Methodist Heritage Day celebrations
MCS ‘a valuable partner in Government’s community engagement efforts’
“LIVE AND LET LIVE”
“Live and let live is our guiding principle and that’s how we have lived in peace and harmony for so many years.”
– Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG singled out The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) as a role model and a valuable partner in the Singapore Government’s community engagement eﬀorts at the recent Methodist Heritage Day celebrations at which 3,000 Methodists gathered to rediscover the rich heritage they have inherited.
He noted that many Methodist churches were represented in and supportive of the government’s Inter-racial and Religious Confidence Circles, and their leaders also met regularly with leaders of other faith groups, to dialogue and take part in many social activities.
Speaking as the Guest-of-Honour at the event on Oct 31, the culmination of a year of celebrations that marked the 125th year of the founding of Methodism in Singapore, he acknowledged the eﬀorts by Singapore’s religious groups from diﬀerent faiths, including the MCS, to ensure national cohesion.
He said: “ They have helped to set a wholesome and moral tone to our society, and the religious leaders have guided their flock wisely.
“They have respected and accommodated one another, made practical compromises so that all communities can live together, worked with the government in order to resolve many issues in order to keep this a harmonious and well-functioning society.”
PM Lee, who graced the event accompanied by the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, was delighted to see many community leaders and leaders of other faiths among the 200 guests at the Methodist Heritage Day celebrations held at the Old School on Mount Sophia, the former site of the Methodist Girls’ School (MGS).
They included MPs Ong Kian Min and Denise Phua; the President of the Singapore Buddhist Federation, the Venerable Seck Kwang Sheng; Singapore’s Islamic chief Mufti Syed Isa Mohamed Semait; the President of MUIS, Haji Mohd Alami Musa; the Chairman of the Sikh Advisory Board, Mr Surjit Singh; and the Vice-Chairman of the Singapore Taoist Federation, Mr Ling Kin Huat.
Also present were leaders of other Christian denominations. at so many religious leaders could come together to commemorate a special day for one faith was, he said, a unique feature of Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society.
But he cautioned: “Yet we must always remember that this trust and harmony is precious. It is beautiful but it can be fragile, and therefore it needs to be carefully protected and strengthened.” And it would take a concerted eﬀort by members of the diﬀerent communities in order to maintain the social cohesion and religious harmony in Singapore.
“Live and let live is our guiding principle and that’s how we have lived in peace and harmony for so many years,” he said.
Besides the religious and community leaders, representatives from the other Christian churches in Singapore and pastors and lay leaders from MCS’ local churches were among the 200 guests at the simple yet significant event.
A documentary on MCS’ social outreach programmes was screened before the arrival of the VIPs and a combined MCS choir led in the singing of hymns in between the speeches, first by Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, followed by PM Lee.
Earlier in his speech, Mr Lee highlighted Methodists for their active and valuable contributions to Singapore all these years.
Singaporeans of all races and religions, he pointed out, had benefited from the Methodist Church’s dedication and social services provided through its welfare arm, the Methodist Welfare Services.
ese included nursing homes and rehabilitative centres for the elderly, family service centres, childcare centres and student care centres running programmes for families, youth and children in need.
The Methodist Church also set up several leading educational institutions in Singapore, such as Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) in 1886 and Methodist Girls’ School in 1887.
Many alumni from these institutions, he said, had distinguished themselves in Singapore.
He added: “I am privileged to have a family connection. My late mother was an MGS alumna and two of my sons went to ACS (I) and it took good care of them.”
On MCS’ 125th Anniversary Community Outreach Project which raised nearly $1.8 million to help and touch the lives of 1,000 poor and needy families in Singapore regardless of their race and religion, he said: “I congratulate the MCS on its good work and encourage both the church and its volunteers to keep up these eﬀorts and do good for society.”
THE METHODIST CONNECTION
“I am privileged to have a family connection. My late mother was an MGS alumna and two of my sons went to ACS (I) and it took good care of them.”
– Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
PM Lee also thanked Bishop Dr Solomon for his contributions, saying: “He has played a key role through his leadership of the National Council of Churches of Singapore and his membership on the National Steering Committee on Racial and Religious Harmony.
“He has initiated eﬀorts to build relations with leaders of other religious communities, and in particular, with the Muslim community post 9-11.”
At the end of PM Lee’s speech, the Bishop presented two MCS publications – a special edition of Methodist Milestones, which was published in English, Chinese and Tamil to commemorate MCS’ 125th Anniversary, and From Mission To Church, which chronicled the history of e Methodist Church in Singapore – to the Guest-of-Honour. Both books were written by the MCS’ Archivist, Mr Earnest Lau.
PM Lee also unveiled a commemorative plaque which marked the Methodist Heritage Day celebrations. e plaque will be displayed permanently at the Methodist Centre – MCS’ headquarters at Barker Road.
PM Lee and the other guests later toured an exhibition on the history of the MCS over the past 125 years and the social, educational and charitable services provided by the Methodist Church, including schools and missions overseas. It was held at the Art Studio at the Old School.
Leong Weng Kam is an Associate Editor of Methodist Church.
• Visit the MCS website, www.methodist.org.sg for a tour of the Main Exhibition of the Methodist Heritage Day.