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Ronald Owen Hall (R.O.H.)

Beginning to Build the Church in South China and Hong Kong, 1932 -1936

Ronald Owen Hall was joined by Nora and the two children in September 1933, when they arrived by the Blue Funnel Steamer Diomed. They lived in the Bishop's House on Lower Albert Road for one year; then they purchased a piece of land in Tao Fong Shan, Sha Tin, from the Christian Buddhist Institute." They built a cottage and named it Lin Yin Tai (meaning the flat hilltop beneath the spirit's shade) and lived there while subletting most of the Bishop's House to help with the mortgage payments. The main part of the Bishop's House became the dean's residence.

The simplicity of Life, 1945 - 1954

R.O.H. was in Hong Kong by himself from 1945 to 1954, except when he was on leave (from December 1946 to June 1947, July 1948 to October 1948 to attend the Lambeth Conference, and from January 1952 to October 1952). Nora remained in England to look after her mother and their children. Joc was in the Royal Air Force while Judith and Christopher were in school. Since R.O.H. was living by himself and accommodation was hard to come by after the war, he subdivided the Bishop's House into several units and let them out at affordable rent to the staff and clergy of the diocese. Although he had intended to use the rent to pay off the loan for the property in Sha Tin, the funds proved insufficient. He eventually rented out parts of his bungalow, Lin Yin Tai, in Sha Tin.

R.O.H. was one of the most influential individuals providing both the foresight and the continuity that Hong Kong sorely needed in the rapidly changing sociopolitical circumstances at that period. Human resources were required for church expansion. After the war, R.O.H. continued to send ordinands to Guangzhou to be trained at Canton Union Theological College, but he also established Ming Hua College on the Bishop's House site. It provided theological training to educated young people so that they could take on the leadership of the Church, teach scripture at schools, and assist the parish priest, and it admitted its first students in 1946/1947.25 R.O.H. was its first principal and Cheung Siu Kwai its first dean. The tea staff was initially all English except for George She and Cheung Siu Kwai, but eventually, teaching was carried out in Cantonese. It continued to offer courses for studies of the Bible and theology for the following decades although its role broadened to include training of ordinands and parish priests in 1995.


R.O.H. saw that the most pressing need was space where welfare organizations could do their work. Accordingly, the Hong Kong Council of Social Service planned to build permanent welfare centers where a number of organizations could be housed in the same building. The first such center was built at Observatory Path, Kowloon, in 1947-48, and the second on Hospital Road, Hong Kong, in 1949. They provided rooms for family casework, the Society for Protection of Children, and the Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association."


In 1949, family welfare work, which had been administered by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, was launched as a separate society the Family Welfare Society-with its own constitution and funds. Looking around at what resources they could tap, they uncovered several innovative ways to raise and use funds: ways that ranged from the launch of an annual Diocesan Financial Campaign that proved to be highly successful; the conversion of the Church Guest House into a profitable business: the building of rent-generating Stanton House (Central Hospital);

R.O.H.'s right-handed aids (Dr. Charles Harth and S. K. Loong)

R.O.H. had several right-handed aids during his episcopacy who spent years administering and managing vast quantities of work of the diocese under his direction. Immediately after the war, George She not only helped with getting the finances of the diocese in order but also worked hard on numerous projects for the diocese. At the bidding of R.O.H., he took up the difficult task of acting as the manager of workers’ children’s schools, he reestablished the Boys’ and Girls’ Club Association, and he sat on the school committees of a number of established Anglo-Chinese schools. As acting secretary of Church Missionary Society, George She did more than anyone else in getting the Anglican schools- especially the Church Missionary Society day schools – reopened after the war.

Dr. Charles Harth, who had so courageously defended the Cathedral and its "treasures" and the Bishop's House during the war, stayed on to help R.O.H. in many ways, acting as the diocesan secretary and R.O.H.'s chaplain." Harth was ordained in 1947 and became an honorary staff member of St. John's Cathedral and the warden of the Church Guest House, which was originally St. Paul's College Hostel.


By 1950 Harth had left for New York, where he entered a seminary for further studies, and George She left for England in 1954, assuming the headmastership of Diocesan Boys' School a year later. Fortunately, S. K. Loong remained. Ordained in 1941, Loong had been sent to work in Calcutta during the war. After he returned, he helped the architect who designed Central Hospital and supervised the construction work. Soon he became involved with the building of churches in the diocese. Loong was most proud of Rei Oi Church which had a novel design at that time for Hong Kong: the choir deliberately placed around the altar and a space behind the altar for the bishop's chair. This allowed the vicar to celebrate the Eucharist facing the congregation, providing closer participation by the people. The faithful Loong became R.O.H.'s secretary, and chaplain, and registrar of the diocese in 1949, and remained in these positions until R.O.H.'s retirement.

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