36TH SESSION OF THE CHINESE ANNUAL CONFERENCE: NOV 14-17, 2011
WITH THE ADVANCE OF SCIENCE and technology and modernism, there will be changes to social life and more challenges for the church as Singapore continues to progress rapidly.
Making this observation, Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) President Rev Dr Chong Chin Chung said the challenges include: The shortage of pastors; the issue of new immigrants and locals; school ministry; community services; establishing mission points; and the aﬃliation of local preachers.
Presenting his Presidential Address at the 36th Session of the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) at Hinghwa Methodist Church on Nov 15, the Rev Dr Chong said in recent years, all levels of ministries in the Mandarin, dialect and English worship services have been hit by a shortage of pastors. is problem is further hampered by the diﬃculty of finding pastors who can speak multiple languages in today’s CAC churches.
A few churches have encountered some tensions in the sharing of resources between their members and Chinese immigrants. ere is feedback that while pastors have been actively involved in sharing the Gospel with Chinese immigrants, they should not neglect the other ministries, especially in meeting the needs of the various congregations.
There is yet another problem: While churches encourage their congregations to embrace the new immigrants of diﬀerent cultures, there is a need to acknowledge that some church members do have diﬃculties integrating with these people. “ ese are good problems, but they need to be properly addressed,” said the Rev Dr Chong.
Continuing, he said schools are huge potential harvest fields. “If a local church can allocate some resources to a school, meet its needs, give support to Christian work and build a good rapport with the students and parents, the board members of the school will definitely welcome the church to be its partner.”
The Rev Dr Chong said CAC churches now have a better understanding of the plight of the country’s chronic poor after having participated in the 125th Anniversary Community Outreach
Project of the Methodist Church in Singapore last year. e project also created opportunities for the churches to show care and concern for the community.
Turning to future development, he said one area to look at is children’s evangelism. “We need to present the whole Gospel to our children and help create for them a sense of belonging to the church. We should not neglect this.
“ Therefore, I encourage the church to hold evangelistic rallies for children periodically and to develop a systematic nurturing programme. Our children will become youths, our youths will become young adults, and our young adults will be the ones who will continue from where we have begun.”
The Rev Dr Chong also highlighted the importance of establishing a good relationship between the Annual Conference and the local church. e leaders must serve as a bridge, connect and promote good interaction between the Annual Conference and the local church, he said. ey must intentionally nurture the next generation of lay leaders and lead them to connect with the Annual Conference.
Additionally, he proposed that every local church organise an annual retreat for the pastors and church stewards to enable them to enhance their relationship.
Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God: Bishop
“ACT JUSTLY, LOVE MERCY.” is theme has been the focus of the programmes run by the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) this past year. us, it was fitting that at the Opening Service of the 36th Session of the CAC on Nov 14, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon’s message also focused on the Bible passage from which this theme came, namely, Micah 6:1-8.
The Bishop showed how the earlier chapters of Micah encapsulated God’s discipline of His children in Israel. He pointed out Israel’s errors in treating God as less than God, and treating others as less than human. Micah 6:8 is thus God’s way of spelling out His expectations for His children.
However, the Bishop pointed out that it is crucial to remember to “walk humbly with your God” as well as to act justly and love mercy, as is written in the verse. is is because all the three attributes are required by God, and merely acting justly and loving mercy without walking humbly with God can lead us to miss the point that He values obedience over sacrifice. To leave out humility can lead to pride in ministry, achievements or organisations, rather than reliance on God.
How then can we avoid pride, which is prone to creep up subtly? e Bishop reminded us of Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-30, where He invites us to “take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
By having a personal relationship with God, being filled with the Spirit, and learning from Jesus’ life and works, we can learn to obey God’s greatest commandments of loving Him with all our heart, soul and mind, and loving our neighbours as ourselves. In this way, we will fulfil God’s expectations of walking humbly with Him, and practising justice and mercy in our dealings with others.