136 years of blessings through thick and thin

136 years of blessings through thick and thin
The opening prayer and welcome by Pastor-in-Charge the Rev Raymond Fong

Wesley Methodist Church (MC) celebrated its 136th anniversary with a special Sunday Combined Worship Service on 21 Feb 2021. The service was a milestone in Wesley MC’s history as it was the first time the respective services from both the Hall and Sanctuary were integrated on site, and streamed online to those who worshipped at home.

With the church having gone through a challenging year in 2020 since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the 136th anniversary has given Wesleyans even more reason to come together to celebrate this joyous occasion on this God-appointed day.

Heritage and Unity

Before the service commenced, everyone was treated to a photo montage that gave us a glimpse into how far we have come together as a church since its days of yore. For many Wesleyans, the montage presentation brought to mind Wesley’s heritage as the first Methodist church in Singapore.

For over a century, Wesley has been an obedient church that disciples many; a faithful church that brings the gospel to many in our midst and the region; a resilient church that has overcome challenging circumstances; and a compassionate and relevant church that has been helping our community with many acts of kindness.

The montage also reminded us that while Wesley may have started from very humble beginnings, it has emerged as a church that is a light on the hill, which has brought together a large faith community in Singapore over the years.

The service commenced with an opening prayer and welcome by Pastor-in-Charge the Rev Raymond Fong.

Thanking the Lord for seeing us through another year, Pastor Raymond was also “humbled by another anniversary” of Wesley MC. Like the opening song, “You Are the Everlasting God”, we were reminded of the Lord lifting us like eagles.

Both on-site and online worshippers were invited to exchange greetings with those around them through safe distancing peace gestures or with their friends by sending a simple text message of shalom.

Pastor Clement Ong then prayed for the church to be “in unity in love”, which was followed by prayers led by LCEC Chairperson, Philip Oh. As Philip thanked God for His provision of “abundant resources” over the years, he remembered that Wesleyans could only be a blessing to the least, lost and last because of the Lord Himself.

A canorous rendition of the hymn, “In My Life Lord Be Glorified”, accompanied by the orchestra, was put up by the Wesley Combined Service Choir in English, Chinese and Tagalog. The three languages this beautiful hymn was sung in underscored the different communities that our church ministers to. The rendition reminded us that no matter the languages we speak, where we come from, we are all in His Church. Wesley MC belongs to God Himself.

Another beautiful performance was put up by the Sunbeams Children’s Choir. Their youthful enthusiasm to lift Jesus high was unmistakeable.

Dedication and Service

The church staff is the cornerstone of our daily church activities and ministries, and it was befitting to dedicate over 90 of Wesley’s staff members on this special occasion.

While it would have been previously impossible to get a glimpse of all the faces of the Wesley staff at a physical service, the online service this year made it possible for us to be able to take a closer look at all the staff dedicated at this service on Zoom.

Pastor Raymond thanked the Wesley full-time staff for their “readiness to serve, commitment to be faithful and the sacrifices made that are sometimes unknown but only to God”. Although “the past year has been very challenging”, Pastor Raymond said the church is “thankful for the team of dedicated staff who have served tirelessly, adapted creatively and persevered joyfully in serving God”.

Message of Rest and Hope

The highlight of this year’s anniversary service was the sermon delivered by Bishop Dr Gordon Wong. On behalf of our 45 sister churches, Bishop Dr Wong extended greetings and well wishes to Wesley on its anniversary. In line with our church theme for this year, Bishop spoke on Psalm 131.

Psalm 131 is deemed by some as one “which takes a few seconds to read but a life time to learn. Its wisdom is most appreciated by those who are at their twilight years”. The psalmist here speaks of a humble heart, a weaned child who rests in God and ceases over-striving and pursuing.

“This is the picture of Christian faith presented to us in Psalm 131—a relationship of dependence and trust as that of a weaned child, resting on his mother. The wise Christians neither do too little nor too much,” said Bishop Dr Wong. Rest entails “a deliberate and determined effort to compose and give rest” to one’s soul. “This is the secret to contentment and peace: trust. Put your hope in the Lord. The secret to a soul at rest is learning to hope in the Lord.”

Bishop Dr Wong’s sermon encouraged us “to rest and to be composed in God” and to have a balanced attitude in all aspects of our life by applying the spiritual perspective of a weaned child depicted in Psalm 131. Bishop Dr Wong highlighted the distinct differences between “healthy aspiration” and “harmful ambition”. He encouraged us to have the wisdom and insight to know when we “have gone too far” (a quote from a traditional Irish blessing).

The message of a weaned child was a strong reminder for Wesleyans to rest and trust in the Lord in a year when we embark, as a church, to rest, reflect and renew in God.

With the conclusion of the uplifting sermon and prayers, the Wesley 136th Anniversary Combined Service closed with the hymn of dedication, “By My Spirit”. It emblematises the grace Wesley MC has received from the Lord to come so far, through thick and thin.

As the hymn of dedication, which was composed by the Rev Melvin Huang and Leong Wai Meng, goes: “By My Spirit, says the Lord, not by strength or might; This mighty mountain will be removed.”

“As we work with Jesus hand in hand.”

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Yeo Su Chen is a writer for Wesley TIDINGS. / Photos courtesy of Wesley MC. This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Wesley TIDINGS.