THE BIG MOVE TO ‘THE PROMISED LAND’ AT BARKER ROAD
MONDAY Dec 23, 2002 will go down as a red-letter day for The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS): the new office tenants were taking possession of the handsome, but barely-finished building at 70 Barker Road – picturesquely referred to as the “Arrowhead” by the architectural and construction teams.
In a sense, it was an ingathering of the MCS to a location four hectares (about 10 acres) in size acquired in 1925. Oldham Hall was the first Methodist tenant, and later, a number of missionaries resided in bungalows that were built for them. One of these housed the Bishop for a number of years, and another was the birthplace of Barker Road Methodist Church.
As part of a complex of buildings housing the Anglo-Chinese Schools (Primary and Barker Road), Barker Road Methodist Church (BRMC), BRMC Kindergarten and Oldham Hall, the six-storey Methodist Centre – the new headquarters of the MCS – can be clearly identified by the cross mounted at the highest point of its modest tower, as one approaches Barker Road from along Dunearn Road. It is especially striking when it is illuminated at night.
The Methodist Centre has offices on Levels 3, 4, 5 and 6, while the Barker Road Methodist Church offices and Kindergarten occupy Levels 3 and 4, and 1 and 2, respectively.
First-time visitors to the Methodist Centre are advised to follow the directions carefully as the unusual architectural arrangements can be complicated. They can park at Level 2 and use the lift lobby located nearby.
The physical effort of moving the various agency units was eventually completed by the end of last December, thereby avoiding clashing with the opening of the new school year, but coinciding with the festive season. It was thus a tense exercise in planning and execution requiring both mental and physical effort, sustained by goodwill and grace.
Prior to the physical transfer of records, files and equipment, an exercise which began on Dec 9, the scenes – not only at the “old” Methodist Centre at Cluny Road, but also at the various offices occupied by the Methodist Missions Society (which was forced to camp with the Methodist Centre a week earlier), and the Methodist Welfare Services – resembled a confusing refugee camp, making ready for the march to “the Promised Land”.
In the end, all ended well, and the hundreds of cartons containing records and equipment were safely transported to the new Methodist Centre.
Celebrating the occupation
To celebrate the move, about 100 of the staff members working at the Methodist Centre gathered at the Level 6 hall for a Christmas fellowship – to meet and get to know each other as colleagues and friends. After introductions and a brief homily by Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, the Rev George Martzen, Minster Attached to the Bishop’s Office, led in the singing of well-loved Christmas carols.
MCS stands at threshold of stirring challenges
We can meet them if we strengthen our connectional relationships, says Bishop
Before a tasty lunch, catered by the Methodist Co-operative Society, the assembled group was given a tour of their new neighbours’ offices that comprise the following:
#03-01 Human Resource and General Administration Department, Property Department; #04-01 Archives and History Library; #04-02 Finance and Accounts Department; #05-01 Methodist Welfare Services; #05-02 Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference; #05-04 Chinese Annual Conference; #05-05 Trinity Annual Conference; #06-01 Methodist Missions Society; #06-02 Methodist Co-operative Society Ltd; #06-03 Methodist Schools’ Foundation; #06-04 Bishop’s Office, Church and Community Relations Department, Methodist Message, Council on Communications, Council on Education, The Disciple Agency; and #06-05 General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service (GC-WSCS).
Marking an important stage in the history of the MCS, the Bishop’s Office, the three Annual Conferences, the GC-WSCS, and all the agencies of the MCS now operate in the same building – a compact, centrally accessible facility, served by a Phonenet system that permits a direct dial connection to the person you wish to speak to.
The new address is: 70 Barker Road, Singapore 309936; its general telephone number is 6478-4786, and its facsimile is 6478-4799.
The task ahead
The MCS, both as an institution as well as the body of Christ, stands at the threshold of a period of stirring possibilities and challenges – to make known His name and saving grace both here and in the wider Asian region.
Bishop Dr Solomon told Methodist Message: “We have the ability to accomplish these tasks if we strengthen the connectional relationships that characterise the Methodist Church. It is then that the Methodist Church will be better able to play its proper and appointed role in building Christ’s Kingdom on earth.”