See also: Hong Kong’s bishops: “we only boast of the cross of Christ”
Guests from around the world have joined local Anglicans for a series of events to mark the 20th anniversary of the Anglican Province of Hong Kong – the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (HKSKH). Thousands gathered for a colourful celebration of the Eucharist at the vast AsiaWorld-Expo centre on Saturday (6 October). Among them were dignitaries from mainland China, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia, Ireland, the UK and the United States. Four choirs and an orchestra – conducted by Felix Yeung – combined to provide music fitting an occasion of style and grandeur.
The celebrant was the Primate of Hong Kong, Archbishop Paul Kwong and the sermon was given by the Anglican Communion Secretary General, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon. He said it was a special privilege to be invited to speak on such an auspicious occasion. And he paid tribute to the work and witness of the Primate, bishops, clergy and membership of the HKSKH.
“You have exemplified the saying ‘small is beautiful’”, he said. “You are small . . . but you are right at the heart of the Anglican Communion because of your generosity and availability.
“What really gladdens my heart is what you have been doing as a province. You have not separated mission from proclamation – and that is the secret of your growth.”
HKSKH currently comprises three dioceses: Hong Kong, Eastern Kowloon and Western Kowloon and a missionary area of Macau. On this, the Secretary General issued a challenge to grow: “By the time of your 25th anniversary I am praying that Macau will not be a ‘special area’ – but that Macau will be a diocese.”
Dr Idowu-Fearon also paid tribute to his predecessor, Canon John Peterson – who was among the guests from overseas – for the work he did when the province was formed in 1998.
Later, at a thanksgiving dinner, Archbishop Paul Kwong, picked up on the Secretary General’s theme, emphasising that mission had always been at the heart of the province – and forming strong partnerships with schools and social service agencies for the benefit of the people of Hong Kong and Macau was an expression of that mission.
“We were formed in and for mission. . . Every member of the Church has a share in God’s mission,” he said. “We seek to be a Church for the city and with the city in Hong Kong and Macau.”
He said the province hoped to build a new 300-bed hospital. It also had plans to expand theological education – including the creation of a new campus and a monastic community. And on the Secretary General’s challenge regarding Macau, Archbishop Paul said his “amen” in response had been the loudest, although he joked that this was because making it happen would be a job for his successor as Primate. But he said work was underway – preliminary talks had begun about acquiring land for a cathedral, school and social centre in Macau.
The dinner continued the sense of grandeur, occasion and celebration. There was a kindergarten choir, music from an orchestra and films highlighting the work of the province.
There was also a symbolic moment marking the launch of ACC17 – the seventeenth meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council which takes place in Hong Kong next April.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was represented by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Martin Seeley. In a message, Archbishop Justin said there was so much to give thanks for and to celebrate. He urged the province to continue its calling to minister and serve the wider community of Hong Kong and China.
There was also a message of congratulations from the Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, which was delivered by the Bishop of Texas, Andrew Doyle.
Bishop Andrew, who is president of the Compass Rose Society, spoke of the “amazing” work and generosity of the province, describing it as a model of virtue for the Anglican Communion.
Hong Kong’s bishops: “we only boast of the cross of Christ”
The Bishops of the HKSKH have issued a pastoral letter to mark its 20th anniversary as an Anglican Communion Province. Referencing a hymn composed to mark the occasion: “How shall we this gift enshrine? Sheng Kung Hui thy Church divine, the bishops say that its lyrics “reminds us of our mission as Christians in the Sheng Kung Hui: to build up the Holy Catholic Church with grace bestowed by our Lord.”
They say: “The Holy Catholic Church has been on this earth for about two thousand years. In comparison, the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui province has been here for only one per cent of this time; in comparison to the history of Anglicanism, we have been in existence for only four per cent of this period; and in contrast to the almost 200 years of Anglican ministries in China, our province has been established for about 10 per cent this total period.
“In the two thousand years of the Holy Catholic Church, Anglicanism’s centuries of history, and the 200 years of Anglican ministry in China, our countless forebears have willingly offered their lives for the building of God’s kingdom, not shrinking from suffering or martyrdom. Without regard for their own lives and losses, and without concern for worldly riches and settled lives, for the sake of God’s kingdom, they lived their lives to bring light to the world and created the foundation of the life of the Church.
“Twenty years ago, we took up the mantle of our forebears and sought to continue their work. As we look back upon the past two decades, we are thankful, not only because of the joy that ‘institutionally’ our Church has been ‘elevated’ from a diocese to a province, but more importantly, we praise God for our inheritance of the service to which our forebears dedicated their lives.”
They continued: “Over the past 20 years of historically challenging times, we have relied on God’s grace to contribute to the work of pastoral care, evangelism, education, social service and healthcare in Hong Kong and Macau, two special administrative regions of China. In addition, we have been able to earn the trust of our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion, allowing our tiny province to contribute to the worldwide Church and take part in the building of the body of Christ.
“But we have nothing to boast about, we only boast of the cross of Christ. As a young province, we have our flaws and our weaknesses, but because of this, we have a deeper awareness of our reliance on God whose grace may be revealed though us and attain completion. It is ‘Our Faith, Our Way’ to be nurtured by God’s Holy Word and Holy Sacraments. We equip ourselves through the fellowship of our Church. We raise high the cross of Christ, follow His example, and become a community of disciples conformed to His heart. This way, our lives of service may become a blessing for future generations of brothers and sisters of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, for Christians on the mainland, and for other provinces in the Anglican Communion and the Church Ecumenical, whether in the next two decades, the next 200 years, the next few centuries, or even into the next two millennia.”