Bishop dispels two ‘false ideas’

All Annual Conference stories by Peter Teo and Grace Toh


Serving in church

BISHOP DR ROBERT SOLOMON dealt with two “false ideas” about serving in church at the Opening Service of the 36th Session of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) at the Tamil Methodist Church on Nov 11, 2011.

He dispelled the linking of faith with miraculous spectacles, asserting that faith has more to do with character – the loving character of Jesus, the character of God as all-powerful and the object of our faith – than being “religious magicians”. e miracle of God’s love transforming a “sinner into a saint” will be what helps persuade others, as it is a “demonstration of the power of God that can uproot the most stubborn of sins”.

The Bishop then went on to discuss the false linking of ministry and rewards through what he called a “rather difficult parable” – that of the servant and his master in Luke 17:7-10.

In the passage, Jesus asked: “Would the master thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?” e answer was that God does not owe anyone anything, and the Bishop suggested that we as God’s servants should respond as Jesus proposed: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”

Will we become “religious mercenaries” by seeking worldly rewards like approval in church, or is our reward Christ Himself, and doing His will? Faith and ministry is neither about being religious magicians nor religious mercenaries, but about recognising God’s love and serving Him in loving response.


Connections important for God’s work

– ETAC President

OPPORTUNITIES TO MINISTER TOGETHER help us to learn from one another and extend resources, asserted the Rev James Nagulan, President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC), in his President’s Review at the 36th Session of ETAC on Nov 12 at the Tamil Methodist Church.

He was referring to the General Conference (GC) of e Methodist Church in Singapore, which facilitates the cooperation of its three member conferences: ETAC, the Chinese Annual Conference and Trinity Annual Conference.

As an example of God’s work enabled by this spirit of connectionalism, the Rev Nagulan shared that a Chinese friend had asked him for help to counsel a Tamil-speaking brother who was seeking Christ. He said: “ is is one of the many reasons why we need inter-conference connections.”

Expanding on this theme, he noted that there are, at present, only a few members representing ETAC in multiple positions in the GC, making it difficult for them to attend meetings regularly and putting the conference at a disadvantage when vital issues are discussed and voted on. He urged more ETAC members to step up to serve faithfully as representatives of the conference within various committees and leadership positions in the GC. Connectionalism within the conference itself has borne much fruit, as the Rev Nagulan noted with regards to the work of the Board on Missions, particularly in Myanmar. “In the last few years, the Dallah Methodist Church, in Myanmar, has progressed significantly; new gospel centres have been established.” is was the joint work of many local congregations in ETAC, and is to be lauded.

Another commendable programme was the organisation of two seminars by the Executive Board, “Guarding your Marriage” and “Addiction to Pornography”, which drew unexpected crowds and highlighted the “great need to help our people with family-life issues”. Plans are underway to establish a Family-life Ministry Centre at ETAC to address these needs e Rev Nagulan also commended the ETAC Women’s Society of Christian Service for being a great support to the conference’s ministries. He said: “ e women in our churches continue to provide able leadership in the life of the Church. We thank God for this ministry.”

Raising leaders in the local churches continues to be a major concern for the conference, and the Rev Nagulan pointed out the necessity of nurturing young adults in local congregations, helping them experience the joy of Christian service and grooming them for leadership positions.

He then closed his review by urging conference members to make an “intentional commitment to the decisions that are shared here at this Session”, so that the spirit of connectionalism would enable God’s work in the conference to be carried out smoothly.