Reyes-Chow and his family — wife Robin Pugh and daughters Evelyn, Abigail, and Analise — will also travel to Taiwan and Hong Kong. They will be accompanied by David Hudson, the denomination’s area coordinator for Asia/Pacific, and Nancy Eng MacNeill, an associate in the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.
“It’s quite exciting on many levels for me,” Reyes-Chow told the Presbyterian News Service, adding that he hopes the journey will be a chance for him to gather firsthand knowledge to bring back to the United States.
He will speak with government officials as well as church partners and grassroots organizers to learn more about topics ranging from human rights to the commonalities between Presbyterian churches in the United States and Asia.
Although some people have suggested places he should visit during the trip, Reyes-Chow said he isn’t forcing an agenda. With 10 days to visit the countries — four days each in the Philippines and Taiwan and two days in Hong Kong — the trip will be a “whirlwind,” he said.
“My main focus is to learn and speak intelligently about what’s going on,” Reyes-Chow said.
And he plans to start that communication while still overseas. Reyes-Chow expects to start posting to his moderator blog Feb. 9. Depending on his phone’s cooperation, he might also update his Twitter account.
Once back in the States, Reyes-Chow said he’ll keep up the communication, and he expects that his experiences will open doors for new speaking engagements.
One of the traditions of the moderator’s office is to take one international trip a year. Past trips and personal ties are factors in deciding where to go, as well as current issues affecting countries. In the Philippines, civil rights issues have been impacting members of the clergy. His family roots in the country also were appealing to Reyes-Chow.
“We wanted to go where our actual presence would be of some use,” he said.
Reyes-Chow said his three daughters — ages 12, 7 and 5 — are excited to see more of their Filipino heritage and have been asked to speak to Sunday school classes about life as the children of a Presbyterian pastor and moderator. They are also prepared to immerse themselves in another culture. His oldest daughter will have to wear dresses or skirts in public, something she’s unaccustomed to at home in San Francisco, Reyes-Chow said.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has played a great role in the development of churches around the world, Reyes-Chow said, and he expects to see the response from locals about the impacts of the PC(USA), perhaps in many ways that he has not experienced in the United States.
“As being moderator has opened my eyes about the entire denomination, this is just one more opportunity to see more,” he said.
Feb. 9 — departure (arriving Manila Feb. 10) Feb. 10 — meet
with officers of the United Church of Christ in the
Philippines (UCCP); visit with PC(USA) mission workers;
meet with human rights workers and advocates.
Feb. 11 — historical tour of Manila; meet with UCCP
programmatic workers, dinner with members of UCCP Ellinwood
Feb. 12 — meet with government officials, reunion with
friends and relatives.
Feb. 13 — depart for Taipei, Taiwan; dinner with
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) leaders and staff.
Feb. 14 — travel to Taichung and visit Chang-Shan
Presbyterian Church and “Joyce Home”; travel to Chu-Tang
and visit Chu-Tang Presbyterian Church; travel to Tainan
and visit Sin-Lau Christian Hospital; dinner with PCT
Feb. 15 — worship at Min-Chu-Lu Presbyterian Church and
Dong-Ning Presbyterian Church; tour Tainan City; return to
Feb. 16 — visit 228 Peace Park and Museum, Liberty Plaza;
visit East Gate Presbyterian Church; visit Taiwan
Theological College and Seminary; visit PCT General
Assembly office and meet with church officials; dinner
hosted by moderator of PCT General Assembly.
Feb. 17 — travel from Taipei to Hong Kong.
Feb. 18 — visit with officials of the Hong Kong Council of
Church of Christ in China; meet with officials of the Amity
Foundation; meet with Hong Kong Christian Council; dinner
with Hong Kong church leaders.
Feb. 19 — travel from Hong Kong to San Francisco.