In October 1891, Editor J. C. Floyd began the very first issue of The Malaysia Message (MM) with “our most graceful bow to the English speaking people of Malaysia, and to our friends in England and America, as we present to them the first number of our paper and request their sympathy and patronage”.
He continued: “We believe that such a journal can be made of value in promoting individual growth in grace, and the advancement of the cause of righteousness in this part of the world. We believe also that it can be made of interest to friends in England and America, by giving them information concerning what is being done here to help bring this world to a knowledge of the true God, and Jesus Christ, His Son.”
“The paper will be broadly evangelical and we shall try to make it of interest to Christian workers here… we shall have a small space for the discussion of sectarian differences. Such discussion will not help to save souls. On the vital doctrines of our holy religion we all agree, then we be brethren in Christ Jesus… We will advance ‘with malice towards none and charity for all’.”
Floyd was also the superintendent of the Malaysia Mission, having succeeded the Rev William Oldham, founder of the Mission. His successor the Rev W. G. Shellabear declared MM’s aim in the February 1892 issue as “the mouthpiece of the Christian community” on matters affecting the kingdom of God, “to diffuse Christian sentiment and to awaken the Christian conscience”, and to let the Christians at home know “the great needs of this vital field, so that they may be stirred to help us both in prayer and effort”.1
Later in 1939, Dr H. B. Amstutz identified three different needs which MM hoped to meet: “Christian literature for our Malayan homes, a Christian magazine for our young people in schools and a missionary journal to arouse and sustain interest in the Mission programme among those who live in America and England.”
In 1958, the Rev Peter Lim Seck Tiong dramatised the paper with the poster slogan “Every Methodist must have the Message”.
Fast forward to 1991, the first time in the history of Methodism that the World Methodist Conference was held on Asian soil. Conference delegates and local Methodists attended the Methodist Rally at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, with worship music by the Methodist combined choir and a colourful banner procession of all the member churches of the World Methodist Council 2
MM also announced the “Festival of Methodism in Asia”, a feature programme of the 16th World Methodist Conference. Held at the Raffles Ballroom of Westin Stamford Hotel, each Asian church presented segments depicting its history and culture to the international audience. It also reported that the Fellowship of Asian Methodist Bishops (FAMB) would be convened in Kuala Lumpur.
Want to know more about the years in between, and beyond? Look out for our special commemorative publication that will be arriving together with your MM issue in October.
1 Malaysia Message February 1892
2 Methodist Message July 1991
Chia Hui Jun –
is Editorial Executive at Methodist Message and worships at Foochow Methodist Church.
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