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November 2020
Issue No. 307

Bishop Andrew Chan elected as next Archbishop of Hong Kong


The Special Meeting of the 8th General Synod for the Election of the Archbishop took place on Sunday, 18 October (Feast of St Luke). The Rt Revd Andrew Chan, Bishop of Western Kowloon, was elected as the next Archbishop of Hong Kong.

The election took place simultaneously at Tang Shiu Kin Secondary School in Hong Kong and at St Paul’s Church in Macau because both Hong Kong and Macau were imposing a fourteen-day compulsory COVID-19 quarantine on incoming visitors. The two election venues were connected by video conferencing so that the organizers could track the progress of the elections in both places in real time to ensure its fairness and legitimacy.

Over two hundred electoral college members, staff and volunteers in Hong Kong had to pass through body temperature sensors and submit health declaration forms at Tang Shiu Kin Secondary School prior to taking part in the election while those in Macau had to show their health QR codes on their smartphones. All attendees at both venues had to keep their masks on at all times during the election.

Electoral college members in Hong Kong were seated in the school hall and six classrooms to maintain social distancing among them. To reduce human contact, the organizers made use of an electronic voting system in the school hall at Tang Shiu Kin Secondary School for the first time in Church elections. Voters in the classrooms and those in St Paul’s Church in Macau casted their votes by traditional paper ballots.

Bishop Chan was elected as archbishop in the first round of ballots by receiving a majority of votes from all three houses of the electoral college.

The incumbent Archbishop and Primate of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, the Most Revd Dr Paul Kwong, will retire in 2021, having reached the age of seventy in 2020. In his closing remarks at the special meeting, he praised Bishop Chan for his vast knowledge and his eloquence in writing, which make his sermons highly informative. He also noted that Bishop Chan is a talented musician and composer who has contributed much to the Church’s music ministry.

“Bishop Chan is a first in many aspects in the history of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui,” Archbishop Kwong said. “He is the first Chinese to become the dean of St John’s Cathedral, and the first Secretary General of the Province.”

Archbishop Kwong also added humourously that Bishop Chan “is also going to be the first Archbishop of Hong Kong who is not surnamed Kwong.”

Addresses and Blessings

At the conclusion of the meeting, Bishop Chan thanked his predecessors who shaped Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, his fellow bishops, clerics, and lay members.

First, he thanked the Most Revd Dr Peter Kwong, Archbishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, who was the first Archbishop and Primate of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui. Bishop Chan recalled that many outsiders had doubted Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui at its beginning as a province. However, Archbishop Peter Kwong stressed that the Church has to look into the future and pointed out, twenty years ago, that Hong Kong would have a population of seven million and many in the city would require pastoral care.

He then thanked Archbishop Paul Kwong for shaping the Church and for defending her. Under his direction, the Church gained international recognition and his position as chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council was an honour for Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.

Bishop Chan is also close to his fellow candidates in the archiepiscopal election. The Rt Revd Matthias Der, the newly consecrated Bishop Coadjutor of Hong Kong Island, succeeded Bishop Chan when he was appointed dean of St John’s Cathedral in 2012. Under Bishop Der’s leadership, the cathedral community flourished.

The Rt Revd Dr Timothy Kwok, Bishop of Eastern Kowloon, was Bishop Chan’s schoolmate at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in the late 1980s. Bishop Chan said Bishop Kwok had lent him lecture notes and continued to be a source of support when he went on to study theology. Bishop Chan also noted that Bishop Kwok is a scholar and admired Bishop Kwok for applying his knowledge to his pastoral work.

Concluding his remarks, Bishop Chan said that Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui is facing a series of changes in the world and in local society. These complications could not be resolved by one person becoming the archbishop, no matter how talented that person is. The Church needs to pray for God’s blessings to sail through the turbulence.

“The Church has been undergoing challenges throughout the ages. We need to hold on to God’s hand for he will surely guide us through,” he said.

Bishop Chan’s profile

The Rt Revd Andrew Chan was born in 1962. He was awarded Bachelor of Philosophy (Education) from University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK in 1987; Certificate in Theology from Salisbury and Wells Theological College in 1991; and Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology from Heythrop College, University of London in 2004.

Bishop Chan was ordained to the diaconate on 18 October 1991 and to the priesthood on 29 September 1992. He was appointed dean of St John’s Cathedral in May 2005 and was made an honorary canon of the Diocese of Hong Kong Island in November 2006. He was elected the second Bishop of Western Kowloon on 26 June 2011, consecrated on 25 March 2012 and enthroned on 26 March 2012.

Bishop Chan is married with one son.


<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 307. Please click here>