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May 2023
Issue No. 314

Kick-off Ceremony of HKSKH

‘180 years ago, the Lord guided us to bring his gospel to Hong Kong. Let us bear witness to Christ by the preaching in our churches, the education in our schools, and the social services in our community, all in the joint effort of making manifest the Kingdom of Heaven. Today, as we gather on this hill – the same place where our Church once built an orphanage, to spread her faith, education, and social services to the community here – we gather to celebrate the 180th anniversary of the foundation of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, and the 25th anniversary of our Province’s inauguration. Let us draw nearer with God in our liturgy, and be graced with his presence.’ 

The Kick-off Ceremony for this year’s anniversary celebrations was held inside the school hall of the Diocesan Boys’ School on 15th April, and the Vestry Members’ Retreat followed right afterwards. Around 500 Anglicans, including members from different parishes, schools, and social services, attended the day’s events, either in person or online.

The Archbishop Andrew Chan officially opened the year’s celebrations at the Kick-off Ceremony. A short video was played, ‘Looking Back and Moving Forward: HKSKH’s Past and Future’. In it, the Most Revd Peter Kwong gave an account on why the Province was inaugurated, the Most Revd Paul Kwong recounted the developments both within our Province and in the wider Anglican Communion during his term, and the Most Revd Andrew Chan laid out the role that the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui is to play in the future. The Chairperson of the Celebration Organising Committee, Dr Jane Lee, then gave a summary of the many activities planned for this year’s celebrations. The video is now uploaded to Echo’s YouTube channel. 

The theme of this 25th anniversary celebration is set to be ‘One family in Christ, our Rock’. As such, the Kick-off Ceremony was conducted in a most traditional way: with prayer and praise. Archbishop Andrew Chan and Bishop Timothy Kwok led the congregation in a responsorial prayer, that our Heavenly Father may continue to bless the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui with grace in the days to come, and that we may continue to serve him and bear his good witness in Hong Kong. The gathered participants then joined in singing the hymn ‘The Church’s One Foundation’.

The Vestry Members’ Retreat followed afterwards. The Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong Stephen Chow was invited as guest speaker, and gave a talk on the ‘Spiritual Cultivation of Christian Leaders’. Archbishop Chan gave a response after the talk. 

Bishop Chow stated that the most important thing for Christian leaders is spirituality. In a way, the Jesuit constitution is essentially a ‘constitution of spirituality’, because it was not written to be legalistic and full of conditions, but rather it is a guide on training Christian leaders on how to serve others, written largely from the experience of spiritual formation and Ignatian spiritual exercises.

People of God and sinners 

Each of us is a citizen of God, and each of us is a sinner. And yet, all of us are called to be loved. ‘The one whom God loves is the present you. God doesn’t say you have to change into so and so before he loves you,’ said Bishop Chow. As long as you believe in this, you will find your heart filled with a lot more freedom, without the constant fear of trying to please a God whom you do not know exactly how to please. Some believers may think that they are not worthy of serving the Church, but the truth is we are all sinners who are called by God. Since we are all loved by God, there is no such thing as who is more beloved than the other. As believers, we should be opening our hearts to the belief that we are truly loved, and accept this love from our Lord. The Bishop continued by saying that Christ as the Good Shepherd is here to find the lost sheep – he is not here to pick only the well-behaving ones. Many Christians are mistaken in feeling good about themselves for being more righteous than others. 

Finding God in All Things

To find God in all things doesn’t mean all things can become God, but rather that God can be present in all things. The 23rd principle and foundation of Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises explains why God created all things: the Father and the Son dwells in Eternal Love, which is filled with surging liveliness; and thus the Holy Spirit is Love and Life Eternal. When we are filled with joy, it is natural for us share this joy with others; thus when the Holy Trinity is filled with love and life, the Trinity creates life, and shares with all the eternal love and everlasting life, with the wish that all would return to him. Our Lord thus created out of love, and wishes for us to return to this love. As believers, we should understand and accept that the Lord is love itself, and respond to him with love. 

In response, Archbishop Chan thanked Bishop Chow for his sharing of the Ignatian tradition of spiritual cultivation with our Anglican brothers and sisters, in particular the leaders in our parishes, schools, and social services. The Archbishop noted that Ignatian Spiritual Exercises can guide Christians into shaping a three-dimensional faith and life, with a balanced focus on both our internal minds and the external world. It is a way of linking the material with the spiritual, and as we learn to meet God in our hearts, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, which forms the basis of a fulfilling and three-dimensional life. In the same vein, the Church should likewise be a complete and three-dimensional church.

During the 180 years that the Anglican Church has operated in Hong Kong, we’ve gone through multiple eras: back when it was the Diocese of Victoria, then as the Diocese of South China, the Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao, and now the Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui. Though we might seem insignificantly small when viewed on the map, we walked through all these past eras by the guidance of God. When we accept this legacy, we are accepting God being our help in ages past, and by doing so we learn to be thankful as an active and three-dimensional church. 

Despite being geographically succinct, the breadth of our Province’s services is much wider than many would assume. The Archbishop hopes that our faith could be brought as a gift shared with those in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Mainland China, and that our participation and contributions could reach further in the universal church. In both time and physical space, the Anglican Church is a three-dimensional church — for it connects our hearts with God, lending us a dimension of spirituality.

The Archbishop continued by saying that the modern church has an emphasis on not just being a church of God’s citizens, but also of sinners. It is only when we recognise that we are a church of sinners that we can become ‘a church for sinners’. And to recognise thus we must have one of the church’s dimensions affixed directly towards the holy Kingdom of God – we must be a church which yearns for and runs towards his light. We must be a church of sinners, set on a pilgrimage. Only then can we become a church that is capable of responding to the wars and suffering of our world. 

The Archbishop ended with a note on how the Prayer of St Ignatius printed on page 1 of the Chinese Book of Common Prayer is exactly the same prayer that the Jesuits use. From this we can see how Anglicans and Catholics share in our admiration of his spirit of service: to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, and to labour and not to ask for reward.

<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 314. Please click here>


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