The Church of England must not repeat its failure to welcome the Windrush generation as thousands of Hong Kong Chinese move to the UK in what could be the largest planned migration in decades, say clergy of Chinese descent.
Many of those who came to the UK from the Caribbean in the 1950s and 1960s were discouraged from attending or even turned away from Anglican churches. Last year, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, spoke of his shame at the C of E’s record of racism.
“We don’t want the church to repeat its mistakes by neglecting the needs and desires of the people who come here from Hong Kong,” said the Rev. Mark Nam, a Bristol-based curator of Chinese heritage. “I have read many heartbreaking testimonials [of the Windrush generation]. We want the C of E to be ready and welcoming to everyone this time. We need to learn from history. “
The Home Office received 34,300 applications for a new visa for people in Hong Kong seeking residence in the United Kingdom earlier this year in just two months. More than a million people with British Citizen Overseas (BNO) status could arrive in the UK in the next five years, according to official estimates.
The UK government has said that people with BNO status and their immediate families can apply for entry visas valid for up to five years and eventually apply for citizenship. The program was launched in response to Beijing’s imposition of a tough new national security law in the former British colony.
Approximately 600 UK churches of different denominations have signed up to be “Hong Kong Ready”, pledging to welcome Hong Kong Christians into their church communities. An estimated one in 10 of the newcomers is Christian.
Later this year, the K of E Committee for Anglican Ethnic Minority Concerns (CMEAC) will host a conference on how parishes can welcome people arriving from Hong Kong.
A support group for K of E clergy of East Asian descent will be launched on Monday with a Eucharistic service at Southwark Cathedral, chaired by Canon Andrew Zihni, who was born and raised in Hong Kong. The tea house It has been established to create connections between the 0.2% of paid clergy who are of Chinese or East Asian descent and “to empower them at all levels of the church,” Nam said.
Born in Newport, South Wales, Nam spent much of his childhood in Hong Kong. When his family returned to Wales when Nam was a teenager, he experienced racist abuse at a school where he was the only student of Chinese descent.
“When the Black Lives Matter movement started last year, I asked myself, ‘Where are the voices from East Asia in the church?’ We were invisible. Neither of us knew of the other’s existence, ”he said.
He was also concerned about the sharp rise in hate crimes against East Asian communities last year after the Covid pandemic took hold, fueled by repeated references by former US President Donald Trump to the “Chinese plague.”
Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester and President of CMEAC, welcomed the launch of Teahouse. “Finding ways to support networks and communities of Chinese heritage and East Asian clergy and laity has been identified as one of our key goals,” he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism