41st SESSION OF TRINITY ANNUAL CONFERENCE
At the 41st Session of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC), President Dr Gordon Wong began his Address with the Apostle Paul’s example of thanksgiving in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, and 16-18. He expressed his appreciation for everyone serving in all the Conference boards and local church committees, office staff in TRAC and local churches, retiring Elders, District Superintendents and more.
Similar to last year’s Address, the Rev Dr Wong reminded the delegates of the mission of an Annual Conference – making disciples for Jesus Christ, by equipping its local churches for ministry, and providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church.
Pointing to the biblical snapshot of “disciples for Jesus Christ” that was adopted for this quadrennium in Acts 2:42-47, he said: “Our mission as an Annual Conference is to make disciples for Jesus Christ who learn God’s Word through the teachings of the apostles; worship God through communion, prayer and praise; give and receive loving welcome in our friendships with each other; witness and testify to God’s love for our neighbours and experience wonder and awe at God’s signs and miracles.”
“The primary mission of every Annual Conference in every local church is to help members experience the joyful abundance of life that comes by being disciples of Christ. May God help TRAC stay true to this mission,” he added.
On the subject of equipping local churches for ministry, he noted that “many of our churches are blessed with sufficient resources to equip and train their own members for ministry. There is therefore less need for our Conference boards to organise equipping programmes for our local churches… We can and we should help organise equipping programmes with our local churches.”
The Rev Dr Wong felt that “if the only thing which our Conference Boards develop is an ethos that encourages and enables local church committees to ‘piggy back’ on each other’s ministries and programmes, we would have fulfilled a most important role in the Board. Several of our boards organise such networking meetings and I hope this will continue in the years ahead.”
He drew attention to a major challenge faced in the high cost of maintaining permanent physical church space and church buildings to continue ministries. A lease renewal task force formed last July had discussed the matter extensively and set up a lease renewal fund.
He complimented local churches which have made initial commitment and estimates on what they might be able to contribute to this fund, because it exemplified the spirit of unity and working together. He also highlighted that this financial problem of lease renewal presents a wonderful opportunity to invest directly in each other’s ministry, and in so doing, remind churches that they are not independent churches, but are one united conference of 21 siblings “on TRAC together” for making disciples of Jesus Christ.
For current church building projects, the local church decides the feasibility of the renewal and the quantum of donations extended is left to the Conference executive board or sister local church executive committees to determine. The Rev Dr Wong presented an alternative model for the Conference’s consideration and discussion – one which places more responsibility and emphasis on the Conference family in both the decision-making and funding process.
This income-percentage model helps remove uncertainty and anguish about what a responsible contribution to a sister church would be, and allows churches to be directly and more tangibly invested such that all become stakeholders in one another’s ministry locations.
The third mission of the Annual Conference – providing ministry connections beyond the local church – is fulfilled through various avenues such as the Methodist Missions Society, the Disaster Relief Task Force and Methodist Welfare Services. The President concluded by quoting John Wesley’s sermon on how he regarded “works of mercy” as the chief mark of true disciples.
At the Closing and Ordination Service, the Rev Benjamin Lee and the Rev Gladwin Lee were ordained as Elders, and Pastor Adrian Ng was ordained as Deacon. Diaconal Minister the Rev Teresa Wilborn, and Elders the Rev Lawrence Chua, the Rev Lee Yam Kai, the Rev Edmund de Souza, the Rev Noel Goh and the Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup were acknowledged at the Opening Service as officially attaining retired status.
Chia Hui Jun –
is Editorial Executive at Methodist Message and worships at Foochow Methodist Church.
Picture above: The Rev Dr Wong (far left) recognising retiring pastors: (L-R) The Rev Teresa Wilborn, the Rev Lee Yam Kai, the Rev Noel Goh, the Rev Lawrence Chua, the Rev Edmund de Souza, and the Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup.
Photos by Daniel Lie