ANGLICAN churches are being asked to sign up to be “Hong Kong-ready churches”, as thousands of Hong Kong residents move to the UK.
Five hundred churches around the country have signed up to the campaign so far, making a commitment to welcoming Christians from Hong Kong into their church community.
Up to 300,000 Hong Kong residents hold British National Overseas passports, and 130,000 are expected to emigrate after the Government issued a special visa to allow them to live and work in the UK. Many are expected to gravitate to areas with existing Chinese communities.
A British-Chinese newly ordained curate in Bristol diocese, the Revd Mark Nam, backs the welcoming project, which is being run by Dr Krish Kandiah. Mr Nam said: “Clearly, the Church has not always been welcoming, as we saw, to the Windrush generation. This campaign is about readying the Church for this really significant arrival, and the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Even in those areas where there is not a single Chinese person in the congregation yet, we hope people will join in and improve their welcome — because, if you do not, you may never have any Chinese Christians in your congregation. It’s about being ready in our hearts. We need to learn from history.”
He said that churches were asked to consider training leaders, including youth leaders, to ensure that the younger generation were welcomed and looked after, since many of those arriving were families.
Anecdotally, he said, about 8000 Hong Kongers were believed to have already made their way to Britain in the past few weeks.
The Assistant Vicar for International Ministry at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, the Revd Harry Ching, said that up to ten per cent of new arrivals from Hong Kong were likely to be Christians. He is working with Chinese pastors in the UK to co-ordinate a welcoming and supportive response.
“This is a golden opportunity for churches to express Christian hospitality. We need to make sure our churches respond with cultural sensitivity and also recognise that many of those arriving will be wounded people, who no longer see Hong Kong as the place they once knew.”
For more details, visit ukhk.org/church.