Every two years, images of cheerful students in bright red, blue and yellow at the MethodistWalk surface to nudge our consciousness of the Methodist Schools’ Foundation (MSF). But did you know about the equally colourful background of the MSF, and the crucial support role it plays in the educational mission of the Methodist Church?
Back in 1995, Methodists faced a dilemma: The Singapore Tote Board had offered to grant all our Methodist schools $500,000 each for IT and library related purchases, but was it appropriate for us to accept? The Executive Committee of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) met to discuss this, and decided to decline the offer (which would have totalled $6 million).
Yet, our schools still needed funds to upgrade in view of the IT revolution that was then taking the world by storm. Was there an alternative solution? The Rev Dr Isaac Lim and Mr Tan Wah Thong were not prepared to let matters rest. After two years and many rounds of discussions with the Ministry of Finance, IRAS and the Ministry of Education, the Methodist School Buildings Endowment Fund (MSBEF) was finally approved in June 1997 – the precursor of today’s MSF.
The MSBEF aimed to provide cash to construct, maintain and improve the Methodist schools’ buildings and facilities, and to purchase educational equipment, teaching aids and computers for them. The MCS gave seed money of $5 million to kick-start the MSBEF.
Fund-raising models varied – from an initial partnership with The Lyric Theatre which donated opening night takings from its musicals, to the sale of orchid plants for Chinese New Year, to the MethodistWalks which have now become a mainstay of the church-school partnership in the Methodist family.
This precious church-school partnership is the cornerstone of everything we do at the MSF. The inaugural MethodistWalk in 2002 set aside up to 30 per cent of raised funds to cover the expenses of organising the Walk. In 2007, the Church stepped up with individual churches assisting to underwrite expenses for the Walks, so that schools now receive 100 per cent of all funds raised! In recent years, another two endowment funds were set up to support and motivate financially needy students – the MSF-Chen Su Lan and MSF Financial Assistance Funds.
The impact of such assistance cannot be understated. Mr Daniel Yak, Vice-Principal of Geylang Methodist School (Primary), shares: “Through the financial support given by the MSF, our students who are in need of financial help are able to focus on their learning in school and that has enriched their holistic development. We would also like to thank the MSF for generously supporting the school during the school’s recent upgrading project.”
Noted Mrs Chaillan Mui Tuan, Principal of Anglo-Chinese School (Junior): “Through the biennial Methodist Walks, the MSF unites students and staff of the Methodist schools, and reminds us of our common heritage and mission. Our boys not only learn how to give cheerfully and generously in Christian service, but they also get to enjoy the meaning of Christian community through the morning walk and picnic. MSF has indeed provided a seamless and fulfilling way for us to raise funds for our school’s needs. At ACS(J), these funds have been used to enhance the learning spaces for our boys and to maximise the potential of students with learning differences.”
I appeal to the Methodist churches and community to continue supporting the schools through the work of the MSF. Our desire is to see the church-school partnership expanded so that each church has an affiliated school, meaning that with 16 schools and 46 churches, each school can have on average three churches supporting and partnering it in terms of prayers, participation and pastoral care.
As we labour together in this field of educating our future generations in a Christian environment, I pray for unity, love and joy for all of us. To God be all glory!
Joni Ong –
is Chairperson of the Methodist Schools’ Foundation and a member of Wesley Methodist Church.