Monday, 2 December 2013

Art for Advent (2): ‘Christ and
the Tsunami’ by Georgia Lelou

‘Christ and the Tsunami’ … an icon written by Georgia Lelou

Patrick Comerford

I have chosen as my work of art for Advent today [2 December 2013] the icon of ‘Christ and the Tsunami.’ The icon was written by Georgia Lelou and was donated by the Panhellenic Union of Iconography to the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.

As I look at a copy of this icon at home, it reminds me of the terrible and continuing suffering of the people of the Philippines and other parts of south-east Asia following the devastation of last month’s typhoon.

I was first given a copy of this icon by Metropolitan Nikitas (Lulias) of Dardanellia, who is the Director of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute in Berkeley, California, while he was the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia (1997-2007). He was born in Tampa, Florida, in 1955, into a family from the Greek island of Pserimos. He has studied at the University of Florida, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Massachusetts, and the University of Thessaloniki. We have met at different times in Rome and in Hong Kong.

His missionary work in Hong Kong, China and south-east Asia was pioneering and ground-breaking.

Coincidentally, today, the calendar of the Episcopal Church (TEC) remembers Bishop Channing Moore Williams (1829-1910), a pioneering and ground-breaking Episcopalian missionary in China and Japan over a century earlier.

Moore was a farmer’s son, and was born in Richmond, Virginia on 17 July 1829. He attended the College of William and Mary and the Virginia Theological Seminary. He was ordained deacon in 1855 and priest in China in 1857.

In 1859, Williams was sent to begin missionary work in Nagasaki, Japan. In 1866, he was consecrated Bishop of China and Japan.

Following the Meiji restoration in Japan two years later in 1868, Japan began to open up to far greater contact with the West than before. Williams decided he could achieve best results by concentrating his efforts on Japan

In 1874 a new bishop, Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewski, was consecrated for China. Williams went to Tokyo, then called Edo, and there he founded Saint Paul’s University, now known as Rikkyo University.

At a synod in 1878 he grought together the English and American Anglican missionary efforts to form the Nippon Sei Ko Kai or the Holy Catholic Church, the Anglican Church in Japan, although the Church then had fewer than 1,000 communicant members.

Williams translated parts of the Book of Common Prayer into Japanese, and he assisted Bishop Schereschewski in translating the Bible into Chinese.

His health began to fail, and in 1889 he asked to be relieved. After his successor, Bishop John McKim, was appointed in 1893, he continued to live in Kyoto, helping to open new mission stations, and he only returned to the US in 1908. He died two years in Richmond on 2 December 1910. His statue stands in Saint Paul’s University, Tokyo.


Isaiah 49: 22–23; Acts 1 :1-9; Psalm 96: 1-7; Luke 10: 1-9.


Almighty and everliving God, we thank you for your servant Channing Moore Williams, whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of China and Japan. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tomorrow: ‘The Light of the World,’ by William Holman Hunt.

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