“As the Methodist Church grew with the development of Singapore, its mission expanded. The Methodist Welfare Services (MWS), formed in 1981, provides a wide variety of services to about 5,500 people every month to alleviate their financial, physical, social and psychological problems. While the MWS coordinates the work of looking after the socially disadvantaged in Singapore, the Methodist Missions Society (MMS), set up in 1991, helps to build compassionate and caring communities in neighbouring countries in a way that is consistent with our Methodist Social Principles as well as to establish indigenous churches in those countries with the love of Christ.”
Early basic Healthcare
As early as 1889 – four years after the Methodist Church was established – basic medical and healthcare services were provided. The Rev B. F. West, a Methodist Missionary and a trained physician, opened a dispensary in his rented house in Chinatown to serve the people there.
Fight against Opium, Prostitution and Vices
The main social concern eﬀorts of the Methodist Church after World War Two were directed towards the eradication of opium and the rescue of women from oppression.
The Anti-Opium Movement, which arose out of the fight to eradicate opium, was strongly supported by many Methodists.
At the forefront of this movement was Dr Chen Su Lan, who directed the work of the Anti-Opium Clinic.
The work among women arose out of the need to protect the women migrants from being lured or forced into prostitution, and opposition to child slavery.
Other actions which the Methodist Church took during this period included urging the colonial government to abolish gambling houses and ban lottery and bookmaking, and prohibit liquor traﬃc.
The Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS) played a significant role in caring for children, rescuing women from vices and slavery, and visiting lepers and the sick in hospitals in the late 1800s.
The Deaconess Home, which later became known as Nind Home, was set up to house the WFMS women and as a boarding home for girls and orphans. ere, the children were cared for and schooled. e women missionaries also visited hospitals regularly, and when Mrs Gusta Morgan, wife of a missionary, arrived in 1896, the work with the lepers gained momentum.
Recognising that the Prison Ministry is an important aspect of social and transforming work, the MCS has been involved in ministering to prisoners and their families for many years.
A pioneer Methodist prison minister was the Rev Khoo Siaw Hua, who had served as the Honorary Prison Chaplain for 32 years from 1953 to 1985, and was succeeded by his son, the Rev Henry Khoo.
The Rev Dr Chiu Ming Li, currently serving as the Prison Chaplain, has been working full-time in the Prison Ministry since 2006.
Work of the Agencies
As the Methodist Church grew with the development of Singapore, its mission expanded. e Methodist Welfare Services (MWS), formed in 1981, provides a wide variety of services to about 5,500 people every month to alleviate their financial, physical, social and psychological problems.
This is done through its Homes for the elderly sick and destitute, Family Service Centres, children’s centres and a hospice home care service. It runs the 299-bed Bethany Methodist Nursing Home in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4. The MWS also gives bursaries to pupils from low-income families.
While the MWS coordinates the work of looking after the socially disadvantaged in Singapore, the Methodist Missions Society (MMS), set up in 1991, helps to build compassionate and caring communities in neighbouring countries in a way that is consistent with our Methodist Social Principles as well as to establish indigenous churches in those countries with the love of Christ.
Methodist Schools’ contribution
Over the years, our Methodist Schools have grown and expanded since the opening of the first three schools in quick succession – Anglo-Chinese School in 1886, Methodist Girls’ School in 1887, and Fairfield Girls’ School in 1888.
They are conscious of the common purpose of being part of the outreach arm of the Church, and their staﬀ and students have rendered services to society, at home and abroad, through their Community Involvement Programmes (CIP) such as welfare home visitations, befriending welfare home residents, and short teaching stints during the school holidays.
Our Methodist Schools have produced professional, social and national leaders for Singapore.
Dr Tay Eng Soon, an Old Boy of Anglo-Chinese School, played an important role in the field of education. When he was made Senior Minister of State for Education, he paid special attention to the development of polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education.
This year, Anglo-Chinese School celebrates its 125th Anniversary with a series of events just as the MCS did last year (See Back Page).
Work in progress
Today, The Methodist Church in Singapore continues in the Wesleyan tradition of serving the community, regardless of race or religion. It is a work in progress.
Peter Teo is the Editor of Methodist Message.