12th anniversary planning retreat of the Methodist Hospice Fellowship
VOLUNTEERS from the Methodist Hospice Fellowship (MHF) met recently at the Bethany Methodist Nursing Home to take stock of their ministry as well as to map out future directions.
After the last retreat two years ago, MHF volunteers have been faithful in doing their part through the fulfilment of their roles towards the progressive realisation of its vision. It was therefore most fitting that the theme for its 12th anniversary planning retreat on April 27, 2002 was “Many Gifts, One Spirit”, taken from Paul’s analogy of the human body to illustrate how Christians should live and work together with their sights set steadfastly on Christ (Romans 12: 4-6 and Ephesians 4: 1-6).
The practice of taking time to pause and to reflect on the overall direction of the service started when the MHF celebrated its 10th anniversary. The retreat also gave the volunteers an opportunity to evaluate and set directions to meet the ever-changing needs of the community.
Armed with a new Vision and Mission statement, strategies adopted by the MHF have been targeted at changes in the caring of individuals suffering from a life-threatening illness to that of the family as a whole; recruitment and training of volunteers; and educating the community on the timeless message, “Making Every Day Count”.
The MHF Vision is to provide an effective support system for the terminally ill and their caregivers in the community; to equip volunteers and family caregivers with the skills to care for the terminally ill; and to increase awareness and participation of the Christian community in the hospice ministry.
With unity comes great possibilities as revealed by the God in Genesis 11:6. The MHF has been able to reach out to about 39,000 people from both within and outside the Methodist family. These were some of the highlights of the past two years:
Hospice Awareness campaign
Launched a hospice awareness campaign involving some 400 volunteers from the Methodist churches, other hospice agencies and interest groups. About 35,000 signatures were collected and presented to Mr Chan Soo Sen, Parliamentary Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Health, who was the guest-of-honour at the closing ceremony of the Hospice Awareness Week. The campaign ended with the roar of 50 BMW bikers who rode across town spreading the message of “Making Every Day Count”.
Mr David Row, a volunteer with the MHF, was chosen out of more than 100 nominees from various backgrounds to receive the Merit Award, Active Senior Citizen of the Year in 2001. The award is a testimony of his active and tireless contribution to hospice care in Singapore.
Talks on topics related to the “Sharing of Hope, Faith, Love, Peace, Joy Even If There Is No Tomorrow” were organised for members of the public who came from various churches, hospice agencies, and other volunteer groups. MHF volunteers were also invited by the Methodist churches and external organisations to speak on the ministry of hospice care. Recently, Mr David Row was invited by The Great Eastern Life Assurance Company Limited to share on the spirit of Volunteerism and his work in the MHF to 1,600 Great Eastern agents from Singapore and the South-east Asia region.
Singapore Hospice Council
Formerly an “Affiliate Member”, MHF was accepted as a full-member of the Singapore Hospice Council (SHC) in July 2001. The MHF chaired the SHC Lay-Volunteers’ Educational Sub-Committee for a term, which ends in July 2002. Thus far, a five-week training programme has been organised by the MHF for lay volunteers of the Hospice Care Association, and workshops on “Tips on Bedside Care”. An on-going training curriculum for lay volunteers has also been developed.
Hospice training course in Mandarin
Early this year, the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) Board of Social Concerns and Outreach invited the MHF and the Women’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS) to organise a basic hospice care training programme in Mandarin, which was held over five weeks at Toa Payoh Chinese Methodist Church.
The volunteers felt that there was a need to further strengthen and expand the hospice ministry. In order to do this, they felt, the MHF needed to work more closely with The Methodist Church in Singapore.
For expansion to occur, new strength in the Lord’s power must be found among brothers and sisters in Christ who are willing to offer themselves as living sacrifices and more especially, as a spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1-2). The MHF is looking for people trained as doctors, nurses, psychologists, counsellors, social workers as well as others who have an interest in website designing, writing and photography to volunteer their services.
MHF seeks more volunteers
Strengthening of the MHF will enable the ministry to equip fresh volunteers and support all those already serving in the caring ministries. The MHF will work towards having MHF representatives in the local Methodist churches assisting the pastoral staff in meeting the needs of individuals suffering from life-threatening illnesses.
The retreat ended with an anniversary celebration dinner at which volunteers renewed their covenant with the MHF. The guest-of-honour, Mr Gerard Ee, Chairman of the Singapore Hospice Council, encouraged the MHF volunteers to continue doing their good work.
Lim Soo Ching is an Executive Officer of the Methodist Hospice Fellowship.