Charis Methodist Church consecrates its new building at 35th Anniversary service

MMxCharis - Group Photo
Members of CMC with pastors, leaders and guests

Thus says the Lord God: “I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.”
~ Ezekiel 17:22-24

On 21 January 2024, the new Charis Methodist Church (CMC) building was consecrated and dedicated to the glory of God. It also marked the 35th anniversary of CMC since it became a Local Conference.

The planning and construction process took nearly four and a half years—much longer than the initial timeline of 18 months—as the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted works and the subsequent global shortages of manpower and materials took their toll, amidst concerns of escalating costs. During that time, CMC held hybrid services at Living Hope Methodist Church (LHMC). The LHMC leaders and members made the “homeless” Charisians feel welcomed, showing what it meant to be part of the same body of Christ. During this interim period, CMC continued to serve the community in Joo Chiat with the Samaria project (for the homeless and rough sleepers during the Covid-19 circuit breaker), prayer walks and English lessons.

Charis Methodist Church
(left) Cake cutting (right) Children's choir

A fruitful ministry because of God’s grace

The theme of the Anniversary service was “In the Shade of God’s Grace”. Bishop Dr Gordon Wong preached on Ezekiel 17:22-24 and highlighted several points, pointing to the work of the Lord and the part that CMC members must play. Firstly, CMC was established by the design and initiative of God. Bishop Dr Wong noted that God is on hand to accomplish God’s will, that God himself will “take a shoot from the top of the cedar”, “break off a tender sprig” and “plant it” (v22). Secondly, with God’s hand upon her, there is the promise of a fruitful ministry: CMC shall establish a fruitful ministry; “it will produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid cedar” (v23a).

It seemed fitting that, as CMC seeks to be an attractive community, the church will serve the community and needy, and be the place where “birds of every sort will dwell and nest” (v23b). Bishop pointed out that in v23b, the words “nest” and “shelter” (NLT) are both translated as “home” or ” 家 ” in Mandarin. Charisians were reminded that God has provided CMC with a home, to be a shelter and nest for welcoming many more to come.

Lastly, CMC would thrive but only  by God’s grace. It is the Lord who brings down the tall tree and makes the low tree grow tall, and as it says in v24, “dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish … I have spoken and I will do it”. The chosen theme was thus most appropriate, as the name Charis is from the Greek word meaning “grace”.

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(left) Front view of CMC during construction (right) Construction of sanctuary

Starting a new season with reminders from the past

CAC President Rev Dr Gregory Goh was inspired by the beautiful stained glass artwork that was conserved from the old building and re-installed in the new sanctuary. The stained glass features the elements of the Eucharist, representing Christ incarnate and resurrected, the unity of the Church and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. In his address, he reminded all Charisians to look through that window and see the world outside as Christ would.

Just as Christ said, “Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18b, NLT), the CMC choir sang the song, “Upon This Rock” at the dedication service—a fitting anthem as it was the same one sung on 3 Apr 1993 at the inaugural service at  this location, and again on 20 Jan 2019 to celebrate her 30th Anniversary.

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(left) Stained glass that was conserved from the old church building (right) CMC choir

As members gathered again in one location, it was clear that the learning, unlearning and relearning of many things was necessary. Not only had the neighbourhood evolved in the last four years, but the congregation did as well. Many members had gotten married, and there were new additions in the Sunday school classes.

All praise and thanks to God for the promising start to this phase of her history. May CMC always be a people after God’s heart.

Kwok Wan Yee is the Education Secretary of The Methodist Church in Singapore and serves on the Council of Communications as an ExCo member. She is also the Lay Leader of Charis Methodist Church. / Photos courtesy of Charis Methodist Church