■ 116th Anniversary of founding of church ■ 80th Anniversary of church building
ON THE momentous day of Aug 14, 2005, Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church (TACMC) celebrated its 116th Anniversary as well as the 80th Anniversary of the church building at Telok Ayer Street.
To commemorate these two important events and to offer praises and thanks to our loving Father who has
always been watching over us, the church held a Thanksgiving Service which brought back many nostalgic memories. This was made possible after months of meticulous preparation by the organising committee, which included the church pastors. When the service started at 5 pm that Sunday, the sanctuary in the Telok Ayer church building was already fully seated with members and guests.
Invited guests included the speaker for the service, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) President, the Rev Khoo Cheng Hoot, and the CAC City West District Superintendent, the Rev Chua Ooi Suah.
Other than the Scripture readings and a sermon, the programme also included anthems of praise by the choirs from the three congregations, together with the two children’s choirs, Praise Choristers and Joyful Voices, and singing in different languages: Hokkien, Mandarin, English and Latin. Dr Tan Chew Lim, Lay Leader of TACMC, presented a Powerpoint slideshow, showcasing the rich history of the church, the church building and the building’s unique architectural features.
One hundred and sixteen years ago, our founder and pioneer missionary, Dr Benjamin West, and other forefathers made the selfless sacrifice of leaving their homelands to travel long distances to come to this impoverished, underdeveloped island, to sow the seeds of the Gospel. These seeds of love and hope sprouted, multiplied and matured.
It is their act of sacrifice that had eventually led to the growth of this church.
From the birth of this church to the construction of the church building at Telok Ayer Street, our forefathers had tirelessly overcome countless difficulties and failures. TACMC saw its beginnings in a shophouse in Upper Nanking Street in 1889, then a meeting tent at the present Telok Ayer site in 1913, which eventually became dilapidated, causing the church to temporarily move to Fairfield Methodist Girls’ School at Neil Road.
Thereafter, the church returned to the Telok Ayer site, setting up a zinc hut, the so-called “Tin Church”. As the congregation outgrew its capacity, more land was acquired at the site to launch a church building project. The Foundation Stone was laid on Jan 9, 1924. Under God’s guidance and mercy, the church building was eventually completed in April 1925.
In March 1989, the church was preserved as a national monument because of the building’s unique architectural features. In 1996, after the completion of renovation works to the building, TACMC was awarded the Architectural Heritage Award for painstakingly restoring this historical monument building to its original grandeur.
Despite the church having experienced challenging periods and trying times, through God’s divine protection, the church remains strong. Today, this 80-year-old historical building is a testimony of God’s great love and faithfulness.
Bishop Dr Solomon’s sermon was based on Jeremiah 18:1-10. He compared our spiritual life to that of the church’s building process. Through the erosion of time, this church had experienced much wear and tear. History has witnessed how the church underwent several battering rounds of destruction and renovation, in order for the building to reflect its original splendor.
Our spiritual lives are no different. From the beginning of time, God bestowed on the human race a perfect life. But this perfect and wonderful life was marred by the sins of Adam and Eve. Therefore, man and God became separated by a great divide. However, God, who loves us, did not abandon us. He sent His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to save us, to make us right with Him and re-establish a relationship.
Long Service Award for Rev See
Plaques also given to 10 Honorary Stewards
God is the potter, who is full of wisdom and compassion. We are the clay in His hands. Our broken spirits require restoration. God uses Jesus’ bruised hands to shape us into vessels for His use, through His will.
After Bishop Dr Solomon’s sharing, a Holy Communion was specially conducted. This showed the unity of all the church members as one family despite the fact that currently, the church conducts many services at two church buildings.
As an expression of appreciation, Bishop Emeritus Wong Kiam Thau presented plaques to 10 Honorary Stewards. The church also presented a Long Service Award to the Rev See Ping Eik, the Pastor-in-Charge, who has served in TACMC for more than 19 years.
Bishop Emeritus Wong’s benediction marked the conclusion of a heartwarming and memorable celebration.
After the service, members and guests proceeded to TA2 Sanctuary at Wishart Road for the thanksgiving banquet. Nearly 800 guests were present at the dinner.
Dr Tan Chew Lim is the Lay Leader of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church and Esther Lee is the Chairman of the TACMC Publication Committee.
Face up to challenges facing the Church, TTC students told
CAREFUL students of church history and doctrine should not be overwhelmed by the current challenges to the Church, according to Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, who spoke to a gathering of more than 40 Methodist students and faculty at Trinity Theological College (TTC) on Sept 20, 2005.
The semestral gathering focused on threats to the Christian worldview from such contemporary films as “The Da Vinci Code” and “Did Jesus Die?” and popular books like His Dark Material. While reflecting current philosophical trends, these challenges are but the latest forms of old controversies and heresies.
“These threats are not new,” Bishop Dr Solomon said, assuring the students that the Church has dealt with similar issues before. In order for the Church of today to properly address these old errors, Christians must know what is true. Hence, it is important for students to read widely, not only the Bible, but also the doctrine of the Church and the early Church Fathers. “Read the books in your library while you have time,” he said.
Bishop Dr Solomon presented an overview of the history of thought. Modernism has prevailed since the 18th century European Enlightenment. Whereas Christendom had always been bound by the external authorities of Scripture and tradition, the Enlightenment broke away from those authorities and elevated reason. This influenced science, technology, art, philosophy and theology for several centuries with values of individualism, democracy and market forces.
A prevailing trend in the 19th and early 20th centuries was Positivism, which has been characterised by the assumption that everything is naturally progressing towards greater harmony. Such optimism was dashed with the great wars of the 20th century.
If Modernism emphasised reason as the final authority, Postmodernism utilises the “hermeneutic of suspicion”, Bishop Dr Solomon said, which is to say that every authority and every claim to truth is questioned. The results are complete moral relativism.
The students expressed appreciation for Bishop Dr Solomon’s sharing with them. “His presentation was very comprehensive,” one student commented. “We need to have more discussions on these issues.”
“He pushes me to think a lot,” said Ms Lim Chye Peng, a Chinese department student from Malaysia. “I ended up taking a lot of notes.” Ms Jenny Tiew, from Ang Mo Ko Chinese Methodist Church, said: “I always enjoy his talks.”
A new student from Fiji, Mr Lewatoro Apenisa, was happy for the opportunity for fellowship. “It’s really great to get together like this.”
Besides the Bishop’s presentation, the students shared a meal together at the TTC cafeteria, spent some time in worship and considered a future retreat.
The Rev George Martzen is Minister Attached to The Bishop’s Office.