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Healing comes to Saikung church after boycott by Pinoy parishioners

05 June 2019

Members of the Filipino Fellowship.


By Vir B. Lumicao

Healing and life, the focus of  the May 26 Gospel from St Mark, coincided with the sixth annual celebration of Helpers Day at Resurrection Church in Sai Kung.

The messages about the healing and reviving power of faith seemed apt as some 70 Filipino workers, ignoring the rain, attended the English service to join about the same number of Saikung residents for the gathering.

The unusually big Filipino attendance suggested a healing process is under way after the massive fallout from the sudden replacement of a well-liked pastor late last year.


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“I did not expect to see this big number of people returning to Resurrection Church today. I was worried because before we started, only a couple of Filipinas had arrived,” Maribel Dagan, head of the Filipino fellowship, told the SUN after the 10am service.

The celebration of Helpers Day was started in 2013 by Pastor Peter Hurricks. His successor, Pastor Chris Ponniah, made it a big event in 2016 as a way of acknowledging the help foreign domestic workers gave the local community, as well as the church.

“We want to make a difference in the lives of people,” the pastor said when he announced the church would launch of a Filipino fellowship on June 5, 2016 and unveiled a plan for a Filipino worship, which never took off.

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For reasons that were never explained, Pastor Ponniah was pulled out from the church in November last year. He was replaced by Pastor Ian Hadfield, who lost no time wooing back the disgruntled parishioners.

Pastor Hadfield acknowledged the fallout from the recall of his predecessor in a talk with The SUN after the service.

“Yeah, it was a hard time…you had a lot of empty seats in the ministry,” Hadfield said.

But his effort to lead the community healing appeared to have borne fruit when   attendance suddenly grew on Sunday, May 19.

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Dagan recalls that at the lowest point of the fallout, only four to eight Filipinos would attend the service. Many local Chinese churchgoers who also resented the replacement of the popular pastor had left by then.

But with Hadfield’s ministry and his wife Nurelle’s help, the church had seen a revival, she said.

In his homily, Hadfield acknowledged the valuable contribution of the Filipino domestic workers to the community and to the church.

The church has for about a decade been a house of worship, cozy meeting place and retreat for migrant workers from Saikung and other parts of Hong Kong who want to spend their day off away from noisy and crowded places like Central.

Hadfield said the church offers a spacious and convenient place for workers in the area to spend their rest day instead of going to faraway Central because of the facilities are not in use before and after the 10am service.

He welcomed the idea of using the church’s facilities for livelihood skills training and other activities to prepare the workers for their return home in the future.

Dagan said NGOs such as Enrich had conducted a financial literacy seminar in the church in the past and she was thinking of more skills training to keep her group members intact.

Hadfield said also noted NGOs like Christian Action help workers with legal issues

With the return of the flock last Sunday, it looked like the church had regained life.
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