One MCS - Annual Conference Highlights

The ‘forgotten’ stakeholders

Oct 2010    

“Our itinerant system sees pastors move to and from churches… even where a pastor moves after a shorter period, it is incorrect, and I add, also insensitive, to imply that that pastor is not a stakeholder.

“STAKEHOLDERS” IS A WORD NO LONGER RESTRICTED to commerce. The church, as well as other non-profit organisations, has used the term “stakeholders” to get people to buy into its vision. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines the word as “someone who has invested money into something, or who has an important connection with it, and therefore is affected by its success or failure”.

Question: Who are the stakeholders in the enterprise called the local church?

In our structure, the primary stakeholders are the leaders (the Local Conference, the Local Church Executive Committee, including the pastors), as well as the staff of the church. The members of the church are also stakeholders as many will be affected by its success or failure, having contributed financially, and forming spiritual and emotional attachment to it.

However, the stakeholders who have direct influence to determine its direction are its leaders.

Another question is: Where do the pastors fit in this picture? Are they stakeholders? The oft-heard comment is, “Pastors come and pastors go.” Implied here is that the leaders who are not pastors are the genuine stakeholders, and that the pastors are not.

Allow me to present another perspective, having been a pastor for more than 25 years. While our itinerant system sees pastors move to and from churches, it is more common nowadays for Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) pastors especially to stay in one church for longer periods than before. However, even where a pastor moves after a shorter period, it is incorrect, and I add, also insensitive, to imply that that pastor is not a stakeholder.

A pastor invests his or her life in that church. We tithe, spend time, effort, energy, and often make personal and family sacrifices in serving the church. Moving away, after having given so much is a painful affair. We have formed spiritual, emotional and other relational bonds with the community there. We grieve the loss.

Pastors’ families are also affected by these movements. When the children are younger, and cut ties with other children and the aunties and uncles, it is something some just cannot understand. When the parting is acrimonious, and known to the older children, some may be so hurt that their parents are treated badly they want nothing to do with God or church subsequently.

Ministerial etiquette prohibits us from interfering with what our successors are doing. But there are ties that bind us as stakeholders long after we have left.

The Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup is the President of Trinity Annual Conference.

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NCCS deplores US pastor’s intention to burn Koran

THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES OF SINGAPORE (NCCS) joined Christians around the world last month in deploring the intention of Pastor Terry Jones of the United States to burn copies of the Koran.

In a statement issued on Sept 9 by Bishop Dr Robert Solomon and Mr Lim K Tham, President and General Secretary respectively, the NCCS said that the act would be both offensive and hurtful to Muslims around the world and in Singapore.

“Such an act would be unchristian and a departure from the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ who tells His followers to love their neighbours and pray for all, including those who hate them, and to live in peace with all.”

Pastor Jones subsequently called off the plan to burn the Koran on Sept 11.

The NCCS statement said that provocative acts such as the burning of sacred texts of religious communities achieve nothing except to fan further hostility and violence.

It said: “The various religious communities in Singapore have worked hard to create harmony, and mutual respect and understanding. We should not let what happens elsewhere affect our friendship and peace.

“We hope all of us will work harder to overcome religious extremism and gross disrespect of religions in all their forms,” it added.

Following the NCCS statement, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said it was heartened by the churches’ statement which deplored Pastor Jones’ planned act.

Muis said such words of clarity and assurance bear testimony to mutual respect between Christians and Muslims and the strong relations among all various faiths in Singapore.

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