Methodist Church


MCS’ presence strongly felt at WMC

HAS The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) come of age on the stage of World Methodism?

Small as it is, and coming from a tiny country, it has, judging by the way the MCS’ presence had been felt at the recently-concluded 19th World Methodist Conference in Seoul.

By the time a twoday World Methodist Council meeting, followed by the five-day conference ended on July 24, 2006, the work of several Singaporean Methodists had become visible. The MCS flag – and indeed the Singapore flag – had flown high.

■ One Singaporean Methodist literally left his indelible mark on the conference. Mr Michael Tan Soo Guan, a member of Bedok Methodist Church, had designed a logo to represent the conference theme, “God In Christ Reconciling”. The logo embodies the four corners of the earth in the shape of the cross, symbolising the reconciliation that God offers all humanity through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was used in all conference brochures, posters, banners, backdrops and other publicity materials.

■ Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, who led a 12-member MCS delegation to Seoul, was one of the five keynote speakers at the conference. The first Singaporean to have ever delivered a keynote address at a World Methodist Conference, he spoke on the issue of “Reconciliation Among the Nations” on July 21, the day after the Opening Ceremony.

■ Dr Lim Swee Hong, who returned to Singapore recently with a Ph.D from Drew University in the United States to teach at Trinity Theological College, was elected Chairman of the Worship and Liturgy Committee of the World Methodist Council. He was one of the song leaders at the conference, and two of his settings of Charles Wesley texts were used – at the opening service and closing service of the conference.

■ Mrs Laureen Ong, President of the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service, was elected Vice-President of East Asia, World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women (WFMUCW). The federation is an NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) with Special Consultative Status at the United Nations. Mrs Ong was elected at the 11th World Assembly of WFMUCW held at Jeju Island from July 11 to 17. It was the fi rst programme of the World Methodist Conference.

■ And thanks to the election of the Rev Dr John Barrett as the Chairman of the World Methodist Council, attention was again drawn to Singapore. The Rev Dr Barrett, a missionary partner from The Methodist Church in Britain, is the Principal of Anglo-Chinese School (International).

Mr Michael Tan’s conference logo was well received by the participants. Well-designed and attractive, it won high praise from Mrs Gillian Kingston, Chairman of the Conference Programme Committee, who told the delegates that Mr Tan’s design was picked from among the 48 received worldwide. It was a brilliant piece of work, she said.

Several thousand lapel pins incorporating the logo were snapped up on the opening day of the conference, and more of a second design were given out.

Bishop Dr Solomon’s keynote address was received with a standing ovation and compliments. Dr Earle Wilson, from the Wesleyan Church, the United States, who was chairing the session, thanked the Bishop for a “well prepared and powerfully delivered” message.

The Rev Dr Barrett told Methodist Message: “He did an excellent job,” referring to the Bishop.

Bishop James Killen Jr of the United Methodist Church said: “Bishop Solomon gave a powerful message. And he raised issues which I have been struggling with. His message touched the mind and the heart.”

The Rev Trevor Hudson of The Methodist Church in Southern Africa, who was one of the Bible Study leaders, acknowledged the Bishop’s address as “a piece of fantastic work”.

Mrs Kenris Carey, President of The Bahamas Conference of The Methodist Church, said: “The Bishop’s message was very clear. It was very well thought out and well delivered.”

Several Asian leaders also conveyed their appreciation to the Bishop. Dr Lim Swee Hong was introduced a few times separately by several conference leaders.

The Rev Dr Karen Westerfield Tucker of Boston University, the outgoing Chairman of the Worship and Liturgy Committee, introduced him as “a talented young Singaporean” and “a powerful worship song leader whose face will become familiar over time”.

He was also labelled as “an active composer” contributing to the worship and music scene in Singapore.

Stories and pictures by PETER TEO