As the yearly keynote event of The Methodist Church in Singapore, Aldersgate SG regularly brings the Methodist family together to celebrate the values of compassion and discipline in our rich Wesleyan heritage, and to inspire us anew to serve God through social action, evangelism, and discipleship wherever we are.
This year’s Aldersgate SG, comprising a worship celebration on Sunday 20 May, and a lecture and panel discussion in the evening of Thursday 24 May at Paya Lebar Methodist Church, was true to these purposes with its focus on family, a topic close to our hearts and central to our lives.
Just As We Are
Bishop Emeritus Dr Wee Boon Hup and Ms Denise Phua brought up key societal changes that are shaping our world today, such as the increasing elderly population in Singapore, rise of automation and technology, pressures arising from modern living, activism of groups seeking to redefine the family, and other threats to the state of family.
In his insightful lecture on Thursday titled “Just As We Are: God’s Call for Families”, Bishop Emeritus Dr Wee Boon Hup highlighted that every generation faces unique challenges to the family, and that it is important for us to resolve challenges in the family in a proper biblical manner.
Through the Methodist perspective of John Wesley’s unhappy marriage and family, he showed that just as John Wesley had a thriving ministry notwithstanding this negative aspect of his life, we too may not be perfect in our family roles but can still be outstanding in our service to God and others. He also reminded us that God calls us to come to Him just as we are, and though we all have different family experiences, these do not stop God from showing us His glory in His perfect timing and plan.
Ms Denise Phua also shared meaningful personal experiences along her journey of faith in her heartfelt lecture on Thursday titled “Secret Weapons of a Working Mother in a Busy World”, on the three main themes of keeping Christ at the centre of our lives, responding to God’s calling to obey Him, and supporting each other in the community of the spiritual family of believers.
God’s Call For Families
In his powerful sermon on Sunday titled “Biblically Strong Families are the Foundation of a Strong Church”, Bishop Emeritus Dr Wee Boon Hup explained that all those redeemed by faith through Jesus Christ are children of God and form one spiritual family.
He emphasised the importance for us to live in a Christlike way, which shows selfless agape love the way God our Father loves us, not by our own strength but through a dependence on and experience of the power of the Holy Spirit in us.
He quoted John 13:35 – “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” – and taught that the love which Christians display is not abstract, but real and practical, and that this love is one of the strongest testimonies of faith to the world when we show this love within our immediate family and in the spiritual family of the Church among believers.
Mr Jason Wong, in his engaging lecture on Thursday titled “Strong Fathers are Key to Strong Families”, called fathers to rise up as the heads of their households to lead and build strong families, and for churches to rethink whether they are truly “family-friendly” or if their approaches (for example, separate activities tailored for “fathers”, “mothers”, “children” etc.) end up taking family members away from each other.
Aldersgate SG 2018 was not just a thought-provoking discussion about love, calling and family in abstract, but also a time to experience being part of a spiritual family first-hand.
It was heart-warming to see participants and volunteers demonstrating genuine love to each other through humble service and sincere fellowship over the evening meal, both towards their own family members and, also, old and new friends.
It was a reminder that the family needs the support and love of the spiritual family in order for to respond to God’s call to us just as we are, and likewise the spiritual family (made up of many different families) must nurture and build up these families in order to be an effective witnesses for God’s glory.
Chye Shu Yi is a member of Methodist Church of the Incarnation.
Photos courtesy of the Paya Lebar Methodist Church Photography Team