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Council of the Church of East Asia meets in Hong Kong ahead of dual anniversary celebrations

Posted on: October 20, 2023 5:36 PM
Archbishop Andrew Chan
Photo Credit: Asia News

Celebrations are being held in Hong Kong to commemorate the 180th anniversary of the arrival of Anglicanism in Hong Kong and the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, the Anglican Church in Hong Kong. The theme is “The Lord is the rock and the church is the home”. A thanksgiving service and dinner will be held on 23 October.  Celebrations will be preceded by the assembly meeting of the Council of the Church of East Asia (CCEA). 

The history of Anglicanism in Hong Kong and Macau dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. The first colonial chaplain was appointed in 1843. The Church their became a Province of the Anglican Communion in 1998 and was inaugurated in a colourful liturgy on 25 October. The then-Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, was present and so too were guests from across the Communion. 

The then-Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Canon John Peterson read the mandate giving the metropolitical authority to the new Province. The celebration marked the enthronement and recognition of the election of the new Primate, Archbishop Peter Kwong. The Province includes the Dioceses of Hong Kong Island, Eastern Kowloon and Western Kowloon and the Missionary area of Macau. 

Archbishop Peter Kwong retired on 31 December 2006 and Paul Kwong, who was later elected Chair of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee, was selected as the second Archbishop. He retired in January 2021 and was succeeded by Archbishop Andrew Chan. 

On a visit to Hong Kong in 2013, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, praised Anglicans in the Province for their “pioneering” work with refugees and migrants which he said offered “leadership to the whole Anglican Communion.” 

During the height of the Covid pandemic, the current Archbishop of Hong Kong, Andrew Chan, spoke of its impact on communities in his Easter message. He said: “the pandemic has also affected the livelihoods of many. The rate of unemployment in Hong Kong is at its highest for the past 17 years. The bustling streets are now empty. We thought that with the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines, the pandemic would be brought under control. However the situation continues to fluctuate, leaving us perplexed and helpless. Indeed, ‘it is still dark!’” 

He continued: “the pandemic will overshadow our lives for some time to come but do not let your faith in life and in Jesus Christ be shaken by the ever-changing outside influences. Our faith is based on the reliable and unchangeable God and is rooted in Jesus Christ who promises to walk with us. In God we have the courage, patience, and confidence to face the rough road ahead and experience the mysterious guidance of God in this path of trial and tribulation.” 

The anniversary will be marked with a celebratory service at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai. The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Anthony Poggo, will deliver a sermon during the service, which will be attended by people from across the province and the wider Anglican Communion. 

Ahead of the anniversary celebrations, the Council of the Church in East Asia (CCEA) have today (Thursday) begun their quadrennial conference, which will continue to Sunday (22 October). The assembly brings together archbishops, bishops, assistant bishops, clergy, and lay people from the Anglican churches in South East Asia, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan as well as representatives from the two associate members of CCEA: the Anglican Church of Australia and the Philippine Independent Church, which is in full communion with the Anglican Communion. 

The theme of this year’s CCEA assembly is “You shall be my witnesses to the end of the earth”. In the past, CCEA conference themes have focused on poverty and migration, peace and justice.