ACC Elects Abp. Paul Kwong

By Mark Michael

LUSAKA, Zambia — The Most Rev. Paul Kwong, Archbishop of Hong Kong, was elected chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council on Friday. Archbishop Kwong, 65, is the first sitting primate to be elected to the position and will serve a six-year term.

Archbishop Kwong has served as primate of the Province of Hong Kong since 2007, and is Bishop of Hong Kong Island. He has served as a primatial member on the ACC’s Standing Committee since 2011, and in that capacity has participated in two ACC meetings. He was the local organizer for the ACC’s meeting in 2002, which met in Hong Kong.

Kwong described himself as “deeply honored and humbled by the election,” and said Anglican unity would be his primary focus: “I think the most important work we have to do is to hold the Communion together, and to bring the people of different views together, and to work together and to serve together.”

Kwong said his cultural background may help in that work.

“Chinese culture, is very inclusive,” he said. “Normally, we don’t judge who’s wrong and right. We walk together with those who are right and with those who are wrong.”

He addressed concerns electing an archbishop as leader of the only Instrument of Unity that includes other laypersons, deacons, and priests.

“Some people might say that having a primate as a chair of ACC is helpful,” he said. “The chair of ACC is to connect people in the Communion. Being a primate, I can get access to the Primates’ Meeting, to the Lambeth Conference, to the Archbishop of Canterbury. I can get access to all the Instruments of Unity, to help them work together.”

Archbishop Kwong is a lifelong Anglican and native of Hong Kong. His great-grandfather was among the first Chinese Anglican priests to be ordained in the 19th century. Archbishop Kwong did his theological studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, which he now serves as a trustee. Before his consecration, Kwong founded two mission churches and taught in a theological college. Under his leadership, the Diocese of Hong Kong has produced a wide variety of Christian resources in Chinese.

Kwong also serves as a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee, a multiparty body of civil society leaders that advises China’s National People’s Congress. He was strongly criticized by democracy activists in Hong Kong for speaking out against protesters associated with Occupy Central, a civil disobedience movement calling for equal suffrage in the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive. In a 2014 sermon, Kwong contrasted loud protests with Christ’s silence in the face of suffering.

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