John Wesley’s 300th birthday and Dedication of new Methodist Centre marked by launch of book
ONE thousand people called Methodists gathered at the Concert Hall of ACS (Barker Road) on May 24, 2003 for a double celebration – to join Methodists the world over in commemorating the 300th birthday of their founder, John Wesley, and to witness and give thanks to God for their new Methodist Centre at the ACS Barker Road Campus.
And to mark the special occasion, a book fittingly entitled The People Called Methodists, was successfully launched by Bishop Dr Robert Solomon.
The precision-run Aldersgate Service of one-and-three-quarter hours began with a procession of the clergy clothed in their rich, colourful robes and led in by the Cross, Banner of The Methodist Church in Singapore and the Bible carried respectively by the three Conference Lay Leaders – Mr Chan Fook Kay of the Chinese Annual Conference, Mr Kim Seah of Trinity Annual Conference, and Mr M. Geevananthan of Emmanual Tamil Annual Conference.
As the clergy’s robes, the Cross and the Banner danced and dazzled in the soft, golden lights of the Concert Hall, the hall turned into a giant kaleidoscope.
As soon as Bishop Dr Solomon and his entourage have taken to the stage – which was fully occupied by the Combined Methodist Orchestra, the Aldersgate Choir, the Voices of Praise Choir, and other musicians – and everyone has seated, the Rev George Martzen of The Bishop’s Office quickly stepped forward to the microphone and led the Call to Worship.
This clockwork precision was to be the order of the evening as the worship service progressed.
An interesting element introduced in this year’s Aldersgate Service was the impersonation of John Wesley by Mr Brian Chirnside, a teacher at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), who considered it an honour to portray the founder of Methodism and who “enjoyed playing the part”. He dramatically re-enacted Wesley’s preaching on God’s grace.
Addressing the people, Bishop Dr Solomon reminded them that “today is a special day – Aldersgate Day, John Wesley’s 300th birth anniversary, and the Dedication of the Methodist Centre”.
“Today’s events remind us of our history and rich tradition, a living tradition of faith. Our passage reminds us of this. It is a hall of faith of individuals, named and unnamed, who are remembered by God and stand as examples for us.”
His sermon, entitled “A Living Tradition”, was based on the text from Hebrews 11: 1-2, 13-16, and 32-40. These three parts of the text were read by the Rev Dr Isaac Lim, President of TRAC. Scripture Reading was earlier read by the Rev Khoo Cheng Hoot of CAC. The Rev Dr Vinson Samuel of ETAC led in the Opening Prayer.
In his sermon, Bishop Dr Solomon said that those individuals knew they were on a journey; they were all pilgrims. They were heroes, but “their feet were also made of clay”. Many of them had major flaws, but God worked in them and through them. He transformed many of them and was glorified by their lives. They were known for their acts of faith.
John Wesley, too, was a pilgrim, and Aldersgate was an important point in his journey.
Said Bishop Dr Solomon: “He became sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. He saw his journey as one towards perfection – in love.
“By faith he gave his life to Christ, preached all over Britain, started the Methodist movement seeking to renew the Church, organised the work, appointed preachers, travelled widely (250,000 miles), published, sent missionaries to the US, started schools, ran clinics, organised prison ministry, helped the poor, battled against slavery, alcoholism and other social ills.
“It is amazing how much he achieved for God, or rather how much God achieved through this one man.
“He is a model, but not an idol. We follow Christ in the company of the Wesleys.”
What about us? asked Bishop Dr Solomon.
We, too, are pilgrims. Our forefathers came from China, India and other parts. They were migrants, travellers in space and time. Some became first-generation Christians, and some of us are.
Conferences and MCS agencies now under one roof
New opportunities to boost our connection, says Bishop Dr Solomon
Just as Wesley’s journey was marked by special events such as his birth and Aldersgate, “for us, today is a special event as we dedicate the new Methodist Centre”. “For the first time, all our Conferences and agencies are under one roof. There are new opportunities for us to strengthen our connection and do mission.”
Bishop Dr Solomon reminded the congregation that “we, too, are only human”. He said: “We are people with flaws, we have many faults. We have to bear with one another. We have to be patient. We have to be humble.
“Let us be known for our acts of faith. Our history has many examples of acts of faith – church planting, starting new work, etc. We have had it good in recent times. Suffering might have to be faced. Will we remain faithful?”
Concluding his sermon, he said: “The inspiration for our journey, even its destiny, must be Christ our Lord. The source and ground of our faith is Christ. May He be honoured in our hearts even as we seek to honour Him in our minds. May He strengthen us as we seek to continue our living tradition of faith.”
Bishop Dr Solomon then dedicated the Methodist Centre after it was presented by Mr Kim Seah, who is also the Secretary of the Trustees, and Mr Chan Fook Kay, Chairman of the Finance and Administration Council.
He launched the book, The People Called Methodists, immediately after the congregation had sung “The Lord’s Prayer” to the tune of “Wesley Tulus” composed by Mr Jusuf Kam, the Director of the Combined Methodist Orchestra.
The congregation’s robust rendition of the recessional hymn “Shine, Jesus, Shine” ended the service on a high note.
The event closed with a buffet at the Plaza, outside the Concert Hall, under clear skies and sparkling stars and a somewhat warm evening, which, strangely, went rather well with everyone.
Almost everyone … As one perspiring guest said: “Oh, it’s so warm tonight. But I suppose it’s better to be warm than to have a wet, rainy evening which will wash out this lovely outdoor party.”
INSPIRATION FOR OUR JOURNEY
‘The inspiration for our journey, even its destiny, must be Christ our Lord. The source and ground of our faith is Christ. May He be honoured in our hearts even as we seek to honour Him in our minds.’