Ming Hua Hosts Cambridge Postulant 歡迎來自劍橋的聖職志願人

Ming Hua is delighted to welcome Coryn Stanforth, an ordinand from Wescott House in Cambridge, to the College. Coryn is spending several weeks at Ming Hua as part of her training to become a priest for the Church of England.

Principal Professor Gareth Jones said: “It is always lovely to welcome students from our old friends and partners around the Anglican Communion, and Westcott House is one of Ming Hua’s oldest and deepest friendships. Coryn has brought many gifts to our Hong Kong and Taiwan postulants and we treasure her time with us this autumn.”

Coryn, who is originally from Norwich in the UK, started her career as a primary school teacher. She describes her journey to becoming a postulant as being a gradual one that happened over many years.

“I had a niggling feeling that I should become a priest and I felt God was pushing me towards it,” she says.

In 2011, she became a reader in the Church of England, but she still felt it was not quite enough. It was not until 2018 that she describes things as finally falling into place, leading to her going forward for selection.

Coryn explains that she was keen to come to Hong Kong as part of her training because she wanted to see more of the Anglican Communion.

“I had been teaching other readers about Anglicanism but I felt I had not seen much of the Anglican Communion. I was also interested in theological education and wanted to see what it was like in other places,” she says.

She was particularly interested in Asia after visiting one of her former teaching assistants who had moved to Malaysia a few years earlier.

“I was fascinated by Asia and thought it would be great if I ever had the chance to go back to the region,” she says.

Coryn says she has really enjoyed her time at Ming Hua, particularly visiting the different churches the College’s postulants are attached to. 

“Everyone is very friendly and helpful. It has been really nice to get to know everyone,” she says.

Coryn is due to be ordained as a deacon in the UK in June next year, and is likely to return to Norwich to complete her curacy.

Ming Hua Graduates Ordained 按立聖職

恭喜畢業同學勞漢賢、李文祺、蔡樂媚和梁智偉在十一月一日按立聖職。 願他們一生忠勤事主,榮神益人。

Congratulations to Ming Hua graduates Lorraine Choi and Jason Leung, on their ordination to the priesthood, and Matthew Lee and Kenneth Lo on their ordination to the diaconate.

Continue reading Ming Hua Graduates Ordained 按立聖職

Meet the Faculty: Dr Rowena Chen 見.識教授:陳睿文博士

陳睿文博士 (Rowena),香港聖公會檔案館研究員,同時任教於澳洲查理斯特大學——香港明華神學院,教授範疇包括中國宗教、在華基督教史等;她亦是學院的琴師,每周四將近黃昏的時候,Rowena 便會讓明華小聖堂響起悅耳的風琴聲,呼籲我們進入敬拜。

遇見

白晢的膚色,澄明光潔的臉容,溫文儒雅的談吐——是大家閨秀沒錯。這是Rowena 常常給人的第一印象。只是當你走近,你卻會發現,大家閨秀的模樣底下,有一雙專注的眼睛,散發着對人、信仰、文化藝術及歷史的好奇和熱情,為她添上了不一樣的氣質與溫度。

Rowena 來自上海,自幼受歷史及藝術的薰陶。前上海聖約翰大學的校園 (今華東政法大學)是她自幼成長的地方,這是美國聖公會於19世紀在華辦學時創建的學府。Rowena 在紀念學院創始人施約瑟主教的懷施堂(今韜奮樓)中長大 。而校園裡寬闊的綠色草地,亦是她孩提時代最愛玩耍的地方。這一美麗的校園見證著聖公會在華福傳的歷史,也承載着 Rowena 成長的足跡和記憶,她將之視作為自己與聖公會相遇的開始。難怪她尤愛研究聖公會歷史——這正是塑造她生命的重要部分。

Rowena 幼年時每日所在之處——懷施堂 (現韜奮樓)

塑造

Rowena 四歲開始習琴,也正是音樂為她開啟了信仰及學術研究的道路。她其中的一位鋼琴老師引領她認信基督信仰,帶她返教會,開始了她跟隨主的信心旅程。

在本科就讀二年級時,Rowena 舉辦了第一次鋼琴獨奏會,也正是在那時,遇上了研究中國基督教史的專家陶飛亞教授,其後她隨陶教授攻讀碩士學位。陶教授鼓勵 Rowena 進行近代音樂與福傳視角的歷史研究,開啟了她用文字侍奉神的道路。之後,Rowena 前往香港中文大學文化及宗教研究系攻讀宗教研究哲學博士,研究聖公宗人華人神學家趙紫宸與20世紀初在華處境化讚美詩議題。期間亦入選奧地利維也納音樂與表演藝術大學 (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Austria) 訪問學人項目,前往歐洲豐富其研究視野。博士論文 Fragrant Flowers Bloom: T. C. Chao, Bliss Wiant and the Contextualization of Hymns in Twentieth Century China 亦已於2015年在德國出版 。

定意

一路走來,Rowena 與聖公會有著不解之緣,2014年至今,她於香港聖公會檔案館及明華神學院工作,致力於堂會史、主教史等方向的研究,作品包括《包爾騰主教傳略》(2018)、《萬代要稱妳有福——香港聖公會聖馬利亞堂史(1912-2012)》(2014,合著)等。目前正在進行聖士提反堂之歷史研究。她熱愛自己的科研及教學,並深信無論是音樂修習、學術研究還是教授傳承,都是上主定意定時所成就的一切 。

這同樣也是她對學生的勉勵:神在每個人身上都有計劃,祂會按時成就,叫萬事互相效力成為美好。Rowena 感恩在明華所遇到的一切人和事物。她指當我們把握每一次探索,有朝一日便會看見今時過往及至未來,都會在上主的定意下連結在一起,即艾略特 (T.S. Eliot) 所言:「 我們不能停止探索,而一切探索的盡頭, 將到達我們出發的原點,並再度認識這個地方 」 。(“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” ) 在 Rowena看來,由此,「過往與今時匯合,卻賦予了更為新鮮、豐滿的內涵;生命也在時間的流逝與永恆的定格間漸然頓悟、昇華,這即是信仰帶領我們所行的奇妙之旅。」

Diary of an Intensive 密集神學課手記

Bachelor of Theology student Timothy Chan shares his experience of Dr Jim West’s week-long Introduction to New Testament Studies intensive.

Diary of an Intensive

Monday 

I decided to do the intensive as I am working full-time in a mission church while I study for my BTh. I was able to take a week off as holiday time, so it was very convenient and efficient to be able to do a whole subject in just five days. I also liked the idea of being able to immerse myself fully in the class and focus on what the lecturer is teaching us. 

The first day was really interesting. Dr Jim West taught us about the background of different parts of the New Testament to give us a deeper understanding of what is written in it. We also learned about the Synoptic Gospels and how we can reference different scriptures to understand what the writers are really saying. It has been a really good day. I did not find it difficult to concentrate and Dr West’s sense of humour made us all smile and kept up the energy levels of the class.

Tuesday

Today, Dr Jim West introduced us to the differences between the Synoptic Gospels, namely Matthew, Mark and Luke; and John’s Gospel. He explained how the Jewish tradition is reflected in the Gospels, such as when Jesus cleanses the Temple. We had a discussion about the concept of purification.

In the afternoon, we looked at the First, Second and Third letters of John, including the impact the  confrontation with Gnosticism had on Christianity. Gnostics refuse to acknowledge that Jesus became human. It was very interesting. 

Wednesday

Today was very good. Dr West taught us about Saint Paul’s Letters and the Acts of the Apostles. He taught us that when we look at the Letters, we have to understand what the situation was that Saint Paul was writing to address and how this affected his point of view in the different Letters. It helped me to understand his theology. We also looked at different translations of the New Testament, including the Greek, English and Chinese, and how different words are used.

We are now halfway through the course. I am really enjoying it. There are lots of opportunities for questions and getting more information. So far, the course has given me a very clear overview of the Gospels and the Letters. 

Thursday

We covered a lot of ground today, looking at Hebrews, James and the First and Second Letters of Peter. In Hebrews, Dr West explained how Jesus is being characterised as a high priest. He also told us that James has strong parallels with Proverbs in the Old Testament. 

I am now nearly at the end of the week-long intensive: I feel tired, but studying a subject through lectures once a week is tiring as well. I like the intensive because it gives me more time to go to the library afterwards to read up on things. Both types of course need self-study, but I think the intensive course offers more opportunities for discussion and asking questions. 

Friday

Today we looked at Jude and Revelation. It was very interesting to learn more about Gnosticism and we had a great discussion about whether there are still Gnostic ideas in our church now. A lot of people think there are. Studying Revelation was also interesting. It was difficult for me as I have seldom looked at this book before. After Dr West explained what the book is about, he pointed out some very important things: God is still in charge and through Jesus Christ he gives us hope. 

The intensive is now over! I would definitely consider doing an intensive again as long as I had enough holiday to take a week off work. I think it gives students more time to study, have discussions and do research. I would definitely recommend it.

:: Ming Hua’s next intensive will be Wisdom and Worship Traditions (THL209) taught by Professor Donn Morgan from February 24 to 28 .

Ming Hua Librarian Wins Funding Award 聖公會明華圖書館的研究計劃及對外合作

恭賀本學院圖書館館長張秀貞博士,繼她於2018年取得「香港圖書館協會雙年獎」,近日她所設計的另一項研究計劃 “圖書館與數位人文”獲得了 Charles Sturt University (CSU) 的撥款,並得到日本地方政府的支持。她將連同Professor Gareth Jones及 CSU的另一位教授於2020年2月到日本高梁市 (Takahashi City) 進行交流。是次到訪,包括作為講者出席座談會,分享圖書館及科技在人文學科的應用;並與當地圖書館專業人員及其他業界進行一項利用科技工具,以支援學習及推廣該市的試驗性研究 (Pilot Study) 。此外,會與當地的政府人員包括市政府,教育局及大學要員等會面,商討日後可行的持續發展計劃。  

香港聖公會明華神學院的教研人員,除教學外,他們的研究及對外合作均豐富多元。以本院圖書館為例,自2015 年開始與本地及海外的院校及圖書館交流合作,至今超過800人次,來自53間專上院校/中學的學生、圖書館員及老師參與。這些研究/活動的主題廣泛,包括寫作研究、資訊素養、書籍維護與修復、 圖書館及科技(VR/航拍)、生命教育、圖書館實習生計劃 (Library Internship) 、講座及海外交流等。本院圖書館的部份研究成果,先後撰寫成學術文章並發表在國際的圖書館會議,如IFLA及 ‎ASIS&T。

明華圖書館年度主題

將來,明華神學院希望可以建立網上資料庫,以保存本院及聖公會人的研究著作,進一步支援教學研究。最後,在此感謝各界一直對本院及圖書館的支持。謝謝。

Congratulations to Ming Hua Librarian Dr Helen Cheung who has been awarded funding by Charles Sturt University to carry out a ‘Library & Digital Humanities’ project in Japan. 

Dr Cheung, who received the Hong Kong Library Association Biennial Award in 2018, will conduct a pilot study with librarians and other interested parties in Takahashi City, Japan, to examine the use of IT tools in supporting learning and marketing in the city.

She will travel to Takahashi City in February 2020, along with Ming Hua Principal Professor Gareth Jones and Dr Bernard Doherty from CSU. During the trip, they will give talks at a seminar about the use of libraries and information technology in the study of humanities subjects, as well as having business meetings with parties in Japan, including senior officers from the City Government, Education Department and universities to further discuss potential projects in the city. 

Ming Hua Library has been carrying out joint research and library projects with local and overseas institutions since 2015. Each year, Ming Hua has a specific theme for the library projects. These annual themes have varied from Wiki Writing (2015), to Information Literacy (2016), to Life Education (2017), to Virtual Reality and Drones (2018), to the Conservation and Preservation of Books (2019). The theme for 2020 will be Digital Humanities. 

To date, more than 800 participants from 53 universities, schools and libraries have joined projects and events hosted by Ming Hua. In addition, research outcomes from these library projects are written up as conference papers and presented at international library conferences, such as those held by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and ‎The Association for Information Science and Technology.

Dr Cheung said: “We would like to express our grateful thanks to the supporters of our College and the Library over many years.

“In the future, Ming Hua Theological College wishes to develop a research hub to collect the research outputs of members of Ming Hua and the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui in order to support further teaching and research activities.”  

A Glorious Death? The Theology of Martyrdom 殉道的再思

Dr Matthew Jones reflects on the role of love in understanding Christian martyrs

Sometimes there is a tendency in the Christian Church to glorify martyrdom. We very often read about how the death of a famous martyr is somehow glorious, or that he or she suffered a glorious death. Often this is further fueled by Hollywood blockbuster movies depicting the hero resilient to the last, going to their fate and dying in glory. 

It is very easy for us to romanticise and imagine martyrs living and dying for the sake of the Gospel in a heroic and glorious fashion, bravely and perhaps even effortlessly shouldering the pain and marching on to heaven in glory. 

I want to question that perception and suggest instead that martyrdom is anything but glorious. Those who have lived and died for their Christian faith were often people faced with agonising and unbearable choices, choices that could lead to torture, humiliation and death, not only for themselves but also for loved ones, families and friends. What then is so glorious about martyrdom, what is so glorious about suffering, pain, and violent death? If anything, martyrdom is precisely the opposite of being glorious. 

Part of our difficulty in all of this is that the world in which many of these martyrs lived and died always seems so distant, a world where Christian attitudes, contexts and worldviews were quite different and can seem so far removed from our experience of Christianity in the largely comfortable context of 21st century Hong Kong.

Such distance makes it difficult to imagine what these people were really like, their personalities, their strengths, their weaknesses, their failings; much of this is hidden behind the mystical aura of martyrdom as they pass into church legend, tradition and sometimes to the pages of history books. In that process, they can be transformed into romanticised ideals that we aspire to and admire but often at the expense of their humanity. They can become superhuman figures whose heroism and courage is beyond most of our experiences and whose glorious perfection makes the rest of us feel small, unworthy, and inadequate. 

What is important here is that these Christian martyrs are as human as the rest of us, they were not superhuman, perfect beings rushing towards martyrdom with a sense of glad acceptance or joy, they were simply Christians living out their faith and working for the spread of the Gospel in sometimes dangerous and unpredictable situations. They all had to make difficult choices in the face of adversity and those choices led them on a path to death for the sake of their faith.

In 2003, seven members of the Melanesian Brotherhood, an indigenous Anglican religious order of young men, the largest order in the Anglican Communion, were tortured and murdered on the island of Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands. Members of the Brotherhood had taken a major role in peacemaking during an armed conflict in Solomon Islands and were instrumental in helping to limit the bloodshed, encouraging militants to negotiate for peace and in collecting weapons given up by former combatants. Yet, seven of them were brutally murdered by one of these militia groups in a crime which shocked everyone who knew them. Why had these simple peace-loving young men of God been so brutally murdered? They too are now remembered as martyrs by the Church.[1]

Their deaths had a profound impact on me, because I knew most of them personally, I had talked with them, laughed with them, eaten with them, prayed with them and taught some of them in the classroom. Perhaps the experience of actually knowing people who have died for their faith and in our own lifetime enables us to see the reality of martyrdom more clearly. They were, quite simply, seven brave young men with their own struggles, strengths and weaknesses, and yet they found themselves, like many other ‘martyrs’, having to make difficult decisions that led to deaths that touched and outraged a nation and beyond. 

They did not ask to die or bring death upon themselves, but were human beings simply following God’s call. The same God who when nailed to a cross moved from death to resurrection and by doing so created the conditions for a new life-giving and life-affirming power to flow. A power that flows through God’s people to touch and transform ordinary human beings who are faced with extraordinary situations. 

This idea is at the heart of what I want to reflect on, namely that instead of romanticising the great and glorious death of the martyr, we should instead reflect on the fact that martyrdom is the result of Christian faith and Christian love in action. It is the result of God’s call to love and of the consequences of following that call, by being a Christian in both word and action in difficult and dangerous situations and contexts. It is the call to discipleship and ultimately the cost of that discipleship. It is daring to believe and to love as did Christ, it is taking risks, it is making oneself vulnerable, it is the opening up of oneself to the other and for the sake of the Gospel. 

The two most important commandments that God gives us are to love God and to love your neighbour as you love yourself. But what kind of love is this? It is a dangerous love, a love that pushes the boundaries and moves us out of our comfort zones into the unknown. It is a love which compels us to go beyond the boundaries of our families, our friends, our tribes, our clans, our social clubs, our cultures, to a love for all humanity, regardless of race, colour, social location, status, belief or creed. It is a love that redefines the concept of neighbour, to include all peoples including our enemies as beautifully demonstrated by Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans and Jews were enemies and hated one another, yet it is the Samaritan who stops to help the man in need, a Jew – his enemy – but in the context of Christian love, his neighbour.

It is this kind of love that has inspired many missionaries both foreign and indigenous to follow God’s call to distant lands and places, to people of different languages and cultures and to move often beyond their own luxuries, privileges and comfort zones to the unknown. To dare to preach the Gospel with a burning desire to share God’s love with all people. While there is much that can be said about complex missionary attitudes and reasons for conversion to Christianity, one reason at least, was that Christ offers a new way of living and loving, one that is inclusive and opens up a new possibility of living and being. It offers a new sense of hope for all.   

But to live and love in this way involves risks, it involves uncertainty, it involves vulnerability, it involves opening up oneself in the risk of relationship, and it also involves conflict. Conflict in the sense that to love one’s neighbour in the radical sense that Jesus taught and did himself, opens up the possibility for confrontation. Jesus made many enemies and found himself in conflict with the religious leaders and establishment of his day, and ended up being crucified because of it.

All of this begs the question that perhaps shakes our Christian faith to its very foundations, and it is the question why? We talk of God’s glorious power who through the resurrection has rescued all from the powers of darkness, but why do God’s people still die? Why are they still tortured and murdered? We talk of God’s peace and love for the world, but why do we still see acts of violence against God and God’s followers? We talk of God being an everlasting rock but why does God seem to allow his people to slip from his grasp and drown in the sea of violence below? Why are the cries of those who have suffered for their faith seemingly met with God’s crushing silence? Perhaps the key to some sort of an answer can be found in the following story:  

In 2002, the author Charles Montgomery came to Melanesia to research for his new book. While in Solomon Islands he met with members of the Melanesian Brotherhood and accompanied a group of Brothers on a mission to rescue a young boy held captive by one of the militant gangs east of the capital Honiara. The Brothers tried hard to convince the gang to let him go and to reconcile with the boy’s family but it was proving very difficult to convince them. Then one of the brothers stepped forward and Montgomery records what happened next:

And then Brother Francis stepped forward. He wore a shy half smile. He pulled off his wraparound sunglasses. He did not look at Johnson or at the militants. He gazed at the trampled earth as though looking right through it, then towards the deep green folds of the highlands, then up at the sky, and then bowed his head. The militants seemed transfixed by his movements, like charmed snakes. The bickering trailed off. Brother Francis spoke softly, and his voice was like a breeze blowing through the yard, rustling through the green grass, easing the weight of the humid afternoon. I could barely hear him. At first I thought he was reasoning with the militants. But his murmurs were too melodic for that. I realized he was praying when I noticed all the other bowed heads. The militants unclenched their fists. Their leader removed his aviator glasses. An immense calm settled on them all. Within minutes, the problem was settled.[2]  

What is remarkable about this story is that the militants were compelled to respond to the humility and quiet prayer of Brother Francis and as a result all anger and aggression was dispelled, to be replaced by calm and eventual reconciliation between wounded parties. How was this possible? What did those militants see in Brother Francis? Why did they respond in such a way?

It is in this situation that we see the power of God at work in Brother Francis through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Those around him are transformed and compelled to respond to his quiet humility and softly spoken prayer. A situation of violence and danger is transformed by God’s presence working through the prayers of Brother Francis not in a dramatic display of power from on high, but through the power of a softly spoken prayer.

Yet, just one year after the story of Brother Francis and his prayer, he was dead, tortured and murdered with the other six brothers on the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal. How could God allow these murders to take place? Has God failed his people? In their moment of need, were these brothers met only with God’s crushing silence?  

At the heart of the Christian message is the story of love, it is a story which compels and demands that we love God and that we love others. But this is not an easy story, the call to love demands that we love those who we do not like, those who may even hate us, spit on us and ultimately, like in the case of so many Christian martyrs, may even kill us. But this is the love that Christ demonstrated on the cross, a love which transformed a situation of despair and loss into love and hope for the future in the resurrection. But it is also a cross that is not frozen in the past, but is rather a present and painful reality, a reality that many Christians have encountered face to face. The words of Jesus, to take up your cross and follow me, become real in the lives of so many Christian martyrs. 

And yet the seven Brothers may have been murdered, they may have been crucified as was Christ by the powers of darkness, but the impact of those murders transformed the nation of Solomon Islands wracked by conflict into one embracing a peace and hope for a better future in the light of the resurrection. Just as the cross leads to resurrection, death for the martyrs leads to life, life attested to in the faith of the many Christians holding on to their hope in the resurrected Christ. The deaths of the martyrs have not been in vain. 

How then does all of this relate to our lives in Hong Kong? As Christians we are called to love wherever we are, to love God and to love our neighbours. But it is a love which compels us to take risks, to push the boundaries in our own situations and contexts – to dare to love the ‘other’ – the enemy, the unlovable, the forgotten, the outcast. It is to take the risk of relationship, to become vulnerable in our own relationships, to open ourselves to others. Many martyrs have dared to believe and love in this way and they like us are not superhuman beings with an aura of perfection, but human as we are, with the same strengths, weaknesses, limitations and frustrations as the rest of us. Daring to believe and daring to love then, is something that we, like the martyrs, are called to do in whatever situation we find ourselves in. The heart of Christian faith is love – it cannot be avoided – in order to be Christian, we must love.   

:: Dr Matthew Jones will be teaching Introduction to Christian Theology (THL111) and God and Humanity (THL245) for the BTh programme next semester.



[1] For further reading on this incident please see: Carter, Richard Anthony, In Search of the Lost: The death and life of seven peacemakers of the Melanesian Brotherhood ( Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2006).

Carter, Richard Anthony, and Jude Alfred, Lessons Learnt from Indigenous Methods of Peacemaking with Particular Reference to the Role of the Melanesian Brotherhood and the Religious Communities, Pacific Journal of Theology 33, 2 (2005): 69-81.

[2] Charles Montgomery, The Last Heathen: Encounters with Ghosts and Ancestors in Melanesia (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2004), 268.