When Jesus died on the cross some 2,000 years ago and thereafter paid for the sins of man past, present, and future, He removed the sting of death that has so plagued mankind since the Fall.
However, the pain of losing a loved one is still ever present, even as we know that they have returned to the eternal home the Lord has personally prepared for them.
Though we may feel some measure of comfort that our dear departed ones are at rest, surviving family members still need the space to grieve and share their loss.
The Garden of Remembrance (TGOR) was thus established as part of The Methodist Church in Singapore’s (MCS) commitment to not only provide a quiet, restful place for our kin who have gone on ahead of us, but also a physical reminder to believers of the very real promise of Christ, who spoke about the day when we will all be reunited again in His presence and where there will be no more sorrow.
Mr Stephen Lim, the Chairperson of TGOR, explained: “Our ministry is to reach out to families in their time of grief to provide comfort and care with Christian love. Through this, [we make it easier to] remember God’s grace that was witnessed in their deceased parents and loved ones.”
In the face of the various options that Methodist families have when it comes to Christian columbaria (or even opting for secular ones), Mr Lim, who worships at Paya Lebar Chinese Methodist Church, added: “Our biggest challenge is to achieve both ‘do well’ and ‘do good’ objectives. By ‘doing good’, it simply means that TGOR must continue to be relevant and aligned with the Methodist community which encompasses our local churches, our Methodist brothers and sisters, and our clergy.”
A place of restfulness and peace
Since 2001, TGOR has carved out a peaceful enclave amidst the lush greenery along Old Choa Chu Kang Road to house the remains of the departed. The columbarium was conceptualised to resemble a pair of open palms coming together in prayer.
Surveying the grounds of the columbarium, it is evident that the various private balconies and terraces overlooking tranquil surroundings offer bereaved families and loved ones a quiet and peaceful environment for prayer and contemplation, allowing them to draw near to God and sense His comforting presence.
TGOR has some 40,000 niches built over four storeys sitting on a hectare of land. Wide, breezy corridors and passageways also offer a spacious divide between the individual niche blocks, giving families the space and privacy they need in their time of grief and remembrance.
Unbeknownst to many, this unique take on a columbarium actually garnered TGOR an ‘Honourable Mention’ in the 6th Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) Awards in Sep 2001 for the Religious Buildings category.
Future plans for growth
When asked what the future looked like for TGOR, Mr Lim shared: “There are several immediate challenges facing TGOR. The most pressing one is to be continually relevant to our community and faith, and having a firm mindshare amongst our members.”
Mr Lim, however, did unveil exciting new plans for TGOR in the next few years: “For TGOR, service and product quality are among our top priorities. We are constantly working hard to improve both through important TGOR products and offerings that include parlour rentals and memorial services. In addition to niches, we will look into improving our range of niche offerings and establishing competitive pricing to meet various demands.”
“As a Christian agency, we also aim to grow in our community outreach and engagement through our memorial services during All Saints’ Day and Easter, as well as direct engagement with local church communities.”
Jason Woo –
is Editorial Executive of Methodist Message. He put this article together with valuable input from Mr Stephen Lim, Chairperson of the Garden of Remembrance, and Ms Wendy Heng, General Manager of the Garden of Remembrance.
Photos courtesy of The Garden of Remembrance