New church building to be ready in 18 months
THANKS be to God for His blessings and guidance, after several years of planning, the TA2 project of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church reached a milestone, namely, the Ground-breaking ceremony, at which a simple, yet meaningful, Thanksgiving Service was held on Feb 16, 2003 at the proposed TA2 site at 61 Wishart Road.
A heavy downpour that early afternoon soon abated to a drizzle just moments before the service began. That earlier shower of blessing provided “natural air-conditioning” for an otherwise hot and humid afternoon. The wet weather did not dampen the spirit of the participants as they quickly filled up all seats in the tent area well before 4 pm. More chairs were brought in as members continued to trickle in. There was elation.
Among the many guests were Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, the Chinese Annual Conference President, the Rev Khoo Cheng Hoot; CAC City-West District Superintendent, the Rev Goh Aik Hiang; and delegates from various Methodist churches and the architect and representatives of the contractor.
In the two-hour service, the Telok Ayer Church combined choir presented a Hokkien hymn entitled “Thanks to the Lord”. Dr Ang Yiau Hua, the LCEC Chairman of Telok Ayer Church, extended his warmest welcome to all the participants.
Bishop Dr Solomon gave his exhortation to the congregation by introducing Isaiah’s vision of the future glory of Israel as recorded in Isaiah 54. He said that the call by the prophet to the people of Israel in verse 2 was well applicable to the TA2 project in the following ways:
1. “Enlarge the Tent”: As a result of growing needs and in anticipation of further growth, this is the time for TA to expand into TA2 from a single-storey structure to a three-storey building with a three-level basement car park. The present building built in 1962 has been a chapel for Hokkien/Cantonese and Mandarin services for 40 years with a connection in the past to the birth of two CAC churches, namely, Grace and Holy Covenant.
2. “Stretch your tent curtains wide”: Building TA2 signifies a time for evangelism and witness by widening the entrance curtain to make rooms for more people coming in and going out.
3. “Lengthen your cords”: Maximising the area of the tent, as in the TA2 project, represents a time for effectiveness in land utilisation.
4. “Strengthen your stakes”: The project is not just about bricks and mortar but of people, and now this is the time for edification, grounding and disciplining for the community with the expansion project at TA2.
5. “Don’t hold back”: Let the sails of TA2 be full of the winds from heaven as God the Spirit leads the church.
Bishop Dr Solomon further talked about the provisions (vs.11-12) and promise (vs13,16) that God would grant for TA2 in the same ways that He had provided for the people of Israel in those days. Quoting Psalm 127:1, the Bishop said: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.”
The congregation witnessed a simple ground-breaking ceremony when the Bishop operated an excavator with the help of a representative from the contractor. The ground-breaking marked a closing chapter for the 40-year-old chapel building which will soon be replaced by a new TA2 building in 18 months.
A thanksgiving dinner was held in the old chapel building after the ground-breaking. Some 400 church members and guests gathered for this historical moment as they shared their meals in the sanctuary hall that would make way for a larger hall and that would soon exist only in their memory.
Many that evening shared the vision of TA2 serving as a beacon shining for the Lord in the flourishing habour heartland of Singapore.
Dr Tan Chew Lim is the Lay Leader of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church.