Features, Highlights

Aldersgate Convention comes of age

THE Aldersgate Convention has come of age.More of our church members as well as Christians from other denominations are now more aware of this annual event. And more Methodists in the region are also looking forward to this convention which commemorates the contributions of John Wesley and celebrates the Methodist connection.

Indeed, Aldersgate Convention 2005 was the most successful to date in terms of numbers and participation. The opening Aldersgate Service at the joint premises of Faith Methodist Church and Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church on May 24 was attended by more than 1,000 worshippers. Bishop Dr Robert Solomon delivered the message entitled “What Do You See?” based on the text from Zechariah 4, from which the Rev James Thoburn preached the very first Methodist sermon in Singapore 120 years ago.

The closing Hymn Festival at Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church (TA2 Sanctuary) on May 28 drew close to 800 Methodists and friends.

The evening talks by the Rev Dr William Abraham at Barker Road Methodist Church on May 25, 26 and 27 were well attended with an average attendance of 300 per session, while the two-day seminar led by the Rev Dr Geoffrey Wainwright and the Rev Dr Karen Westerfield Tucker at Methodist Centre on May 27 and 28 attracted a record 172 participants not just from our churches in Singapore but also Methodists from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. All the three speakers are Wesleyan scholars from top American universities.

Also, the level of participation from the seminar participants was very encouraging, with people asking more questions and interacting more freely.

The general feedback from the convention participants was positive. Many urged The Methodist Church in Singapore to “keep the Aldersgate Convention going, continue to invite the best Wesleyan scholars, and open the convention to more Methodists in the region”.

The Rev Kwek Peng Soon, Pastor of Wesley Methodist Church in Kampar, West Malaysia, and a member of the Board of Music and Worship of Trinity Annual Conference of The Methodist Church in Malaysia, said: “The seminar affirms that for vital worship to continue, one has to take both theology and mission seriously.”

He said that Professor Karen Tucker referred to both the historical Wesleyan perspective and the current cultural milieu and stressed that both had to be acknowledged for a meaningful, authentic encounter with God.

“Prof Wainwright challenged us to see that it is only Christian when such an encounter is grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and when it takes the unity of Christian worship as vital for the integrity of Christian witness.

“We emerged enriched and challenged to take worship more seriously than just as a personal encounter with God.”

The Rev Primasiri Fernando, Pastor of the Maharagama-Mt Lavinia circuit of The Methodist Church in Sri Lanka, was pleased to find that the doctrines expounded by the convention speakers were biblically based.

The Sri Lankan pastor of 35 years was glad he came because he had the opportunity to learn of the richness of worship styles and the cultures of Singapore and the other countries of the participants.

“I now have an idea how Methodists work in various countries. The styles and ways of doing things differ, but it is important for the mission of the Church to remain the same,” he said.

His colleague from Colombo, Mr T. R. Obeth, a youth counsellor and lecturer at the Lanka Bible College, said he had picked up “inspiring messages and learned how worship is based on the Word”.