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April 2021
Issue No. 308

Archbishop Paul Kwong concludes forty years of active ministry with Thanksgiving Service

(© 教聲/ ECHO) 

Having served Hong Kong for forty years, the Most Revd Paul Kwong, Archbishop and Primate of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (HKSKH), marked his retirement from active ministry with a Thanksgiving Service on 27 December 2020.

Due to the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which started ravaging Hong Kong in late November, the government imposed strict restrictions on social gathering. Like many significant events in 2020, the service was streamed online and parishioners were invited to participate through the net.

Archbishop Kwong was ordained to the diaconate in 1982 and to the priesthood in 1983. He was consecrated a bishop in 2006 and enthroned in 2007. In the same year of his enthronement, he was elected the Archbishop of HKSKH. Throughout his forty years as an ordained minister, Archbishop Kwong, who took Hong Kong’s history as a sign of the city’s being the meeting point of East and West, worked tirelessly to establish Hong Kong as the bridge between different territories and cultures.

Forty years of ministry

In his sermon at the Thanksgiving Service, the Rt Revd Andrew Chan, Bishop of Western Kowloon and the Archbishop elect, reminisced about his younger days with Archbishop Kwong. When they first met, Bishop Chan said, Archbishop Kwong was a youth group leader and he was impressed by Archbishop Kwong’s leadership, ability and vision. Later, when he learned that Archbishop Kwong left Hong Kong to study theology overseas, he felt excited because he knew the Church would have a fun-loving and talented shepherd when Archbishop Kwong returned.

Since his ordination as a priest, Archbishop Kwong held a number of positions at various parish churches. He was the vicar of St Matthias’ Church, the founding priest-in-charge of St Philip’s Church and the Church of the Ascension, and the priest-in-charge of the Mandarin congregation of St John’s Cathedral. He was also the assistant of the first Archbishop of HKSKH, the Most Revd Peter Kwong, and the Provincial Secretary General before being elected a bishop.

After becoming Archbishop and Primate of HKSKH, Archbishop Kwong also played a leading role to widen the Anglican Communion’s involvement in the world. He is currently the Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and a governor of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Archbishop Kwong was also active in building a bridge between HKSKH and mainland China. He led many HKSKH delegations visiting churches and government agencies in mainland China to foster better understanding between the churches in the two places. He supported various development initiatives in China. He is currently a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and will remain in office until 2022.

What impressed Bishop Chan most was a dinner decades ago with Archbishop Kwong, who was then the vicar of St Matthias’ Church. He remembered how the passers-by came over to say hello to Archbishop Kwong, and on their way to the restaurant and was amazed by how familiar Archbishop Kwong was with the local residents. This episode showed how Archbishop Kwong put Jesus’s teaching into practice by reaching beyond the walls of the church to the wider community, Bishop Chan said.
Lastly, Bishop Chan noted that Archbishop Kwong is a fourth-generation Anglican and thanked Archbishop Kwong’s parents and Assistant Bishop Cheung Wing Ngok for nurturing Archbishop Kwong’s faith when he was young so that Archbishop Kwong could respond to the calling of God.

Global influence

After the sermon, in a recorded video, the Revd Canon John Peterson, former Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, shared his thoughts about HKSKH and the role of Archbishop Kwong from a global perspective.

Canon Peterson said he could still vividly recall the inauguration service of the HKSKH, which was so spectacular that he had never seen anything quite as stunning before or after.

He described Archbishop Kwong as “a giant in the Anglican Communion” for his active leadership. Not only is Archbishop Kwong the chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, Canon Peterson said, but he also played an important role in the establishment of the Compass Rose Society Hong Kong Chapter. As a tribute to his contribution to the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Kwong was made an Episcopal Canon of St. George''s Cathedral in Jerusalem by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

Hong Kong hosted the ACC 12 in 2002 and ACC 17 in 2019. Canon Peterson praised Archbishop Kwong for steering both meetings. Furthermore, Canon Peterson noted that the Compass Rose Society’s Hong Kong Chapter supported ministries in Myanmar, thus expanding the society’s impact worldwide.

At the end of his sharing, Canon Peterson addressed Archbishop Kwong directly in the video saying, “Paul, you have been a faithful leader over these last thirteen years as Bishop of Hong Kong Island and Archbishop of the Province and have stood in the great tradition of your predecessor Peter Kwong. … We are all blessed because of your outstanding ministry over all these years in Hong Kong and in the global community. You will always be remembered by all of us because of your infectious laugh.”

After retirement

Before the end of the service, Archbishop Kwong gave a short address expressing his gratitude to all those who worked with him and prayed for him. He said that the retirement of an ordained minister is the conclusion of his ministry and the responsibility entrusted to him by God through his Church. However, two responsibilities remain unchanged irrespective of the clergyman’s stage in life: worshipping God and proclaiming the Gospel.


<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 308. Please click here>


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