Happenings

Book launch: Methodists in Singapore during the war years

Nov 2015    

Days of Darkness, Days of Light, a book about the experiences of Methodists in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation, was launched by the Council on Archives and History (CAH) at Sophia Blackmore Hall, Methodist Centre on 12 Sept 2015.

 

The book fills a gap in church records during the war years, drawing on sources including When Singapore Fell, a booklet by the then Bishop Edwin Lee who witnessed the impending fall of Singapore into Japanese hands, and reports by the Rev H.B. Amstutz – the first Principal of Trinity College in Singapore – on life as a prisoner-ofwar in the Changi and Sime Road camps, and the pastoral work they did in prison together with ministers from other denominations. There are also recollections of Methodist missionaries who chose to stay behind in Singapore, Methodist leaders and present-day Methodists in the community, some of whom are still living.

 

Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference, said in his address that the Church went through difficult times, but God had been active in building His Church. Within the Church, there were disappointments, failures and human errors; outside, there were people who tried to destroy it. Despite these situations, the Church had thrived, flourished and is still growing.

 

In his foreword, CAH Chairman the Rev Malcolm Tan recalls his grandmother who often told him about the Chinese New Year Thanksgiving service conducted by the late Rev Chew Hock Hin, which saved the lives of all who were present that day, including those of his maternal greatgrandparents, grandparents, mother and aunties.

 

Another anecdote was shared by Mr Lim Soo Chin, lay member of the CAH and General Conference Secretary of The Methodist Church in Singapore. Born during the Japanese Occupation, he recounted that one of his teachers in Primary School was Mrs Elizabeth Choy, the wartime heroine, who taught the class “Jesus loves me, this I know”.

 

d show how God preserved the Methodist church in Singapore and her people during the Japanese Occupation, and create awareness among the younger, post-war generation, and future generations, said Ms Jenny Ng, the Editor, Project Head and Manager of the Archives and History Library.

 

behalf of the Rev Tan who was unable to attend the launch, and thanked the contributors who shared their stories by giving both oral history interviews and allowing their articles to be reprinted in this book. Chapters from the book included accounts by the Rev S.M. Thevathasan who headed the Methodist Church throughout the Japanese Occupation, the Rev Dr Ho Seng Ong, who was appointed as secretary, Dr Chen Su Lan, who started the Anti-Opium Clinic, and Bishop Emeritus T.R. Doraisamy, who initiated the Methodist Archives.

 

Prof Lee also thanked the editorial team and volunteers for conducting the interviews, research and writing, as well as Sower Publishing Centre, the publishing arm of The Bible Society® of Singapore, for assisting in the design and production of this book. n

 

Days of Darkness, Days of Light, a book about the experiences of Methodists in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation, was launched by the Council on Archives and History at Sophia Blackmore Hall, Methodist Centre on 12 Sept 2015.

 

Photo by Phillip Lam

Chia Hui Jun is Editorial Executive at Methodist Message and worships at Foochow Methodist Church.

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