The following annual report was prepared by the Rev’d Nigel Gibson, Priest-in-Charge of Emmanuel Church, Pokfulam for the St John’s Cathedral AGM, held in the Cathedral’s Li Hall on Sunday 29 April 2012.
General: Whilst it has been a year of mixed fortunes at Emmanuel, the fundamentals of the faith remain solidly in place and the heart of the community’s spiritual life continues to be the Sunday Eucharist.
The departure of both churchwardens and some other key members in the autumn was a significant setback, but the community has bounced back strongly and is now showing signs of healthy new growth. To compliment this increase I have recently appointed two new churchwardens, which has brought the Emmanuel Committee back to almost full strength. Moreover, following an excellent response to new rotas and practices, the Sunday by Sunday operation is running smoothly again.
Without a doubt the past 6 months has been a challenging period for Emmanuel, but I am confident we have now turned a corner and that the community is moving forward, albeit slowly. Over the next 12 months our focus will be on building and strengthening existing gifts and talents, of which there are a great many.
Under its new name of Emmanuel Kids, the Sunday School continues to make good use of Seasons of the Spirit worship material, an inclusive program integrating the learning, worship, and serving ministries of the Church. We have four enthusiastic and highly gifted teachers, and the children’s weekly gifts and presentations near the end of the Sunday service are always impressive. Sunday School ministry is vital to Emmanuel’s viability, and all of us in the community cannot thank the teachers enough for their on-going dedication.
Special Services: Pentecost Sunday saw the return of the wonderful Cantata Choir from the Ebenezer School for the visually impaired in Pokfulam. It was the choir’s 9th visit to Emmanuel and once again their singing was superb and inspirational. Their annual visit to Emmanuel is eagerly anticipated by both choir members and congregation alike, and their 10th visit to Emmanuel will again be on the Day of Pentecost on 27 May.
A Harvest Thanksgiving Service in October was well attended and the former Dean of St John’s gave the address. As in previous years a large amount of rice and other non-perishable food was collected for Bethune House, the Mission for Migrant Workers in HK.
Just before Christmas I officiated at a Nine Lessons and Carols Service which attracted 70 people, a 10% increase on last year. Bethanie Chapel was full to capacity for Midnight Mass and Christmas Day services, and the recent Last Hour of the Passion on Good Friday and Easter Day services were well supported.
Fundraising: Proceeds from two fund raising initiatives during the year, a Family Ceilidh, and a Quiz Night raised an impressive $62,500 for the Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge. During Advent a large number of soft toys and games were collected for distribution over Christmas for the Duchess of Kent Children’s Hospital at Sandy Bay.
Stewardship: One of the highlights of the year was undoubtedly the launch and implementation of a major stewardship campaign for Emmanuel. A special dinner for every parishioner at L’hotel Island South, Aberdeen was held on 23 September. The Dean of St John’s gave the keynote address on behalf of the Archbishop, and I gave a talk on the fundamentals of Christian Stewardship. As well as enjoying some lovely fellowship, the main purpose of the evening was to raise awareness that Christian stewardship involves much more than merely raising funds for ministry – it’s a way of life! Fifty people supported the event and by Christmas it became clear that the campaign generated a 30% increase in stewardship funds.
Website: The Emmanuel website continues to bring new people to church every week. The website was originally established in 2001. In early 2011 the third update to the Emmanuel Church – Pokfulam website with its current look and feel was launched. The website is a challenge to keep fresh and up-to-date, but it is well worth the effort. Feedback continues to be positive and encouraging: frequent Google analytic reports clearly show the site is visited by 300+ people every week from all over the world.
Fr Nigel S D Gibson