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Community Outreach to be ETAC’s focus for 2015

After ‘stretching [its] tent curtains wide’, ETAC aims to ‘lengthen [its] cords’, especially in community outreach initiatives.

In line with its theme “Lengthen your cords” (Isaiah 54:2), Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) will capitalise on outreach opportunities at its doorstep and focus on community outreach in the coming year. This builds upon the emphasis in 2014 on evangelism and organising new preaching points, based on the theme “Stretching your tent curtains wide”(Isaiah 54:2).

In his President’s Review at ETAC’s 39th session on 7 Nov, 2014 at Sembawang Tamil Methodist Church, the Rev R. Prabhu stressed the urgency of mission outreach. He reiterated the need to explore setting up worship posts in areas such as Choa Chu Kang, Woodlands and Punggol.

This would extend the ongoing ministry on Sundays at Tamil Methodist Church and Ang Mo Kio Tamil Methodist Church, as well as Seletar Tamil Methodist Church’s ministry among transient workers.

Other efforts to stretch the tent curtains wide are also bearing fruit. Pasir Panjang Tamil Methodist Church is making progress with the outreach ministry at Teck Whye Lane, and plans for regular Sunday services are in the pipeline. Bedok Preaching Point, started two years ago under the care of Seletar Tamil Methodist Church, has 30 to 40 worshippers each Sunday evening and leadership is emerging. Ang Mo Kio Tamil Methodist Church has also made some contacts in the Punggol neighbourhood.

Beyond local outreach, mission trips to Myanmar and Sri Lanka have opened opportunities for exposure and ministry in cross-cultural contexts. The Rev Prabhu expressed appreciation for youth involvement and interest in ETAC’s missions programmes, with one young person now preparing to embark on a full-time career in missions.

Thanking God for His sustaining grace in his second year as ETAC President, the Rev Prabhu also shared about challenges and concerns for the Conference. “Pastor supply is still a matter of concern,” he said. The Board of Laity had invited 15 potential candidates active in their churches’ ministries for a half-day retreat at Short Street Tamil Methodist Church and will continue to pray for them. In addition, the ETAC President spoke of hopes to develop ministry teams with lay participation, as “sometimes, our leaders are loaded with many responsibilities both in the local church and Conference.”

The importance of lay participation is also seen on the social concerns front. 2014 saw ETAC churches visiting Christalite Methodist Home and Bethany Methodist Nursing Home, participating in the “Walk with the Poor” programme organised by Methodist Welfare Services, conducting two health talks and a blood donation drive Through Prison Fellowship of Singapore’s programme, some church members also visited inmates and distributed Christmas food hampers to their families.

The Rev Prabhu recognised the role of youth and seniors in ETAC. He called it “a joy to see the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) in our conference growing.” Six churches have formally organised their MYF, with another church in the process of nurturing its youth leaders. The Pioneer generation, who have contributed significantly to ETAC’s ministries, will be honoured during the ETAC Thanksgiving Sunday on 31 Jan 2015. A book on ETAC’s history by Mrs Veronica Poore will also be launched that day.

 

— Chia Hui Jun

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