METHODIST HERITAGE DAY
AS THE OLDEST of the Methodists’ 44 local churches in Singapore, Wesley Methodist Church (WMC), celebrates its 125th anniversary this year too.
The church traces its beginnings to 1885 when American missionaries from India set foot in Singapore, held its first town hall meeting at the Victoria Memorial Hall within the month they arrived, which led to the formation of the English Church at Coleman Street.
When a new building for the church was erected at nearby Fort Canning Road in 1908, the English Church changed its name to Wesley Methodist Church, which still stands there today.
This train of events leading to the founding of WMC was illustrated by 12 enlarged old photographs – lined up with real-size hard boards, each a cut-out shape of a person holding a picture – at the church’s courtyard on Methodist Heritage Day on Oct 31, 2010.
They formed the first of three stations at the church to show some 500 Heritage Trail visitors its history and heritage.
At the next station called Expansion on the side courtyard of the church, there was an on-going exhibition of the church’s upcoming $12-million expansion plans which started work only a month ago.
From there, volunteer guides from the church brought visitors into the church sanctuary to show them how two previous church expansion and redevelopment projects – the first between 1977 and 1979 and the second between 1987 and 1988 which added a four-storey extension block to the church – had increased seating capacity in the main sanctuary from 300 to more than 1,000 now.
The third station was the church’s existing Heritage Corner located at one of the entrances to the sanctuary, just next to the bookshop. There the visitors saw displays of old photographs, the church’s artifacts, such as original roof tiles of the church, oﬀering bags, old tables and chairs and memorial plaques laid by the church’s former pastors and leaders.
Said Mr Jack Lee, who is WMC’s Archivist and Chairman of the Archives and Heritage Committee: “Generally, the visitors enjoyed their tour of Wesley, especially the sanctuary which is air-conditioned. e church volunteers, too, said their participation had allowed them to learn a bit more about the church’s history.”
Leong Weng Kam, a member of Wesley Methodist Church, is an Associate Editor of Methodist Message.