RAC President tells pastors at Ordination Service:
Be diligent, carry yourselves well, don’t neglect God’s gifts given to you
PASTORS have been urged to be diligent in their teaching, to carry themselves with dignity, and not to neglect the gifts that God has bestowed on them.
The Rev Dr Isaac Lim, President of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC), made these three points in his sermon at the Closing and Ordination Service of the 28th Session of TRAC at Barker Road Methodist Church on Nov 27, 2003.
The Rev John Benedict Foo Fook Heng was ordained an Elder, and the Rev See Swee Fang and the Rev Dianna Khoo Ghee Kuan were ordained Deacons by Bishop Dr Robert Solomon.
Basing his sermon on 1Timothy 4: 11-16, the Rev Dr Lim said that Paul told Timothy to be diligent in the ministry of teaching. “Paul in verse 6 says that good servants of God instruct the church so that the church can be nourished by the words of faith and of sound teaching.” The way to combat false teaching is to teach what is true.
“We as pastors are committed to the ministry of teaching. Our people must be grounded on the word. Proper teaching leads to proper living. Paul calls the process of teaching that transforms, ‘training in godliness’ (v.7-8).
“Godliness is the outcome of a deep connection with God and the adversities of life that make real our faith in God. God is certainly our hope for years to come.”
On the second point, the Rev Dr Lim said Paul told Timothy to carry himself with dignity. Paul was reminding Timothy that his age should not be a hindrance to his call to shepherd the flock of God.
“Sometimes we allow our youthfulness to be a hindrance to the call of God. Yes, we should respect our people, but we should carry ourselves in such a way that will enable them to respect us in spite of our youth.
“Sometimes we allow ourselves to be intimidated by strong parishioners … When pastors do not carry themselves appropriately, they are inviting their parishioners to despise them.”
Turning to the third point, the Rev Dr Lim said Paul reminded Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.”
“Tonight, there will be the laying on of hands by the Bishop in the ordination of deacons. There will also be the laying on of hands in the ordination of the elders.
“Laying on of hands was an important part of an ancient religious ritual. Hands were laid on the sick and also those who were to be blessed. The action was symbolic of spiritual blessing flowing from one person to another.”
Laying on of hands was also the rite of ordination for Christian service. Laying on of hands was an outward sign that God gave to the person his gifts for some task of ministry, and by it the church acknowledged the divine commission and enabling by the Holy Spirit in authorising the minister for his or her task.
“God is going to bestow on you gifts for the work of ministry in His vineyard. Do not neglect the use of these gifts,” added the Rev Dr Lim.
TRAC’s four major priorities
TRINITY Annual Conference (TRAC) held its 28th Session from Nov 24 to 27, 2003 at Barker Road Methodist Church. Ministerial members and lay delegates gathered for a time of Conference business, interspersed with devotional exercises, a tradition which was begun by John Wesley himself.
In his Presidential Address on Nov 25, the TRAC President, the Rev Dr Isaac Lim, addressed four major priorities which TRAC needs to look into — Spiritual, Leadership, Pastoral and Connectional.
On spiritual priority, he re-affirmed that the primary business of the church is to connect men and women to God. If it fails to do so, it becomes irrelevant as God’s agent.
Referring to statistics over a period of four years, he noted that there has been a decline in the rate of growth over the last three years — in baptisms and conversions — as well as in attendance. To rectify this shortcoming, the spiritual texture of TRAC needs to be raised. This can be done through a more systematic study of the Word as well as a more meaningful prayer life.
A second priority — leadership — is in training good leaders, both lay and clergy. Good church leaders are Servant leaders, and should be able to act as agents of change. Such leadership skills can be nurtured, beginning with the children, youth, and continuing with adults, both men and women.
A third priority — pastoral — deals with the appointment and welfare of pastors. One aspect is to review their welfare, and looking forward to a programme of pastoral development and upgrading through advanced training. The Rev Dr Lim dwelt on the problem of how long pastoral appointments should last, as there was no simple answer to this question.
Finally, he dealt with some connectional priorities. As a connectional church, we need to function within the total Methodist connection through participation in and support of church-wide projects by pooling our resources. An example of this is the way TRAC has mobilised itself to make the Living Hope Methodist Church a reality, while giving an enhanced emphasis on regionalisation, targeting those countries which have yet to be served.
Certain aspects of the President’s Address were later debated at the lay session, as well as the full Conference in session.
Conference business at hand included the election of ministerial and lay delegates to the 2004 General Conference. After only two ballots, the following were elected as substantive delegates:
A highlight of the Conference were the three TRUTH worship sessions conducted by the Rev Norman Wong and his team of Youth workers, drawing attention to new ways of dealing with today’s young people and their problems. A growing and creative ministry to the youth at the Hope Centre has been in operation, and will continue to grow in the years ahead.