“I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.”
(1 Tim 2:1–3)
Every August, Singapore celebrates National Day, and this year is our 55th. The early years, after independence was abruptly thrust upon us in 1965, were politically challenging and difficult. Our neighbours were sceptical of our survival prospects as we faced massive unemployment, a housing crisis and a lack of natural resources.
But Singapore prevailed over those difficult times through the combined effort of a government’s exceptional leadership and a people’s indomitable spirit. We steadily progressed from our impoverished beginnings to the prosperity we enjoy today, thanks to the sacrifice of our pioneers’ blood, sweat and tears as they struggled together, regardless of race, language or religion. We, who come after, need to continue building on this foundation and defend our homeland at all cost.
The Methodist Church has contributed socially to Singapore since it started in 1885. When Singapore gained independence, new government policies presented us with the irrefutable responsibility to increase our contributions to the nation and society.
One of our important beliefs is the pursuit of social holiness—taking action to show care and to help the poor, needy and vulnerable in society. That is why we include in The Book of Discipline a section on “The Social Principles of The Methodist Church in Singapore”. These principles are based on a biblical and theological foundation. I call on all Singapore Methodists to a response of faith to these social principles, which include:
- family life: marital relationship and divorce; parent–child relationships; God’s gift of sex; birth control and abortion; infertility and assisted methods of reproduction
- the stewardship of wealth: property and possessions; a simple lifestyle and consumerism; gambling
- the responsible use of power: political responsibilities; military service; the use of technology
- social responsibilities in community life: multi-religious understanding; multi-racial harmony; rights of women; rights of the aged; rights of children; rights of the disabled;
rights and social responsibilities
- serving others with God’s love: caring for the poor; the promotion of workers’ welfare; the provision of health care; caring for the dying and euthanasia; ministry to drug addicts; ministry to prisoners; ministry to foreign domestic workers and labourers
- caring for God’s world: conservation of natural resources; building a world community
Based on these social principles, the Methodist Church has been fulfilling its social responsibilities through concrete action.
Schools: Our 15 primary and secondary schools and junior colleges include: single-sex schools, co-ed schools, heartland schools, independent schools, private schools and international schools. They offer quality education to more than 21,000 students from different ethnic groups and social backgrounds. Their alumni serve the people of our nation in every important domain.
Pre-school centres: MCS began establishing such centres in 1953 to not only provide early childhood education but also inculcate values in young minds, build character and prepare them to be good citizens; we were one of the first social organisations to do so.
Serving the vulnerable community: With financial assistance from the government, we have set up 18 home-support and service centres, as well as two sizeable convalescent homes to look after vulnerable groups in the community, such as the elderly, the physically weak, single parents and those with special needs. We hope to extend warmth and care, and enable them to live a positive life.
It is the responsibility of every citizen and social and religious organisation to participate in nation building and help bring about social harmony, progress and prosperity. MCS is able to contribute to society through working with other social, religious and community organisations to fulfil our shared national values and to build a home that we cherish. We wish our nation blessings of strength and warmth.
Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) in 2016. He served as President of the Chinese Annual Conference from 2008 to 2016.