On the morning of Monday, June 4, 2012, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, received in audience at the patriarchate Mr. David Tam, director of the Hong Kong based ‘Jingjiao Fellowship.’ Also in attendance of the audience were: Their Graces Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California, President of CIRED and Secretary of the Holy Synod; Mar Paulus Benjamin, the newly consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern USA; Mar Narsai Benyamin, Bishop of the Diocese of Iran; and the Very Rev. Archdeacon William Toma, parish priest of Mar Sargis parish in Chicago and Archdeacon of the Holy Synod.
Mr. Tam apprised His Holiness of the efforts and progress made by the ‘Jingjiao Fellowship,’ which for over a year now has promoted awareness of the Assyrian Church of the East and her mission to the esteemed Chinese People. The fellowship is gradually growing into not only groups of Christian faithful who would like to re-discover their ancient Christian Chinese heritage, but also scholars from both Hong Kong and the Mainland who presently study and write about the Jingiao, their faith and evangelistic efforts in the past. Mr. Tam presented His Holiness the Patriarch with a finely-bound copy of the first ever Chinese translation of the Qurbana Qaddisha (Holy Eucharistic Liturgy) according to the eucharistic prayer of Mar Addai & Mar Mari. This first Chinese translation, is taken directly from the sacerdotal manual of the late Qasha Yosip Kelaita (1928 Mosul edition). Mr. Tam is presently working on a more simple edition for the use of the faithful in the pews. Other gifts representing the Chinese culture were presented to His Holiness.
His Holiness the Patriarch thanked Mr. Tam for his own personal efforts in directing and beginning the ‘Jingjiao Fellowship,’ and expressed the Assyrian Church of the East’s desire to re-establish the link between herself and the Chinese people. The Patriarch and the director also spoke about practical efforts in beginning and sustaining an official mission of the Church to China and in training clergy and missionaries of the Assyrian Church of the East and from China respectively in order to bring about a hoped-for re-establishment of the Church in Hong Kong and the Mainland. Further efforts, already in place, are the translations of the theological writings of Mar Narsai of Nisibis (d. 502) and Mar Theodoros (d. 428) into Chinese; this project is being carried by the Institute of Sino-Christian Studies, an inter-Church scholarly forum based in Hong Kong.
His Holiness further referred this matter to the office of CIRED, and plans are being put in place for further work in Hong Kong late this year. His Holiness was filled with joy at this visit and expressed his desire that this evangelistic work begin as soon as possible. At the end of the audience, the Patriarch presented Mr. Tam with a silver ‘Nestorian Monument’ Cross and a photo of the Holy Synod, and concluded by imparting his apostolic blessing to the whole Jingjiao Fellowship.
It is worthy to note that the first efforts at evangelization by the Assyrian Church of the East took place in 635 AD, when the prelate by the name of ‘Alopen’ first arrived in China of the Tang Dynasty. After three years of personally studying the Scriptures and religious documents outlining the faith of the Church of the East, translated into Chinese, the Emperor Tang issued an imperial edict allowing for the propagation of the faith of the Church of the East all throughout the empire.[nggallery id=386]