Friday 4 October 2013
Typhoon Usagi did for my trip to mainland China, but I had a fascinating few days in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has 7000 skyscrapers – more than twice that of any other city in the world. Eight million people are crammed into a tiny space. Yet there is beauty and peace too. Approaching the handover in 1997, Hong Kong feared it would become like mainland China: in fact, mainland China is fast becoming like Hong Kong.
Hong Kong became a separate province of the Anglican Communion to coincide with the handover. There are around 75 clergy divided into three dioceses. Archbishop Paul Kwong is the second archbishop: he has studied in California and Birmingham. Until recently all seminary education was outside the province, but Abp Paul has upgraded Ming Hua seminary so that it now teaches ordinands. I gave two lectures – one to all 75 clergy of the province, and another to a wider crowd of people at All Saints’ Cathedral, West Kowloon, on the peninsula that’s joined to the mainland.
My strongest impression was of how deeply invested the churches are in social care. I visited one settlement where the church employs no less than 1200 people in a variety of projects with elderly, mentally disabled, and vulnerable people. Its budget is 1/3 government 1/3 fees and 1/3 donations.
I return with a much greater understanding of our Chinese partners in ministry in Hong Kong and here at St Martin’s, and a mind broadened by the diversity and energy of the church worldwide.
Revd Dr Sam Wells
Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields