MEMBERS OF WESLEY METHODIST CHURCH (WMC) took up the pen in unison in 2012 when they came together to write out – by hand – every single word and verse of the Holy Scripture in the church’ s first-ever Biblethon project.
The entire handwritten tome, hand-bound in three volumes, each measuring 30.7 cm by 44 cm and weighing about 9 kg, was dedicated on Feb 17, 2013, as part of the church’ s 128th Anniversary celebrations by Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup, the Rev Dr Kow Shih Ming and the Rev Melvin Huang, who oversaw the project.
The three volumes, comprising 1710 pages handwritten in archival ink on A3 size parchment paper, are now displayed at the Wesley Heritage Corner. An interactive exhibition was held at the church atrium in March, comprising photos, posters and several iPads that allowed church-goers to “flip through” the pages of this handwritten Bible.
In today’ s context where we live in a digital age, and communications has been reduced to 140-word “tweets” and truncated words in mobile and social messaging, WMC’ s handwritten Bible has indeed been an exceptional undertaking, one that brought together almost 3,000 members and friends of the church in one Spirit to plan, pray, write, proof-read, scan and bind.
The Rev Huang, WMC’ s former Pastor-in-charge, said: “The project took on a life of its own so that in the end it literally involved thousands in an enriching spiritual exercise that included children, youth, adults, seniors and whole families.
“More than that, it was the Body of Christ at Wesley at work that enriched our lives even beyond those who participated.”
Members of WMC shared similar sentiments. Mdm Yong Yoon Kim said: “It is a rare treat to see handwritten manuscripts nowadays. Beautiful calligraphy and ‘ cakar ayam’ (literal translation from Malay for chicken’ s scratching) lends a human touch of real people to the Word. This is indeed an inclusive project for God’ s children.”
Ms Serene Ho, who participated in the Biblethon with her husband and two children, said: “My nine-year-old daughter especially was so excited about the Biblethon that she kept counting down the days to the actual event. It was also a moment of prayerful and delicate time to ensure that every word is written and spelt accurately, knowing that these words are God’ s precious Words.”
Biblethon committee member Esther Yeap-Sim shared: “Going into Biblethon as a committee member was like maneuvering through the dark. That said, the committee worked in faith. Thoughout Biblethon … I certainly witnessed the hand of God at work, from fuelling the interest of our regular church-goers, to providing volunteers and ultimately, seeing it to completion.”
For some participants, it meant getting up close and familiar with Books of the Bible which they were less familiar with. Ms Ruby Cheah said: “We did ‘ enjoy’ meticulously spelling out the many names of people and places that were too difficult to pronounce, reading through the numerous wars and tens of thousands of people killed, concubines (didn’t know they had these at that time), etc.
“I would probably not have chosen to read Judges on my own as it is difficult to digest, so that was a really good exercise for me.”
Biblethon was first mooted as part of a fund-raising initiative for the Wesley Church Upgrading Project, but subsequently when the fund-raising target was met, church leaders then decided that the task of hand-writing the Holy Scripture should go ahead as a spiritual exercise to bring the church together in unison.
At the end of it all, the Biblethon was a testament to how God, through the Holy Spirit, brought together many different talents, willing hands and generous hearts as One Body – for His glory. Christina Stanley, the Editor of Methodist Message, is a member of Wesley Methodist Church.