Hong Kong 2003
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The Christian community — largely Protestant and Roman Catholic — is estimated to number close to 540 000. The Protestant and Roman Catholic churches maintain a spirit of fellowship, with the Hong Kong Christian Council and the Roman Catholic Diocese joining together on special occasions. In recent years, the Orthodox Church has established a Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia, which is based in Hong Kong.

Protestant Community

The presence of the Protestant community dates from 1841. About 300 000 Protestant Christians live in Hong Kong. The Protestant Church is made up of over 1 300 congregations in more than 50 denominations with many independent churches. The Baptists form the largest denomination, followed by the Lutherans. Other major denominations are Adventist, Anglican, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Church of Christ in China (representing the Presbyterian and Congregational traditions), Methodist, Pentecostal and Salvation Army. With their emphasis on youth work, many congregations have a high proportion of young people.

Protestant organisations operate three post-secondary institutions: Chung Chi College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University and Lingnan University. They are also active in secondary, primary and pre-primary education, in 2003 operating 158 secondary schools, 206 primary schools, 273 kindergartens and 116 nurseries. There were 16 theological seminaries and Bible institutes, 16 Christian publishing houses and 69 Christian bookshops.

In health and welfare, Protestant organisations run seven hospitals with about 3 750 beds, and 18 clinics. There are also some 59 social service organisations. These social service organisations provided a wide range of services in 2003, including 227 community, family service and youth centres, 74 day care centres, 17 children's homes, 35 homes for the elderly, 106 centres for the elderly, two schools for the deaf and one for the blind, and 47 training centres for the mentally handicapped and disabled. There were also 15 camp sites. In addition, five international hotel-type guest houses are managed by the YMCA and the YWCA.

More than 70 para-church agencies and various Christian action groups minister to the Protestant community and respond to current issues and concerns within Hong Kong society at large. The church supports emergency relief and aid projects in developing countries. Two weekly newspapers, The Christian Weekly and The Christian Times, present news and comments from a Christian perspective.

Two ecumenical bodies facilitate cooperative work among the Protestant churches in Hong Kong. The older one, dating from 1915, is the Hong Kong Chinese Christian Churches Union with a membership of 275 congregations. The second cooperative body is the Hong Kong Christian Council, formed in 1954. Major mainline denominations and ecumenical services constitute the membership core of the council, which is committed to building closer relationships among all churches in Hong Kong as well as with churches in the Mainland and overseas. The council also encourages local Christians to play an active part in the development of Hong Kong society. It seeks to serve the wider community through its auxiliary agencies such as the Hong Kong Christian Service, Christian Industrial Committee, United Christian Hospital, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital and Alice Ho Min Yee Nethersole Hospital and the Christian Family Service Centre. The council runs weekly 'Alternative Tours', which give visitors and residents an opportunity to see how the church serves the community.

Roman Catholic Community

The Roman Catholic Church in Hong Kong was established as a Mission Prefecture in 1841 and as an Apostolic Vicariate in 1874. It became a diocese in 1946.

The present Bishop, Joseph Ze-kiun Zen, was installed in 2002, becoming the fourth Chinese bishop of the diocese. Bishop Zen is assisted by two Vicars General, John Hon Tong, who is also Auxiliary Bishop, and Father Dominic Chan.

Bishop Zen became head of the diocese upon the death of Cardinal John Baptist Cheng-chung Wu who had served since 1975. The first Chinese bishop was Francis Chen-ping Hsu, who was installed in 1969 and succeeded in 1973 by Peter Wang-kei Lei.

About 239 400 people are Catholics. They were served in 2003 by 309 priests, 60 brothers and 519 sisters. There are 52 parishes, comprising 40 churches, 31 chapels and 28 halls for religious service. Services are conducted in Chinese with three-fifths of the parishes also providing services in English, and in Tagalog in some cases.

The diocese has established its own administrative structure while maintaining close links with the Pope and other Catholic communities around the world. It has the same creed, scripture, liturgy and organisation as the other Catholic communities world-wide. The assistant secretary-general of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference has his office in Hong Kong.

Along with its apostolic work, one of the prime concerns of the diocese has been the well-being of the community as a whole. In education, there are 320 Catholic schools and kindergartens which have about 286 000 pupils. There is the Catholic Board of Education to assist in this area. The medical and social services include six hospitals, 15 clinics, 13 social centres, 15 hostels, 12 homes for the aged, 15 rehabilitation service centres and many self-help clubs and associations. Caritas is the official social welfare arm of the church in Hong Kong.

These services are open to all people. Indeed, 95 per cent of those who have benefited from the wide range of services provided by the diocese are not Catholics.

To reach people through the media, the diocese publishes two weekly newspapers, Kung Kao Po and The Sunday Examiner. In addition, the Diocesan Audio-Visual Centre produces tapes and films for use in schools and parishes and, overall, the Hong Kong Catholic Social Communications Office acts as an information and public relations channel for the diocese.

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