This Sunday (22 March) in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, we pray for the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui – the Anglican Church in Hong Kong – and Macau. The Archbishop of Hong Kong and Bishop of Hong Kong Island, Archbishop Paul Kwong, introduces his province and sets out items for prayer.
In this season of Lent, everyone in Hong Kong is concerned about the new Corona virus, COVID-19. It began in Wuhan, China at the end of December and by late January we saw our first cases in Hong Kong and Macau. As of this writing, it has spread all over the world, with very serious outbreaks in Korea, Iran and Italy, as well as China. We pray for all of those who are suffering from the virus, and we pray especially for the frontline medical workers.
The number of confirmed cases of the virus in Hong Kong and Macau is still low. This is due to the effective social distancing promoted by the Hong Kong government to contain the outbreak. As a result, government offices and many businesses encouraged people to work from home, although this policy is now ending. Our schools are closed until after Easter.
Our churches stay open, but we have not met for public worship since mid-February. Many priests, church staff, teachers and social service workers are working from home, but priests continue to make pastoral visits. We ask for your prayers for the people of Hong Kong, and for the economic hardships we are experiencing due to the decline of business and industry. Small locally owned shops and businesses have been especially hard hit.
Our churches have been contributing funds and resources to help alleviate virus-related problems in mainland China. We are in regular contact with the China Christian Council and government agencies coordinating anti-virus programs. Many of us maintain contact with friends and colleagues in the Chinese Church, sharing our concerns and getting a better picture of what is happening on the ground.
Our Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Social Welfare Council, which has hundreds of service units in Hong Kong and Macau has been appealing for surgical masks and epidemic prevention supplies for the under privileged groups in our community, the elderly, deprived families and people with disabilities. Individuals, churches, charities and social enterprises have generously responded to this “Act of Love – Five Loaves and Two Fishes” appeal.
Online services in our churches are often drawing in more worshippers than previously attended in person. Theological and religious education continues online, and sometimes in individual tutorials or in small group settings. We notice simple acts of kindness and grace: a priest praying with a daughter whose father is still in Wuhan; a woman offering an extra mask to a street cleaner who doesn’t have one; students starting an online prayer group to pray for their fellow students on the mainland.
The Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui continues to participate in regional and international activities, often through teleconferencing, sometimes in person. We are strengthened through our connection with the Anglican Communion, and to learn that people in other churches are praying for us. And in spite of all the challenges we face, we are thankful to God that we are called to mission in this place and at this time.