Tamil Methodist Church (Short Street) celebrates her 135th anniversary

Photos of SSTMC from grandaunts

As Tamil Methodist Church (Short Street), or SSTMC as it is commonly known, celebrates her 135th anniversary this year, we give thanks to the Lord for his faithfulness from generation to generation.

In 1884, the South Indian Annual Conference appointed Rev William F Oldham as a missionary to Singapore. Oldham, accompanied by Rev and Mrs James Thoburn, arrived in Singapore on 7 February 1885, to pioneer the Methodist work here. A Tamil-speaking Englishman, William Oldham had a strong yearning to bring the gospel to the Tamils in Singapore. In September 1885, with his fluency in Tamil, Oldham began holding regular Sunday services in the prisons for incarcerated Tamil prisoners. By the end of 1886, regular Sunday and weekday services were being held in Tamil.

In 1887, a Tamil preacher, C W Underwood, was recruited from Jaffna, Ceylon, to work with the Tamil people. The first Tamil Methodist Church was thus established with Underwood as her pastor. This then became the second Methodist Church in Singapore.

First located in Serangoon Road, the congregation grew quickly and the church relocated to Short Street by 1889, serving both the Sri Lankan Tamils and South Indians in Singapore. Located in the heart of the city close to Little India, SSTMC is well positioned to reach out to the Indian population at large. Through SSTMC, seven more churches and one preaching point were formed. To date, SSTMC has seen 33 pastors; the current Pastor-in-Charge is Rev Albert Vijay Joseph.

To commemorate this milestone anniversary, our senior members share their memories and God’s faithfulness to the church.

“My family and I attended SSTMC since the 1940s, about 80 years ago. The church was vibrant with various ministries—Choir, Sunday School, Bible studies, Fellowships and so on. Close friendships were forged, each one of us encouraging and supporting one other which strengthened our spiritual growth. By his grace, I continue to worship and serve in our church.”

~ Mrs J N Selvarajoo, 95

“My parents arrived from Sri Lanka in the 1900s and attended SSTMC. In the late 1940s, we looked forward to church picnics where we would cook chicken curry and other foods. One year we were unable to have the picnic as polio was rampant, so we gathered at the home of Rev C B Paul. He lived in a house that faced the sea. We had a good time, but we could not swim! For Sunday school we looked forward to the Christmas plays and I performed in the nativity story when I was 12 years old.”

~ Mrs Daisy Mahindapala, 83

“It was the 1970s. I was a Buddhist. Three months after I converted and accepted Jesus as my Saviour, I helped with the church accounts. During that time, I worked at a bank. The accounts were written in hardcover books then. We bought ledger books and started writing the accounts in the proper way. I served as a church treasurer for many years. I remember the day we returned from the holding site to our new building, and the cornerstone was laid by the Bishop Ho Chee Sin. It was a joyous day indeed.”

~ Mr John Mahindapala, 91

“Our parents and their nine children, the Masillamoneys, joined Tamil Methodist Church in the 1900s when we lived at Mt Sophia, during the leadership of Rev M R Doraisamy. Growing up, we were involved in many ministries, and our best memories of SSTMC are the Christmas plays, Methodist Youth Fellowship and Carol Parties. We served in the Sunday school and the choir. Our late eldest brother, John, was involved in the formation of the Punjabi congregation, back in 1953, together with the late Bishop Emeritus Dr T R Doraisamy. To our family, SSTMC is more than a place of worship—it is our second family. As SSTMC celebrates its 135th anniversary, we are both blessed and honoured to be part of this heritage. Great is Thy Faithfulness!”

~ Ms Elizabeth Masillamoney, 88, and Ms Naomi Masillamoney, 86

“My association with SSTMC dates back to the era of my grandfather, a pioneer himself. I walked in my mother’s footsteps, serving God in many roles at SSTMC. I learnt from the pioneers, of this institution, and the meaning of Christian stewardship. In doing so, I emulated their formula of faithfulness which is to leave yourself at the door of the church and enter his gates, his presence, to serve and glorify his name.”

~ Mrs Veronica Poore, 82

“My wife and I are from Sri-Lanka, and we made Singapore our home in 1972. We worshipped at SSTMC from that time until 2021, when we moved to Australia. I have very strong ties with SSTMC and have dedicated myself and resources to glorify God’s name through regular church attendance, giving and serving in various committees. God used my professional skills and expertise for the re-building of the church that took place in 1986. I will cherish the memories of being one with the members and pastors of SSTMC in my worship and service. To God Be the Glory!”

~ Mr Daniel A Gunaseelan

Sabina Molly is a member of Tamil Methodist Church (Short Street). She serves as the Secretary in the Local Church Executive Committee, Vice-President of the Women’s Society of Christian Service and Chairperson of the Outreach & Social Concerns ministry. / Photos courtesy of the Masillamoney family, John Mahindapala and Daniel Gunaseelan