The Church of Christ in China was founded in 1918 when discussions on unity by 17 mission societies formally started, and then in 1922 when its Provincial Assembly was held at Shanghai. In the midst of Anti-Christian Movement, it was born as an indigenous and church-union effort. Founding members included many denominational churches mainly from Presbyterian and Congregational traditions. Under the General Assembly, there were in 1928, 12 synods, 51 district associations, 585 local churches, 2,035 preaching stations, with about 120,000 baptized members. After 1949, linkage between the Council in Hong Kong and the General Assembly in Mainland China was cut off. Then the Hong Kong Council renamed herself as the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China.
There are 65 local churches 30 secondary schools (including 6 affiliated schools, 20 day schools and 4 evening schools), 26 primary schools, 6 kindergartens and 1 special child care centre. The number of baptized members is around 30,000 (figure of 2006). Through the educational and social service organizations, the Council serves more than 75,000 children and teenagers. There are six departments and committees in the Council: Church Affairs and Administration, Lay Training, Social Ministry, Theology, Education, Missions and Evangelism.
The Council encourages and assists the local churches to attain self-government, self-support and self propagation. It also promotes evangelistic work and social services, takes an active role in cooperative Christian organizations in the Hong Kong Christian community and participates in the affairs of the ecumenical church. The Council is a member of the Hong Kong Christian Council, Divinity School of Chung Chi College (in Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Chinese Christian Literature Council. It also joins some ecumenical bodies such as The Council for World Mission, World Council of Churches, Christian Conference of Asia, World Alliance of Reformed Churches and World Methodist Council. The Council also has good relationships with the Chinese Church in Mainland China and The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.
On 1 July 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region under The People’s Republic of China. The Council looks forward to the Church in Hong Kong continuing its witness through evangelistic work and social service organizations.
The Methodist Church, Hong Kong is a self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating church incorporated by a private ordinance. It was founded on October 25, 1975 by amalgamation of the British-affiliated “The Chinese Methodist Church, Hong Kong District (Tsun To Kung Wooi)” and the American-affiliated “The Methodist Church, Hong Kong (Wei Li Kung Hui)” which commenced working in Hong Kong in 1884 and 1953 respectively. Though autonomous, it maintains close ties with British, American and other Methodists. It is a covenant church of the World Methodist Council, and is one of the founding members of the World Federation of Chinese Methodist Churches.
Following the Wesleyan tradition, Methodism in Hong Kong has greatly relied on lay leadership. Local preachers and church leaders play active and vital roles in pastoral work and in formulating church policy. Today, the church has 3 circuits comprising 19 local churches and 7 chapels, with 23 active full connexional members (16 ministers, 3 deacons, 4 conference pastoral workers), 36 local church pastoral workers, 2 missionaries and a total baptized membership of 14,000. It also actively provides various types of social, educational and medical services. The church serves 17,000 students through the operation of 8 secondary schools, 9 primary schools and 11 kindergartens. It operates 7 social service centres, 4 day nurseries, 2 dental clinics, 4 camp sites and a book room.
The church is one of the most ecumenically minded Christian bodies in Hong Kong. It provides considerable leadership in the territory’s two most representative inter-denominational bodies, the Hong Kong Christian Council and the Hong Kong Chinese Christian Churches Union. It participates in global and regional ecumenical organizations.
The church is not large in terms of membership or human and financial resources, but has a balanced theological outlook and an integral view of mission. In 1989 it embarked on its mission in Macau, a Portuguese colony about 50 miles from Hong Kong, ministering to the needs of recent immigrants from mainland China. Since the early 90s, it has supported churches and seminaries in Mainland China, and Chinese-speaking churches in England. It has invited ministers of the United Methodist in the Philippines to come as missionaries to serve the increasing number of Filipino members who worship at the Methodist Church (English speaking). Experimental missionary projects have been launched in industrial areas to reach factory workers. This “Blue Collar Evangelism” is a boundary-crossing missionary undertaking from a predominantly middle class church to factory workers’ living situation. As Hong Kong experiences expansion of “new towns” in the new territories, the church is establishing footholds in some of these developing communities, running evangelistic programs and providing community services in school-premises.
Shedding its colonial past, Hong Kong has become part of China as a highly autonomous Special Administrative Region effective from 1 July 1997. Although the future poses great challenges, the church has decided to stand with the remaining majority and commit to God’s mission of building a just and democratic society by renewing its mission, enhancing its ministry and broadening its services to the community. It will strive to maintain the Wesleyan tradition of spreading the Gospel, running schools, serving the needy and supporting ecumenical projects.