06 Oct On This Day in UB History: October 6 (Chinatown)
In June 1985, Rev. Peter Lee, superintendent of Hong Kong Conference, and Pastor Samuel Ng came to the United States for General Conference. They used the trip to visit Hong Kong people then living in New York, Rhode Island, Boston, Toronto, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
After returning to Hong Kong, Peter Lee sent Bishop Jerry Datema a letter proposing that we start a Chinese church in New York City. He said the majority of UBs emigrating from Hong Kong were settling in New York City, where jobs were easier to find and where most already had relatives. In addition, C. C. Au Yeung, a former Hong Kong superintendent, was willing to be the founding pastor.
Bishop Clarence Kopp, Jr., traveled to Queens in August 1985 to meet with former Hong Kong members. They were enthusiastic about starting a church. They decided to begin holding services in October in the Au Yeung apartment. They even chose a name: the Church of the United Brethren in Christ in New York City.
The first service was held October 6, 1985. In January 1987, they began renting the second floor of a building in the Manhattan Chinatown. The services were held entirely in Cantonese, and they targeted first-generation immigrants from Hong Kong. Since people came so far, they shared lunch before returning to their homes in various parts of the city. The membership reached 19 during the first half of 1987. Most were professional people—a postal worker, bank official, social worker, librarian, businessman, seminary student, engineer.
Willy Ng, a native of Hong Kong who had found Christ while attending a secular university in Toronto, became the pastor in January 1989. By 1992, the congregation had grown to nearly 70 people. About 80% of them lived in Chinatown, the rest of them within an hour’s commute.
In May 1992, they purchased a six-story building in Chinatown. Ng left in 1997 to plant a church in Queens, and Rev. Au Yeung died in 2004. Soon thereafter, the struggling congregation decided to withdraw from the denomination.