Features, Highlights

Re-organising for the future

Organising ourselves better for service and growth
Looking towards our Golden Jubilee in 2026 as an autonomous Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS), we thank God for His leading all these years as well as seek His direction for what He would have us do.

We are revisiting the way the MCS is organised—by language of church services. We are currently organised by Annual Conferences: Chinese Annual Conference (CAC); the Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC); and the English-speaking Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC). Each is headed by an Annual Conference President.

The General Conference, the MCS’ highest decision-making body, is led by the Bishop.

Today, our membership has grown to 44,000 with about two-thirds (28,000) belonging to TRAC’s 21 local churches. CAC has about 15,000 members in 17 local churches while ETAC has about 1,000 members in 8 local churches.

Given its ethnic make-up in 1976, organising the MCS along language lines was logical at the time.

Today, all but three of the 17 CAC churches have worship services conducted in English as well. Some 16 out of the 21 TRAC churches have Mandarin and dialect services to cater to members’ parents and to the surrounding community. Some ETAC members have crossed over to English-speaking TRAC churches since only one ETAC church is bilingual with Tamil and English. Meanwhile, to cater to foreign workers in the vicinity of Little India, both Foochow Methodist Church (CAC) and Kampong Kapor Methodist Church (TRAC) have Tamil services.

These are all practical arrangements to meet the needs of the day. With all these changes, however, defining an AC along language lines may cause confusion for new members and the public who are unaware of the history of how the MCS came to be organised in the 1970s.

We have now come into another season. The Structural Review Task Force is looking at how to organise the MCS better, so as not to duplicate services or overstretch precious resources in serving our congregations. The review was also prompted by feedback that our structures may have become more cumbersome than helpful.

Better use of precious resources
The duplication of language services across our local churches also means more demands on our pastors and ministry workers to serve in the different languages across the ACs. There is also a knock-on effect on the need for discipleship materials, training and equipping of the clergy and lay members.

A possible outcome of the structural review may be to help increase the availability of pastoral staff in each language stream through cross-Conference appointment of pastors and ministry workers. Or, perhaps there could be more intentional sharing of resources in outreach and equipping, with less duplication of effort. These are some of the foreseeable benefits of the restructuring effort.

Let us keep Bishop Dr Chong and the team in prayer as they seek God’s wisdom and His will.

By the Structural Review Task Force.

Picture by Radachinskiy/Bigstock.com