VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 4/16/14)—Rev. Dr. Charles Kwok died on April 9, 2014. Kwok was a co-founder of the Asian American Baptist Caucus, and a former General Board member of American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA). He was a former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New Haven, Connecticut, founder of the Chinese Baptist Church of Greater Hartford, Connecticut, and an honorary professor of the Malaysia Baptist Theological Seminary.
“In every major shift in church life, there are pioneers who are willing to cross borders so that others may come afterward. Charles Kwok was such a person, both when he served on the General Board and particularly on the Board of Educational Ministries,” said Rev. Dr. Don Ng, president of ABCUSA and senior pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church in San Francisco, California. “Charles welcomed others when he told humorous stories, especially about himself as an Asian American, and in doing so invited others in to become a beloved community of friends. There is no better way to remember him but to remember his big smile and love for his ABC family.”
Rev. Kwok served among the Swatow (Shantou) churches, located in Guangdong Province of China, which was one of the areas in China where American Baptist International Ministries started mission involvement in the 1950s. During the Cultural Revolution in China, he moved to Hong Kong and continued to work among the Swatow churches while he taught at the Hong Kong Bethel Seminary.
In 1966, he married Lily Kwok, and together with two young children, they then immigrated to the U.S. and served as pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in New Haven, Connecticut. He later founded what would become the Chinese Baptist Church of Greater Hartford, and commuted frequently between the two churches.
Rev. Kwok graduated with a Master of Divinity at Eastern Baptist Seminary (now Palmer) and earned his Doctor of Ministry at Hartford Seminary. He worked with few committed Asian American leaders in the early 1970s to organize the Asian American Baptist Caucus. He served as a General Board member, and worked to raise the awareness and ministry need of Asian American constituencies.
“Despite the suffering of his family during the Cultural Revolution in China, Rev. Kwok reminded us to share the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ with fellow Chinese people. Believing that the power of the Gospel could transform the country and the world, he worked relentlessly to spread the Gospel and nurtured numerous Christian disciples and leaders. We miss him and thank God for his life,” said Rev. Ben Chan, Area Director for East Asia and India with American Baptist International Ministries.
After the church in China reopened in 1979, Rev. Kwok was invited to preach and bring encouragement to churches in the Swatow area. His sermons were taped and put onto CDs, and were then sold to the churches in order to nurture their members and provide financial support for the church ministry. Kwok also taught in the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary at the invitation of the late Bishop K.H. Ting.
After his retirement, both Rev. Kwok and his wife maintained their ministries in China. They had established a special “Love and Care Fund” to help seminary students who struggled with financial needs. Rev. Kwok also devoted much of time traveling and taught at theological schools in China, South East Asia, within the United States and Europe. He wrote series of books on biblical and theological understanding as well as his own memoir on life time ministry.
Rev. Kwok is survived by his wife Lily, daughter Charlene and her husband, Chris and two granddaughters, Hannah and Justina; son, Moody and his wife, Julie and three grandsons, Kevin, Connor and Colin.
Funeral Service will be held on Wednesday, April 23 at the Whitemarsh Memorial Park, 1169 Limeklin Pike, Ambler, PA 19002. Viewing is at 9:30 am and the funeral service is at 10:30 am.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.