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Prissy Keun: Church pioneer and one of Sophia Blackmore’s earliest teachers

In looking back at some of the pioneers of the early Methodist Church, it is instructive to recall Miss Prissy Keun, one of Miss Sophia Blackmore’s teachers and a faithful and active steward of the English (Wesley) Church from 1889 when she was baptised by the pastor, Rev W. N. Brewster. When she retired some 50 years later, she had served the Lord faithfully and well.

‘STARTING AS A PUPIL in Mrs Marie Oldham’s Sunday School class, Miss Prissy Keun became one of Miss Blackmore’s teachers in the early Chinese girls’ school in Mr Tan Keong Saik’s home in Telok Ayer and where Mrs Lee Choon Guan studied English and music under her.

Sundays were very full and busy. Beginning with morning worship at the church building in Coleman Street, followed by teaching at the ACS Sunday School, she would sometimes accompany a missionary who visited the Rumah Miskin Hospital, assisting in a brief service and distributing tracts and flowers.

On Sunday evenings, she would gather with about a hundred young Epworth League members. ere were occasional concerts when they could sing and take part in plays and help in street meetings by singing and distributing tracts as Dr Emil Luering or other missionaries spoke in the local dialects.

As a church steward, she regularly attended the church prayer meetings, sang in both the church choirs, and was a charter member of the Ladies’ Aid Society. She was, for a time, a member of the Church Official Board (now the Local Church Executive Committee) and provided flowers for the Sunday Services for almost 30 years.

Besides this, she accompanied the Pastor, the Rev Dr W. T. Cherry, in his visitation, or if he was busy, she would accompany the pastor’s wife visiting members and keeping him informed of those who were ill or needed pastoral help. She also helped to check on new babies and saw to it that their names were registered on the Cradle Roll.

An interesting fact which few may be aware of is that it was her father, Mr A. F. Keun, who built the Middle Road Chapel when he saw the need to provide the soldiers and sailors a place to meet and worship. Mr Keun would invite the boys to tea every Sunday and to dinner at his home, after which he would take them to the chapel and it was he who handed over the chapel and his work to Mr Charles Phillips who was closely connected with early Methodist work.

Miss Prissy Keun’s relationship with the Sunday School developed from being in Mrs Oldham’s class where pupils were actually examined at the end of the year and prizes awarded to those who passed.

As one of its prized pupils, she became a teacher and head of the Primary Department which grew steadily after they moved into the new hall in 1927, when her staff grew to five or six teachers whose pupils were noted for their programmes on Children’s Day, Easter and Christmas.’ – Wesley Tidings, Feb. 15, 1938.

■ The MCS Archives and History Library is located at #04-01 Methodist Centre, 70 Barker Road, Singapore 309936. Please call 6478-4775 if you wish to make a research visit. Research questions may be sent to: archive.history@methodist.org.sg
■ Web site: http://archives.methodist.org.sg