Road to unity is long for Hong Kong Christians

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Hong Kong (January 31, 2017) -- The Prayer Week for Christian Unity on Jan. 18-25 passed in Hong Kong with the issue of a joint statement, prayers and hymns and an ecumenical Sunday breakfast for church leaders.

However, Cynthia Yuen, a Protestant who works in education, was unimpressed. How were the activities "still relevant today after the Umbrella Movement of the 21st century?" she said, referring to a months-long campaign of civil disobedience effort for democracy in 2014.

"Can we say that unity exists when only church leaders attend? It seems the prayer week has nothing to do with young people as they are not leaders," she said.

Young people in Hong Kong are different from the past. Some are very socially conscious and active in politics. They want to know the views of the church. If the ecumenical movement wants progress, it must move with the times, Yuen said.

Her view that there is a detachment between church leaders and the faithful, especially the youth, is not uncommon.

Road to unity is long for Hong Kong Christians

Hong Kong leaders of different Christian Churches lead a prayer together at the Prayer Week for Christian Unity 2017.

Lau Yiu-chung, a Catholic in his 20s, said that he knew the prayer week was happening but did not join any of the activities. "I didn't know what the exact activities were and did not feel interested," Lau said.

"I am not very sure about the ecumenical spirit. It seems to have little effect," he said. His only ecumenical experience was bringing fellow Catholic students to visit a Protestant fellowship when he was a member of his university's Catholic Society.

For Yuen, the problem is one of comprehension. The church should have a deeper understanding of what ecumenism means, she said.

The life and environment of local society is "totally irrelevant to the church. The struggle of the people is not the struggle of the church. Ecumenism has become a formality. It is unfortunate," she said.

Leaders and followers from different Christian churches in an ecumenical gathering at Christ the King Chapel
in Hong Kong during the Prayer Week for Christian Unity 2017

Reporter, Hong Kong