Historical Perspective

The formation of the Church of Christ in China can be traced back to 1918 when the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in China called a meeting in Nanjing to look into the desirability of forming a union of churches. Then the May 4 Movement (1919) aroused among the youth in China a great passion for nationalism, and some even suspected that Christianity had become a tool of cultural invasion by the imperialistic Western powers. Chinese students everywhere organized Anti-Christian Federation, directly challenging the roles and work of the churches. Some church leaders realized that the Church must be indigenous to shed off the insulting label of a “foreign religion.” In other words, local churches must become self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating in order to take root in the country and to minister to her people. Thus the representatives from the Presbyterian Church, the London Missionary Society and the Congregational Church agreed that they must stand united in order to be a more effective witness for Christ. Only a united church could contribute to China at a time when she was facing invasion from the outside and civil discontent from the inside.

The representatives met to draw up a scheme of union. Representatives from other denominations soon joint in. Subsequently, the churches in Canton declared in July 1919 the formation of The Guangdong Synod of the Church of Christ in China. Representatives from the Swedish Missionary Society, the Congregational Church, the London Missionary Society, the Presbyterian Church and the United Brethren also joined the declaration. In 1922, the Provisional General Assembly met in Shanghai and the unity movement gained further momentum. In 1927, the First General Assembly of the newly formed Church of Christ in China, which was attended by representatives from all over China, met in St. Mary’s Hall, Shanghai. In all, 88 commissioners attended, of whom 66 were Chinese and 22 were missionaries representing 11 denominations and 53 District Associations. This laid the foundation of unity on which the Church of Christ in China was built. The newly formed Church adopted a four-tier system: on the national level, the General Assembly; on the provincial level, the Synods; on the district level, the Associations; and on the local level, the churches.

歷屆總會會長及幹部職員,攝於1937年。

The Second General Assembly met in 1930 in Baihedong, Guangdong. The Third General Assembly was held in Gulangyu, Xiamen, in 1933. And the Fourth General Assembly was held in Qingdao in 1937. In a period of 10 years, five synods and 34 associations were added to the union, making a total of 16 synods, 85 associations, 2842 local churches, 454 ordained ministers and approximately 130,000 communicants. Thereafter, World War II broke out and general assembly meeting had to be suspended until the war was over. There was an intention of calling a meeting of the Fifth General Assembly after the war, but because of the chaotic aftermath of the war and the poor condition of the land transportation system, the idea had not been materialized. In October 1946, an extended joint meeting of the Board members and deacons was held in Nanjing with 57 representatives attending. At that time, nation-wide, there were 20 Synods, 105 associations and 170,000 communicants. Altogether 17 Mission Boards from the West covering three continents were involved in the unity movement. They were the United Church of Canada, Women Missionary Society of the United Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church of Canada, Women Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, Congregational Church of America, Presbyterian Church in the United States (South), The Reformed Church in America, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (North), Evangelical and Reformed Church, United Brethren, London Missionary Society, British Baptist Missionary Society, British Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Church of Scotland, Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, and Presbyterian Church of Australia.

The Hong Kong Council

The predecessor of The Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China was the Sixth District Association of the Guangdong Synod of the Church of Christ in China. Because of the political situation in China in the late 40s’, the Sixth District Association was unable to maintain a normal relationship with the Guangdong Synod. As a result The Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China was organized in 1953 in order to carry out its work independently. The governance was changed to a two-tier system, the council and the local churches, which membership included the churches, schools, and agencies of the Sixth District Association in Hong Kong, Kowloon, the New Territories and Macau. Also included in it were some new churches of the same background. However, these churches operated independently. The Council itself and some of the churches in the New Territories had to depend on the financial assistance of foreign missions. In 1955, subsidized by the mission boards, the Council was able to purchase an apartment in Carnarvan Road, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon, as its headquarters. Many programs were still run by missionaries and financially supported by foreign missions.

The Council went through some fundamental restructuring in 1957. This included rewriting its constitution, strengthening the roles of its executive committee and employing more staff. In 1958, in order to expand its work, the Council was incorporated and registered as a non-profit making charity organization with the Hong Kong Government. In 1960, the new headquarters at 191 Prince Edward Road West, Kowloon, was built. This allowed the Council to further strengthen its operation. Between 1960 and 1965 the Council launched two “million-dollar fund raising” campaigns to help to build more churches and schools. In 1964, the Executive Committee passed a resolution to have the Council become self-supporting in 10 years’ time. In 1966, the Council called for a plan of “Consolidation and Renewal in Four Years, and Strengthening Development in Ten Years.” The Council became totally self-supporting in 1974, and the constitution was amended accordingly. In 1980, the Council formally announced herself a “three-self church” which means the church is now a self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating church. During this period of time the Council became a member of the World Council of Churches, the East Asian Christian Council (now the Christian Conference of Asia), and the Hong Kong Christian Council. In 1977 the Council also joined the Council for World Mission (formerly the London Missionary Society), sharing financial resources and manpower and participating in missionary work around the world. By virtue of its historical affiliation, the Council is a member of the World Methodist Council and the World Alliance Reformed Church, and continues to maintain a close relations with a number of other founding churches.

Due to the need for development, the constitution that was adopted in 1957 was amended in 1974 and again in 1997. The second amendment clearly defines three categories of membership: congregation, clergy and agencies, with detail outline of the responsibilities of each. The Annual General Assembly, which is the highest decision-making body of the Council, consists of all the ministers in office, representatives from the local congregations, directors of the Council’s agencies, school principals and delegates from affiliated organizations. Most members, together with 12 representatives elected during the Annual General Meeting, formed the Executive Committee and manage the Council when the Assembly is not in session. The Executive Committee is organized into six departments: the Church Administration Department, the Social Services Department, the Lay Training Department, the Mission Department, the Theological and Ministerial Department, and the Education (School Management Committee) Department. Chairpersons of these departments together with the Chairperson, Vice-chairperson, Hon. Secretary, Hon. Assistant Secretary, Hon. Treasurer and Internal Auditor of the Executive Committee formed the Standing Committee that plan all Council’s business. The Council also employs a General Secretary, an Associate General Secretary, and several Executive Secretaries to execute assignments from the Executive Committee and Departments.

Common Dotrine

HKCCCC is an uniting church consisting mainly of churches with Congregational and Presbyterian traditions. Also included during its inception years were the London Missionary Society, British Baptist Missionary Society and others. They nevertheless share the same beliefs:

  1. “Believe in Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and Lord on whom the Christian Church is founded; and in an earnest desire for the establishment of His Kingdom throughout the whole earth.
  2. “Accept the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the divine inspired word of God, and the supreme authority in matters of faith and life.
  3. “Recognize the Apostle’s Creed as the expression of the fundamental doctrines of our common evangelical faith.”

Any church wishing to join the union must observe the following principles:

  1. Support the unity movement;
  2. Emphasize on democratic participation;
  3. Advance the three-self principles;
  4. Believe in equal rights for both sexes;
  5. Practice the principle of “Mutual respect, trust and sharing”

Basic Direction

For the last forty years, because of circumstantial needs, theme of work of HKCCCC might appear to have changed from time to time. However, the basic direction of thought and development remains closely within its main frame of reference. Following the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, HKCCCC embraces “Partnership in Mission,” “Joint Action for Mission,” and “Sharing for Mission” which shows the Council’s willingness to share its manpower, financial resources, and vision with member churches to achieve its objectives of mission and service. The development of the Council can be described in three stages: Dependence, Independence, and Interdependence. Regardless of which stage of development the Council is in, its main goal is always trying to be the most worthy witness for Christ and to render glory to God.

The Council is a “three-self” church (self-support, self-governance, and self-propagation) and will always be so. In the stage of dependence, the church built its belief on the sufficient grace of God and was prudent in using its resources. In the stage of independence, the Council advocated a policy of simplicity. This means not to spend excessive time and resources and money on matters such as organization, rites, church polities and public relations. The emphasis is on everything for Jesus, that is, to raise the quality of work of its employees, to strength the efficiency and effectiveness of the Council, and to be ready for new involvement in evangelical work. In the stage of interdependence, the Council is willing to share the abundant gifts of God with those who are less fortunate. The Council has been raising money for such causes as preaching good news to the poor, caring for the weak, and serving the elderly. It also shares its resources with organizations in Hong Kong and overseas. It encourages its members to practice the spirit of sharing and caring, and to generously support those projects that eventually lead to self-supporting as well as on other ground-breaking development.

Conclusion

Upon the return of Hong Kong to China, the Council becomes part of the Chinese church. Still believing in the absolute sovereignty and abundant grace of God, the Council continues to march forward in faith. The Council also hopes that all members of the Council will unite in one heart to work for church renewal, to benefit the society of Hong Kong and to give glory to God.

English version was translated by Mr. Hudson Soo (April 2004).

Chinese version only:

The Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China
Members of Standing Commitee
2021 to 2023

Last Updated: 2021/11/24

A. Standing Committee

Executive Committee Staff
Chairperson MA Chi Man, Jick
Vice Chairperson CHAN Ying Shing
Secretary KAM Siu Wan
Vice Secretary KWAN Ming Kee, Anthony
Treasurer AU YEUNG Chi Kong
Internal Auditor NG Kai Wai, Gary
Departmental Chairment
Administration & Church Affairs Department KO Kwok Hung, Pele
Laity Training Department LEUNG Yuen Yiu
Social Services Department WONG Sing Wing
Mission and Evangelism Department LI Siu Po
Theology and Ministry Department TANG Tat Wing
Education Services Department SHUM Kwok Yan, Daisy
General Office Staff
General Secretary WONG Ka Fai, Ray
Associate General Secretary PO Kam Cheong
Director of Education Services CHAN Tsun Kit
Director of Social Services LO Chun Bill