The burning hearts, opened eyes and beautiful feet of Methodists: Aldersgate Methodist Church’s 45th Anniversary

From left - Mr Ronald Lee (PPRSC Chairperson), Mr Wee Tat Chuen (LCEC Chairperson), Rev Dr Lynette Sathiasingam (PIC), BE Dr Robert Solomon (Guest Speaker), Rev Jeremy Yap (Pastor), Rev Ho Chee Sin and Mr Loo Ming Yaw (Lay Leader)

The Sunday of 5 May saw 98 Dover Road abuzz with excitement, as the various congregations of Aldersgate Methodist Church (AMC)—Chinese, Contemporary, Traditional, Youth—came together to celebrate and commemorate its 45th Anniversary in a combined English-Chinese bilingual service. The service opened with a piano and violin prelude of Chris Tomlin’s “How Great Is Our God” by Ms Hii Hui Sieng and Ms Dora Gu from the Chinese ministry, with this testament to God’s great faithfulness and sovereignty helping congregants to posture and prepare their hearts for service.

The scene was made even more meaningful and poignant, with the floral ministry having adorned the chancel area with soft pastel floral offerings that predominantly reflected the white liturgical colour of Eastertide. Small, delicate myrtle blossoms in the arrangements added slight hues of light blue, pink, purple and yellow—intimating towards the promise of God’s abundant blessings of material and spiritual restoration and transformation: “instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:13 KJV).

The inter-service bilingual worship team, anchored by Mr Vincent Tan, Mr Kong Chong Phang and Ms Joyce The, then led the congregation to enter God’s presence with praise and thanksgiving, beginning with Charles Billingsley’s modern take on Fanny Crosby’s classic hymn “To God be the Glory”. As the opening hymn of the very first service 45 years ago, this served to remind the congregation of and root the congregation within AMC’s heritage and history. Lay Leader Mr Loo Ming Yaw next led all worshippers to draw near to God’s throne of grace and mercy with confidence, through a time of communal prayer and meditation—giving thanks to God for his sustaining grace and love over 45 years of church-building; as well as seeking God’s forgiveness and mercy for all the times that the church had failed to live in accordance with God’s calling and will.

(left) BE Dr Robert Solomon preaching (right) The congregation enjoyed a heartwarming thanksgiving video prepared by the Communications team

To express AMC’s gratitude in response to all of God’s blessings, offertory choral items were presented along with giving to God his people’s tithes and offerings. The children’s ministry performed CityAlight’s “Jesus, Strong and Kind / Jesus Loves Me This I Know”, as well as Stream of Praise’s “If You Want to Know (Where Love Is)” in Chinese. An inter-service choir—anchored by the traditional service choir and complemented by Chinese ministry choristers—delivered the anthem “Community of Faith” by J Paul Williams and Joseph M Marlin, conducted by Ms Gloria Wangsaputri and accompanied by Dr Joanna Tan. The lyrics expressed the church’s desire and need for discipleship, to be faithful followers of Christ:

Lord, we are Yours. You speak and we obey.
We long to know Your will. Teach us, Lord, we pray.

Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon had been invited to preach the sermon, as well as serve as the celebrant for Holy Communion. He shared on “The Wesleyan Flame” based on Luke 24:13-25, opening with a reminder for worshippers to steward faithfully their identity as Methodists. To this end, he clarified usefully how “method” in English comes from the Greek meta for “with” and hodos for “way”, which could be interpreted then as “according to the way”. This harks back to how the early Christians were referred to in the book of Acts as Followers of the Way, for Christ is the only way or method to holiness.

(left) Ms Dora Gu played "How Great Is Our God" as the musical prelude (middle and right) Fellowship over lunch

BE Dr Solomon paralleled the episode of Jesus meeting the two disciples on the road to Emmaus with how God encountered the two Wesley brothers who were travelling preachers on the road. He drew attention to the metaphor of the burning heart as characterising the disciples’ spiritual encounter with the Word of God—both that of Scripture, and the Word of God made flesh—in Luke 24:32 (NIV): “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”. Relating this to John Wesley’s own experience of feeling his “heart strangely warmed”, he challenged congregants to consider whether their hearts feel ablaze, aflame, and alive when they engage with the Word of God and with each other about the Word of God: “Us Methodists must feel our hearts burning for God, his will and his Word.”

“The moment the grasp of the Bible on our lives is no longer there, we are done for; I pray The Methodist Church of Singapore will not go down that road,” BE Dr Solomon exhorted, in emphasising the centrality of scriptural authority at the heart of the Wesleyan faith. Amidst the growing influence and strength of popular, secular and social fashions, ideas and principles, it becomes vitally important for Christians to hold fast to the Word of God. Christians can only do so if we truly see and treasure the value of Scripture both in our personal lives as disciples, and in the communal life of our church—studying, understanding, and obeying God’s Word in our lives and our community.

(left) Fellowship over lunch (right) Chinese Ministry pastoral staff Ps Sharon Lam (first from left) with some members of the Chinese Ministry

This underscores the need for Christians to have opened eyes that, first, see and recognise Christ in God’s Word and at the Lord’s Table as our Lord and Saviour who took on flesh, lived, suffered, died, rose and will return for us. It is then also impellent for Christians to have opened eyes that see and recognise God’s work in us, through the Spirit making us to be more like Christ, and around us, through God’s continued work among the peoples and in the world. The Methodist pursuit of both personal and social holiness therefore includes working among, for and with those who are disadvantaged and marginalised—the last, the lost and the least. It was this that made the early Methodists such an intensely missional people, for indeed: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15 NIV).

Finally, BE Dr Solomon closed with a call for worshippers to respond scripturally in every season: “Bring our worship into the streets, into our daily lives—and we will make an impact in our world.”

The children presented two songs, namely 《如果你想知道》 and "Jesus Strong and Kind"

Brendan Loon worships at Aldersgate Methodist Church where he serves as an organist, a keyboardist and Worship & Music Chairperson. He continues to mentor boys and officers through The Boys’ Brigade as Honorary Captain (33J Company) and Cluster Representative (South 2). / Photos courtesy of Aldersgate Methodist Church