Stepping into the 40th year (1975-2015), we give thanks to the Lord, for His faithfulness that has been exhibited in our experiences.
The Graduate School student population went up to 834 this year. MDiv graduates of the class of 2015 reached 49, a record high. We now have more than 90 faculty and staff. When Mrs Bess Choi retired last July, more than 100 students and alumni joined together to farewell her, a perfect finale for her 30 years of teaching counselling studies at CGST since 1984. This summer, Rev Dr Wallace Louie, Dr Wai Yee Ng and Rev Dr Joseph Kok will all be retiring. May the Lord bless them and grant them extra grace and strength as they turn a new page of their life journey.
We said goodbye to Mrs. Ruby Wong, our Director of Administration, at the end of June. Ruby joined the CGST community in 1988 with her husband Dr. Kasper Wong, who joined the faculty team after finishing his studies in Belgium. She was invited to become CGST staff in 1995 to take charge of the campus redevelopment project, at the same time shouldering responsibilities on administration and human resources. She had worked closely with three Presidents of CGST over all these years, building up a reliable infrastructure and foundation for the School’s long-term development.
I would also like to pay tribute to Dr Michael Chiu, Chairman of the Board. Having joined the Board of Directors since 1995, Dr Chiu had been elected Vice-Chairman for 5 years and Chairman for 8 years. He has led the Board through two presidential appointments for the School. After the annual general meeting on June 27 this year, he stepped down as Chairman and member of the Board. We would like to express our gratitude to him for his commitment to theological education and for leaving us with a tall example of a servant-leader.
Our budget has been increased annually from HK$35 million to HK$50 million during the past five years. By God’s great mercy, we experienced His timely provision. Donations contribute to more than half of our annual income. Given that we will not anticipate a significant increase in student intake, looking forward we will focus on expanding and sustaining our donor base. Our Development Team has been inviting more local brothers and sisters to make monthly recurring giving. The team also pro-actively seeks our partnership churches to support us regularly. We hope that all these endeavors will help to bring down the less predictable donations to a level below 40%.
Last year, Hong Kong experienced the “umbrella movement”, which has caused deep reverberation in society, both inside and outside the church community. Rev Dr Carver Yu and Dr Kang Phee Seng jointly invited pastors and church leaders of different political stands to meet at CGST for a constructive dialogue, recognizing one another’s difference with mutual respect and preserve our unity. We also value the sincerity and opening-up of the Student Union members themselves when they responded to the calls and requests of various groups, showing their willingness to listen to different voices while encouraging students to formulate their own thoughts and judgment.
CGST has strived to serve the need of theological education in Mainland China for twenty years. We now have more than 230 students and alumni from across China, five of them enrolled in our PhD programs. Early this year, a delegation of seminary representatives from the Mainland visited us. We had a fruitful exchange and sharing.
The 40th anniversary thanksgiving service in Vancouver, Canada in May was our first in a series of four. The book Moulded by His Word: Faculty Sermons Celebrating CGST’s 40th Anniversary has been published in both Traditional and Simplified Chinese versions. “Carrying on our mission with a double portion of the Spirit” is our earnest prayer. May the Lord hear our prayer.