From the Pastor’s Desk:Rev. Simon Lee, Senior Pastor RCAC
Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,
July 1, 2022 was a special day to me, thought-provoking, as one born in Hong Kong but who has for years made Canada my home. On July 1, we celebrated Canada Day here. I know, as I enjoyed a statutory holiday. This year is the 155th Anniversary of Confederation. But for those of us who are from Hong Kong, we may know that July 1 this year was also the day to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). These were two anniversaries with very different background, evoking in me very different feelings and emotions.
I still remember when Canada celebrated the 150th anniversary of the confederation, my wife Lydia and I took a trip to the Maritimes Provinces in Eastern Canada, together with my daughter Hannah and my son in law Eugene as tour guides. One place we visited was Charlottetown, P.E.I., where the conferences on the confederation of “Canada” all started in 1864. It ended in the birth of Canada in 1867, marked by the proclamation into law of the Constitution Act, 1867 (British North America Act). On that trip, I learned a lot about Canada and its history, both the glorious and the ugly, of the treaties with the First Nations, colonialism, confederation, and history of immigrations.
One thing I learned was the name “Canada” comes from aboriginal roots, the Huron-Iroquois word “Kanata,” meaning “village” or “settlement,” the name given to the French explorers and settlers of the day, referring to the village of Stadacona, the site of the present-day City of Quebec. Canada was previously also referred to as a Dominion (part of the British Empire) by the British. But interestingly, it was New Brunswick’s Sir Leonard Tilley who suggested the use of the word “Dominion” of Canada, reportedly inspired by Psalm 72:8, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” C&MA of Canada uses the 5S’s to denote its span of ministries, and the 5th S, refers to “sea to sea” (Dominion of Canada). As an Alliance pastor, my prayer on July 1 in recollecting this was: May the Lord truly have dominion over Canada, which once had a lots of Christian roots!
My mind wandered to Hong Kong. As you know, on July 1, 1997, China regained control of the British colony of Hong Kong after 156 years. It was in 1839 that Britain invaded China to crush opposition to its opium trade and in 1842 the unequal Treaty of Nanking was signed ending the First Opium War, and the Island of Hong Kong was ceded to the British. In September 1984, after years of negotiations, the British and the Chinese signed a formal agreement approving the 1997 turnover of the island, Kowloon and the New Territories back to China. One of the major concepts was “one country, two systems.”
On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was orderly handed over to China in a ceremony attended by numerous Chinese, British, and international dignitaries. I was in Hong Kong, and still remember being glued to the TV, watching each event of the handover, and wondering what will happen to Hong Kong and whether the concept of “one country, two systems” will work. For us as a family, in 1994 we had decided to leave Vancouver to move to Hong Kong to serve there because of the tremendous need there. Little did we know Lydia and I would be there for 18 years till coming to serve at RCAC in 2012. I am amazed at how time flies and 25 years had gone by since the handover. Memories of the City and its development, both its prosperity and upheavals, flood back to my memory. Nowadays we are constantly reminded of the changes in Hong Kong because of the influx of newcomers from Hong Kong in the last year or so. Now half of the period of the promise of “50 years with no change” has passed, with all the many changes, nothing is certain except change itself. As someone who is from Hong Kong, I keep asking on July 1, what will Hong Kong be like after another 25 years? (Next issue: Pastoral Reflections on July 1 (2))
Rev. Simon Lee