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The Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Social Service Policy

1.      Purpose

From the beginning


Anglicans in Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui has practiced the teaching of Jesus Christ to witness His love through social services to the community since Hong Kong became a colony. The Church has promoted social services for more than 160 years since mid-19th Century. It has followed the example of Christ to walk with the people, to look after the impoverished masses, to improve people’s livelihood, to take the timely care of the weak, to heal the sick and to care of the poor.


In the past decade, the social ministry of the Anglican Church in Hong Kong has responded to the rapid changes to the social environment. Moreover, being a church, we have to review the mission of our social ministry from the view point of theology and pastoral ministry so that our social ministry can be based on the faith and be more visionary. 


Therefore, the Standing Committee of the Provincial General Synod submits the draft HKSKH Declaration of Social Services and Related Policy to the General Synod for members’ discussion and decision.


2.      History and Evolution of HKSKH Social Services

The Anglican Church in Hong Kong started its social ministry in the mid-19th Century. In the early years, the Church set up Po Yan Hospital in Beihai, Guangdong Province to shelter outcast lepers and actively take part in the Opposing Maidservant System Movement and Movement to Protect Child Labour.


In the 1950s, the Church actively responded to the needs of the underprivileged by setting up a number of parish based social services units to serve the locals. In the 1960s, the Diocesan Welfare Council was founded to respond to the government requirement on the one hand, and to assist the coordination of various institutions in catering to the developmental needs of social services at parish level on the other hand. In the 1970s, taking ride with the implementation of government’s subvention system, the Church responded timely to social demands for youth, women and employment services. To tie in with the Church’s ‘New Town Missionary and Service Ministry,’ a ministry combining evangelization and social service, the Welfare Council in 1980s provided holistic caring progarmmes to cover body, mind and spirit. In the 1990s, social services of the HKSKH was so diversified that they covered children, the youth, the family, the elderly and the community. In the new millennium, the social ministry has expanded to rehabilitation, operation and management of senor citizen residential flats, basic medical services and encouraging social innovations, in addition to its basic services.

3.      The Current Situation of the HKSKH Social Services

3.1 Government Involvement

In the early days, resources needed for the Anglican social ministry were funded by the Church and its supporters. With the continuing economic and social developments in Hong Kong, today the government bears more resources and costs compared with that of the early days. Meanwhile, the government also commissions social services institutions, including those with church background, to provide services needed by the general population. The relationship between the government and social services institutions has become contractual and both parties have the responsibility to fulfill the terms listed in the contract, i.e. the government provides the agreed funding, while in return the social services institution provides the statistics of its services. Contractualization of social services has implicitly affected social services institutions run by the Church, ranging from demands for quality assurance and professionalization, expectations of corporation governance and monitoring, to prioritization of services, etc.


3.2 Social Issues

A number of social issues emerged at the beginning of the 21st Century, such as disparity of the rich and the poor, difficult livelihood caused by high inflation, heavy burden of social caring demanded by the aging population, personal mental stress and family relationship problems arisen from regular overtime work to compensate inadequate job security, obstacle to continuing social development caused by youth who are neither engaged in work nor studies. Because of the change of social ethos, interpersonal mutual trust is very weak and neighbourhood relationship becomes distant. All these reveal the importance of promoting the Kingdom of Heaven through social services by the Church.


3.3 Current Situation of Institutions

At present, there are more than 4,000 staff working in over 400 service units in Hong Kong and Macau under the HKSKH social services institutions which are one of the biggest social services providers in Hong Kong (please see details in the appended chart).


In the past, parishes were the centre of the HKSKH social services institutions. However, in keeping abreast of the higher social expectation of professionalism, governance, accountability and monitoring, the Church has gradually reorganized services on community basis.


Apart from providing direct services, the HKSKH Social Welfare Council is also responsible for the work of the Charitable Association of Sheng Kung Hui (Macau) and provides coordination of works among member agencies, such as Sheng Kung Hui (SKH) St. Christopher’s Home and St. James’ Settlement. Moreover, as a coordinator, it also involves in the reorganization of several member agencies, for example, the HKSKH Lady MacLehose Centre, SKH Holy Carpenter Church Community Centre and HKSKH Kindly Light Church Neigbourhood Elderly Centre, and provides management assistance to them.


3.4 Scope of Services

To actualize the spirit of the agape of Christ, services of HKSKH Social Welfare Council cover all age groups from all walks of life: from toddlers, children, the youth, families, the rehabilitated to the elderly. The scope of its services includes education, learning, psychological therapy, social counseling, family therapy, drug abuse counseling, home care, community support, rehabilitation training, day care centres, hostel service, employment service, food bank and medical and nursing, etc.


3.5 Innovation

Some saw Jesus’ ministry as a revolution of heaven. From the past to present, the HKSKH Welfare Council has many times been the reformer and pioneer in social services. Built on the social insight of its predecessors who were inspired by the spirit of the Christ and walked with the masses to experience their needs, the Church has advocated and introduced many new ideas and services, to name a few, promoting the establishment of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, founding various types of social service institutions, setting up the first team of Home Care Service in Hong Kong, founding Hong Kong’s first sheltered workshop, the first Golden Guides, the first integrated service centre, and the first social institution to offer services to minority ethnic groups. All these innovative and pioneering services are to respond the needs of the society and to love to return love.


3.6 Culture of Care and Love

The HKSKH Welfare Council is not only an organization to provide services, and is also an organization to cultivate the culture of care and love. All institutions under the Welfare Council value their staff because it is only through their likeness of Christ that they can restore the image of human beings at the Creation in serving others.   The social ministry of the HKSKH has strived to actualize the teaching of loving thy neighbour as thyself and has upheld the belief that its staff would love and care about their clients more only if and when the staff have been loved and cared of in the first place to understand and experience God’s love. Hence, the Church actively promotes the culture of care and love among its staff and encourages them to care about the health of their body, mind and soul.


3.7 Service Territory

The HKSKH’s social ministry is rooted in Hong Kong and covers every corner of the city to walk with Hong Kong people under the lead of God. Following the transition of Macau’s economy, the Church set up the Charitable Association of Sheng Kung Hui (Macau) to serve the Macau population in the mid-1990s. In recent years, demands for social services have increased in China because of the uplifting of the living standard as a result of the country’s opening up and reform. In facing the increasing demands for social services and more social workers, it has provide professional support and training programmes for the Ministry of Civil Affairs, NGOs and Christian institutions in China.


4.      Proposals

The Standing Committee presents the following proposals for Members’ reference and discussion:


4.1      The Theological View of HKSKH Social Services

Because Christian faith, which includes biblical teachings, is the foundation of the social ministry of the HKSKH, it is also sacramental and has its own theology of the world. The social ministry actualizes Christ’s love and care to the community through His incarnation. Apart from serving those who are in need, the social ministry is also part of the engineering of the Kingdom of Heaven. It complements the evangelical and pastoral ministries of the Church to promote harmonious relationship between God and man, and between ‘I and It’, so that reconciliation could be achieved between human beings and God, between person and person, between community and community.


4.1.1        Biblical Teaching

The Word of God is the source of designing, planning and provision of the social ministry of HKSKH, because social ministry goes to the people to enable them to have abundant lives, just as Jesus said: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). So that the underprivileged can be loved and cared: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:18-19). And the more important point is to call on people to reconcile: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).


4.1.2        Theological Foundation

From history to present, human societies in all parts of the world have continuously engaged in arguments over issues derived from constant changes in macro environments, climates and major events. And such arguments have caused the world to be further away from the goal of the church, which is the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The social ministry of the HKSKH is to intimate Christ who came to the imperfect earth to actualize the Kingdom of Heaven and to sanctify us.


4.1.3        Core Values

The core values of the social ministry of the HKSKH are:

Ÿ Christian Faith:

The core of social services is Christian faith and this core value never changes.

Ÿ Biblical Teaching:

The principle of social services is based on biblical teaching, which is realized in services and operation.

Ÿ The Engineering of the Kingdom of Heaven:

Social services are the engineering of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is beyond the services and should be seen as a calling and commitment.

Ÿ Incarnation:

Social services should intimate the Incarnate Christ to walk with the people by providing direct services, upholding justice and sanctifying the people.

Ÿ Holiness and Holism:

The vision of social services should be holy and holistic so as to promote the health of human body, mind and soul in the world.


4.2          The Role of the HKSKH (The Church) in Social Services

The Church carries on Jesus Christ’s work on earth, which includes loving thy neighbour as thyself. When Jesus began his public ministry, he cited the prophet Isaiah as the preamble of his mission: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (Luke 4:18-19). The parable of separation of the sheep from the goats in Chapter 25 of the Gospel according to Matthew serves as a severe reminder to the faithful who had not cared about the needs of those who were in need. The mission of Jesus Christ is to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to the present. Hence the ministries of the Church are the signs of the new heaven and earth and the new era to realize the Kingdom founded by Jesus Christ through its evangelization, pastoral care, education and social services.


The whole life of Jesus in the Gospels cared and served those who were oppressed, the poor and the weak. To follow Christ’s teaching, we serve not only those who are in need through social services, but also see such services as part of the engineering of the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus, it is necessary for us to review the HKSKH social services and find out how to face and balance the lead by the government and the expectations of the society so to try our very best to actualize the spirit of Christ’s Incarnation by walking into the society to embrace the opposed and to accept the rejected, to care about the needed, the injured, and to heal the sick. As a church, we are also the prophet and the servant to uphold the truth and justice, to be aware of the needs, to alleviate livelihood difficulties, to evangelize the good news, and to establish a just and peaceful society.


4.3          Mission of HKSKH Social Services

As a church on earth, social services are part of the HKSKH’s evangelization and pastoral care. The mission of the social services of the HKSKH is to intimate the Incarnate Christ to come to the world, to reconcile with people, and to walk with the people, to share the proclamation of God’s love: “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).


Moreover, social services provided by the HKSKH cover not only material or physical needs, but also spiritual needs focusing on the treasuring, appreciating, affirming and respecting of life. In other words, it provides a holistic care because the creation of God is good.

4.4          Vision of HKSKH Social Services

The vision of HKSKH Social Services should be wide and high so that it can read not only the pulse of local society, but also note the universal trends in order to provide social services to meet the emerging needs in a timely manner.


4.4.1        Worldview

Staff of the HKSKH social services should be in more frequent exchanges with other members of the Anglican Communion to share their experiences and to learn from each others and to be partners, if and when necessary, under the common faith and universal value.


4.4.2        Globalization

The world has become a global village so that staff of the HKSKH social services should know and be aware of global social issues, because what has happened in another part of the world today, could happen locally tomorrow. Further, we have to face the political, economic and social impacts of globalization on local community, because such impacts will affect the outlook and planning of social services in Hong Kong and give rise to change management in distribution of resources which will affect the end users. From this prospective, it is necessary for HKSKH to learn from or exchange with other countries and regions about its idea and practice of social services, particular with some churches or other religion-run social services institutions to gain better understanding of their modus operandi and adopt them for our own use.


4.4.3        National View

Hong Kong is part of China and staff of the HKSKH social services should stay in touch with the Ministry of Civil Affairs, which is responsible for people’s livelihood, and support the formation of social workers in the Mainland, if and when necessary, to improve people’s livelihood and promote peace. Furthermore, exchanges, experience sharing and cooperation should also be maintained with the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China, China Christian Council, the Amity Foundation and other social services institutions of the same nature.

As part of China, social services units of the HKSKH should actively participate in disaster relief, fighting poverty and providing medical services, if and when such needs arise in China.


4.4.4        Localization

Following the hand over of Hong Kong to China, new challenges to social services are: major political, economic and social changes, disparity between the rich and the poor, conflict between Hong Kong and the Mainland, new immigrants and children born in Hong Kong of Mainland parents. To respond to the needs, the social services of HKSKH should work out a holy holistic service model covering the body, mind and soul. The model, which is based on the needs of all parties concerned and the macro environment coupled with practical wisdom distilled from proven experiences, should be built on a sound theoretical foundation and could be socially effective

4.5          The Realization of HKSKH Social Services


4.5.1        Yoked Together

The Sheng Kung Hui’s idea of parish does not restrict to parish church only but the whole pastoral caring area. Thus, all parishes should treat the social services units within the parish as part of the parish. In the same vein, social services units should also see that they are part of the parish concerned. Therefore, ministers and lay people of individual HKSKH parish should be responsible for taking care of the social services units within their own parish:


Ÿ   Parish should strengthen pastoral spiritual support to staff of social services units located within the parish. Ideally, the parish pastor should also be the chaplain of the social services units as a sign of support, encouragement and acceptance.


Ÿ   Conduct studies on enhancing the function of parish with the parish church as the hub to link up churches, schools and social services units within the parish; while on the other hand, social services units should also maintain close liaison with the parish and schools, so that a strong cooperating and networking relationship between church, schools and social services units could be achieved so that they can act in one mind as a family, in the sense that ‘though we are many, we are one body’, to share the mission and to give full play to the spirit of SKH holy holism and under one yoke.


4.5.2        The Role of Prophets

Like prophets and servants, the social services of the HKSKH should be always the vanguard of the society to discern God’s will, to uphold the truth, to dispense justice and to serve those who are in need. At the same time to serve the society in a cost effective manner, it should also be the social conscience to promote justice and peace, to look after the disadvantaged who are excluded from the welfare system, to promote the culture of Kingdom of Heaven (love, sacrifice, and commitment) in every corner of the society through services:


Ÿ   Within all possibility to further strengthen the “Act of Love” so that the ignored groups could be looked after and a society full of love and care could be built.


Ÿ   The Standing Commission on Social Service should strengthen its study on social work and conduct theological reflection with social services units on social issues from time to time, as well as to make forward-looking appeal over social crises.


Ÿ   The Standing Commission on Social Service should also conduct joint study with various social services units on government social welfare policies and actively reflect views to the government department concerned.


4.5.3        Responsibilities of the Laity

The social services of the HKSKH are part of its engineering of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Church must encourage the faithful to care and serve the society in the imitation of Christ to serve the weak in person to witness the Lord and to share the love of God in discharging their responsibilities as the faithful:


Ÿ   Social services units should provide the opportunity to enable the faithful, teachers and students of the HKSKH to take part in volunteer work and other social services so that a mutually supported network of love can be formed among churches, schools and social services institutions, in addition to allow them to gain a better understanding of social work.


Ÿ   Social services institutions should encourage all units to form fellowships and evangelical ministry so that they can mutually support each other through prayer and fellowship.


4.5.4        The Calling

Apart from encouraging the faithful to care and serve the society, the HKSKH should also call on the faithful to join the social services field, as a professional or as a non-professional, and the key here is to allow service clients to experience the love and care of Christ, to witness the faith, to encourage them to seek the meaning and goal of life, and to know God:


Ÿ   Encourage more faithful of the HKSKH to study social work to help the Church have more relevant professionals.


Ÿ   A resource network could be set up between the Church and individual HKSKH social services institutions where vacancies of various institutions could be make known to the faithful. It will facilitate those who would like to join the HKSKH social ministry to find the right job, and the institutions to find the right candidate.


4.5.5        Corporate Governance

All social services institutions formed in the name of the HKSKH or SKH must identify with the overall development of the Province of the HKSKH, so that better protection could be rendered to the institutions:


Ÿ   All HKSKH social service institutions or units should regularly review their governance so that they can keep abreast to latest development, continuously improve the quality of service and enhance governance to meet the demand of social development.


Ÿ   The Church should also see staff of SKH social service institutions as members of the SKH. Thus, it should continue to hold seminars for the staff to know and understand the history and belief of the SKH, particularly the value of the SKH social ministry.


4.5.6        Servant Leadership

Jesus Christ is the model of servant leader and should be learned of and imitated. All directorate and managerial grade staff of the HKSKH social services institutions should learn about servant leadership and soulful leadership to walk with the people:


Ÿ   All institutions should hold regular appropriate trainings, in particularly the idea of Christ’s servant leadership, for managerial grade staff of all units, so that they would remember that servant and soulful leadership are the important signs of the HKSKH social services that should be actualized.


4.5.7        Son of Peace

Each staff of the HKSKH social ministry be he/she a social worker, medical doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, and frontline worker, is the son of peace to oneself and others so as to recognize the belief, values and guiding principles of the HKSKH social services:


Ÿ   The Standing Commission on Social Service and staff of the social services units should study the social conflicts arising from political, economic and livelihood issues to find out how to integrate the spirit of reconciliation into the community through social welfare services provided by the Church, to live out the value of the Son of Peace, to magnify the love of God, to reveal the true, good and beauty of the creation, to assist the clients of the services and the good people around them to find the presence of God and His wisdom and grace of salvation.


4.5.8        The Fellowship of Love

The Church cares all members, clients and their family of the HKSKH social services. They are also the members of the fellowship of love. They are loved by the Church who also shares the agony of their sufferings:


Ÿ   To setup network at parish level to promote the culture of care and love, to provide spiritual support to staff and clients, and to provide more flexibility and spaces in service and human resources policies to look after their needs.


5.      Decision Sought

Members of the General Synod are asked to discuss and endorse the proposed Policy Paper.


6.      Way Forward

It is proposed to endorse the Paper and adjourn the session of General Synod for relevant organizations to work out implementation plans and annual report, and report to the General Synod when it resumes.