The worship team leading the congregation at the start of the first Aldersgate Lecture.
This year, Aldersgate SG 2015 was themed “Seeking the Welfare of the City”, based on Jeremiah 29:7.
The Convention was held at Faith Methodist Church and Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church, where three invited speakers – Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon from Singapore, the Rev Asisri Priyalal Perera from Sri Lanka, and Mr Anthony Row from Malaysia – expounded on their countries’ perspectives, the challenges they faced in building the welfare of their nations, as well as the call for Methodists to be motivated to contribute to nation-building.
In the May 2015 issue of Methodist Message as well as his Aldersgate Sermon Video on 24 May, Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup explained that in this year’s Aldersgate SG event, our focus was on how Methodists could explore ways of building our nation’s welfare in this year of Singapore’s Jubilee. You may ask: “Why should we be concerned about our nation’s welfare?” The answer is simply: “We seek the welfare of the city because this is where our future lies.”
This year’s Aldersgate SG Convention allowed Methodists a fuller perspective, drawing inspiration from two other nations – Sri Lanka and Malaysia – in two out of the three lectures and a panel discussion. While Sri Lanka and Malaysia may be different (in their cultural makeup as well as population numbers), Wesleyan emphases on social justice and action prevail in both these nations which are generationally much older than Singapore.
We thank everyone who attended Aldersgate SG 2015 this year and our speakers who made this year’s Aldersgate a thought-provoking event. For those who missed this year’s lectures and panel discussion, turn to P19 for a recap of the salient points captured during Thursday 21 May – Saturday 23 May.
The call to nation-building relates to Wesleyan convictions and expresses the motivation that in building the welfare of one’s nation, one also builds one’s welfare. Here are some interesting points from our guest speakers who shared their views from their different backgrounds during the three lecture sessions and a panel discussion.
The first Aldersgate SG 2015 lecture was helmed by Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon, who was Bishop of The Methodist Church of Singapore from 2000–2012. His lecture referenced “social holiness” as a concept that is characteristic of Wesleyan thought and practice.
Dr Solomon shared: “All holiness is social in nature. Simply put, all holiness is relational in nature.”
Methodist theologian Randy Maddox has shown that Wesley saw the crucial connection between helping the poor and Christian sanctification. The early Methodists cared for the underprivileged and marginalised and started schools for poor children, orphanages and clinics.
While all this is still being done today in Singapore, the challenges that Methodists face today include inequality of income and wealth distribution, issues within the migrant worker community, and fragmentation and social pathology within families.
Dr Solomon concluded: “What the church is called to be is what you are called to be. What is your transforming influence? Are you called to make a difference in the world?”
The second night was led by the Rev Asiri Priyalal Perera, who will take the office of the President of the Methodist Conference of Sri Lanka from August 2015. His lecture touched upon the heart-warming journey of the Sri Lankans from the early days of the Methodists who came, dislodged the caste system deeply ingrained in the history of Sri Lanka, and nurtured an education system that enlightened hearts and minds through the setting up of Methodist schools.
Through evangelism and education, the church in Sri Lanka has mobilised youth to seek ethnic harmony and provided opportunities in understanding the divide between ethnic groups during the nation’s 30-year ethnic conflict.
The Rev Perera called for the need for “sensitive evangelism in Sri Lanka” as they work through the many facets of the challenges they have in their country.
On the third day, Mr Anthony Row, the General Conference Secretary of the Methodist Church in Malaysia, addressed an audience piqued with interest on the affairs of a country rich in resources, Malaysia. Mr Row light-heartedly touched upon the things that irked both Singapore and Malaysia – having shared common roots of independence 50 years ago.
He noted that the current state of Malaysia’s Christian community calls for a transformational change within the Methodist community. The many challenges faced in the nation include political factors along the sensitive lines of religion and racial tensions.
Thoughts from attendees at Aldersgate SG 2015:
Mr Kong Peng Sun, Toa Payoh Methodist Church: “This is my first time attending the Aldersgate events. It is meaningful knowing how rothers and sisters in other countries are faring as we are not aware of their challenges. Being from Ipoh, Malaysia, I also wanted to catch up on what is happening there and hear more about the Malaysian perspective that is not found in the newspapers.”
Ms Monica, Sembawang Tamil Methodist Church: “My church has missionaries that travel to visit people in Sri Lanka, so I can relate to what the Rev Asiri Priyalal Perera shared as I found his lecture relevant to the work our missionaries do abroad.”
Mr John Chen, 76, a fourth-generation Methodist from Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church: “I found the first night’s talk very interesting. Our founder (John Wesley) emphasised a two-pronged approach: social gospel and salvation. Faith without works is dead, so we must also practice social righteousness to help the poor and needy.
“Why do I come every year? I come to remember our founder John Wesley’s heart-warming experience, listen to various speakers, and see old friends from different churches. Being a Methodist, I’ve to support the Methodist Church.”
Do join us for next year’s Aldersgate SG events. It will be a heart-warming experience like no other.
“All holiness is social in nature. Simply put, all holiness is relational in nature.”
From left: Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon, Mr Anthony Row, the Rev Asiri Priyalal Perera and panel facilitator the Rev Chiang Ming Shun chatting with Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup and the Rev Ivan Tan after the panel discussion on 23 May.
The Rev Dr Gordon Wong (far right), President of Trinity Annual Conference, attending the third lecture with leaders from his conference.
By the MCS Communications Team