A celebratory banquet was held in October at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park Marriott Hotel to mark 180 years of the arrival of Anglicanism to Hong Kong and 25 years of the founding of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, the Anglican Communion member church Hong Kong. The theme for this double celebration was “The Lord is the Rock and the Church is the Home”.
The Diocesan Boys School Chinese Drum Band kicked off the evening by performing “Praise Him with Drums”. They were followed by Saint Paul’s Co-educational School orchestra and children’s choirs from the HKSKH’s three dioceses – Eastern Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, Western Kowloon – and the Macao missionary area. They sang “Towards a New Era”, the theme song for the founding of the province. The song expressed gratitude to the Lord’s presence in the Hong Kong Anglican Communion from the past to the present.
The Masters of Ceremonies for the evening were senior pastor of Holy Trinity Cathedral Li On-yip, the principal of Anglican Lee Siu-keung Primary School, Chen Xiaoyan, and the service director of the Hong Kong Anglican Communion Welfare Association Tam Chi-yun.
In his welcome speech, Archbishop Chen Yuming (Andrew Chan) said: “the banquet is of special significance to Christians, because Jesus revealed his supreme love at the banquet; and the Eucharist in thanksgiving is to celebrate this mystery, regardless of whether you are from the East or the West. The fact that we can share a meal represents the cultural cornerstone of fellowship and love in the world. The moment we enjoy the love feast, there is only communion without conflict. The moment we raise our glasses and drink, we are even strangers. We must also become friends; the moment of sharing chopsticks and chewing together is a wonderful moment of meeting old friends again.”
He thanked all walks of life for their friendship, the officials of the Special Administrative Region government and the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government, Christian organisations in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, and members of various denominations and religious groups.
Representatives, bishops and pastors from the global Anglican Communion and the Council of the Church of East Asia (CCEA) were present, including the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Anthony Poggo, who preached at the celebratory Eucharist.
The event’s officiating guest was the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Chan Kwok-kee. In his speech, he praised the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui for its efforts in providing diversified services to improve the quality of life of Hong Kong citizens over the past 180 years. While providing high-quality education, it also provides services for young children, social welfare services and community development services for their families, youth and seniors.
He specifically mentioned that during the difficult process of Hong Kong’s fight against the pandemic in the past three years, the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui has become an important partner of the government, providing the necessary recognition, care and support to people in need and society. “On behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui for its great contributions to society over the years,” he said.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Chaplain, the Revd Tosin Oladipo, read a message of congratulations on his behalf. Archbishop Justin, who was visiting Jerusalem, apologised for not being able to express his congratulations in person, but the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui and its members were in his prayers, as well as the good servants who faithfully serve the Lord and work hard in shepherding.
He praised the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui as a pioneer in the Anglican Communion. It not only had it ordained the first female priest in the history of the Anglican Communion, the Revd Florence Li Tim-Oi, but also nurtured children and cared for the elderly through school education and social services. He especially remembered that during his visit to Hong Kong in 2013, he personally witnessed the services and care provided by the church to immigrants and refugees.
He also presented a Lambeth Award, The Cross of Saint Augustine, to Archbishop Emeritus Paul Kwong, for services to the Anglican Communion.
In the award citation, Archbishop Justin Welby wrote: “Archbishop Paul Kwong’s ministry as Archbishop of Hong Kong, and Primate of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, has always had an international, as well as internal focus. His support for provinces of the Anglican Communion was evident in his support for the establishment of a Hong Kong branch of the Compass Rose Society, which has done so much to support the Instruments of Communion and a large number of provinces.
“Archbishop Paul was ordained Deacon in 1982, and priest in 1983, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, Kwong Yat-Sau, who was the first Chinese priest in what was then the Diocese of Victoria, which covered Hong Kong and South China. Paul Kwong was consecrated in 2006 to serve as Bishop of Hong Kong Island. One year later he was elected as the second Archbishop of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, succeeding Archbishop Peter Kwong.”
Archbishop-Emeritus Paul was elected Chair of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee at the ACC-16 meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2016, and served until his term of office concluded at ACC-18 in Accra, Ghana, in February this year.
“During his time as Chair, he tackled the problems posed by the Covid-19 pandemic with a reorganisation of the Anglican Communion Office which saw it refocused for mission and offering greater support for provinces and dioceses,” the citation said. “He also saw the Anglican Communion grow from 38 to 42 provinces, with the addition of Sudan, Chile, Alexandria, and Mozambique and Angola.
“When security concerns meant that ACC-17 had to be relocated at short notice, he encouraged his fellow-bishops, clergy and laity to step in and offer to host the plenary in Hong Kong – and delivered a very successful plenary meeting.”
Tosin Oladipo expressed Archbishop Justin’s prayer for everyone in the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui and his hope that the Lord would continue to bear abundant fruits through the HKSKH in the days to come, bringing glory to God.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, announced the establishment of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui as an independent Member Church of the Anglican Communion on 25 October 1998. It became the 38th ecclesiastical province of the Anglican Communion.
At the dinner, the Revd John Peterson, a former Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, read a congratulatory message on behalf of Archbishop Carey. He said that he still clearly remembered the thanksgiving service and celebration of the establishment of the Anglican Province of Hong Kong 25 years ago. It was a solemn and joyful moment. Since then, the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui’s involvement and unique contribution to various Anglican ministries and the Compass Rose Society have brought blessings to other members of the Anglican Communion, giving people a sense of faith and hope and love. Carey was encouraged by the achievements of the HKSKH and extended his blessings to the province’s future ministries.
A short video was played at the dinner that told the brief history of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui over the last 180 years. In addition to pastoral work, the church also adheres to the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is a church that does justice, loves mercy, and walks with God humbly. Since its establishment 25 years ago, the Ministry of Education has received God’s grace and guidance and has made many contributions to Hong Kong society and achieved fruitful results. Looking to the future, the church will continue Christ’s work in the world on the basis of the Lord as the rock and the church as the home.
Finally, all the Anglican archbishops and bishops present sang the “Prayer of Saint Francis” in different languages, praying to the Lord to bring peace to the Holy Land that is being ravaged by war, to release those who are captives of anger, and to be free from hatred. The oppressed shall be freed. I hope that everyone will become sons of peace and bring the blessing of peace to the world, just like the Lord Jesus Christ, who preaches and creates peace as the Prince of Peace.