41st SESSION OF THE CHINESE ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Bishop-Elect Dr Chong Chin Chung delivered his final President’s Address at the 41st Session of the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) on 14 Nov 2016, sharing his reflections and thanksgiving for the past two quadrennia of service. He reiterated the quadrennial theme “Take My yoke, learn from Me” based on Matthew 11:29, and said that the spiritual dimension of our Church must be clear, the authority of the Bible must be absolute, and Bible study must be a daily practice of Christ’s followers.
The Rev Dr Chong expressed his concern about men’s lower participation rate in church programmes. The Church must be intentional in its efforts to build the men up to play a stronger role as husbands, fathers, and heads of the family. He called for more collaboration among the Board of Witness and Evangelism, Board of Family Life, Board of Youth Ministry and Board of Senior Ministry, and suggested more intergenerational worship and activities to help build stronger families.
He underscored the interdependence of the Annual Conference and Local Conferences, noting that programme boards are meant to complement the work of the local churches, offering programmes larger in scale and with access to special resources and expertise. Annual Conference work depends on full support and participation from Local Conferences, and vice versa. Neither can be effective alone.
Turning to the perennial issue of pastor supply, the Rev Dr Chong emphasised that pastors are valuable assets of the Annual Conference, since 56 pastors shepherd 15,000 members in 66 worship services. Each pastor shepherds 267 persons on average – a relatively heavy load shared with full-time local ministry staff. Besides thanking God for two PhD students joining CAC’s ranks next year, he was heartened to note that there are five students in the Chinese Department at Trinity Theological College.
As for ongoing initiatives and conference-wide projects to support, the Rev Dr Chong highlighted that Punggol Preaching Point (PPP) has rented premises for use as a Family Life Centre. He urged the churches to consider more intensive usage of church premises outside of traditional Sunday worship timings, especially since it is no longer tenable to consider church planting in the traditional sense in land-scarce Singapore. Land for public worship costs millions of dollars for a 30-year lease, and far exceeds any single church’s building funds.
Later on 16 November, PPP’s Protem Committee Chairperson Mr Dennis Chua reported that existing ministries such as care group meetings, parades by The Boys’ Brigade (BB) and The Girls’ Brigade (GB) will be moved to these rented premises. The Rainbows Programme functioned as a support group to help children from single-parent families in Greendale Primary School and Punggol Secondary School deal with forgiveness and loss, and recent outreach has been made to the families of BB and GB participants, one family at a time. An After-school Engagement Programme consisting of sports, confidence-building and other enrichment activities was also conducted for Punggol Secondary School students.
The new Board of Family Life (BoFL) was formed this year to champion the Christian family through family life education and equipping.
The Protem BoFL Chairperson reported that BoFL aims to raise awareness of the biblical perspective of family, build spiritual strength and resilience in heads of families for strong and authentic Christian family life within CAC churches, encourage the establishment of Family Life ministries in the churches, and to connect and bridge resources and expertise to cater to specific needs within the local church’s context.
In closing, the Rev Dr Chong encouraged the Conference to “not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, ESV).
“I thank God for the different gifts He has given to each one of us, and everything that was done was only by His grace,” concluded the Rev Dr Chong.
At the closing and ordination service on 17 November, the Rev Tack Ng, the Rev Irman Halim, and the Rev Edmund Koh were ordained as Elders. Pastor Simon Cheo and Pastor Patrick Chen were ordained as Deacons, and Preacher Cassandra Lee Boon Eng was ordained as a diaconal minister and will be a missionary to Thailand under Methodist Missions Society.
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Chia Hui Jun –
is Editorial Executive at Methodist Message and worships at Foochow Methodist Church.
Photos courtesy of Phillip Lam/Joshua Khoo