Peter Joe Chia (1935–2021)

Founder of Methodist Welfare Services, former editor of Methodist Message

Peter Joe Chia
Peter Joe Chia (1935–2021), Founder of Methodist Welfare Services, former editor of Methodist Message

Mr Peter Joe Chia was a man who wore many hats. His full-time job with the Anglo-Chinese Schools, where he served with distinction as a teacher, a disciplinary master and then as Vice-Principal of the Anglo-Chinese School (Primary).

In a tribute to Peter, the Anglo-Chinese School Old Boys’ Association shared: “He knew how important discipline would be later in life and sought to instill it as early as possible. […] But this tough way kept the boys in line. And many of them have gone [on] to achieve great things. After all, how many men can claim the distinction of having caned the Speaker of the Parliament of Singapore?” Beneath his tough exterior and stern disposition, students remembered him as a “softie acting from a place of love”.

The formative years of his Christian faith were cultivated mainly at Wesley Methodist Church (MC), where he was the President of Wesley’s Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) in 1956. In 1957, he led the Singapore District MYF as its President, providing leadership for the various Singapore–Malaya Annual Conference MYF chapters in Singapore. Through his adult life, he continued to be a faithful member of Wesley MC.

He was also the District Commissioner of the Boy Scouts Association from 1964–68 and the Assistant Chief Commissioner in 1973. He was a volunteer at the Singapore Children’s Society where he chaired the appeals committee from 1983–87. From 1986–92, he was Secretary of the Citizens’ Consultative Committee at Telok Blangah.

In 1973, The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) approached Peter to take over as editor of Methodist Message (MM), which he did until 1985. It was a one-man show, and Peter did an outstanding job, producing MM every month without help from the kind of editorial, arts and design departments which most sizeable churches today would have.

In the late 1970s, a group of church leaders, many of them active with the old Council of Social Concerns, decided that it was time for MCS to provide more services to the poor and those who are struggling in the community. A group of leaders, which included Peter, with the blessings of the General Conference of MCS, set up Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) in 1981. Peter was a member of the Management Committee of MWS, and he also served as its Vice-Chairman from 1988–93. What started out as a dream shared by a few like-minded leaders has now been used by God to bless the lives of the sick, the lonely, youths at risk, the elderly, families in crisis, and people who are disadvantaged and distressed.

Peter Joe Chia has touched many lives in the schools where he worked and at the social outreach agencies where he volunteered his time. We thank God for him.

— Rev Dr Daniel Koh Kah Soon

Kong Kong was a great man, and he was also our grandfather. Not only did he do a lot for the community, he was also a very nice grandfather to us. He would talk to us and tell us stories about the past whenever we visited or called him. He was an inspiration, because he showed us that it is important to be kind and give to others. Even though Kong Kong is not physically with us anymore, he is still here with us emotionally as he watches over us from heaven. We love Kong Kong.

—Carys Chan, Peter Joe Chia’s eldest granddaughter