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The Concise History of the Diocese of Hong Kong Island

At the onset of Hong Kong’s initial buzzing development, the Anglican Church had started evangelistic outreach and engaged in building churches and schools, advocated and provided social welfare and medical services for the masses of the booming town. From 1843 onwards, development of the Church may be classified into four phases:

1, The founding of the Diocese of Victoria (1849)

The year following the founding of the city of Hong Kong in 1843, the Church of England appointed the Reverend Vincent John Stanton as the first colonial chaplain to serve the European community in Hong Kong and to develop ministry in the new colony. The Reverend Stanton founded St Paul’s College, aiming to train up a new generation of Chinese for ministry among the local community; he was also responsible for the building of St John’s Cathedral.

Several years hence, the Diocese of Victoria was founded in 1849 to further the expansion of ministry in Hong Kong, China and neighbouring regions, and Reverend George Smith was consecrated and appointed as the first bishop to the new diocese. The Diocese covered a large area including Hong Kong, China and Japan. Bishop Smith travelled extensively to develop ministry and provide pastoral care to the new churches. In 1863, Law Sum-yuen was made deacon and this marked the first ordination of Chinese clergy and the first Chinese parish, St Stephen’s Church, was founded in 1865 to expressively attend to Chinese Ministry.

2, The founding of Kong Yuet (South China) Diocese (1913)

Aside from ministry in Hong Kong, the Anglican Church had aggressively extended ministry into various parts of China. Anglican missionary societies had established missionary dioceses or extra-metropolitical dioceses in many areas in China and the Province of Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui was founded in 1912. The Kong Yuet (South China) Diocese was founded within the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui. Chinese speaking parishes in Hong Kong belonged to the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui and was concurrently under the jurisdiction of the Diocesan Bishop of Victoria. Hence, from 1913, Hong Kong assumed double identity in the Anglican Church: the Diocese of Victoria which consisted of English and Chinese speaking parishes in Hong Kong and non-Chinese speaking parishes outside of Hong Kong; the Kong Yuet Diocese of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui, consisted of all Chinese speaking parishes in Hong Kong and Macau. The Bishop of Victoria was as well the Bishop of Kong Yuet Diocese. During this period, many parishes were established in Hong Kong and Macau to develop ministry amongst the populace at large. In 1848, worship in the Chinese language was brought to Macau for the first time and St Mark’s Church was established to undertake ministry in Macau.

3, The founding of the Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao (1951)

The post war period of 1940’s had witnessed the massive exodus of refugees into Hong Kong. The Anglican Church in Hong Kong responded to the pressing social needs of the time and alleviated the enormous burden to the society of Hong Kong. In provision of various basics to the huge influx, social service centres, clinics and schools were established. At that time, churches in China underwent the Three Self Movement and severed all ties with churches with foreign liaison. The Anglican Church in Hong Kong and Macau hence became independent of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui, and formally founded the Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao, concentrating in the ministry of the two cities.

4, The founding of the Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (1998)

Since the separation from the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui in 1951, the Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao had not been under the metropolitical jurisdiction of any province. According to regulations as set out by the Worldwide Anglican Communion, a province is the basic unit of a regional church. Hong Kong has attained prosperity and her economic development is much diversified. The steadily growing population brings many problems. The Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao had shouldered social service and evangelisation and had established mission churches, schools and social service centres to cater to the social, physical and spiritual needs by means of overall concern and individual care to the populace from all walks of life in the many new townships in Hong Kong, Kowloon, New Territories, outlying islands and Macau.

In 1991, the Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao had resolved to establish a province, consisting of the three dioceses and one missionary area, namely the Diocese of Hong Kong Island, the Diocese of Eastern Kowloon, the Diocese of Western Kowloon and the Missionary Area of Macau, so that various services may be provided to residents in the newly developed areas.

The Ven. Louis Tsui and the Ven. Thomas Soo were elected bishops in 1995 to direct and initiate the founding of the Eastern Kowlolon and Western Kowloon diocese respectively. Bishop of the Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao, the Right Reverend Peter Kwong would take the helm in pioneering the establishment of the province, and on the other hand still manage the development of ministry in the Diocese of Hong Kong Island and Macau. On 17 April 1998, the Provisional Provincial Synod elected Bishop Peter Kwong as the first Archbishop and Primate of the Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui. According to regulations as set out in the Constitution of the Province, the First Diocesan Synod of Hong Kong Island was convened on 22 September of the same year. Hence the Diocese of Hong Kong Island was formally established and the Right Reverend Peter Kwong became the first Bishop. The Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui was inaugurated on 25 October and Bishop Peter Kwong was installed as Archbishop and Primate of the Province. He retired on 31 December 2006.

The Revd Paul Kwong was elected as the Bishop Designate on 30 December 2005 at the Diocesan Synod. The Consecration was held on 25 March 2006, and the Enthronement was held on 15 January 2007.

The Right Revd Paul Kwong was also elected as the Second Archbishop and Primate of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui on 3 February 2007 at the General Synod. The Installation was held on 26 September 2007.