Happenings, News

Ministering to the Indian Diaspora in new dimensions

THE challenge to take the Gospel within Indian traditions to the 20 million people in the Indian Diaspora (“Indian Diaspora” means the peoples from the Indian Sub-Continent) in a fast-changing world is the vision of the Fellowship of Indian Denominational Churches (FIDC).

On Oct 16, 2000, the FIDC was formed at a consultative meeting initiated by Bishop Dr Robert Solomon as well as the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore and Heads of the Anglican Diocese, the Evangelical Lutheran Church and Tamil Annual Conference of the Methodist Church of West Malaysia, and their counterparts in Singapore.

The FIDC, which has a Constitution, has an Executive Committee comprising a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer and five members elected from the founding churches. With its shared resources, a number of activities have been organised, including a Church Leaders’ Retreat held in August 2001; a three-day Theological Sympo-sium held in September 2002 and a Myanmar Missionary visit to the Myanmar Indian Christian Fellowship.

Based on one faith, the FIDC shares the vision that, “to obey God by seeking unity in purpose and mission will convince the world to know who our Lord Jesus Christ is”.

This being the theme of the 1st Congress of the FIDC, which was held from May 25 to 28, 2004 at Trinity Theological

College, the 113 participants from 12 countries around the world were challenged to look for ways in which the Indian churches could network globally to reach out to the Indian Diaspora as they are faced with similar problems and challenges.

Participants at the four-day and three-night Congress were spiritually fed by morning worship and Bible Study sessions conducted by Dr Ajith Fernando, National Director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka; keynote addresses by Bishop Dr Solomon, Canon Dr Patrick Sookhdeo and the Rev Dr Jawahar Gnaniah, all renowned in their respective fields of study; and six workshops by them and Dr Theresa Devasahayam and the Rev Dr Mathew Mathews of the National University of Singapore.

The official sessions of the FIDC during the Congress saw a number of resolutions being taken, among which was the setting up of a website for the FIDC to network among the member churches for growth and mapping the needs of Global Diaspora Indians.

In his message to the delegates at the Congress, Bishop Dr Solomon said that “Jesus is our God of Hope; the Hope of God is the evangelisation of the world.

“This demands UNITY: One heart; One mouth; Dedication and Commitment. With our shared resources the South Indian Diaspora will be brought to Christ.”


Ex-missionary Douglas Wingeier honoured

FORMER students and parishioners of the Rev Dr Douglas Wingeier will be glad to know, and congratulate him for his honour of receiving the Distinguished Alumnus Award recently from Boston University School of Theology. This event took place at a special luncheon during the 50th reunion of the class of 1954 of the
school in May this year.

The Rev Dr Wingeier earned both his M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Boston University and was, on the recommenda-tion of the School of Theology Alumni/ae Board, given the award for “outstanding achievement and distinction in service to the profession” of ministry.

As a Methodist missionary in Singa-pore, he was a lecturer in Christian Educa-tion and Director of Field Education at Trin-ity Theological College from 1963 to 1970. He also served concurrently as Pastor of the English congregation at Foochow Methodist Church from 1963 to 1966 and was, in 1967, appointed Pastor of the Chinese congregation of Queenstown (Chinese) Methodist Church. He and wife, Carol, had studied Mandarin full-time at Yale University, and continued to study with Trinity College Dean Rev Peter Hsieh, enabling him to be fluent in the language. It is interesting that his pastorate at Queenstown was to the Chinese congregation when the Rev T. C. Nga pastored the English congregation.

After returning to the United States in 1970, he taught at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois to round off a career stretching 45 years.

Retired from the active ministry, he now lives in North Carolina (36 Bust-O-Dawn, Waynesville, NC 28786, USA), and continues to teach and write, and is engaged in peace activism.

Grandparents missionaries too

On a historical note, the Rev Dr Wingeier was the second member of his family to serve as a missionary in Singa-pore. His maternal grandfather, Charles S. Buchanan, came to Singapore and married his wife, Emily, in 1895. He began teach-ing at Anglo-Chinese School, and was appointed lay missionary in 1897, and appointed Principal from 1903 to 1905.

Thence, he was re-assigned to Java where he was responsible for work in the local vernacular in Tjisaroea-Buitenzorg and was, as a member of the Malaysia Annual Conference, appointed District Superintendent from 1913 to 1915. He played an important role in building a hospital in a missionary career spanning the best part of 30 years in the region.