For the first time, Roman Catholics and Protestants gathered for an ecumenical and healing service at Aldersgate Methodist Church this past August to “worship God together as one, to commit to love one another as one, and to walk together and to serve as one”.
Friar Derrick Yap – a Roman Catholic Franciscan priest – and I preached the sermon on Mark 2:1-12 in “dialogue” style. Here is an excerpt:
Friar Yap: We are Roman Catholic
The Rev Dr Khoo: We are Protestants from different denominations
Friar Yap: We are more comfortable with liturgical worship
The Rev Dr Khoo: We flow better with charismatic enthusiastic worship
Friar Yap: But we have come together, united in One Faith
The Rev Dr Khoo: The Faith that Jesus CAN heal the sick one… as He had healed the sick at Capernaum
The ministry time was led by the Rev Daniel Lee Kuan Yong, Pastor-in-Charge of Hakka Methodist Church. At least half of the 400-strong congregation came forward for prayer by 15 prayer ministry teams, made up of representatives from across denominations.
Prayer ministers included three Roman Catholic priests, four Methodist pastors, an Anglican priest, a Lutheran senior pastor, an Assembly of God pastor, a Chinese ministry-linked Free Church minister, an independent mega-church founder and several Methodist and Roman Catholic lay leaders.
Sister Elizabeth Lim, Chair of the Ecumenical Committee, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, shared that “the sense of being ONE was powerful. There was great singing and harmony, the Lord’s Prayer was beautifully illustrated and sufficiently meditative; the dialogue-style presentation of the homily was unique and powerful, and the ministry time was carried out solemnly with reverence and respect. There was great teamwork and good preparation. The Lord God must have been delighted.”
One of the two worship leaders for the evening, Wendy Chiang (a Trinity Theological College student and an Aldersgate Methodist Church staff), shared her experience of working together with Roman Catholics on her team:
“From the planning to the execution of the worship set, my Roman Catholic co-leader and I dialogued, worshipped and prayed together. Although our preferences and experiences in worship-leading were different, we did not let dogmatism get in the way. Rather, our response to one another was often ‘what works for you will work for me’.
“I come away from this experience tremendously blessed by the humility, hospitality and friendship of our Roman Catholic siblings… And because we Protestants and Roman Catholics stood together for Jesus on the night of the ecumenical healing service, I witnessed the greatness of God’s power at work to heal the sick, restore the wounded, strengthen the weak and mend the denominational gap.”
Volunteer sound crew member Ren Kang was deeply moved. He wrote: “It was overwhelming to witness such an event, where Roman Catholics and Protestants – who have had a long history of feuds even to the point of blood during the Reformation – held each other’s hands in a long line. Perhaps this is a foretaste of the communion that every saint, from Abraham to Peter to Mother Teresa, longs for. To worship God regardless of differences…”
Trudy, a member of Aldersgate Methodist Church, said: “It’s a breakthrough bringing Roman Catholics and Protestants together through this healing service. Many were encouraged and asked how often we have such services, and look forward to coming again”.
Holding such services twice-yearly, or even quarterly, were suggestions put forward. The next gathering is slated for March 17, 2014, also at Aldersgate Methodist Church. Details will be released closer to the date.
The service was organised by the Catholic Alpha Advisory and Coordinating team, the Roman Catholic Committee of Ecumenical Movement, and an Ad-Hoc Protestant team.
Pictures by CatholicNews, Singapore.
The Rev Dr Lorna Khoo is Pastor-in-Charge of Aldersgate Methodist Church.