In Memoriam: The Rev Dr E. J. Thoraisingam (1933–2020)

The Rev Dr E. J. Thoraisingam (1933–2020), First Elected President of ETAC (1976–84)

First Elected President of ETAC (1976–84)

The Rev Dr E. J. Thoraisingam entered into glory on Sunday 12 July 2020. On that glorious day, in the presence of his Maker, he will surely be told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matt 25:21–23)

He is survived by his wife, Jessie Athisayam, his son, Christopher Mohanraj, and their family.

Born and educated in Singapore, the Rev E. J. was nurtured in his childhood by a widowed father. He participated actively in Sunday School at Tamil Methodist Church (TMC), the Methodist Youth Fellowship, the church choir and youth activities, all of which he continued with throughout his studies at Trinity Theological College, from which he graduated in 1963.

One day, as a teenager, he stood facing TMC and told God, “If it is your Will, one day I shall preach in this sanctuary.” And so he did, on many occasions, including at the ETAC Annual Thanksgiving Services when he was President, and when he was Minister-in-Charge at TMC.

The Rev E. J. was admitted as Minister on Trial by his Home Conference in 1963, and two years later, he was received into membership of the Singapore Malaya Annual Conference (SMAC). The itinerancy system enabled him to travel throughout Malaya, ministering to Tamil-speaking congregations in towns and Tamil settlements in many rubber estates. He passionately believed that the mission to reach and teach the Tamil-speaking throughout Malaya and Singapore lay in the hands of the Tamil Churches, as well as in raising strong Tamil-speaking Christian lay leaders and clergy. He worked with other like-minded lay and young ministers, leading to the formation of the Tamil Provisional Annual Conference (TPAC) in Malaya in 1968.

As one of the passionate and visionary leaders of TPAC, the Rev E. J. continued to work towards an autonomous Methodist Church, and to keep the status and recognition of the Tamil Churches in Singapore. This desire for a Tamil Conference was realised on 8 and 9 Dec 1976, at the First Session of the General Conference of the MCS, when the enabling Act was passed and ETAC was born. The Rev E. J. was elected ETAC’s first President, and subsequently served a second term.

The Rev Dr. E. J. Thoraisingam will be remembered as a spiritual leader who inspired both clergy and lay with building up ETAC at a time when there were insufficient leaders. In spite of meagre salaries and non-existent benefits, the clergy laboured. Throughout his pastoral ministry, which spanned over 37 years in ETAC and another decade prior to that at TPAC, he gave pastoral care to five of the then-seven ETAC churches. No congregation was too small or insignificant to him—he nurtured God’s people, provided effective administration and made sound decisions.

After his retirement in 1996, he continued to serve on the Board of Ordained Ministry and attended each Annual Conference Session, as a Ministerial Delegate, until 2018, when ill health caused him to rest.

He was much respected for his humility and integrity, and above all, he was a man of prayer. It was his trust in God and his desire to serve the Tamil-speaking in Singapore that led him to serve God with gladness and single-mindedness of heart. May the Rev E. J. Thoraisingam’s life and ministry inspire many to live and serve God with that same zeal.

Contributed by Veronica Poore & Shanti Jeremiah