350 displaced Hong Kongers gather each week at Trinity Church, Earley.
The Cantonese community first came to Trinity at Christmas 2021. Very quickly, a shared vision developed for the Cantonese church community to use Trinity and becoming part of the Church in Earley.
“It felt like they had found their spiritual home,” says the Revd Jon Salmon, Vicar of Trinity Church, Earley.
On Easter Sunday 2022, the Chinese church began a regular Cantonese Worship Service.
Their senior pastor, Siew Yin Chan is now on the staff at Trinity, a post funded by the Oxford Development Fund. She is assisted by two pastors from Hong Kong. The church also employs two part-time Hong Kong administrators to work with the church’s operations support team.
“It’s important for the Hong Kong Christians to have a service in their own language, Cantonese,” says Siew Yin. “Trinity offers that, plus the space and the freedom to worship.”
“God’s hand is very much on the project,” says Jon. “It’s happened very easily and there’s a great sense of mutual respect and care. We are fascinated to see where it might go.”
One place it is going is a new Cantonese plant service at St Mary the Virgin, Winnersh on 4th June. Between 40 and 50 people from Earley have committed to go and plant the new service in the next door deanery.
“We want to thank our brothers and sisters at St Mary’s,” says Siew Yin. “They have moved the time of their main Sunday service, to allow us to have the 11 o’clock slot. It’s very gracious of them.”
This has been made possible by funding from the diocese through the Development Fund and there are already plans to plant a second site later in the year.
Reflecting on the church’s journey Jon says, “It’s important to stand alongside people who have left their country because of persecution, showing them love, compassion and concern. It’s important to provide them with an opportunity to have somewhere safe and welcoming to worship. This is all about loving our neighbours,” he says.
But there are benefits for the existing Church community. “The Cantonese congregation are pulling us along,” says Jon. “They are inspiring, passionate. It’s easy to get complacent at times. It’s helps us to learn and keeps us focussed, intentional and outward looking.”
The Development Fund
The Development Fund is open to all parishes and benefices in the Diocese of Oxford and especially those with limited financial resources to invest in missional activity. Find out more and apply via the Development Fund page of our website.