“AN ACTIVE LAY PERSON in leadership in the Church works more man-hours than the pastor does,” quipped Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup as he thanked the lay members of councils and boards at this year’s Episcopal Thanksgiving Dinner.
In a response filled with gratitude, he echoed John Wesley’s recognition of the indispensability of lay leaders, preachers and servants in the ministry of the church.
Held at the Pan Pacific Singapore on Apr 29, the dinner was organised by the Council on Episcopacy of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS), to thank Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon and the MCS leadership of the previous quadrennium, and to welcome Bishop Dr Wee and the MCS leadership of the current quadrennium. This included members of the General Conference Executive Council (GCEC) and the Finance and Administration Council (FAC) of both quadrenniums, as well as Chairmen of the Boards of various Methodist schools and General Conference (GC) office staff.
Mr Frederick Chieng, Chairman of the Council on Episcopacy, expressed his regret that Bishop Emeritus Dr Solomon was under doctor’s advice and unable to attend the event, but praised the retired bishop for his distinguished leadership of the MCS for the past 12 years, and his humility and kindness which inspired emulation.
Mr Chieng added: “His teachings and wisdom helped us to become stronger Christians and better disciples of Christ, to love and glorify God. We pray that God will continue to grant him and Mrs Solomon good health and will continue to bless him and guide him in his future ministries.” He likewise thanked those who served in the GCEC, FAC and Methodist school Boards for their “selfless contributions towards the Methodist family”.
He went on to welcome Bishop Dr Wee and the new members of the GCEC and FAC, urging: “Let us work together with one heart, with love and unity to accomplish the task that was given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ.” He also thanked the GC office staff, especially Ms Josephine Poore, for helping to organise the dinner.
Bishop Dr Wee responded, addressing the guests: “I feel blessed to be Bishop because of your willingness and expertise to serve.” He pointed out that lay members of councils often sacrificed their weekends, off-days and after-work hours to serve, and expressed his deepest gratitude, noting that the work of the Bishop’s Office was dependent on people like them.
He also shared some reflections on his experience in having passed the 100-day mark as Bishop, and how it is the kind of job with challenges that cannot be trained for. His familiarisation with our affiliated mission agencies in Cambodia, Thailand and Nepal have led him to the conclusion that the Church cannot depend solely on full-time pastors to do its work, but must pay attention to how the pastors are equipping and training lay people to do ministry, thereby multiplying abilities and gifts.
The Bishop closed his remarks with an appeal: “Please help the Bishop to start looking for your successor!” He shared that an important role of leadership is to find good successors who will surpass what you have done, and take the ministry to greater heights. He also asked for prayer as he continued to shoulder the responsibility for the MCS as well as interacting and relating with the government and heads of other churches.
The Rev Dr Gordon Wong, President of Trinity Annual Conference, prayed for both Bishops, encouraging guests to stand at different points in his prayer to indicate standing in prayer for the Bishops.
Pictures by Shanthi Jeremiah
Grace Toh is the Assistant Editor of Methodist Message.