Features, Highlights

Jubilee celebrations at Barker Road Methodist Church

For such a time as this
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever

CELEBRATING God’s goodness together with more than 2,000 church members, friends and guests at the Singapore Expo on May 14, 2006 was a far cry from the first gathering of a handful of students who made up the first congregation of Barker Road Methodist Church (BRMC) at Anglo-Chinese School exactly 50 years ago.

In fact it was hard to imagine that the fledgling congregation, barely more than a small group mostly made up of students who had responded to the preaching of God’s Word at the school’s chapel services, would even be sustainable as a fully functioning local church.

Since then, however, the congregation has seen innumerable changes from the early days of worshipping in the spartan ACS Music Room, to the kampong-like atmosphere of the wooden church structure, amply ventilated by doors that let in the freshness of the outdoors together with the curiosity (and mischief!) of ACS boys, to the larger concrete structure of the present sanctuary that stands at the heart of the Barker Road Campus.

The Jubilee Service at the Singapore Expo was therefore an occasion for thanksgiving as a BRMC Family as we remember God’s faithfulness over the last 50 years.

At the same time, we were reminded by TRAC President Rev Wee Boon Hup, who shared at the Jubilee Celebration Combined Worship Service from Luke 4:18-19, that this should also be a time when BRMC needed to be more open to God’s empowering Spirit so that we would be able to look beyond ourselves in order to proclaim the Good News in both word and deed in this Jubilee “year of the Lord’s favour”.

A week before this at BRMC, at the Pre-Anniversary Holy Communion Sunday Worship Services, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon had urged from Hebrews 1:1-3, to hold unceasingly to the central truth that Christ was the exact representation of the Father and that He is the ultimate revelation of God’s truth to all. This, he said, remains a challenge for the Church at a time when the tide of popular culture points otherwise. Truly Jesus is the same – yesterday, today and forever – for such a time as this!

The Jubilee Service at the Singapore Expo was the high point of a series of Jubilee Celebration events that began with the BRMC Family Day on March 18. The Family Day provided young and old a chance to bond as a church family as well as to learn more about relating to each other through fun and games and from various workshop sessions such as: “Managing Your Stressed Up Youth”, “Finding Peace at Home in Times of Stress” and “Raising Confident Competent Children”.

At the end of the Family Day, the church was gathered for a Prayer and Dedication Service with the trumpet blast of the shofar (ram’s horn), which also symbolised for all present the beginning of our Church Jubilee Year Celebration. It was an appropriate signal as many members took the opportunity to set themselves right with God and dedicate themselves anew at the church altar rails in this our Year of Jubilee.

This spirit of seeking the Lord and taking time to wait upon Him was underlined by Monthly Prayer Watches lasting 24 hours each, and intensifying to 50-Hour Prayer Watches during Holy Week 2006 and the weekend prior to the Jubilee Service. At this significant point of the life of our church, a 50-Day Devotional Prayer Guide was produced by various church leaders to guide each member to pray through the various ministries and concerns of the church in the 50 days leading up to the Jubilee Combined Worship Service.

A Jubilee theme song, “For Such a Time as This”, was composed by Mr Wyman Soh, a church member. It was instrumental in uniting our spirits to our common theme, that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever – for such a time as this!

In planning the Jubilee celebrations for BRMC’s 50th Anniversary, the pastors and leaders of the church were keen that these festivities should not just be celebrations but also for consecration. In giving God the glory for His faithfulness to His people over the years, we were also challenged to think beyond ourselves and consider how we could be a greater blessing to others.

It was in keeping with this that a concert called My Tribute was organised on April 28 and 29. Not only was this a vibrant opportunity for members of diverse interests and age groups to celebrate together God’s faithfulness in song, dance and the sharing of testimonies, the proceeds from the ticket sales also went towards supporting the purchase of musical instruments for BRMC’s Preaching Point at Bukit Batok.

The final event in the Jubilee celebrations was the Jubilee Healing Service held on June 30. It seemed appropriate for us to respond to the call to be a Jubilee people from Luke 4:18-19, with a desire to share Christ’s love and power with others in need.

Many members brought their friends and relatives to hear the preaching of God’s Word by the Rev Raymond Mooi, from the School of ACTS, Kuala Lumpur, and many also responded to the call for salvation and prayers for healing.

Even as our series of celebrative events started with the sounding of the shofar, the evening of the Jubilee Healing Service also ended with the blowing of the shofar by the Rev Noel Goh, followed by the closing prayer and benediction by the Pastor-in-Charge, the Rev Malcolm Tan, ending not just the programme for the evening, but also the entire series of Jubilee Celebrations.

Looking back, we thank God for His work among us as a people and for those that God continues to bring among us. May we always be faithful to His calling as a church family, faithfully remembering that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever – for such a time as this!

Renata Liew spent her growing up years in BRMC as a Methodist Girls’ School student and later as an Anglo-Chinese Junior College student before going to university abroad and then finally to Trinity Theological College. Currently she serves in the BRMC Pastoral Team as a Lay Ministry Staff.