30TH SESSION OF EMMANUEL TAMIL ANNUAL CONFERENCE: NOVEMBER 11-12, 2005
THERE are signs that Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) is getting back on its own feet after hitting a rough patch.
◆ THE climate of the conference is peaceful compared to some “rocky times” in the past.
◆ THE total membership of ETAC has grown by 3 per cent, with Ang Mo Kio Tamil Methodist Church and the Telegu Ministry registering significant growth.
◆ THE Women’s Society of Christian Service’s mission trips and hard work in raising funds for mission support are commendable.
◆ TWO special events for the youth – a contemporary worship service and a prayer labyrinth – attracted good attendances, and ETAC plans to form a Youth Board in 2006 to help launch the Youth Ministry.
◆ ETAC’s financial status is healthy as the local churches had been motivated to pay their conference commitments and accumulated arrears.
◆ THE Lay and the Clergy have met more frequently for fellowship and strengthening of relationships.
◆ MORE ETAC members are serving in key positions at the General Conference (GC) and participating in GC events.
Highlighting ETAC’s progress this past year in his maiden Presidential Review, ETAC President the Rev James Nagulan said: “We still need to come together more often to learn and grow in our journey of faith. We need to have a common understanding of the practices in our Methodist churches.
“There is definitely potential for greater growth. It is now our responsibility to open our eyes to see the mission at our door steps and our ears to hear the cry of the many who are in need of the Gospel. Our churches need to be more proactive in the areas of discipleship, nurture and evangelism. Our members need to go further than the regular Sunday worship services.”
Now that the climate of the conference is peaceful unlike some years in the past, he cautioned that “this is also a time which is very tempting to go to sleep”.
“We are not at home yet, we are at sea, on board a ship, sailing and beginning to feel the breeze. We need to seize the opportunity. We need to raise our sails and move in the direction that the wind is blowing. We need to hear the voice of our Captain.”
Opportunities are knocking at the doors, and ETAC members need to be wise and swift in their response.
“If only we are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, I am optimistic about the years ahead of us,” he added.
ETAC’s theme for the current quadrennium is “Press on, Reach out”, and that for this past year was “Equipping the Saints”. The theme for 2006 is “Inspiring the Minds”.
Said the Rev Nagulan: “The events for the year shall be planned and executed to inspire the minds of our people so that we shall have the mind of Christ to serve and reach out to the community to extend His Kingdom.”
He told the conference that a Task Force met last April and came up with some possible solutions to a number of current issues such as declining membership, lack of spiritual maturity, lack of knowledge of conference programmes, poor communication, attracting the young to enter full-time ministry, and the problem of “over-stretched” pastors.
One of the solutions mentioned was that ETAC churches must be educated on the strengths of staying connected and the pooling of resources. “We need to take the bold step of relocating our churches, if need be, based on the demographic studies presented by the Bishop’s Office,” he said.
Two other important targets are the need to identify potential young leaders and nurture them, and to train and equip the lay people to minister, pray for the sick, provide counselling and follow up with new converts.
The conference ended with a Closing and Memorial Service for Mr Daniel Rajadurai Poore and the Rev Dr Prabhu Das Roberts on Nov 12.
Mr Poore, who passed away on Oct 18, 2005, had served as Sunday School Superintendent, Treasurer and Lay Leader of Tamil Methodist Church as well as ETAC Treasurer and subsequently as Chairman of the Board on Finance. The Rev Dr Prabhu Das had served as President of ETAC from 1993-1996. He passed away in the United States on Nov 10, 2005.
ETAC can be a mighty instrument: Bishop
ETAC can be a mighty instrument in God’s plan.”
The Opening Service closed with the Holy Communion, which was administered by the Bishop, assisted by the Rev Nagulan, the Rev Khoo Cheng Hoot, President of the Chinese Annual Conference, and the Rev Wee Boon Hup, President of Trinity Annual Conference, both of whom conveyed greetings on behalf of their conferences earlier. Another guest who also conveyed greetings to the conference was Mr Richard Khoo, Director of Finance, Administration and Programmes of the MCS.