Features, Highlights

Combined services kick off Wesley MC’s 120th birthday joy

Its history intertwined with Methodism in Singapore

AS THE first Methodist church to be established in Singapore, the history of Wesley Methodist Church is closely intertwined with the beginnings of Methodism in Singapore.

A year-long season to celebrate its 120th anniversary commenced on Feb 20, 2005 with two combined services at Wesley MC, together with the dedication of a new-look Heritage Corner as well as the launch of several projects undertaken by the different ministries of the church.

The Pastor-in-Charge, the Rev Melvin Huang, said: “We can truly say that Wesley began quite miraculously. Our original building at Fort Canning will be 100 years old in 2008, and it has survived being turned into an ammunition dump during World War II. Our church has survived downturns, conflicts, sub-biblical theology. We have seen good times more than bad and even grown a bit. And hopefully, we have also grown up.”

Preparations for the year-long celebrations commenced more than a year ago when a plan was drawn up to involve the many different ministries of the church.

Mrs Helen Lee, Chairman of the 120th Anniversary Organising Committee, said: “The 120th anniversary is a momentous event for us here at Wesley. Therefore, we wanted to ensure that the celebration is truly a time for God’s people – young and old – to come together to give thanks and praise to our Lord as a Body of Christ.”

All the ministries at Wesley came forth to take part in the celebrations. The Children’s Ministries contributed “labours of love” through a quilt made of hand-painted pieces, a stick-figures collage and a tile mural. The Youth Ministry created a large mural.

The Communications Ministry, together with the Archives & Heritage Ministry, launched a hardcover 251-page book entitled “Our Stories, His Glory” comprising 26 testimonies of faith and courage by Wesleyans. This book is now on sale for $12, of which $2 will be donated to the Living Hope Methodist Church Building Fund.

The Wesley Heritage Corner was officially dedicated by Bishop Dr Robert Solomon on Feb 20 after the 120th Anniversary 8.30 am Combined Service, at which he delivered the sermon based on Zechariah 4:6. He delivered
the sermon a second time at the 11 am Combined Service.

The Heritage Corner has been extensively renovated and now comprises a permanent display showcasing the rich heritage of the church. An old arched wooden window from the south wall of the church, a mechanical addressing machine dating back to the 1940s, original roof tiles from the early years of the 20th century, as well as old archival photographs, are now on display.

To commemorate the occasion, every member of the congregation also received a “Welcome to Wesley” CD-ROM which offers a multi-media journey through the history of the church, as well as to listen to stories told by some of Wesley’s long-time members.

The CD-ROM also contains interactive games, as well as a devotional software.

The two combined services saw larger-than-usual congregations. The sanctuary was a riot of colours and music as the services began with a “carnival-like” presentation by singers and musicians, followed by inspiring anthems by the choir backed by the Wesley orchestra.

In the coming months, the celebrations at Wesley MC will continue with:

■ An evangelistic outreach musical entitled “The Contemporary Struggle” presented jointly by the Prayer & Praise and Worship & Music Ministries at Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) on June 15 and 16 and at Wesley MC’s Wesley Hall on July 1 and 2;

■ A “Knowing Your Church and the People” programme presented by the Family Life Ministry at Wesley MC on June 19.

■ A Thanksgiving Dinner on Aug 12;

■ A Thanksgiving Concert by the Worship & Music Ministry at Wesley MC on Sept 10; and

■ A Seekers Event by the Youth Ministry on Dec 29 and 30, 2005.

Just as our Methodist forefathers James Thoburn and William Oldham planted the seeds of Methodism in Singapore as part of their mission endeavours, it is also apt that Wesley MC will mark 2005 as the year of the “People of the Great Commission”. This theme is part of the church’s three-year direction, “To be God’s People”, and in tandem with the different anniversary celebrations, there will be many more programmes and events to raise awareness for missions and outreach.

Appropriately, many of Wesley MC’s missionaries were also present on Feb 20 for the celebrations, following a successful three-day Missions Conference in Singapore.

Indeed it is God’s grace and faithfulness that have sustained Wesley Methodist Church these 120 years, and as reflected in our anniversary theme, we acknowledge that it is truly “… not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4: 6).

Christina Stanley is Chairman of the Communications Ministry at Wesley Methodist Church.