The Diocese of Hong Kong Island The Diocese of Eastern Kowloon The Diocese of Western Kowloon The Missionary Area of Macau  
  Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui
Home  |  Contact Us  |  Sitemap     中文  

July 2023
Issue No. 315

7,600 are gathered together: Joint Development Day for Parish, Schools, and Social Services


In celebration of the 180th anniversary of the foundation of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui and the Province’s inauguration 25 years ago, a Joint Development Day for Parish, Schools, and Social Services was held at Asia Expo on 30th May. Two guest speakers were invited on the day: the Revd Canon Khee Vun Lin, founding principal of the Anglican Training Institute in the Diocese of Sabah, and the Revd Thomas Kwan from the Catholic Church. The Most Revd Andrew Chan concluded the speeches and gave his blessing at the end of the event. 

Staff members of various schools and social service units joined with parishioners on the day, coming from all over Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (including the Macau Missionary Area). The attendees numbers 7600, and the choir was likewise drawn from staff members of schools, social services, and parishes. This Joint Development Day used to be held once every three years, but the one scheduled for 2021 was delayed due to COVID. After a five year wait since 2018, the whole Church family can now meet again.

 the Revd Canon Khee Vun Lin(© 教聲/ ECHO)

The theme of the Province’s anniversary celebrations is “One Family in Christ, our Rock”, and the Revd Canon Lin gave his speech on how to put this idea into practice in our modern world. For Christians to deem our Church as our family, we must first understand our fractured world, and then respond appropriately to the rock of our Church: Christ. 

Living in our multicultural world, some still believe in certain universal values, whilst others champion individualism, shunning grand narratives. Some others still are satisfied by their own in-groups, where they can find meaning within their own cultures and ideologies.

In such a diverse world, it is natural that multiple “others” arise, and it is in the process of “othering” – to discern how “they” are different from “us” – that the “self” is defined. This othering process isn’t necessarily discriminatory or conducive to bigotry; rather, it is an exclusionary process of gatekeeping membership to a social in-group. 

When a homogenous social group is placed within a diverse world, the inevitable interaction with different “others” will bring with them social changes. These, in turn, impose challenges to the social group’s pre-existing values. When the gospel of the “others” is spread, so are the community ethos and culture of the homogenous social group challenged. In order to stem such changes, it is common for us to seek to expel the different and the other – in the name of defending the values we believe in, we shun others.

Avoiding the errors of exclusion 

In our diverse and mutually excluding world, the Revd Canon Lin reminded us to avoid committing several errors. First, we should not be reductionists when facing complex issues. If we reduce all the complicated problems we have into simplistic reductions, we run the risk of easily assigning fault to others as we seek to exonerate ourselves. By doing so, we abandon the goal of understanding one another, and understanding the whole truth behind an issue. Second, we should not seek revenge when facing exclusion. In seeking to defend our own values and ideas, we often demonise the “other”. And as we seek justice by identifying as a victim, we inevitably attempt to seek revenge by going “an eye for an eye”. Third, we should avoid giving up on integration when facing social changes. Multiculturalism purports the view that there are is no need for comparison between different perspectives, and different cultures are inherently incomprehensible to one another. If, in our wish to minimise offence caused to others, we simply retreat into our own enclaves of familiarity, then the actual differences between different peoples will simply increase, and our world would simply grow to become even more exclusionary and divided. As the wish to accept the “other” diminishes, so do we give up on understanding the “other” – hence leading us into demonising the unknown. 

How then should be take Christ as our rock, and respond to all of this with the Church as our family? Canon Lin commented that salvation isn’t just about saving the individual – salvation is the bringing together of believers who are all different from one another, and building a body of unity, a family, out of this fellowship. Christ has brought this new beginning to us, and despite the dangers and challenges we still inevitably face in our modern world, seeking unity in this multicultural landscape is precisely what God revealed to Christians in the Bible.

Christians should understand that they are to rebuild their identity in Christ and in our society. To be a Christian is not just a change in an individual’s existence, it is also an essential part in bringing the gospel to the wider society. Through Christ, not only were the Gentiles renewed, but Jews as well – they no longer saw themselves as just “Jews”, but as followers of Christ, who by Christ’s death upon the cross have become citizens of this new Kingdom of God. 

And so, as we understand that the Church of God is reassuringly multicultural by nature, then we also understand that there is no need for us to exclude others in order to define ourselves. To live in the story of God is to live in the community of God: a story and community built by Christ, and through the Spirit and the Church. 

The Game has Changed: Unilateral Self-giving 

As a Church built upon Christ our Rock, we can offer a new set of rules to the world, as an alternative to the old cycle of the offender, the victim, and revenge. Canon Lin noted that to renew and transform was the example that Jesus set for us, as he guided us towards tolerating each other and rebuilding bridges, instead of labelling and excluding each other. And the goal of renewal is to make possible the grand mission of the Kingdom of Heaven. 

If believers take the Church as their family, then nobody would be a victim, because the only victim in this family is Christ. Christ has given his believers a new set of “game rules”, that is, “unilateral self-giving”. This is the way that Jesus sacrificed himself without anyone first asking him to do so: he gave himself up as the spiritual sustenance, to accept and love his enemies. When we as mortals find ourselves in a moment of weakness, we are reminded of him who was crucified – he who is with us, and gives us strength to give ourselves to the other, and to accept them. This doesn’t mean that all confrontations will disappear in this world, because we still need to seek out justice, and en route, conflicts are inevitable. But the mission to let Christ be our rock is to follow him as our example, to forgive and to love those who are different; for that is the image of Heaven, and the hope of the world. 

Canon Lin noted the difficulty in doing all this, saying, ‘We may not have succeeded yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Rather, it is precisely because of its difficulty that this mission is worthwhile. Humanity may not be able to do it by ourselves, but by the power of God, everything is possible.’

A Call within a Call: Live Well 

The Revd Thomas Kwan gave a speech on the theme of ‘Homo Vivens Gloria Dei’, that is, the glory of God is a man fully alive. He encouraged all members of this big family of parishes, schools, and social services to lead a full life, for that is the most comforting thing for our Lord, and it is the thing that makes him proud. He continued, ‘To live well, and to live with liveliness – that is God’s call within a call for us. We need not ponder what the world requires of us, as the first question we need to answer is how to be fully alive – for that is exactly the type of person that our world needs.’ 

 the Revd Thomas Kwan from the Catholic Church(© 教聲/ ECHO)

The Revd Kwan commented that people’s choices are all based on how we listen and persevere. By listening to and following our own inner voice, putting what this voice tells us into action, we enter into the narrow gates of the Kingdom of Heaven; and this is the secret to maturing through the challenges in life.

‘We often play roles according to scripts written by those around us,’ said the Revd Kwan. ‘But we should be the protagonists in our own lives.’ He noted with humour that if we all followed others’ scripts, then Moses would not have been scared by finding God in the burning bush, and Job would not have dared to question God. As we turn to the actions of Jesus and God, we discover that God’s grace is often surprising. 

In order to live well and with perseverance, we must have the capacity to shoulder unjust treatment and various responsibilities. We must shoulder the courage and faith needed to complete our mission, and not be faltered by such questions as ‘Why?’ ‘How?’ ‘Is this useful?’ and ‘Is this worth it?’ The Revd Kwan concluded by leading the attendees in listening to the hymn Return Again, as a reminder to be fully alive as Job and Jesus were. As we listen to the almost hypnotic repeats of ‘Return again’, we return to our own self and our own situation, and are renewed as we arrive at the home of our spirit.

The Mission for all Parish, School, and Social Service Workers: to Better Others’ Lives 

Archbishop Andrew Chan delivered a conclusion after the two guest speakers, thanking them for their insightful sharing, and noting that the two themes that they covered serve as a reminder to all of us who are members of this Anglican family of parishes, schools, and social service units: that the glory of God is a person fully alive. The work of all of our colleagues, be they working in parishes, schools, or social service units, ultimately seeks to better the lives of others. As we take this Church as our family, we should all strive for this same mission.

The Archbishop continued by commenting that even though the world we live in may be a fractured one, the birthday of the Church (that is, Pentecost) still serves as a reminder to all believers of the power of the Holy Spirit in releasing us: when we are willing to forgive, then are we ourselves forgiven. In the same vein, when we decide to remember the faults of others, then are we preserving our own faults likewise. The coming of the Kingdom of God drives us to make each others’ lives fully alive, and we can draw much inspiration and encouragement to this end by turning to what Brother Roger of the Taizé movement has done: a witness to Christian unity. The Archbishop urged all to put into action the lessons that the Revd Canon Lin and the Revd Kwan gave in their speeches; though they may be difficult lessons to follow, the most important part is in the endeavouring, and we will surely all bear good witness along the way no matter the results.

 Archbishop Andrew Chan delivered a conclusion(© 教聲/ ECHO) 


Long service awards for schools 

The Joint Development Day began with a service of morning prayer. Besides the two guest speakers and the Archbishop’s reply, on the day many long service awards were awarded to various school staff members. Those who received such awards included school managers and executive committee members of the Anglican Primary Schools Council who have served for 15 years. Many teachers and headmasters who served for 30 and 35 years were also present for their awards, and each received such rapturous support from their school colleagues that the Asia Expo exhibition hall momentarily transformed into a pop concert – with each school’s attending teachers displaying their custom-made LED signs and balloons with their award-winning colleagues’ names written on them. When the principals Ms Lui Wing Yee (who served for 40 years) and Mr Tse Chang Keung (who served for 55 years) went onto the stage for their awards, the crowds gave them thunderous applause. The MC then clarified that Principal Tse could count 57 years from when he started as a primary school teacher to now serving at the Anglican Primary Schools Council – a record that may be difficult to surpass – and the attendees could be heard gasping in unison. 

 The Archbishop presented the Long Service Award to principal Tse Chang Keung

 The Archbishop presented the Long Service Award to principal Lui Wing Yee


There is not Church if there is no witnessing God

The Revd Canon Lin also led a revival meeting titled ‘A church revived by the Holy Spirit’ at Holy Trinity Cathedral on 28th May. 

In the meeting, Canon Lin noted how the church was originally born from the Holy Spirit, and so each baptised believer is enlightened by the Spirit to dedicate themselves to God and his kingdom. And his kingdom is the new era when Jesus is King. The baptism of John the Baptist only prepares the way for the coming of this kingdom, whereas the baptism of the Holy Spirit affirms the citizenship of the Kingdom of God, and also each person’s morality and ability, by which all are tasked to be play a part in God’s mission.

The church’s mission here on Earth and eschatology (that is, the study of the end of the world) share an inseparable connection, for the church that the Holy Spirit guards is the church that operates in the new age of Christ’s incarnation and return. The church is made up of the people of God who are baptised by the Spirit, who should take Christ as their king, and be renewed by experiencing the Holy Spirit completely in their lives. It is unfortunate that the church often forgets what the Holy Spirit has done for her, and Canon Lin laments that Christianity in our modern age often swerves towards individualism, with decreasing awareness on social morality as we walk further away from the Holy Spirit. 

He continued by saying that the modern Charismatic movement could be constituted as a response to the faults born of Christianity and modernism. This postmodern church movement seeks to re-align our focus back onto the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and to fill the void left behind by the church as it interacts with the community. A church that is revived by the Holy Spirit is filled with its strength and gifts, and it is eager to interact with and evangelise within the community as it forms fellowship with the outside world; at the same time, her followers bear fruits of spirituality, as the virtues planted by the Holy Spirit are displayed without concealment on the citizens of God. Is this overly idealistic? We as humans may think this is impossible, but everything is possible by the Holy Spirit.

A church that is kept and guarded by the Holy Spirit is a church that can bear witness to God; conversely, there is no church if there is no witnessing God. The Holy Spirit grants us the ability to nurture our discipleship. And the Holy Spirit, by essence, is the fact that God is with us. If we are willing to be with God, then we will not only be enriched in our psyche, but also in our culture, our experience, and in every part of our living – our whole being will undergo a nigh mystical transformation. When we are willing to accept the Holy Spirit, we say goodbye to our old self and our old individualism; we repent of our sins, and submit completely to God. What is impossible by human hands alone can be achieved if we commit our cause to the Holy Spirit – and the church will surely be renewed.



<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 315. Please click here>


Next Article