Happenings

Singapore’s first “Baba Malay” Methodist Church turns 125

Mar 2019    
The congregation at the 125th anniversary service.

“Ya, Isa kaseh!” rang out in KKMC’s Sanctuary, which was packed to overflowing with a 970-strong congregation on 20 Jan 2019. Baba Malay was indeed an appropriate language in which to rejoice in Christ’s love on the occasion of KKMC’s 125th Anniversary.

Multilingual ministry has been in the DNA of Methodist ministry in Singapore from its earliest years, with missionaries setting up ministries “in nearly all the local vernaculars”1 within three years of landing. After starting The English Church (later Wesley Methodist Church) in 1885, they followed up in quick succession with Tamil Methodist Church two years later, a Chinese congregation led by Dr Benjamin West (later Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church) in 1889, and the Baba Malay Methodist Church (now KKMC) in 1894.

KKMC continues this hereditary strand of multilingual ministry today, as Pastor-in-Charge the Rev Kenneth Huang notes: “[KKMC is] blessed to praise God in English, Baba Malay/Bahasa Indonesia, Mandarin, and Tamil—all under the same roof!”

A special combined presentation during the 125th Anniversary Service saw our Nyonya sisters, in their delicately-coloured sarong kebayas, leading the singing of “Jesus Loves Me” in Baba Malay; followed by the English, Tamil and Mandarin ministries, and joined by the children’s Cherubim Choir and youths before the entire congregation chimed in.

Packed as the Sanctuary was, and spilling out into the adjoining Social Hall and KKMC Kindergarten area, with some perched precariously on toddler-size chairs. Yet, the swelling of united voices praising God in our various heart languages felt like a foretaste of heaven, which we were privileged to experience that day.

Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung, our guest preacher, sprang a delightful surprise by starting his sermon in Bahasa Indonesia—in honour of KKMC’s Straits Chinese beginnings, as he shared his heritage of having been born in Indonesia, and his grandmother being a Nyonya.

Switching to Mandarin with consecutive English translation, the Bishop went on to list and thank God for Singapore’s centenarian Methodist churches, as testimonies of God’s faithfulness to His people. Bishop Dr Chong urged the KKMC family that as they remember God’s faithfulness over the past 125 years, to continue to grow in faith and bless the surrounding community with joy.

Other highlights of the 125th Anniversary Service included: music by the newly-formed homegrown KKMC Music Ensemble; a responsive reading of a brief history of KKMC; dedication of a new vision statement and nearly 500 prayer cards; and a 270-degree panoramic photograph of the congregation wearing special 125th Anniversary T-shirts.

The church was joined in celebration by leaders and guests from Trinity Annual Conference, to which KKMC belongs; the Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference; former KKMC pastors; leaders of community partner organisations; KKMC Kindergarten and Kampong Kapor Community Services; and the Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Brigade companies it sponsors.

A moment of silence was also observed in memory of the late Rev T. C. Nga, who had passed away the day before.

The celebrations continued with an anniversary lunch, at which Mr Lyndon Gan, one of KKMC’s Lay Ministry Staff, was surprised with a 25-year Long Service Award. As is customary for KKMC’s anniversary celebrations, KKMC sponsored special meals for the residents of four institutions in India we support: St Luke’s Leprosarium Centre, Tamil Nadu; School and Centre for the Blind, Palayamkottai; Florence Swainson School for the Deaf, Palayamkottai; and Sharon Children’s Home, Salem.

 

A version of this article was first published in the February 2019 issue of KK Focus, KKMC’s church newsletter. Reprinted with permission.


1 Quoted from “Our Church” under “About Us” section of The Methodist Church in Singapore website, http://www.methodist.org.sg/index.php/about-us/our-church, accessed 25 Jan 2019.

Grace Toh is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church (KKMC). A hunter-gatherer of information, she revels in both well-crafted turns of phrase as well as bad puns.

Our members speak:

Said Mr Ng Fook Kah, 86, who is one of KKMC’s Honorary Stewards: “It’s a privilege, and I’m humbled to be attending KKMC’s 125th Anniversary with the Mandarin Ministry.”

Ensemble member Ms Cervone Seah, 16, shared: “I am thankful to have the opportunity to play with the ensemble, as it was a new experience for me to be able to serve God through the gift that He has blessed me with.”

Mr Muthu, 41, a committee member in the Tamil Ministry, felt the lively worship of the Anniversary Service had touched his heart, and he was honoured to be building the kingdom of God together in KKMC.

Twelve-year-old Cherubim Choir singer, Ms Sue-Ann Ho, was awed that KKMC was “so old”, and found it “fun that all the people from different worship services can sing together in different languages”.

Ms Rosie Oh, 81, who has served in KKMC’s Peranakan Ministry faithfully for more than 30 years, regularly hurrying over after service in her home church, also enjoyed singing together with the congregation of various ages and languages.

Mr Hesley Stalin, 32, for whom this was his first experience of a combined service, found the congregation very friendly. “I don’t feel like I’m in Singapore,” he said. “I feel like I’m at home.”

Cake-cutting during the 125th anniversary dinner.

Photos courtesy of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church

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