Book Review – ‘Strong to Save: Maritime mission in Hong Kong, from Whampoa Reach to the Mariners’ Club’ by Alston Kennerley
Seafaring religious mission activity became a global phenomenon during the 1820s, and it comes as no surprise that as early as 1822 there was missionary outreach among seafarers at Whampoa, the anchorage for European shipping a few miles down the Pearl River from Canton, China. With interruptions, the initiative was carried forward by missionaries connected with the American Seamen’s Friend Society, and by mid-century there was a local seamen’s friend society and a floating Bethel chapel. But the ceding of Hong Kong island to the British in 1842, and the subsequent development of its waters as a port, ultimately led to relocation in Hong Kong at the end of the 1850s, though continuity thereafter is uncertain. Jumping forward to the 1960s we find the creation of the multi-denominational Mariners’ Club at Hong Kong providing religious outreach, accommodation, and extensive day centre social facilities for seafarers of all nationalities, which continues to the present day.
This detailed study is about the tortuous path followed by providers of religious and social welfare for seafarers in the area, charting over two centuries, from the tenuous beginnings before Hong Kong existed as a trading centre, to its present role as a world grade sea transport hub. The author has left no stone unturned in his search for authoritative data on the missionary activity, as well as religious and social facilities …