It was a beautiful morning on 16 Feb 2020. In the main sanctuary of Wesley Methodist Church (MC), the rich and harmonious voices of the Wesley MC combined choir enthralled guests and members with favourite hymns, including Charles Wesley’s “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” and “And Can It Be”. As part of precautionary measures arising from the COVID-19 outbreak, only 10 per cent of the choir sang. Yet their beautiful singing filled the hall, inspiring and uplifting all who were present.
This was a special Sunday. The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) was launching its 135th anniversary celebrations together with Wesley MC, the first Methodist church in Singapore.
Just two days earlier, the Ministry of Health had met with church leaders from all denominations to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak and issue guidelines for worship services. Many Singaporeans experienced a week of uncertainty and anxiety as our DORSCON level was raised from yellow to orange. Some churches decided to cancel their services or to conduct them online.
Amid the uncertainty, celebrating 135 years of God’s faithfulness took on even greater significance. In a show of unity and faith, 879 people gathered at 8.30 a.m. and another 713 at 11 a.m. for the celebration services. Efficient volunteers cheerfully assisted guests in temperature taking and filling up contact details electronically. Everything ran so smoothly that it was as if such measures were a regular process at Wesley MC.
Guests to the MCS 135 launch included the Presidents of the Annual Conferences and their spouses, members of the General Conference Executive Council, as well as the leaders of Methodist agencies and schools.
Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung shared a sermon based on the theme of MCS 135: “Loving God, Serving Together”. He spoke from Luke 10:23–37, where the scribe asked Jesus who his neighbour was. His sermon was a reminder that as Methodists we are part of the community and every one of us is a neighbour to someone else.
Since its establishment in 1885, MCS has grown from strength to strength. We have contributed to nation building through the building of schools as well as through our social and community work. We would not be where we are today if not for our neighbours who built our institutions with us. These include many parents, donors and volunteers who may not be Christians. As we heard Bishop sharing, many of us were left to reflect—who is my neighbour and have I been a good neighbour to someone else?
As Singapore goes through the challenge of managing COVID-19, it is an opportune time for us to be the neighbour God wants us to be. And to be grateful for all the neighbours who came before us, heralding us into our 135th year.
Lynn Tan is the MCS Community Communications Manager.
Photo courtesy of the Wesley Methodist Church