Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor Alarms Hong Kong Churches

( [email protected] ) Dec 11, 2009 02:00 PM EST

Christian leaders in Hong Kong have called on the church to repent and renew its commitment to social justice as the gap between rich and poor continues to widen in the former British colony.

The call was made in a declaration issued last week by Christians who met earlier in the month for a three-day mission council organised by the Hong Kong Christian Council.

The declaration warned that the gap between rich and poor in Hong Kong had widened in the more than 10 years since the handover to China, while the church had become too functionalist at the expense of mission and its spiritual direction.

It appealed to churches to assume their prophetic role and engage themselves in serving the poor, promoting democracy and safeguarding the environment.

“Churches need to repent, and to carry out the God’s mission on earth: to serve the marginalised people,” said the declaratin, drawn up by over 120 church leaders from various denominations.

The group, led by the General Secretary of Mission To New Arrivals, the Rev Leung Yau-tung, urged local congregations to set up social concern groups to promote social justice, and to allocate resources to serve the marginalised.

They lamented that most of the congregations composed of middle-class Christians who had little contact with the city's marginalised.

“Gender justice needs to be a pastoral concern of the churches,” said seminary lecturer Dr Rose Wu at the concluding session.

Concerning gender justice, the group said that more women should be ordained to balance out the male dominated church leadership. It suggested mechanisms at the congregational level to promote gender justice and the election of one male and one female leader to co-lead the Hong Kong Christian Council.

Some participants at the consultation said they felt the ecumenical movement was dying. Anglican Bishop Thomas Soo, chairperson of the Hong Kong Christian Council, said after the consultation that local ecumenists shared a common direction towards Christian unity, but admitted that the way ahead was not easy and filled with challenges.

“The Mission Consultation is an occasion for the churches to discern the signs of the time,” he said. “The church needs to address its mission over the changing of the time.”

The Mission Consultation is convened by the Hong Kong Christian Council every 10 years, with a mid-term consultation held every five years.

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