Happenings, News

Happy homecoming Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church worshippers declare JOY TO THE WORLD!

IT WAS a joyous homecoming for the TA2 worshippers and also a homecoming of sorts for members of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church – the “mother” church – when close to 1,500 of them congregated at the spanking new TA2 Sanctuary at Wishart Road on Dec 19, 2004.

The occasion was the Combined Thanksgiving Service for the completion of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church (TA2 Sanctuary) cum Christmas Worship. The church members were justifiably bubbling with joy and admiration for the beautiful $11-million church building with all its high-tech features.

What was a simple, small church building sitting on a much larger piece of land almost two years ago is now an impressive three-storey building, capped with a roof-top garden, reaching out to all corners of that piece of land.

Now what is left to be done is for the church members to reach out to the community as, in the words of the guest preacher Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, a church is not just a building of bricks and mortar but it should be a gathering of spirit-filled people of faith working for our Lord.

Construction work on the building began immediately after the ground-breaking service in February 2003 and was completed in the first week of December 2004.

The spacious and well laid-out sanctuary, which can accommodate about 900 worshippers, is on the third floor. On the far end from the main entrance to the sanctuary are two eye-catching pieces of stained glass, one featuring the Great Commission and the other the Great Commandment. In addition, there are seven circular windows with stained glass.

The second floor houses the kindergarten, Sunday School classrooms, the conference room, library, music room and a multi-purpose hall. On the first floor are the social hall, kitchen and car park.

There are three floors of basement car park, and the columbarium is on basement one.

TA2 Sanctuary will only conduct a Mandarin service, from 9 am to 10.30 am, and a Hokkien service, from 11 am to 12.30 pm.

The first part of the two-and-a-half-hour service was the outpouring of thanksgiving and praises from grateful people to a faithful God, and what better way to do that than for the Telok Ayer Church Orchestra to fill the hall with a stirring rendition of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”.

The congregation then came on strong with the opening hymn, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, to the well-orchestrated accompaniment of the choir under the direction of Mr Liew Cheng San.

The entire service was conducted in Chinese, Hokkien and English, and the worship leader was the Pastor-in-Charge of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church, the Rev See Ping Eik, who also sang a carol with his small group.

Following the consecration of the building, the congregation focused on “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols”, the Christmas Worship through the reading of Scriptures by various church leaders and the singing of carols by the choir, children’s choir, a small group and the congregation.

When it came to the reading of Luke 2:1-7, which announces the birth of Jesus – Lesson 6 – the lights in the sanctuary were dimmed by the touch of a high-tech control panel. This was the time for the congregation to sing that well-loved carol, “Silent Night, Holy Night”, with excellent back-up from the choir and the Telok Ayer Church Orchestra.

At the end of the 9th and final lesson, the choir and the congregation raised their voices to ring out “Joy to the World”.

The service then closed with church members going around wishing each other as they sang “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. Then it was time for the feeding of the 1,500 as they adjourned to the first floor for a buffet lunch, and a time of fellowship.

In his sermon entitled “Being the People of God”, Bishop Dr Solomon reminded the church members of the necessity of witness.

“Your challenge,” he said, “is to be a witness of Jesus Christ and to share the good news wherever God places you – as a community, in your families, in your small groups, in all your organisations, to bring more worshippers into God’s sanctuary.

“Witness is necessary in the lives of God’s community. We must go and share and show who God is.”

This was one of three points he made in his message based on the Scripture text from Nehemiah 8:1-10. The other two points were the centrality of God’s Word and the primacy of worship.

Stressing the relevance of God’s Word, Bishop Dr Solomon said the public reading of God’s Word is so much a part of the whole worship of God. It is something we cannot and should not compromise, no matter how short or how long the time we have for worship. Reading is important because hearing is important in Christian life and discipleship.

He added that there must also be a reverence for God’s Word. The way for the church to grow is to make sure that we show our reverence for God’s Word by obeying it.

On the primacy of worship, he said: “The Word brings us to God.”

We do not preach about sin too often because “it is not so nice to hear that we are sinners”. “But I believe that God works powerfully amongst us if there is a true repentance.”

The Bishop added that if we are to survive as a church, “we need to maintain our rhythms”, which remind us that we are a people of God called to worship Him.”