As we have been celebrating the birthday of Christ Church this past week, a number of people have asked me about the history of the Church. I have written this short introduction that I thought I would also post here. It clearly isn't definitive, but it gives an idea of the Church and its past.
It is Advent Sunday, this coming Sunday and the start of the preparations for Christmas. Hooray! We have some repair work going on at the moment and I am hoping it will all be finished by Christmas. I need a break from building works! There have been rather a lot of them, but as I say in what follows, this is inevitable given the age of our building and the climate in Hong Kong.
Christ Church – A Short Introduction
The beginnings of Christ Church are quite unusual. Many people even in Christ Church don’t realize that Christ Church is a rebirth of another Church, Saint Peter’s, West Point. Two dates are especially significant: September 2, 1933 and October 29, 1938.
St Peter’s Church had been built in 1872 as a mission Church for seamen. It was supported in its work by large shipping companies. Their support for this work stopped after the first world war. Furthermore, as many of the congregation had moved to Kowloon Tong, the decision was made to open a Church in Kowloon Tong and to close St Peter’s. A Church house was acquired at 3 Duke Street. Worship at St Peter’s stopped in August, 1933 and the Church House was hallowed by Bishop R O Hall on Saturday, September 2, 1933. Worship took place in a large room in the house. The altar and furnishings were those of St Peter’s. At this stage, the Church was known as the Kowloon Tong Anglican Church.
Subsequently, the decision was made to build a Church. The site of the present Church was chosen in January, 1936 and with government assistance a Church was built. The Consecration Service was held on October 29, 1938 and the Kowloon Tong Anglican Church became Christ Church! The Church bell came from St Peter’s. It is rung before every service and at the moment of consecration during the Eucharist.
The date, of course, is significant. Every year Christ Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King in a special way. Prior to 1970, the feast of Christ the King was observed on the last Sunday in October. However, the reformed calendar approved by the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church that took effect in that year changed the date to the last Sunday before the next liturgical year's Advent begins (Advent marking the start of the liturgical year). Other Churches have followed this change.
Christ Church celebrated its 75th Anniversary as a worshipping community in Kowloon Tong in 2008!
From the beginning, Christ Church has been comitted to the education of children. In fact, a Sunday School was opened before the Church. Many of the original congregation had close links with DBS, a relationship that continues to this day. In October, 1950 a primary school was opened. Built on Church land, the Dioceesan Preparatory School quickly established itself and its reputation. A redevelopment of DPS in Febraury, 1971 saw two more schools coming to the present site, Christ Church Kindergarten and Mary Rose. Mary Rose was opened to provide education for children with special needs and was named after the wife of a former Vicar of the Church. When Bishop Hall Jubilee School was opened, Christ Church was to have an association with this School as well. Although involvement with education has not been without its problems, it remains a major part of the work of Christ Church and one that it takes very seriously.
The building itself has become a major landmark. On December 7, 1941, shortly after it was built, worship ceased in the building as a consequence of the Japanese invasion. The Church was used as a stable for Japanese horses during the occupation. Originally Waterloo Road was a quiet road leading nowhere. Now it is a major route to the New Territories and to China itself. A building over 70 years old requires constant care and attention. The congregation have in recent years completed major renovation works to the exterior of the building and to the area known as the Committee Room. It is our hope that it will not only be a landmark, but the home of Anglican worship in Kowloon Tong for many years to come!
Christ Church is a both local and global in outlook. Although English-speaking Christ Church has always been locally rooted. This is particularly true since 1997 with the majority of the congregation now being ethnically Chinese. Nevertheless, Christ Church has also always had an international feel with many expatriates joining the Church while they live in Hong Kong. Many other members have been educated or have worked abroad.
Our present Vicar, the Reverend Ross Royden, comes originally from the UK and has been with us since September, 2000.