Seminar on Christianity in Hong Kong
Written by: G Lou, Mission Co-Worker in East Asia & Pacific Region
The Hong Kong Christian Council and the China Christian Council & National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China (CCC & TSPM) jointly convened the “Seminar on Sinicization of Christianity” on May18th and 19th, 2023 in Hong Kong, China. Twenty-four church leaders, professors of seminaries, and scholars from both mainland China and Hong Kong participated in the seminar. More than 120 people from churches, seminaries, and social service organizations in Hong Kong attended the two-day event.
The prefix “Sino-” means “Chinese,” so the term “Sinicization of Christianity” refers to the contextualization of Christian faith, theological thought, practice, and ritual into Chinese culture and the socialist society in China. The Sinicization of Christianity was advocated by CCC and TSPM in 2018 in response to President Xi calling for the “Sinicization of religion in China and to guide the adaptation of religions to China’s socialist society.”
During the seminar, the church leaders and scholars from both sides explored the concept of “Sinicization of Christianity” to increase mutual understanding between Christian churches and communities in the mainland and Hong Kong. The seminar focused on three topics including mission and pastoral care, theological education, and church history. The thematic presentations demonstrated direction and possibilities of practicing “Sinicization of Christianity” based on their own situations and understanding of the issue.
The church leaders of Hong Kong mainly tend to focus on missionary perspectives and use concepts such as “indigenization” and “contextualization,” but rarely discuss the framework of “Sinicization of Christianity.” The term “Sinicization of Christianity” is helpful for them to understand the current situation of the churches in the mainland and recognize their political, cultural, social, and economic context. The churches in Hong Kong would like to explore appropriate and socially responsive methods for evangelism and pastoral care in mainland China’s context.
The Leaders of CCC and TSPM indicated that the “Sinicization of Christianity” was a requirement and choice for Christianity’s development in mainland China. It should include core socialist values and reflect changes in Chinese society. They emphasized the importance of the seminar in bringing together Hong Kong and mainland Church leaders and scholars to explore the possibilities of Christianity in different contexts and to awaken the love for the country, the church, and the congregations.
After two days of discussion, both church leaders discovered that there is still much room for exploration in the issue of “Sinicization of Christianity.” They hope to have more in-depth related discussions in the future.
All participants were glad to have this long-overdue reunion of church leaders in Hong Kong and mainland China after COVID-19.
Reconnecting with the mission partners in Hong Kong
During the years of the pandemic, although we could meet and communicate with our mission partners via the Zoom, in-person interaction and sharing are genuinely unparalleled. Between June 10th and 13th, the Global Relations Minister for East Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Derek Duncan and I visited our mission partners in Hong Kong, China. During our visit, we were glad to meet with leaders of the Hong Kong Christian Council, Divinity School of Chung Chi College at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Christian Services, Hong Kong Christian Institute, United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Hong Kong, and Filipino Migrant Association.
According to the 2021 church census figures of the Hong Kong Church Renewal Movement, there are about 290,000 Christians who regularly participate in worship. However, according to the survey report, the number of self-identified Protestants is about 1.04 million, meaning nearly 17.2% of the population of Hong Kong were Christians. After the Hong Kong National Security Law was passed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China in 2020, the people and churches in Hong Kong are facing the challenges of the post-pandemic world, as social and political tensions continue to grow in Hong Kong.
During the meetings and the conversations, the leaders of the mission partners shared with us their concerns and worries about the current and uncertain political situation and the fact that the terms of pastoral care has decreased. The Hong Kong Christian Council worked with the seminary and other Christian bodies to consider these new challenges. Seminars were organized to discuss immigration issues, church development and pastoral psychological counseling, and the development of the social services for the communities. Many pastors now evangelize via operating cafes, band rooms, board game rooms, fitness centers, etc. They realized that even though they don’t have abilities to change the policies of the government, they still faithfully serve the churches and the communities with their loving hearts.
We attended the Sunday worship, Derek Duncan preached in the United Church of Christ of the Philippines in Hong Kong with about 19 migrants who work in Hong Kong as caregivers. They work six days a week and face many challenges such as unequal pay, discrimination, and lack of dignity. We visited the crowds of migrants who congregate in the parks in the afternoon on Sunday to learn about their needs and lives in Hong Kong. The migrants are from the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. They go to the parks on Sunday for gathering and picnics.
Global Ministries supports the migrant ministry of the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), to provide services for the migrants and help them to have their voices in the society. Rev. Joram Calimutan of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines in Hong Kong and APMM shared with us about their migrant ministry and showed us a shelter where they provide free room and food for the migrants as needed.
We felt that our help to the mission partners in Hong Kong was limited, but we would love to continue to develop the partnership with them. We were blessed to work with them by living out the unique mission to share God’s love with the world, what Jesus calls us to do. May God bless the mission partners, churches, and people in Hong Kong as they are facing the challenges. We bear witness to the eternal God.
G Lou’s appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.