29TH SESSION OF EMMANUEL TAMIL ANNUAL CONFERENCE: NOV 12-13, 2004
‘I am humbled by the decision of the conference. I pray that God will help me to fulfil the task that is set before me. I believe that with the help of fellow ministers, leaders and members of the conference, it can be done.’
EMMANAUEL Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) has a new Presi-dent – the Rev James Nagulan, who at 36 years old, is the youngest conference president ever elected.
He was voted in on Nov 13, 2004 at ETAC’s 29th Session held at Ang Mo Kio Tamil Methodist Church.
The incumbent, the Rev Dr Vinson Samuel, declined to serve another term as President.
Thus with only one other Elder eligi-ble for election by virtue of his meeting the criterion of having served more than 10 years as an Elder, ETAC invoked the Disciplinary provision to lower the number of years in order to present the conference with a choice of at least two Elders for election to the office of President.
The Rev Nagulan received the two-thirds majority required to be elected President on the sixth ballot.
He takes the helm at a challenging time for the conference, which has seen a declining membership over the last two quadranniums.
Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, who chaired the conference during the election process, encouraged the new President and ETAC to move forward trusting God to make inroads in expanding the ministry to the ethnic Indian people in Singapore and the wider Indian diaspora.
After his election, the Rev Nagulan said: “With faith in God and obedience to His call I step into this office as President of ETAC. I am taken by surprise and it’s beyond me. I am humbled by the decision of the conference.
“I pray that God will help me to fulfil the task that is set before me. I believe that with the help of fellow ministers, leaders and members of the conference, it can be done.”
Other major conference officers elected were: Mr Richard Jeremiah, Vice-President; Mr M. Geevananthan, Confer-ence Lay Leader; and Mr. R. Selvathurai, Associate Lay Leader.
At the Opening Service-cum-Holy Communion on the evening of Nov 12, the Bishop delivered the message entitled “What It Means To Be A Church”.
This was based on the Scripture text taken from Luke 6: 12-19, which was read by the Rev Khoo Cheng Hoot, President of the Chinese Annual Conference.
Bishop Dr Solomon reminded the conference that the Methodist Church is a connectional church, and emphasised the importance of preserving this connectionalism.
He then spoke of three phases of connection – first, the connection with God; second, the connection between one another; and finally, the connection with the needy of the world. This is what it means to be a church, he said.
The sermon over, he administered the Holy Communion, assisted by the Rev Dr Samuel, the Rev Khoo, TRAC President the Rev Dr Isaac Lim, who had earlier led in the prayer, and the Rev R. Prabhu, District Superintendent and Pastor of Ang Mo Kio Tamil Methodist Church.
In his President’s Review for 2004, the Rev Dr Samuel highlighted the many challenges ETAC faces.
He spoke of the importance of ETAC being:
The sharing community, with a sense of belonging among ETAC members and churches; the supporting community, with a sense of support for one another; the studying community, with living faith as its goal; the scattered community, with the aim of reaching out to the community; the striving community, with the concern of checking declining membership; and the stepping-out community, with emphasis on ministry to the children and youth.
Richard Jeremiah is the Vice-President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference.