Photo Credit: Anglican Media Melbourne
By Chris Shearer for Anglican Media Melbourne
Mandarin-speaking Anglicans in Melbourne now have a weekly service in their native tongue right in the heart of the city.
The new Mandarin-language service was officially launched on Saturday 26 June with Archbishop Philip Freier commissioning the Revds Rick and Jessica Cheung as coordinating pastors. The weekly service will be held at 10am each Saturday at St Paul’s Cathedral on Flinders Street.
Dean of St Paul’s, Dr Andreas Loewe, told the congregation of about 200 that it was a “historic day”.
“We’ve had an opportunity to worship [in Mandarin] at the festivals, at Easter and at Christmas, welcoming many Mandarin speakers here into St Paul’s Cathedral,” he told TMA after the service, “and it’s a particular delight to be able to welcome Mandarin-speakers to the home church of Anglicans in Melbourne and Geelong on a week-by-week basis.”
During the commissioning Archbishop Freier told the congregation that he was “encouraged that ministry conducted in Mandarin will become a regular part of the life of this cathedral church of St Paul’s”. Mandarin is the second most spoken language in Australia, with over 371,000 Australians speaking it at home.
Plans for the new ministry began last September when Rick was approached by the coordinator of the multicultural ministry about holding a regular Mandarin-language service in the heart of the city. Negotiations began with St Paul’s soon after.
“We’ve been praying for this for about six months now, and planning for it,” Rick said.
“It is exciting, and we’re so thankful for all the support and assistance we’ve had,” Jessica added.
With several thousand visitors each week to St Paul’s, many of them Chinese tourists, Rick sees an opportunity to reach a wider audience than just locally-based Mandarin-speaking Anglicans.
“[Chinese tourists] are really curious about what Christians believe. This is a great opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them. In fact, we have English services on Sunday and a lot of them come in even though they don’t understand English,” he said.
“They’re just curious. We thought that we should have a regular Saturday morning service so that they can actually come and explore what Christians believe, and by the grace of God they may become believers themselves.”
Despite being conducted primarily in Mandarin, the Cheungs told TMA that there would be some English “because we do want to attract other Australians as well”.
“I know a lot of people in the Anglican family may not be able to understand Mandarin,” Rick said, “but if you do feel a heart for Mandarin-speakers… then I would encourage you to pray for us.”