Worship Seminar and public talks cancelled, but Aldersgate Service will go on and will see launch of new book
THE Aldersgate Convention 2003, scheduled to be held from May 21 to 24 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of John Wesley’s birth, will now be held on a reduced scale.
Reason: The travel plans of the speakers from the United States have been affected because of the SARS outbreak.
The Methodist Church in Singapore has to regretfully call off the Worship Seminar and the three public talks.
However, the Aldersgate Service and Dedication of the Methodist Centre will be held as scheduled on May 24 at 7.45 pm.
And to celebrate the occasion as well as the tercentenary of John Wesley’s birth (b. June 17, 1703 in Epworth, England), a new book, The People Called Methodists, is to be launched during the service, which will be held at the Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) Auditorium.
The People Called Methodists is a coffee-table book which all Methodists will want to own and read. Non-Methodists will be able to appreciate the essential similarities and some differences that both unite and divide the universal Church.
The various articles in the book seek to tell the story of The Methodist Church in Singapore through its men and women, its history in text and pictures, its structures and the essence of the Wesleyan heritage.
It will break new ground in church publications. Methodists, young and old, will find its articles absorbing and illuminating as they discover the heritage derived from the biblical vision of what the Christian and what the Church should be like.
Produced with vibrant colour and sepia photographs, The People Called Methodists tells the story in five sections, the first of which is Who we are. This is a brief account of the Methodist movement and how it was brought to these shores in 1885 by pioneer missionaries who dared to do great things, which led to MCS having 41 churches and eight preaching points and a membership of 31,000. This book avoids going through “dry” history and paints a broad and absorbing picture for the average reader.
As many Methodists may not be very clear about how our Church is organised in a connectional system, there follows a simple explanation of How we are structured.
Members may have some understanding of the Local Church Executive Committee (LCEC), but how it relates to the system of discipline and accountability should be enough to recognise its inherent strengths — and weaknesses. Its underlying motif is the partnership between the clergy and the laity in building and extending God’s Kingdom on earth, most significantly in overseas outreach in recent years.
An important area which most Methodists need to know and understand is What we believe.
Although some might find that this section of the book requires some effort to understand, having accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour, the Methodist Christian needs to go more deeply in order to understand the doctrines, the sources of our Faith, the meaning of Grace and the Responsibility that is the duty of a follower of Jesus. For ease of reference, the texts of the Creeds (The Apostles’, Nicene and Social), as well as the Articles of Religion have been provided in full.
Emphasis is laid on Christian Discipleship, a methodical life lived day by day. This is supported by an account of how The Methodist Church in Singapore has tried to promote this not only through lay training and study courses, but also through its schools, youth organisations, women’s and seniors ministries, as well as in encouraging the whole Church to participate actively in a volunteer movement. All this is encapsulated in the texts of the General Rules of the Methodist Church and the Social Principles of the MCS which accompany the article.
Finally, the fifth section of the book deals with how Methodists Witness to the world at large: in multi-lingual worship services characterised by joyful and enthusiastic singing in the Methodist tradition, in the observance of the sacraments (baptism and holy communion), and in observing the Christian calendar that helps to order the formation of our Faith.
These acts of Faith are to be complemented by Christian social action – for and among those who face personal crises and hardship – and are characterised by the ministry of the Methodist Welfare Services and the workers who make this not only possible but add a further dimension of love and care, whether among elderly patients, orphans, or school children.
A sizeable 180-page volume, The People Called Methodists cannot be read like a novel and should take quite a while to digest. It is best done in small doses by a reader who will, from time to time, browse with interest among the many and varied articles.
Alternatively, it has enough content to act as a basis for study by cell or study group members – helping them to mature in their understanding not only about the Methodist heritage, but also their responsibilities as 21st century Christians who live in such challenging times.