iSee China Congregational Church

Contemporary house of worship fit for a concrete jungle

A religious oasis in a concrete jungle

You're forgiven for being surprised that this building is a church! The 24-storey tall Congregation House blends in so well with its neighbouring skyscrapers. The tapering tower - symbolising a pair of praying hands - and the three-storey tall cross which lights up like a beacon at night are the only clues that this is a church. This was precisely the intent of local architect Vincent Ng, who wanted “to create a religious oasis in the forest of concrete buildings”.

A new building for an old church

The church building is brand new - it was completed in 2012 - but the Church traces its origins back to 1883, the days when missionary Reverend Charles Hager started what would become the China Congregation Church. They bought the site in 1940, the war caused some delays in construction, but the first Congregation House was completed in the 1950s. 4th generation church member Natalie Chiu still remembers the old building: “Before the redevelopment, our church was just a 3-storey building with wooden doors.

A fresh look

The new design has more glass doors, and people can see through. We now have more new visitors than before.” She recalls how the renovation was a huge undertaking for the church community: “The pipe organ was moved from the old building to the new one. The church had to find special storage to keep the organ pipes during construction.”

Sun Yat-sen connection

One of the church’s most famous congregants was the founder of modern China, Mr Sun Yat-sen. At 17 years old Sun was baptised by Reverend Hager and was given the baptised name of Sun Yut-Sun, which means “renew oneself daily”. It is similar in sound to the name Sun Yat-Sen, which he used when he was a student in Hong Kong. Most of his English-speaking friends knew him by this name, but his other name, Sun Jung Saan, meaning “middle mountain” is more familiar to Chinese speakers.

Before the redevelopment, our church was just a 3-storey building with wooden doors. My friend once told me that she passed by every day but never knew it was a church!
— Natalie Chiu
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