When COVID-19 landed on Singapore’s shores, ETAC knew that it would affect our lives: our families, our work, the community at large and, without a doubt, our church life.
The introduction of circuit breaker measures meant we could not leave our homes for work (unless we were essential workers), school or church worship services. Social interaction within communities was not possible until we incorporated the wonderful opportunities of modern technology into our thinking. We took the church online to our various congregations, and served them in their homes.
We began with Sunday worship services, as conducted within our respective churches. We then introduced modified Sunday School lessons for the various ages groups; Bible studies, Praise & Prayer meetings, Youth Fellowship, and WSCS gatherings and worship, and the much welcomed migrant ministry worship services were brought to the online platforms. “Zoom” became the buzzword, and we found creative ministry ideas to engage various age groups and needs. What a God-given opportunity to reach out and share the church ministry!
Our first online worship service was a combined ETAC service. Our objectives were to unite our eight churches in prayer and worship; we sought God’s wisdom, His guidance and guiding during these unprecedented times. In the weeks that followed, each church had their own live and recorded worship services. We were glad that our congregations have been very receptive of these worship services—much more than we had anticipated. Our seniors and home-bound members have welcomed this opportunity to worship as being in the church.
These worship services, conducted both in English and Tamil, have reached Singaporean members and friends, and other Christians, especially the Tamil-speaking, around the world. Online Sunday School classes saw parents and children learning together in meaningful spiritual conversations.
As we view the entire ministry, in its current format and presentation, we may say that it has given birth to a “virtual church”. But this is not the correct meaning of the Body of Christ, which can never be virtual. However, in making effective use of this presented opportunity, in spite of the church building being closed, the Church remains open and will continue to be so. Though we were physically unable to meet, we continue to be a Church— to worship, pray, study and spread the Word, and have Christian fellowship.
Praise God that the Church ministry goes on, and effectively.
The Rev James Nagulan was elected President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) in 2016 for the quadrennium. He is also Pastor-in-Charge of Tamil Methodist Church (Short Street) and Seletar Tamil Methodist Church. / Photos courtesy of ETAC