our series in which students speak about their home church, Edwin Tay spoke
about Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church (TA for short). TA is 114 years old,
the oldest Chinese-speaking Methodist church in Singapore. The church has seen
a large part of the life of the early Chinese immigrants, has survived the
Japanese Occupation, and has witnessed Singaporean Independence.
TA began with three Methodist missionaries: William F. Oldham, James Miller Thoburn, and Benjamin F. West. Oldham and Thoburn were ordained ministers with the Methodist Episcopal Church in South India, while Benjamin West was a doctor who came to Singapore as a missionary. In 1885 both Oldham and Thoburn were sent as pioneer missionaries to Singapore. After they arrived here, they conducted a series of evangelistic meetings in the Town Hall (now the Victoria Theatre). Thoburn preached, and at the end of those meetings, 17 responded to the Gospel and were gathered to form the first Methodist church in Singapore, Wesley Methodist Church.
was not content with this early success. He was aware of the large number of
Chinese immigrants who lived in the Telok Ayer district and wanted to reach
them with the Gospel. So he started English lessons with a group of Chinese
who were very keen to learn the English language. The size of the class grew
and eventually a mission school was formed, known as the Oldham Mission
School, later to be renamed the Anglo-Chinese School.
West came to Singapore with his wife in 1887, and was for two years a teacher
in this school. It was never his intention to teach English. His burden was to
work as a doctor among the Chinese. After 2 years he spoke with Oldham, and
with Oldham’s blessing started a dispensary in Upper Nanking Street. This
was in 1889. Within a year, a dozen Chinese were converted and baptized. So
West gathered them on Sundays and conducted worship services for them. He
preached in Malay, and his sermons were interpreted into Hokkien. And this was
how Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church began. The present church building
dates from 1925.
significant event in TA’s history was the ministry of Dr John Sung. John
Sung has been hailed as China’s greatest evangelist. He came to Singapore at
the end of August 1935 and conducted a series of evangelistic and revival
meetings that was to have a lasting impact not only on the life of the church,
but also on the life of the Chinese churches in this region. There were a
total of 40 meetings in two weeks. His impact on TA can be seen in three
her founding, TA has had the privilege of helping to found new churches in
Singapore. Grace Methodist Church, Queenstown Methodist Church, Fairfield
Methodist Church, and Telok Blangah Methodist Church, have all had their
beginnings in TA. Presently, the church is engaged in a church-building
project at the site of Telok Blangah Methodist Church. The new church building
and congregation will be known as TA2. It will be a Hokkien-speaking church
which will minister to the large Hokkien-speaking population at Telok Blangah.
has been richly blessed by God throughout her 114 years of existence. Luke
12:48 comes to mind: From everyone who has been given much, much will be
demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be
asked. While we thank God for her rich history, we also know that she has
responsibilities to fulfill. Please pray that Telok Ayer Methodist Church will
continue to be faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel and will fulfill the
responsibilities that God has entrusted her.
(Please also pray for Edwin, his wife Angela, and their baby daughter as they prepare to move to London in September. Edwin has been accepted for an MA in Systematic Theology at King’s College, London. Pray for him in his studies and for God to provide for the needs of the whole family.)
speaker next week (11 June) will be Pastor Song Young Hak.
A Blessed Birthday to ...
Judy Ong 2/6
Prof Benny Tabalujan 2/6
Rachel Goh 2/6
Mr Prasetyo Davin 5/6
Martin Yee 5/6
Francis Khoo 7/6
Lionel Chan 8/6