Young Christians of different faiths learn tolerance and brotherhood
The brotherhood of all believers is a key tenet of the ecumenical movement in Hong Kong, and a group of young people from various denominations gathered recently to share their thoughts on the subject.
Local churches hold regular meetings to foster interfaith and interdenominational harmony, and more than 30 young Christians gathered on January 11-13 ahead of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity to express their solidarity.
The retreat was organized by the Catholic Diocesan Youth Commission and offered young people from Anglican, Pentecostal, Catholic and other denominations an opportunity to share their faith and experiences.
Father Paul Kam, a regular organizer of youth retreats, said the youth camp offered a rare chance for young Christians to interact effectively on things that bind them together spiritually.
“This is probably the first time young people have had the chance to relax together and share their experiences in an informal and everyday setting,” he said.
Aggie Ng, a Catholic who attended the youth camp, said the gathering reminded her of Jesus’ teaching about loving all people.
“It is important for us to respect other followers of Christ from different denominations. Instead of amplifying differences, we need to focus on what we all have in common – our belief in the one God,” she said.
Attendees of the youth camp visited a prison and a missionary house in southern Hong Kong, and also made a trip to the oldest Catholic monastery and a 110-year-old Anglican school in an effort to understand the historical contributions of Christianity to the society.
Irene Leong, of the Anglican Holy Spirit Church, helped lead the youth retreat and said she emphasized to the young Christians why it was important to cultivate unity among different denominations.
“The Church is the Body of Christ," she said. "To amend divisions among churches is to heal the wounded body of Christ.”
Anglican Father Samson Fan put it another way by quoting a Chinese proverb.
“The ocean accommodates all rivers on the Earth,” he said, encouraging attendees to be more open and tolerant.
This year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs from January 18-25 has adopted the theme, “What does God require of us?” based on a reading from the sixth chapter of the book of Micah.