Jonathan and Emily Seitz

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Mission co-workers in Taiwan since 2009
Serving at the invitation of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan

Contact: Jonathan Seitz  (jonathan.seitz@pcusa.org)
Contact: Emily Seitz (emily.seitz@pcusa.org)

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Jonathan and Emily next plan to be in the U.S. in July-August 2017. Email them to invite them to speak with your congregation.

About Jonathan and Emily Seitz’s ministry
Since 2009 Jonathan and Emily Seitz have served at the invitation of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan. Jonathan teaches at the Taiwan Theological Seminary in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. Most of Jonathan’s students are preparing for pastoral ministry.

Taiwan Seminary traces its history to 1872. Students are about evenly split between men and women. About a quarter of the students are first-generation Christians while others trace their faith back five or six generations. Students are mostly ethnically Taiwanese, but there are also a mix of “indigenous” and international students. After graduation ministry students draw straws to determine in which part of Taiwan they will begin their ministry, and they are usually assigned to rural churches. Jonathan teaches classes related to mission, religion, and world Christianity.

The Presbyterian Church of Taiwan traces its history to English and Canadian missions that began in the 1860s and 1870s. About 90 missionaries from the PC(USA) (or its predecessors) have served in Taiwan during the last 70 years. Early Presbyterians started churches, schools, and hospitals that continue to minister today. The PC(USA) has had special involvement in campus ministry, aborigine work, and theological education. The Presbyterian Church of Taiwan is known for its commitment to witness, social transformation, and contextualization.

Country Context
Taiwan is an island nation that sits between China, Japan, and the Philippines. One of the “four dragons” of East Asia, Taiwan is known for its rapid economic change. Taiwan has been repeatedly colonized over the last 400 years. The legacy of this colonization is a country that is multilingual and ethnically diverse. Taiwan’s international status is ambiguous. A vibrant “sunflower movement” influenced discussions about global trade and Taiwan’s relationship to China in 2014. Taiwan elected its first female president, Tsai Ing-wen, in 2016. Major questions for the future include Taiwan’s relationship to China and the global community, changing demographics (a low birth rate, rising immigration, an aging population), and social change.

About Emily and Jonathan Seitz
The Seitzes have often been moved by the passion of ministry students for the work they do. “One of the biggest influences on my prayer life,” says Jonathan, “was being part of the seminary community at Taiwan Theological Seminary. At meals and before classes, during Bible studies and in worship, Taiwanese students and teachers prayed. Taiwanese sometimes pray kaikou, or ‘open mouthed,’ a format where the whole group or congregation will sort of mumble their prayers together. At first this seemed quite alien to me, and only gradually did it become familiar and even meaningful. The time we spent as part of this community reconverted me.”

Emily’s background includes a mix of social work, volunteering, and librarianship. Emily did her M.LIS. and Ph.D. at Rutgers University (N.J.), working at several public libraries along the way. She has been especially interested in work with children and youth, with school and public libraries, with the rise of social media, and with cultural studies. She had earlier studied in Ecuador and was a Jesuit Volunteer working with immigrants in Atlanta. Emily is a visiting fellow this year at Aletheia University, a Presbyterian university in Tamsui.

Jonathan was born in Congo but grew up in the U.S. He was baptized in Tshiluba and the church gave him his first introduction to the broader world. Jonathan did his Ph.D. at Princeton Theological Seminary in a subsection of its History Department. He was a lecturer at Princeton University, assisting professors with classes on Buddhism and the history of modern East Asia. He also taught classes on world Christianity and the ecumenical movement as an adjunct at Princeton Theological Seminary. Jonathan writes on Christianity in Asia. He co-edited the book Asia in the Making of Christianity and is a member of the steering committee for the American Academy of Religions’ “Chinese Christianities” Seminar.

Jonathan and Emily met at The College of Wooster in Ohio.  Jonathan was ordained as a minister during regular worship at Grace Taiwanese-American Presbyterian Church in 2005, and Emily became an elder in 2007, when they worshipped at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Trenton. Samuel attends a bilingual elementary school in Taipei and the twins are in kindergarten at a Mandarin-language Catholic school.

Birthdays:
Emily – June 6
Jonathan – June 29
Samuel – March 21
Eva – October 29
Eli – October 29