From the early days of ministry among the Chinese immigrants in Singapore since 1885, the locus of the work, particularly among the Hokkien people, was around Telok Ayer Street. This led to the construction of the first Chinese Methodist Church there.
Further inroads to the Chinese community were also established through the setting up of schools such as Anglo-Chinese School and Anglo-Chinese Girls’ School (the predecessor of the Fairfield Methodist schools). Subsequently, other groups began their own ministries and established churches with services in their dialects, including Foochow, Hinghwa, and Hakka, to minister to immigrants from China, Malaya, and more.
Hakka Methodist Church (Hakka MC), as its name suggests, was one of the churches established to reach out to the Hakka community. Officially established as a Local Conference in 1949, our church’s roots can be traced even further back to 1911 when a local Hakka Church met near a Hakka cemetery in Sung Long San (Holland Road).
Today, the sturdy growth of the Hakka MC family continues to be represented by more than 500 members across three different congregations – Chinese, English, and of course, Hakka. We press on in our vision and mission, to reach out to the Hakka community and to draw all to Jesus Christ.
In recent years, we have also been actively reaching out to the community in Whampoa as our church’s key ministry to the people around us, providing activities like weekly morning exercise programmes for both young and old, tuition programmes for children and youth, and more significantly, partnering Methodist Welfare Services in the Family Development Programme – a programme which seeks to help low-income families – in Whampoa.
However, having served as a pastor in Hakka MC for a total of five years now (three as an associate pastor and two as the Pastor-in-Charge), I would have to say that the most unique ministry we have is undoubtedly Hakka ministry.
According to a 2010 census, the Hakka people in Singapore form the fourth-largest Chinese dialect group in the country, numbering more than 230,000. But while there are many worship services in various churches around the country for other major dialect groups like Hokkien, Teochew, and Cantonese, there is only one worship service in the whole of Singapore that is conducted entirely in the Hakka dialect.
Because of this, the Hakka MC family has, through the generations, firmly believed in our unique calling to the Hakka community in Singapore. Headed passionately by our Hakka Ministry Director, Mr Chin Yan Hiong, the church will always strive relentlessly to do all we can, with complete reliance on God’s guidance and providence, to bring the message of God’s love and the Gospel to all Hakka people in Singapore, as long as the Lord allows us to.
And as the current Pastor-in-Charge, I have seen how this heart for the Hakka community over the years reflects the greater purpose and desire of the body of Christ in Hakka Methodist Church – to continually bring the love of God and His people to all, to those around us here in our own country, and beyond.
The Rev Nathanael Chew Eng Pin –
is the Pastor-in-Charge of Hakka Methodist Church.
Photos courtesy of Hakka Methodist Church