THE 60th Anniversary dinner of Singapore’s first seminary that took place on Oct 3, 2008 at Orchid Country Club was marked by many new beginnings. The Principal of Trinity Theological College (TTC), the Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, announced the seminary’s new programme, upcoming degree, and even an upcoming professor.
In a congratulatory message in the dinner souvenir magazine, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that TTC has broadened its work to address critical contemporary issues such as inter-religious harmony and conducted dialogues and exchanges with the Muslim community.
He wrote: “I encourage you to continue with these efforts, using new and creative platforms to promote inter-faith activities in Singapore. Such interactions are not aimed at converting the other side, but at building relationship with each other.
“In the process, we will help Singaporeans to better understand one another, and so widen the common ground which we all share together.”
The Guest-of-Honour, the Acting Manpower Minister, Mr Gan Kim Yong, Elder of Chen Li Presbyterian Church, said in his congratulatory remarks: “Over the last 60 years, TTC has attained remarkable achievements and has built a strong foundation to help the Church and its leaders respond to global trends.”
Giving thanks to God, he said that now is a good time to review strategies “not only because it is TTC’s 60th Anniversary but also because the world is at a key turning point”.
In the morning, TTC celebrated its founding 60 years ago on No. 7 Mt Sophia amid the bleak post-war era with an anniversary Thanksgiving Service at the college chapel in which Methodist Bishop Dr Robert Solomon called on the institution to embrace two aspects of its mission as written in Scripture.
In a sermon entitled “God Is With You”, the Bishop referred to TTC as the “city of truth” and “holy mountain”, applying descriptions used of the Biblical Jerusalem in the main passage in the eighth chapter of the Book of Zechariah.
Speaking at a chapel packed with denominational leaders, alumni, visitors, and special guests, coming from different places and yet one in the body of Christ, the Bishop preached on the essential object of theological education, whereby he said that the truth is not merely “propositional, informational and factual” but a Person, that of the Lord Jesus Christ, and emphasised that the primary goal of education is to help people know Him.
He explained the special reason the leaders of the seminary decided to locate the chapel above the library, to remind the college body of the “connection between study and worship and the pre-eminence of worship”.
“We study to worship the Lord,” he said. “Worship is strengthened and deepened by further study.”
He also referred to the seminary as God’s “holy mountain”, where “the character of God is reproduced in His servants and those who serve there”, whose traits are described in the fifth chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians in the passage speaking about the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Concluding, he called on those present to embrace the sufferings that lie ahead of every believer in God’s moulding of each person into His character, calling Christians crucibles in God’s fire.
He assured TTC during a bleak economic period that as long as it embraced the two aspects of its mission as stated in the Bible, TTC will see the fulfilment of God’s purposes whereby it will become a beacon drawing multitudes from the world unto the worship of God.
The service marked TTC’s 60th Anniversary of its founding on Oct 4, 1948, and the end of a nine month-long run-up of 23 events comprising public lectures, seminars, a symposium and a hymn festival as part of the celebration.
At the dinner, the Rev Dr Ngoei announced that TTC will offer from 2009 semester-long student exchange programmes in collaboration with Yale University Divinity School. TTC has invited Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas, to offer the professional Doctor of Ministry degree from next year, in response to popular demand from alumni and pastors for professional and personal development.
But perhaps more significantly TTC will see the installation of a fourth professor in 2009, thanks to a recent financial endowment from Barker Road Methodist Church. The name and occupant of the new academic chair have already been decided: The Bishop William F. Oldham Chair of Old Testament will be held by the Rev Dr Gordon Wong.
This is the second time since 2002 that TTC will see two professors being installed in close succession.
TTC’s third professor, Dr Roland Chia, was installed only late July this year as the Chew Hock Hin Professor of Christine Doctrine.
Two other professors were installed in 2002 – Dr Tan Kim Huat as the Chen Su Lan Professor of New Testament, and the Rev Dr Simon Chan as the Earnest Lau Professor of Systematic Theology.
In his opening prayer, Presbyterian Synod Moderator, the Rt Rev Tan Cheng Huat, who is the Chairman of TTC’s Board of Governors, noted that the college had concluded one stretch of 60 years, and was beginning a second one.
Edmond Chua is the Bureau Chief of Christian Post Singapore. Additional reporting by the Rev George Martzen, Minister Attached to the Bishop’s Office.