NOT all of us may know this, but the idea of having a central Methodist agency to deal with social issues as well as be the Church’s outreach to the man-in-the-street was first mooted by the then Editor of Methodist Message, Mr Peter Joe Chia, in an Editorial of that publication in 1976.
Five years later in 1981 the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) was registered as a society under the Societies Act. Since then, there has been no looking back and the MWS has, through its staff and volunteers, worked hard to express love and service in Christ through a ministry of social concerns so that the Church’s presence in the community can be truly felt.
With Jesus as their example, everyone at the MWS did his best to look beyond the confines of the Church to visit and share God’s love with the poor, the hungry, the sick and dying as well as those in prison, and their families.
In the 1980s, when the MWS was still very much in its infancy, a group of Methodists, including Mr Richard Tambyah, Mr Khoo Hock Nam, Mr Cheong Seng Hock, Mr Yap Chip Guan, Mrs Veronica Poore, Ms Susan Verghese, Dr Patrick Kee and Mr David Ong, decided to take the influence and impact of the MWS into the community, beyond the confines of its ministry at the Methodist Home for The Aged Sick at St George’s Lane and The Methodist Home For The Aged at Whampoa.
In 1987, the MWS embarked on its first partnership with a local church, Kampong Kapor Methodist Church, to set up Kampong Kapor Family Service Centre. Four more family service centres were established between 1991 and 2001. Between.1995 and 2003 the MWS established centres and outreach ministries which offered programmes and services for children, youth, elderly and the terminally ill.
Today, the MWS runs 12 centres and outreach ministries. Besides Kampong Kapor Methodist Church, seven other local churches are partnering with the MWS to assist needy members of the community throughout Singapore. These are Barker Road Methodist Church, Christ Methodist Church, Covenant Community Methodist Church, Hinghwa Methodist Chuch, Paya Lebar Methodist Church, Pentecost Methodist Church and Toa Payoh Methodist Church.
As a Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) and through its partnerships with local churches, the MWS provides the Methodist community with opportunities to demonstrate the Good News of the Gospel in day-to-day life and living. It also serves to show them that Jesus is not only interested in saving people from sin, but He also wants them to be the instruments through which He can do His work in His world to make the invisible Church His visible Church.
Being engaged in social concerns and service to humanity not only helps the Christian community to develop a deeper relationship with God, but it also enables Christians to understand something of the nature of God and gain an understanding of why He chooses to save humanity from sin and transform every person into a new creature.
The MWS has been able to maintain its level of ministry to the people, primarily through the commitment of its staff, its volunteers, its donors and sponsors and its partnerships with the local churches. Its Executive Directors, Ms Yip Moh Han, Mr Vernon Kang, Ms Christine Wong and now Mrs Jenny Bong, are all people whose hearts have been with the least in society and who are totally committed to a ministry of love, care and concern. Its Board of Governance (then Management Committee) members, chaired by Mrs Tan Ee Leng, have also always had big hearts for the welfare of others and many of them also serve on the boards of other welfare organisations to help the less privileged in our society.
Volunteers at the MWS have over the years also received public recognition for their contributions to the charity sector. Past MWS Chairman David Ong, who has been actively involved with the agency for more than 20 years, was recently conferred a National Day Award, the Public Service Medal (PBM), for his contributions to the charity sector. Over the past 40 years, Mr Ong has served on the Boards, Councils and Management Committees of the MWS, the National Council of Social Service, Singapore Red Cross, Prison Fellowship Singapore, Hospice Care Association, Breast Cancer Foundation, Singapore Hospice Council, Habitat for Humanity and several other organisations. Earlier this year, he was appointed a Justice of The Peace.
Even as Singapore honours its grassroots leaders, volunteers and all others who have contributed to the well-being of the nation and its people during its National Day celebrations, the MWS pays tribute to the dedication and commitment of the visionaries and leaders on its Board of Governance, its management staff, both past and present, its partner churches, its donors and sponsors and all its volunteers and helpers, without whom the MWS would not be here today to serve the needy in the name of the Lord and under the banner of The Methodist Church in Singapore.