Foochow Methodist Church (FMC) celebrates its 120th anniversary in 2017. It has its roots during the time when many Foochow- and Hock Chia-speaking worshippers longed for a pastor who could speak and preach to them in Foochow, and God answered their prayers. Officially inaugurated in mid-December 1897, FMC became the second oldest church in the Chinese Annual Conference of The Methodist Church in Singapore, with the Rev Ling Ching Mi appointed as its first pastor. (See P21 for more on the Rev Ling.)
In the rich tradition of Methodism, the church takes its social responsibilities seriously.
During the early 1930s, FMC organised moral and religious talks and taught rickshaw coolies “The Thousand Characters” – a key to reading anything in Chinese. The coolies were also taught simple Bible lessons, and housed at Evangelical Hall, Townshend Road to help them avoid surrounding temptations, and give them a clean place to live.
FMC moved from one location to another and finally, in 1936, purchased the existing property at 90 Race Course Road. With a permanent home, ministries and outreach activities were organised to reach out to the neighbourhood and the Foochow-speaking members.
The Neighborhood Tuition Program started in 1989 has reached out to hundreds of families by providing free tuition. FMC pioneered its Tamil fellowship in 1995, an outreach to the scores of Indian foreign workers congregating at our doorstep every Sunday, fulfilling Jesus’ commission. This Tamil service continues every Sunday evening.
The Pentecost Fellowship, started on 16 Aug 1998, caters to the elderly and dialect-speaking friends and relatives of FMC worshippers. Regular programmes include worship, devotion and testimonies, as well as practical services such as medical assistance and therapy, held every Tuesday morning. This later transformed into an outreach to lonely senior citizens in the Redhill area and some elderly care centres’ residents.
A group of doctors who worship at FMC banded together to open the Caring Community Clinic on the church’s premises in June 2003 to serve the older people in the Pentecost Fellowship, the community around the church, and foreign workers. The clinic runs every Sunday from 4.30 p.m. to 6 p.m., with a mere $5 fee to cover medication cost.
The Foochow-speaking population has been aging but is not growing. As the only church in Singapore with Foochow dialect Sunday service (interpretation only when external speakers deliver the message in Mandarin), FMC sustains this ministry not just because it started FMC, but also to serve the Foochow-speaking group, especially elderly pre-believers.
FMC focuses on making all members disciples of Jesus Christ through the pursuit of holiness and divine love to God and the people. With the deeper bonds in Christ, there will be greater fruit and harvests in the years to come.
We continue our series of profiling local churches from our three Annual Conferences of The Methodist Church in Singapore. As we come to have a better understanding of each other’s history and ministry, we may discover more opportunities to forge cross-church partnerships and collaborations.
The Rev Christopher Louis Kong –
is Associate Pastor of Foochow Methodist Church (FMC). This article was put together with valuable input from Mr Dui Seng Cheong, Chairperson of FMC’s Archives Committee.
Photos courtesy of Foochow Methodist Church