.  He sees no need to promote the relief work of
either Tzu-chi or the Presbyterian Church over the other.  "When
the society has met a disaster, it matters not from where the
relief comes.  Tzu-chi has been prepared at times of crisis.  Its
members have their assignments. All it needs is for an officer of
the association to give orders, and they are at work.  The
Presbyterian system is not so quick to respond.  It must organize
for the task and observe policies.  This delays things."  But, he
believes, each organization has its own strengths.
   Apart from Dr. Fang, Tzu-chi University employs five or six
other confessing Christians on its faculty.  The Christian
students there also have their own club.
There used to be a faculty Christian association which held
weekly meetings, but schedule conflicts have prevented its
meeting for several years.
   In accepting the office of university president, Dr. Fang
promises to look to the school's future growth, including
continued improvement in teaching, campus development and whole
person education.

For More Information: Tzu-Chi Buddhist University

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