Following the first Opium War, Hong Kong became a British Crown Colony in 1842. Methodism was introduced in 1843 by British Methodist soldiers. In 1851 a WMMS missionary, George Piercy, arrived with the purpose of preaching the gospel in China, but it was not until 1884 that a catechist sent by the Guangzou Methodist Church established a Chinese Cantonese-speaking congregation in the colony, followed in 1893 by an English-speaking congregation.
In the early 1950s, after the withdrawal of missionaries from China, the American Methodist Board of Missions also began work in Hong Kong among the many Mandarin-speaking refugees. In 1975 the British and American strands united to become the autonomous Methodist Church, Hong Kong, joined in 1988 by the English-speaking congregation. In 1997 the Church had some 12,000 baptized members and claimed a total community of 160,000, including 17,000 students studying in its schools and 142,000 through a number of social service centres, providing a variety of services for people of all ages and backgrounds.
During its period as a Crown Colony, generations of British servicemen and women were grateful for the 'Sailors and Soldiers Home' in Wanchai, run by the Methodist Church. With the decline of service personnel, its usefulness gradually diminshed and in 1991 the premises were rebuilt and are now a Methodist Centre for community activities and a hostel called 'the Wesley'. The English-speaking Church (formerly the Garrison Church), now known as the International Church, has widened its ministry to embrace the many Filipino domestic workers and in 1994 established a Methodist Shelter for workers who had been mistreated or summarily dismissed by their employers. In 1989 the Methodist Church in Hong Kong started a mission in Macau, firty miles along the China coast.
With the end of British rule in 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. At that time there was a great deal of uncertainty about the future of the Church. Would religious freedom be undermined? Would the Church be able to carry on its work without interference from the authorities? Ten years on it was reported that the Church's work had carrried on as normal and that several new projects, covering education, social service and evangelism, had been established. It is also actively involved in building bridges with the Church in China through the China Christian Council and is helping that Church in a number of projects, providing funds and mutually sharing experience and expertise. The Methodist International Church in Wenchau was closed in 2014 and demolished, to be replaced by a 24-storey multi-purpose building, opened in 2018 to serve the church's outreach in the area.
Entry written by: GRS
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