Happenings

Agape MC: a ‘shelter’ for seekers in Jurong

Jul 2013    

Agape Methodist Church (Trinity Annual Conference)
The Agape, 21 Yung Ho Road
Sunday Services: 8:30 AM (English), 10:00 AM (English and Mandarin)
Contact: 6265-3211 or enquiry@agapemc.org.sg

A BOMB SHELTER is not a place where you would normally find a church. Yet that was where Agape Methodist Church (AMC) met when we were a fl edgling congregation of 30. Although we have our own building today, “shelter” is still an apt metaphor for how our church ministers to the population of Jurong and its surrounding areas.

The choice of Jurong as a location was not by chance, but after a careful consideration of the fact that it was the secondlargest housing estate in Singapore then, with a population of 260,000 people. And being such a large area with very few churches and no Methodist church, the harvest was indeed plentiful. We could provide a spiritual “shelter” for seekers to meet the saving grace of Jesus and to grow as a loving family in Christ.

In the 1980s, Mr Vincent Lee, one of our pioneers who had been involved in Grassroots Ministry through Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC), caught the vision of reaching the bluecollar Mandarin-speaking workers in the community.

With the blessing of the Rev Malcolm Tan, then the Pastor-in-Charge of Faith Methodist Church, a group of Mandarin-speaking church members began to meet regularly in fellowship to start this outreach initiative. One of the tasks that they undertook was to reach out to the paper box factory workers in the Lengkok Bahru area by helping out at the cell group ministries in the factories.

In a very short time, the Grassroots Ministry was founded, which later became the Mandarin congregation of Jurong Preaching Point, as we were then known. We initially met in the home of one of our members known aff ectionately as Aunty Nancy.

Later, we conducted our services at a bomb shelter in Jurong. Even with a congregation of 30, we were packed to the doorsteps of the small bomb shelter. Th e children had to occupy a storeroom with little ventilation, so we had to bring along a bulky portable air conditioner every week. Th e stoic congregation continued to meet under such adverse conditions.

Lakeside Family Centre was started in 1993 as AMC’s community outreach centre serving the disadvantaged in Jurong. It was a place of both physical and psychological shelter as we helped strengthen families through education, counselling, and fi nancial support.

On December 6, 1998, the congregation had their fi rst services in the Golden Village cinemas in Jurong Point. Initially, only two cinema halls were used – one for the Mandarin congregation and the other for the English congregation – while the children’s ministry made use of Kidsports, a play gym for children.

AMC was eventually constituted as the 20th Local Conference of TRAC of Th e Methodist Church in Singapore on December 4, 2005. Today, it is located at Th e Agape, 21 Yung Ho Road (in Taman Jurong).

Our congregation has grown from 23 adults and 12 children in the early days to an average total attendance of 300 in our five services today. Th e church continues to focus on its mission of “Discipling All Persons to Christ-likeness”.

Th e church serves fi nancially needy families in the community through the “100% Shop” where donated items and rations are given out freely. A worship service for Chinese nationals is conducted every Sunday evening to minister to mainland Chinese workers. We continue to provide a place of “shelter” or respite for Jurong residents through our regular community events and a medical clinic off ered in partnership with Health Serve, which serves as a bridge to care for the community.

Th e demographics of Taman Jurong are changing. In the 1960s it was offi cially known as “No Man’s Land”, consisting of a few fi shing villages, prawn farms and swampy wastelands. Later, it was turned into an industrial estate. Today, many private housing estates, condominiums and HDB fl ats are sprouting up to cater for the growing population. Th ere are huge opportunities for ministry and outreach before us.

I am convinced that it is for such a time as this that God has placed AMC in Jurong – a shelter that shines for Christ.

Pictures by Agape Methodist Church

AMC’s “100% Shop” is a community outreach program where people donate items in good condition for needy people to pick items from that shop at 100 per cent discount (free of charge).

The Rev Vincent Goh is the Pastor-in-Charge of Agape Methodist Church since January 1, 2013.

We continue our new series of profiling local churches from our three Annual Conferences of The Methodist Church in Singapore. As we come to have a better understanding of each other’s history and ministry, there may be opportunity to forge cross-church partnerships and collaborations.

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