Tea House brings together Chinese-heritage clergy
6 September 2021
On the 16 August 2021 the Revd Tim Yau attended the launch of the Teahouse: a national network of Church of England clergy of Chinese heritage. He shares his story.
We celebrated at Southwark Cathedral, we ate in China Town, where we listened to Chinese community groups, and we prayed at St. Martin-in-the-fields. This experience in the heart of our capital highlighted the story of the Chinese community since arriving on these shores.
My father was a 1960s Honk Kong economic immigrant who came to Britain to make a life. I was born into the racially febrile 1970s where lazy racist stereotypes were everywhere and people were ignorant, often rude and sometimes hurtful. Surviving then taught me to culturally assimilate, to hide away from my Chinese heritage. There were very few East Asian role models, so I locked away that part of my identity and tried to fit in.
Becoming a Christian in my teens helped me to find love and acceptance of myself and set me on a path of transformation and identity discovery. God loved all of me, the Chinese and the British, so I needed to love it too. Being ordained in the Church of England is part of the continuum of that process.
In 2020 the murder of George Floyd and the waves of solidarity and protest around the globe woke me up to the fact that I can’t just be comfortable with a seat at the table, I’ve got to speak up so that other UKME (United Kingdom Minority Ethnic) people can discover their voice too. I have to be the change I want to see in the Church.
The Teahouse is a place for Chinese heritage clergy to mutually support and encourage each other. A place to be visible and confident in what Chinese clergy, culture and theology has to offer the Church. Together the Teahouse has an opportunity to have an impact on the life of the church and the wider community in helping to reflect the diversity in our country. I am proud to be part of the Teahouse, so that other confused kids will one day find their place too.