Highlights

8TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE: OCT 18-22, 2004

Dec 2004    

GC session adjourned to Dec 8
Episcopal Re-dedication Service at BRMC on Dec 9

THE 8th Session of the General Conference of The Methodist Church in Singapore, which was held at Sophia Blackmore Hall, Methodist Centre from Oct 18-22, 2004, has been adjourned to Dec 8 at the same venue.

It will end with the Episcopal Rededication Service for Bishop Dr Robert Solomon at Barker Road Methodist Church (BRMC) on Dec 9 at 8 pm. Bishop Dr Hwa Yung of The Methodist Church in Malaysia will be the Presiding Bishop and preacher at the service.

Bishop Dr Solomon was re-elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore on Oct 18, 2004 – the opening day of the conference – on the second ballot with 28 votes, the two-thirds majority needed to win the election.

He then shared his thoughts about being a bishop, and said he saw his election as God’s will as expressed through the delegates’ choice. He called for everyone to be “very close to one an-other, to pray for one another” and to work together for the good of God’s ministry.

Earlier, speaking at the Opening Serv-ice and Holy Communion at Barker Road Methodist Church, he emphasised the great importance of Christian conferencing “to help us connect with God and with what God is doing”.

He also drew attention to the importance of doctrine, discipline and mission.

Christian conferencing, the title of his sermon based on the text from Acts 15:1-11, is a Methodist habit, he said. And con-ferences and councils are as old as the his-tory of the church, he added, pointing out that “the first few councils of the church in the early centuries were critical in formulat-ing doctrine and practices”.

Drawing lessons from the text, he said conferencing could help us see the bigger picture. “We bring our puzzles together and as we connect, we see better. There will be differences of opinion but we need to listen, through discussion, and discern, through prayer.”

Reminding the delegates and guests of a Wesleyan distinctive, he said Methodist preachers were connected with Wesley in doctrine, discipline or polity, and mission.

On the importance of doctrine, he said: “Today, there has been an erosion of doc-trine. Doctrine has missiological significance as well as pastoral usefulness. Note also the key role given to Scripture.

“Connection means that we must be committed and faithful to our covenant and to our doctrines.”

Where discipline or polity is concerned, he said, there is a certain order to follow. He reminded the congregation of the ways the Antioch Church consulted and got directions from Jerusalem, and how unauthorised preachers were challenged, two related points he made earlier in his sermon.

“There is a purpose in our Order. Are we committed to it?”

Turning to mission, Bishop Dr Solomon said doctrine was closely connected to mis-sion, and quoted John Wesley: “You have nothing to do but to save souls; therefore spend and be spent in this work.”

The Opening Service ended with the Holy Communion being administered by Bishop Dr Solomon, three overseas guests – Bishop Dr Hwa Yung from Malaysia, Bishop R. P. M. Tambunan from Gereja Methodist Indonesia (The Methodist Church in Indo-nesia), and Bishop Roy Sano from the United Methodist Church, the United States – Bishop Emeritus Wong Kiam Thau, Chinese Annual Conference President Rev Khoo Cheng Hoot, Emmanual Tamil Annual Con-ference President Rev Dr Vinson Samuel, and Trinity Annual Conference President Rev Dr Isaac Lim.

Bishop Tambunan and Bishop Sano were accompanied by their wives. Two other overseas guests were Mr John Bell, Vice-President-designate of The Methodist Church in Britain, and Mrs Bell.

The bishops and Mr Bell took turns to speak at the morning worship before the start of the plenary sessions.

Other special guests who came for the Opening Service were Bishop John Tan of the Lutheran Church, and the Rt Rev Henry Hong, Moderator of the Synod of the Presbyterian Church and Vice-President of the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS), who brought greetings on behalf of their churches. The Rt Rev Hong also brought greetings on behalf of the Rt Rev Dr John Chew, President of the NCCS. Two other guests who brought greetings were the Rev Dr John Barrett, Vice-Chairman of the World Methodist Council, who was recently appointed Principal of Anglo- Chinese School (International) to be opened in the new year, and the Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, Principal of Trinity Theological College.

The General Conference was attended by 42 delegates from the three Annual Conferences – 14 each from the Chinese Annual Conference, Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference and Trinity Annual Conference – alternate delegates and guests. The conference theme was “With One Heart And Voice”.

Immediately after the lunch break on the first day of the conference, Bishop Dr Solomon delivered his 24-page Episcopal Address.

It took him one-and-a-half hours to read his engaging address, which covered important topics such as new churches and growth in membership, the Methodist Missions Society and mission work, the Methodist Welfare Services, the educational mission in our Methodist schools, the Episcopacy as a teaching office, episcopal work as connectional work and as missional leadership, liturgy of the church, and the youth ministry.

After the conference unanimously received the Episcopal Address, Bishop Sano suggested that it would be useful for the leaders of our local churches to be given copies of the address as there were points raised worth noting and pursuing.

Major conference officers elected on the second day of the conference were: Mr Richard Jeremiah, for the position of Chairman of the Finance and Administration Council; Mr Kim Seah Teck Kim, The Secretary of the Trustees; Mr Lim Soo Chin, General Conference Secretary; and Mr Chan Kum Kit, General Conference Treasurer.

On the fifth day of the conference, 27 out of 60 members of the General Conference (GC) staff turned up to receive their Long Service Awards from Bishop Dr Solomon.

In thanking them for their service, Mr P. Sathiasingam, Vice-Chairman of the Finance and Administration Council, disclosed that future presentations of such awards would be done annually and GC staff would no longer have to wait for four years for a GC session to receive their awards.

Later in the evening, a Memorial Service was held at Barker Road Methodist Church. Relatives of those remembered turned up and were warmly received by conference delegates and GC staff.

Those remembered were Bishop Emeritus Kao Jih Chung, the Rev Tan Phek Geok, Mrs Grace Nesamma Kadirgamar, the Rev William Zimmerman, the Rev Dr Robert F. Lundy (Bishop, 1964-1968), Pastor Chan Wah Teck, Mrs Betty Snead, Mrs Joyce Elizabeth Foster, Mrs Annabella Christie Doraisamy and the Rev Denver Stone.

The evening ended with a Chinese sitdown dinner spiced with warm fellowship at Oldham Hall.

By PETER TEO

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