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A modest growth in membership and pastoral supply

48th Session of the Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference

A modest growth in membership and pastoral supply
All delegates, ETAC leadership, worship team and guests

The 48th Session of the Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) was held at Sembawang Tamil Methodist Church from 10 to 11 November 2023. The year 2023 marked Rev Philip Abraham’s third year as President of ETAC.

Progress on Vision 2024 ­— Towards Harvest

In his President’s Address, Rev Philip Abraham gave an update on the progress of ETAC’s Vision 2024—Towards Harvest. Churches continued with an initiative that had begun in 2021, committing to a synchronised prayer at 1 p.m., to pray for one soul for a minute (termed “1.1.1. Prayer Waves”). Every member was encouraged to identify 10 pre-believers and pray for them. Significantly, ETAC’s membership has continued to grow with membership now at 914 members across the eight Tamil Methodist churches, up from 869 in 2020.

From 2021 to 2023, the annual themes were “PRAY”, “SEEK” and “SOW”. The theme for 2024 is “REAP”. Rev Philip shared that the step of reaping or gathering typically came after hard work and was often marked with painful situations. But it was also often a time of rejoicing and special skills would be required for reaping. In January, ETAC  will hold a dialogue session where pastors, church leaders and witness and evangelism chairpersons will congregate to discuss further growth strategies.

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Rev Philip Abrahma addressing the delegates

Other highlights

Pasir Panjang Tamil Methodist Church and Jurong Tamil Methodist Church jointly organised a Thursday Night Connection (TNC) initiative for young adults, which began in 2022. The meeting, which happens on the first Thursday of each month, sees 10-15 young adults attending. The first study series was on the Seven Deadly Sins, where pastors and leaders from the Methodist community, such as Rev Derrick Lau, Rev Shawn Koh, Rev Anthony Lee and Mrs Gnanamany Philip shared.

The Board of Outreach & Social Concerns continued its outreach activities, most significantly to migrant workers. An ETAC-wide breakfast distribution to 1,000 migrant workers at S11 dormitory was conducted on 9 August 2023 (National Day).

ETAC Board of Archives & Communications launched an annual newsletter. The inaugural issue is available online at http://tiny.cc/etacnewsletter.

Pastoral supply

Two new Members-on-Trial were admitted. They are Pastor Joseph Vasanth and Pastor Jesudoss Charles. Mr Elisha Phililp, son of Rev Philip Abraham, has enrolled  in Trinity Theological College and is currently in his first year of study towards a Master of Divinity. Rev C Jebakumar, an ordained minister from the Church of North India, will serve in ETAC for two years as an Elder. (See sidebar for other Pastoral Appointments).

Christian perfection

At the Closing Service, Bishop Dr Gordon Wong preached from Matthew 5:43-48 on the topic of Perfect Love. In a humorous conversation between a Lion and an Owl, he acknowledged that while not all Methodist pastors were the same, they were all asked the same questions before getting ordained. These questions—19 in total (listed in The Methodist Church in Singapore Book of Discipline, para 548.2)—were written by the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, and were asked of would-be Methodist pastors to this day.

Highlighting just the first four questions, Bishop Dr Wong talked about how Wesley believed that every Christian should strive for Christian perfection.

Have you faith in Christ?

Are you going on to perfection?

Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?

Are you earnestly striving for it?

While Wesley scholars may not agree on the meaning of perfection “in this life”, Jesus did clearly command Christians to “[b]e perfect … as our heavenly Father is perfect.”

By examining the character of the heavenly Father, who causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and send rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, Bishop Dr Wong reminded us that we were called to “love our enemies”. And in doing so, we would be showing mercy to those who were ungrateful and wrong, showing perfection in love.

Perfection was at odds with the ways of the world, and indeed, “not normal”. “But Jesus is not normal. Our heavenly Father is not normal,” said Bishop Dr Wong. To the pastors and leaders, the Lion and Owl concluded by asking if the Methodist pastors and leaders  would be made perfect in love “in this life”, or whether they would just remain normal.

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ETAC's inaugural newsletter being presented to Bishop Dr Wong

Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference 48th Session

Appointments for the year 2024

Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference President: Rev Philip Abraham

Ang Mo Kio Tamil MC
Pastor-in-Charge
Rev Albert Vijay Joseph

Jurong Tamil MC
Pastor-in-Charge
Rev Philip S Abraham

Pastoral Assistant
Ps Jesudoss Charles

Pasir Panjang Tamil MC
Pastor-in-Charge
Rev Philip S Abraham

Pastoral Assistant
Ps Jesudoss Charles

Part-Time Approved Supply Pastor
Ps Stephen Shadrak

Seletar Tamil MC
Pastor-in-Charge
Rev James Nagulan

Sembawang Tamil MC
Pastor-in-Charge
Rev Saravana Kumar

Pastoral Assistant
Ps Adlin Jacob

Tamil MC, Short Street
Pastor-in-Charge
Rev James Nagulan

Associate Minister
Rev R Prabhu

Pastoral Assistant
Ps Joseph Vasanth

Singapore Telugu MC
Pastor-in-Charge
Rev C Jebakumar

Toa Payoh Tamil MC
Pastor-in-Charge
Rev Saravana Kumar

Pastoral Assistant
Ps Adlin Jacob

Special Appointments

District Superintendent
Rev James Nagulan

Methodist Welfare Homes Coordinator
Ps Jesudoss Charles

Chaplains to Methodist Schools
Ps Adlin Jacob
Ps Joseph Vasanth

Lianne Ong is the Editor of Methodist Message. / Photos courtesy of Daniel Lie

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