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TRAC President: Foster unity and love in sister churches

“… practise what John Wesley called ‘social holiness’, which should be pursued together through holy societies and holy conferencing, rather than through private and solitary contemplation. ”

TRAC churches will form four Districts instead of the existing three, said the Rev Dr Gordon Wong, President of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC), as he delivered his address on 18 Nov, during the 39th Session of TRAC at Christ Methodist Church. Currently, the districts are Central, East and West. From 1 Jan 2015, they will simply be named Districts One, Two, Three and Four.

“By reducing the number of churches in each District, it is hoped that District Superintendents will be able to give a little more time to foster connections and conversations between local church pastors and leaders,” he added.

He suggested that smaller districts might encourage more unity and love between churches to meet the practical challenge of lease renewal, where only four out of five churches enjoy freehold, 99 or 999 years’ tenure.

Two churches’ leases will expire in eight years, and there is the possibility that some churches may not be able to have their leases renewed. Thus, in the years to come, these churches may need to work more closely with sister churches in order to continue their ministries, and some churches may need to extend a helping hand to sister churches who could have difficulty finding temporary or permanent premises to operate.

To this end, the Rev Dr Wong exhorted all churches to practise what John Wesley called “social holiness”, which should be pursued together through holy societies and holy conferencing, rather than through private and solitary contemplation.

Another new development is the Silver Surge Task Force’s Ministry of Transport, which has been endorsed by the Conference to encourage seniors to ferry immobile elderly to church services, activities and fellowship meetings.

In a few years’ time, more than 50 per cent of the congregation will be above 60 years old. The task force hopes to identify one or two TRAC churches willing to participate in the pilot project to get this ministry off the ground. Interested churches may contact the TRAC office at admin@trac-mcs.org.sg.

Recruiting pastors continues to be a concern, as the Rev Dr Wong noted a trend of theologicallytrained graduates opting to serve in lay ministry positions rather than as pastors. This year saw an overall net reduction of two pastors, and none of the seven TRAC students graduating from TTC next year are applying to be pastors.

With regard to the recognition of retiring Elders, from this year onwards, the Board of Ministry will be inviting local churches to hold their own retirement recognition service for each retiring Elder after Conference week. This way, church members can attend the service in appreciation of an individual Elder, rather than a combined Conference week evening service for three or four Elders together.

The Rev Dr Wong concluded his address by giving thanks for the fellowship and partnership we have in the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “Together, every weekend, there are 22,000 of us covering almost all walks of life. The opportunities of being the salt of the earth and fragrance of Christ’s love to the many different homes, offices, schools, construction sites and board rooms are beyond measure. So let’s be the salt of the earth, light of the world and fragrance of Christ together.”

— Chia Hui Jun

The Rev David Ho (left) and the Rev Irene Thung
being ordained as Elders. —Photo by Daniel Lie

… in the years to come… churches may need to work more closely with sister churches in order to continue their ministries, and some churches.

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