“Taiwan Jubilee: Saints Celebrate 50 Years,” Ensign, July 2006, 77
Melvin C. Fish was one of the first four missionaries to set foot in Taiwan. He was also the first Relief Society president—just one of the many privileges that come with opening a new mission in a new land. Now, 50 years later, there are nine stake Relief Society presidents. Those 50 years are also marked by the creation of three missions, construction of a temple, and membership approaching 50,000.
From those first 4 elders in 1956 to almost 400 elders in 2006, missionaries and members are celebrating half a century of the gospel in Taiwan.
“And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you,” Elder Ho Yu-Chen, an Area Seventy, reads from Leviticus 25:10 as he talks about events to commemorate 50 years of the Church in Taiwan.
Members and missionaries are invited to pedal from Taitung or Hangchuen, depending on the route, all the way to Taipei in the Taiwan Legacy Bike Relay.
“Two missionaries riding bikes have been the symbol of our Church in Taiwan,” Elder Ho explains. Missionaries are even pictured on bicycles in children’s textbooks in Taiwan.
As such, the Taiwan Jubilee logo features two missionaries on bikes, and the relay requires missionary-standard clothing, including helmets with reflective stickers. With team leaders carrying flags and a support car trailing, they expect to receive some local media coverage. The journey, from July 31 to August 7, requires a six-or seven-hour ride of about 50 miles (80 km) per day, finishing at the Taipei Taiwan Temple.
Officially, the summer events kicked off in May with historic firesides taking place in three key locations: Kaohsiung, Taichung, and Taipei, culminating in a dedication commemoration at the Grand Hotel in Taipei on June 3. This is believed to be the site where Elder Mark E. Petersen, an Apostle, dedicated Taiwan to the preaching of the gospel on June 1, 1959.
Several cultural performances are planned in July and August, featuring drama, dancing, and a 50-member orchestra, in addition to member-missionary reunions, leader appreciation dinners, and the much-anticipated islandwide youth conference.
“We focus on that because that’s the future of our Church,” Elder Ho says of the youth conference. Coordinating with three Especially for Youth trainers from Brigham Young University, organizers plan on more than 1,000 youth attending.