16 Aug One Year Anniversary Video
It has been just over a year since The Tea House 茶 was launched in August 2021. We have put together a 5-minute video to highlight the achievements and contributions of Chinese-heritage clergy that have made a difference to the life of The Church of England.
[Text] This week, we’re celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Tea House. The aim of the Tea House is to support and empower Chinese-heritage clergy by promoting their presence and participation in all structures of the church. We thought we’d take a quick look back at some of the amazing things that God has done over the past year.
On August 16th 2021, 9 clergy & 6 ordinands met for the first time in London. This special day began with a midday eucharist at Southwark Cathedral, followed by a dim-sum lunch in Chinatown, and ending with evensong at St. Martin-in-the-field.
A real highlight for me, was receiving communion for the first time from someone of Chinese-heritage. There was also a moment where we came together with representatives from Church House, the head of Chinatown, New Scotland Yard and members of an anti-racism group—a picture of Church, community, authorities and activism working together.
Whilst we didn’t expect it at the time, the meet-up became the official launch of The Teahouse, and it was lovely to read the following message from the Archbishop of York in a press-statement who said: “I am absolutely delighted to see the formal launch of the Teahouse group. What a wonderful development in our journey towards becoming a church that truly reflects and values the great diversity of life in modern Britain. Seeing groups like this come forward fills me with hope.”
The following month, several members of The Teahouse were invited onto their local BBC radio stations to share about their experiences, and word spread as far as Hong Kong and Taiwan. Slide The Standard and Slide other local newspapers.
In October, members of The Teahouse were invited to lead the BBC’s national Sunday service. This was a wonderful opportunity to raise the profile of Chinese-heritage clergy across the U.K. Chinese-heritage clergy represent just 0.02% of all stipendiary clergy. This service was incredibly significant. That very same month, it was announced that Lord Nat-Wei Slide —the 1st British-born person of Hong Kong origin in the House of Lords—was included in the 11 members comprising the Archbishop’s Racial Justice Commission.
In November, attention turned to theological education. The Teahouse was invited to collaborate with CMEAC—the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns—and co-hosted a conference titled “Making Room at The Inn,” exploring ways the Church of England might welcome people from Hong Kong. It featured eminent speakers such as Kwok Pui Lan who was recently awarded the Lambeth Award for excellence in leadership, as well as members of The Teahouse to offer their own insights and wisdom. A few of us had the opportunity to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph in London Slide at 11am on November 11th, to commemorate the 140,000 Chinese laborer’s who served alongside British troops during World War 1, but who have yet to receive a permanent memorial.
At the turn of the year several members of the Teahouse led the Church of England’s national online service. This helped increase the representation of Chinese-heritage clergy across the church and dozens of positive messages were received.
As well as marking Chinese New Year, February saw General Synod reconvene again. In the Archbishop of York’s response to Lord Boateng’s address on Racial Justice, the work of The Teahouse was mentioned. This was a wonderful moment of recognition within the church.
In March, Reverend Eileen Harrop was installed as a Canon at Durham Cathedral in recognition of her ministry and service—joining Reverend Andrew Zihni as the only two Canons in the Church of England with Chinese-heritage.
April saw a wonderful collaboration between Reverends David Young and Fung Lau, as they led the first ever Cantonese worship service at St. Barnabas Alwoodley in the Diocese of Leeds, to welcome newly arrived Hong Kongers.
Over the Summer months, members of The Teahouse contributed to various publications such as Heartedge, Preach Magazine, Arocha, The College of Preachers and various Diocesan resources, demonstrating the depth of richness and insight clergy of East-Asian heritage offer the Church. In Bristol, Reverend Mark Nam helped host the first of several “Friendship Festivals” which took place across the U.K., organised in partnership with UKHK and Welcome Churches. In July we celebrated the ordination of deacons and priests Slide in St. Alban’s, Manchester and Southwark.
Most recently, we were thrilled to see Reverend Canon Eileen Harrop nominated to be one of three observers in the House of Bishops, and for Westcott Ordinand Kenson Li to be co-opted into the House of Laity at General Synod. These are amazing steps forward for Chinese and East-Asian representation at all levels in the Church of England. And of course, we still meet-up online every few months to support, encourage and pray for one another, which is his how this all began!
These are just some of the highlights of the past year, and It’s incredible to think that just over a year ago, most of us didn’t know one other. It was only a year ago, the voices of Chinese-heritage clergy were still yet to be heard.
Thank you so much for journeying with us—we look forward to what the coming year holds for The Teahouse. If you’d like to stay in touch, please connect with us on Twitter and Facebook, or visit our website.