METHODISTS from as far as the Philippines and East Malaysia to the east, Sri Lanka to the west, and Myanmar and West Malaysia to the north, came and participated in the 120th Anniversary celebrations of The Methodist Church in Singapore.
Their presence lent an international flavour to the week-long Aldersgate Convention 2005, the highlight of the celebrations which attracted them in the first place.
Not only did they come to attend the Aldersgate Service at the joint premises of Faith Methodist Church and Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church on May 24, they also participated in the May 27-28 seminar which explored the richness of our Methodist worship and liturgy, and listened to three top Wesleyan scholars – the Rev Dr William Abraham of Southern Methodist University, the Rev Dr Geoffrey Wainwright of Duke University, and the Rev Dr Karen Westerfield Tucker of Boston University. And, like all good Methodists, they joined the congregation in singing lustily at the Hymn Festival which rounded off the Aldersgate Convention at TA2 on May 28.
Ms Rebecca Kathleen Vidal, Lay Leader of the Pangasinan Philippines Annual Conference of the Baguio Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church, the Philippines, found her participation at the Aldersgate Convention a “good opportunity of growth and renewal as we continue ministering for Christ with our people”.
Another Filipino participant, Ms Ana Susan Flor Vidal-Erguiza, Lay Leader of her local church, said the convention had helped her to become a “better teacher and leader”.
Both of them were nominated by Bishop Dr Benjamin A. Gusto, President of the College of Bishops of The United Methodist Church, the Philippines, who could not come.
Bishop Dr Hwa Yung of The Methodist Church in Malaysia, who was also unable to come, was represented by the Rev Lu Chen Tiong, a music and worship lecturer at the Methodist Theological School in Sibu, Sarawak, in East Malaysia.
The Rev Lu was nominated by his Principal, the Rev Dr Liong Yuk Chong, who said he persuaded the Rev Lu to go to the Aldersgate Convention knowing that it would “enrich and enhance our Wesleyan theology and worship”.
The Aldersgate Service, which launched the Aldersgate Convention 2005, attracted about 1,000 worshippers, whose hearts were warmed by a banner carrying procession into the church by the clergy, all dressed in their robes.
Five ministers were each given a Bible for completing 25 years of faithful service. Eight other retired ministers, who had not received their Bibles in previous years, also got theirs during the service.
Bishop Dr Robert Solomon delivered the sermon entitled “What Do You See?”, based on the text from Zechariah 4, the same book and chapter from which James Thoburn, the founder of Singapore Methodism, preached his very first sermon at the Town Hall, now Victoria Theatre, 120 years ago (“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord” – Zech 4:6).
What do we see, asked the Bishop. “Perhaps we see small, insignificant things. Who would have believed in 1885 that the tiny work begun would grow to such significant proportions and spread to Malaya, Indonesia, the Philippines?”
Bishop Dr Solomon referred to the vision given to Zechariah and said the vision was about the Messiah, the Church and the divine Mission. The vision resembled scenes of the old temple where the light of the lampstand was maintained every day, and light was the symbol of God’s light in the dark world.
The Bishop told the congregation that because God supplies His never-ending and never-exhausted resources to the Church, the Church would be resilient.
“God’s resources are far superior to human ones. We must solely depend on God. We must understand the implications of the Gospel, and the nature and mission of the Church.” Referring to the Church and its divine Mission, Bishop Dr Solomon reminded the congregation: “You shall be witnesses to the ends of the earth. The Gospel shall be preached to all …
“The Great Commission will be completed because it is God’s work. He initiated it and He maintains it. He supplies the oil. Without Him, we will fail. “Let us go on and reflect God’s light to the nations. We are called to be sons and daughters of oil (anointed ones) to serve the Lord of all the earth, whose eyes range throughout all the earth. As Wesley had said, ‘The world is my parish’.
“Let us therefore recognise how precious the Church is to God, and be full of light as we depend on His grace entirely to maintain this light which is to shine among the nations. “As it says in Luke 12:35, let us be dressed ready for service and keep our lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return.”
More than 150 participants took part in the two-day “Methodist Worship in Context” seminar at Methodist Centre on May 27 and 28.
There were 11 workshops led by pastors and church workers on various topics for those planning and participating in worship. These workshops supplemented a set of four lectures on Methodist worship by the Rev Dr Wainwright and the Rev Dr Tucker.
The two US seminary professors discussed topics relating to the liturgical forms and evangelical freedom which Methodists have inherited from John Wesley. The other teaching segment of the Aldersgate Convention comprised a series of three enlightening talks on the evenings of May 25-27 by the third guest speaker from the US, the Rev Dr Abraham. The talks were respectively entitled “Faith and the Promises of God”, “Faith and the Personal Experience of God”, and “Faith and the Power of God”.
Aldersgate Convention 2005 closed aptly with beautiful Wesleyan melodies and joyous singing from the choir and band participants as well as the congregation at the Aldersgate Hymn Festival at TA2 on May 28. It testified one more time that Methodists are indeed a singing people.
BE FULL OF LIGHT
‘Let us therefore recognise how precious the Church is to God, and be full of light as we depend on His grace entirely to maintain this light which is to shine among the nations.’
The Methodist Church story on DVD
MORE than 1,000 copies of a DVD highlighting the work and mission of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) were given to guests and church members who turned up for the various programmes of the Aldersgate Convention 2005 at the end of last month.
They were the first to receive the DVD, entitled “The People Called Methodists”. More copies will be given to churches, Methodist agencies and schools in the coming days.
The DVD was produced by The Bishop’s Office to commemorate the 120th Anniversary celebrations of the MCS. It was one of the four major celebratory projects, the other three being the publication of a “Faith-Sharing New Testament with the Psalms” to be distributed towards the latter part of the year, the Methodist Heritage Tour, which is on-going throughout the year, and the just-completed Aldersgate Convention 2005.
The “People Called Methodists” celebrates the 120th year of the founding of the MCS in 1885 by telling its story and heritage through images, music and words in 20 minutes.