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NCCS issues guide on inter-religious relations

THE National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) has issued a guide to help Christians relate to fellow Singaporeans of other religious faiths in a positive and constructive way. Published in the form of a flyer, it is entitled “Guide to Common Issues in Inter-Religious Relations”.
The guide is the result of many months of study and consultation undertaken by an inter-denominational panel of clergy, ethicists and theologians, appointed by the General Committee of NCCS as well as by the heads of the major denominations in Singapore. The Methodist representatives were the Rev Dr Daniel Koh (TRAC) and the Rev Chong Chin Chung (CAC), but other Methodist panellists included the Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, and Dr Roland Chia both representing Trinity Theological College and Mr Lim K Tham.


The NCCS is an association of churches and Christian organisations. Constituted on July 24, 1974 to promote Christian unity, it is an offshoot of the Malayan Christian Council inaugurated in 1948. Its founding members are Anglican Diocese of Singapore, Lutheran Church in Singapore, The Methodist Church in Singapore, Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Presbyterian Church in Singapore, Salvation Army and St Thomas Orthodox Syrian Church, but many other denominations and independent churches have joined its ranks.

As the subject of inter-faith living ranges very widely, the panellists identified only the “common issues”, and had these set out as questions. Each of the questions is given a succinct answer, followed by further explanatory remarks. The questions discussed in the guide are as follows:
§ Can Christians attend and participate in community functions (e.g. memorial service, commissioning service, open house, social gathering, etc) where members of other religions are represented or involved?
§ Can Christians attend and participate in wakes or funerals that are conducted under the rites of the other religions?
§ Should Christians give to or receive funds from other religious organisations?
§ Should Christians participate in inter-faith dialogues?
§ Should Christians be involved in Inter-Religious Confidence Circles (IRCC)?
§ Should evangelism be carried out in mission schools and within Christian social service agencies?
§ How should evangelism be carried out in a multi-religious society?
These questions are by no means easy to answer. Responses by the panellists were discussed, debated, and vetted for clarity, with great care being exercised to ensure that the beliefs of other religions are taken seriously while the biblical principles as held by the church are not compromised.
In his foreword, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, who is the NCCS President, expresses the hope that the guidelines offered to the various issues would help contribute to peace and harmony in our nation, and commends them to the churches for “their reflection and action, and to the glory of God”.
Copies of the guide are available from the office of the NCCS, 496 Upper Bukit Timah Road #04-21 Singapore 678099; person to contact is Mrs Doreen Mohan (Tel: 63142883; Fax: 63142884; Email:nccs@cyberway.com.sg).

Lim K Tham is the Chief Executive Officer of Care Corner Singapore. He is a member of Fairfield Methodist Church.