Film / Book Reviews

Book of Discipline 2006: Laymen and ministers should get a copy

Feb 2007    

Latest edition of MCS’ rule-book published

THE latest edition (2006) of The Book of Discipline of The Methodist Church in Singapore has been published recently and is the rule-book of the denomination. It is a guide for Methodist ministers, laymen and officials in their various ministries.

A hefty volume of 342 pages, it will pay those who have any official church duties to be familiar with its contents.

The Discipline Revision Commission had deliberated on additions, amendments, deletions and revisions to The Book of Discipline. It is headed by Mr Kim T. K. Seah, who is also The Secretary of the Trustees of The Methodist Church in Singapore.

The Book of Discipline goes back to the 1798 “Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church” which was published at the request of the 1796 General Conference in America, and arrived at after much controversy and debate. Since then, it has been updated and re-issued, typically every four years after the General Conference sessions. Our Archives and History Library has copies of the 1798 “Discipline”, as well as subsequent editions from 1848 onwards – a rich source of information about the evolution of the Methodist Church in America.

Since 1968, the United Methodist Church has renamed it The Book of Discipline, a title which has been used by The Methodist Church in Singapore.

Containing important aspects of the life of the Methodist Church, it includes its Constitution, its Doctrinal statements and General Rules, its Social Principles and how the Church is organised and administered through its Conference structures.

It deals with how Church property is held and managed, the nature and discipline of the Methodist ministry and the Methodist judicial system which can rule on the constitutionality or otherwise of the way the rules are followed.

In addition, The Book of Discipline includes the Constitutions and bye-laws of the Women’s Society of Christian Service and the Methodist Youth Fellowship.

In his Episcopal Foreword in The Book of Discipline 2006, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon wrote: “For more than 250 years, The Book of Discipline has characterised, shaped, and has been shaped by the people called Methodists.

“In John Wesley’s days, it was called the Large Minutes and contained the methods of ordering the life and ministry of the early Methodist societies. It was developed by Wesley and through the conferences he had with his preachers.

“Our Book of Discipline still reflects these early footprints of Methodism.”

In America, Bishop Dr Solomon wrote, the Large Minutes became The Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. The new title reflected the dual focus on the beliefs and practices of the Methodist Church. Later, when the new united denomination (United Methodist Church) was formed in 1968, the title of the book was changed to The Book of Discipline, reflecting a greater focus on structure, administration and practice, which have to be adapted to constantly changing needs and circumstances.

In 1968, and further in 1976, The Methodist Church in Singapore became autonomous.

Bishop Dr Solomon wrote: “Today, our principles, practices and procedures are governed by our own Book of Discipline. We want to affirm that it is our desire to have the contents in this book be a practical expression of our Christian faith as contained in Scripture, and as developed in the tradition of the church. We believe that this is so.

“We also affirm that built on this foundation, we aim to make the contents relevant to our changing circumstances so that we can fulfil the mission God has given us. Hence the need to amend the contents from time to time when the General Conference meets.

“This book provides information and insight on the Methodist expression of biblical Christianity, our beliefs and practices, doctrine and polity.

“It is also an expression of our covenantal commitment to one another to be in connection, and to be accountable to one
another.

“I commend this latest edition of The Book of Discipline to the people called Methodists in Singapore. May the Lord use it to edify, organise, unite, rule and bless His people, and fulfil His will through them.”

A copy of the Revised Edition of The Book of Discipline 2006 has been given to every delegate, substantive and alternate, of the General Conference.

It is available at $20 a copy from The Methodist Church in Singapore at 70 Barker Road, Methodist Centre, Singapore 309936, tel: 6478-4786.

One free copy will be given for every five copies purchased.

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