Our families face threats, Church must work to ward them off: TRAC head
OUR families are under threat, and as Christians, we know that the Devil is constantly waging war against our families. Stating this in his President’s Address at Pentecost Methodist Church on Nov 20, 2007, the Rev Wee Boon Hup, President of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC), warned that there are other directions from which threats to the wellbeing of families are coming.
One of these is the rapid development of technology. The world of cyberspace has a mesmerising effect on the lives of the youth, and some negative consequences in society are already being seen.
The Church is not constructively engaged in cyberspace, he said, and the problem is further complicated by the generational gap between the youthful savvy travellers in that world and the aging laggards in this world.
This contributes to family dysfunction by inhibiting, if not destroying, the interpersonal communication that is so vital to family wellbeing.
In addition, cyberspace and the various kinds of new media, as well as the “older” ones such as movies, television and print, influence changes to our value system. Children and youth receive messages over the Internet and mobile phones which are not aired in the “older”media, and this often goes unnoticed until it is too late.
“It is subtle and sublime, mostly subversive and regressive,” said the Rev Wee. Urging pastors and leaders to enlist those who work in the new media to enter into a new “cyberspace ministry” of the Church, he said: “We must encourage Christians to enter into this world of media, entertainment and the arts, if possible to stop the slide, and produce works that reflect the biblical values we cherish with common humanity.
“We should not accept the absurd, the aberrant, and the exceptions to be portrayed as the norm,” he said.
Returning to the theme of threats to the family, he said that the ongoing tension between work and family continues as a potential threat to family life. This is further complicated by the demands upon time for ministry and other forms of service in the church.
“Life in church should be pro-family in that our activities should strengthen the bonds between wife and husband and between children and parents.”
He pointed out that pastors’ families and those of ministry staff are not exempt from these threats. He likened warding off these threats to building up a healthy body to fight against infection, saying we have to pay attention to nurturing our, as well as our children’s spirituality, to a point where we have the necessary antibodies to identify and resist the unwanted and sublime enemy.
“Church and family must work together to achieve this goal,” he said. He then called on those TRAC churches which do not have Family Life Ministries to begin the process of forming them.
Turning to another issue, that of stewardship of the earth’s resources, he said: “As individual churches, we should begin, if we have not done so, to examine the way we have been using material, water, energy and other resources within our premises.
“It is an integral part of our witness to the world that we are found to be good stewards in this area.”
Jimmy Wong first person to be ordained as Diaconal Minister
HISTORY was created on the final day of the 32nd Session of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) when The Methodist Church in Singapore got its first ordained Diaconal Minister.
When Mr Jimmy Wong Phin Thau, a long-time Peranakan preacher, was called to the front of Pentecost Methodist Church sanctuary on Nov 22, 2007 to be ordained as a Diaconal Minister, loud applause broke out.
Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, addressing the congregation, said: “This person is by God’s grace to be ordained as a Diaconal Minister. Those authorised by the Church to inquire about him have discerned that he is of sound learning and of Christian character.’’
After the Bishop had presented a Bible and a sash to Mr Wong towards the end of the ordination procedure, the Bishop said to him: “Rev Jimmy Wong Phin Thau, take authority as a Diaconal Minister in the Church to serve God’s people.”
And so, another Reverend has been created, albeit a different kind from the Deacon and Elder Ministers of our Church.
The Rev Jimmy Wong’s ordination was followed by that of six Deacons – Mr Bernard Chao Wee Chun, Mr Khoo Kay Huat, Mr Edmund Koh Leong Swee, Mr Leslie Lim Kok Seng, Mr Fred Tan Hee Kok and Mr Aaron Tay Tian Yeow.
After the Bishop had presented each of them with a Bible, he turned to each new Deacon and called him, preceeded by the title “Reverend”, and said: “Take authority as a Deacon in the Church to preach the Word and to serve God’s people.”
Then came the ordination of four Elders – the Rev Lai Kai Ming, the Rev Daniel Cornilius Tan Boon Liat, the Rev Tay Kay Leong and the Rev Joel Yong Chi Wi. As Elders, each of them received a Bible and a stole from the Bishop.
Retirement Service for three Christian Ministry Staff
A RETIREMENT Recognition Service for three Christian Ministry Staff (CMS) was held on Nov 21, the third day of the Conference Session.
Towards the end of the service, Ms Grace Kwee, Mrs Sheila Dhamaratnam and Mrs Billie Masillamoney received a gift each from TRAC President Rev Wee Boon Hup.
Ms Kwee started as the pioneer Christian Ministry Staff in 1970. In these 38 years, she had served in Methodist Girls’ School, Paya Lebar MGS, Geylang MGS, Anglo-Chinese School (Junior), Anglo-Chinese Junior College, ACS (Barker Road) and ACS (Independent).
Mrs Dhamaratnam joined the school ministry as a CMS in 1981and served for nine years with Fairfi eld Methodist School, Geylang MGS, MGS, Paya Lebar MGS and ACS (Barker Road). Before 1982 she had served mainly in the area of Christian education in Malaysia and Singapore since 1966. In 1989, she became Director of Christian Education and Discipleship and Nurture for TRAC.
Mrs Masillamoney began her ministry as a CMS in 1986. For the past 20 years, she had served with ACS (Barker Road) and ACS (Primary). Since 2006 she has served with The Third Place in its work with Outram Secondary School. She was the pioneer principal of Barker Road Methodist Church Kindergarten from 1967 to 1977 and principal of Marymount Kindergarten from 1976 to 1986.
STORIES BY PETER TEO PICTURES BY DANIEL LIE