Vicar Writes

Vicar Writes

ABOUT THE VICAR

Terry Wong Photo

Revd Canon Terry Wong is the Vicar of the Cathedral. He writes weekly for the weekend Service bulletins and the articles are posted on this site.

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All 2017 September Vicar Writes

24 September 2017

Building Bridges

By Terry Wong

On the weekend of 14th-15th October, we will be celebrating Diocesan Healthcare Sunday and our Anglican Community Services Sunday (SACS/SAMH) in our Services. The Church and Christians have always been closely involved in medical work, whether as a career or in missions work. In many parts of the world, medical care is a lucrative business. We will always need to remind medical personnel of their call to help society. Those who are Christians need to do their part to reflect on the love and healing heart of God. We are also working closely with our Myanmar congregation to offer basic free health check on our grounds for foreign workers.       

From 17-21 Oct, we will also be hosting the Diocesan Missions Conference and Roundtable Consultation. How can we share in the work of the Gospel and help the Church in each country to grow and be established? What will be the role of the Cathedral as “Mother Church” in this? I should add this - and I am willing to be challenged on the veracity of this observation: there are more Christians who want to serve overseas than there are churches and organisations who are able to send them. Now, I am not talking about money or the often perceived notion that churches are not willing to support these workers financially. It is about whether individuals are able to contribute cross-culturally, their preparedness, maturity and so on. Linked to that is also whether churches or organisations are able to provide the support necessary for a ministry worker to function effectively in a foreign culture for the longterm. 

I was at the LoveSingapore Concert on 8th August. When the altar call was given to serve in Missions, hundreds queued to be prayed for. While it was encouraging to note the willingness to serve, many thoughts filled my mind as to whether we have done sufficient leadership work to build bridges that can help the individuals serve in another culture. This is an important challenge for the Cathedral to consider: the importance of missions bridge-building work. Zeal without wisdom is not going to help very much.

The Roundtable Consultation will be about, quoting Revd Chris Royers, doing missions Anglicanly. It is about revisiting our primal call as a Church to spread the news. And we can start by being faithful to our Anglican inheritance of the Bible, worship and a polity that encourage worship in the vernacular. The Anglican Communion has grown tremendously in the last century. When an Anglican missionary moves into a new society, while he or she may be individual-focused in ministry, the ultimate goal is to raise a local and on-going Anglican presence. It is about missions bridge-building work. 

A good and lasting bridge needs two strong and established anchors, one on each end. May we work hard at building these two ends. One on our end in SAC and the other in another culture. The Anglican way allows for this and it will need us to be faithful to our calling.

Adding to the above, November is our Missions Month, with the theme “Diffusing the Light.” We will share with you the details in due course. 

I hope to see many of you participating in the coming events. Come and help us build bridges.

17 September 2017

And to the angel in the church at St. Andrew’s Road, write…

By Terry Wong

I  always wonder, if God were to send a letter to the Cathedral like He did to the seven churches in the book of Revelation, what will He say? We can look at the Cathedral in different ways. 

One common way is to view it as a prestigious historical church right at the heart of the city. She has some beautiful historical buildings and grounds, with a rich history. While the Nave is not as ornate or grand as other famous cathedrals, she does have an imposing presence. We can expect many visitors to drop in, and indeed, the Cathedral is probably one of the most photographed buildings in Singapore. She is a centre of arts and music, and in some ways, she is.

Another way is to see her as a church with a vibrant Christian community. This is also very visible, especially on weekends where more than 4,000 worshippers gather. There are events throughout the week: seminars, meetings, conferences, etc. The Cafe is a bustling place where members and visitors alike mingle. And many gather in our 80+  Connect Groups that meet all over the city. Cathedral is thriving in numerical terms and spiritual commitment. 

Corollary to this, the Cathedral is also a “Mother Church”, supporting parishes - especially planting new ones - and an important base for missions work, given her financial resources and manpower base. This aspect is often lauded and indeed, the Cathedral is giving and seeding God’s work in many directions, here and abroad. For this, we give Him praise.      

There is, however, one aspect of Cathedral life that is less seen and almost impossible to measure. And yet, no less important and closest to His heart. It is about the Cathedral out there, far away from St Andrew’s Road. It is about how we live out our faith and lives - in homes, classrooms and workplaces. It is about how we treat our domestic helpers and aged parents, how we behave behind the wheel. It is about how we treat our colleagues, whether our behaviour (as in faith in practice) glorifies our Father in heaven (Matt 5:16). It is about how we observe the principle of love (John 13:35), honour (Rom 12:10b) and justice (Micah 6:8).  

I will be the first to admit that doing the church thing is a whole lot easier; the building, the ministries and missions. To live my life as a Cathedral member that will make my Lord and my fellow members proud will always be more challenging. Yet this will be the most important. I was reading with intrigue an interview of our former Head of Civil Service, Lim Siong Guan. When asked what has caused the success of Singapore, he said:

“My conclusion, as I reflected on it, was that Singapore has succeeded for two basic philosophical or ideological foundational reasons. The first is that Singapore is a brand about trustworthiness. The second is more about the multiracial, multi-religious aspect of Singapore; how, as a society, despite our differences, we honour one another, give
space to one another, and appreciate the fact that we are different. And this idea about trustworthiness and honouring your word, respecting and appreciating other people, actually applies to virtually every aspect of life. It applies to families, to leadership in companies, to the community, the way we treat our neighbours, and the way we look at the people that we interact with.”

Food for thought indeed, as we continue to wonder what our Father may say to us!

10 September 2017

Remember and Tell

By Terry Wong

The Heritage Committee met for the second time last Monday evening. It is chaired by Charles Leong and the members are Karen Chua, Philip Towndrow, Sharon Lim, Linda Ng, Nathene Chua and Samantha Lee. From the staff side, Joyce Ho and Vivien Chen join in.

The theme “Remember and Tell” was chosen to guide the work of the sub-committee. Three priorities will be looked at:

1. Knowledge Management

We are embarking on conservation efforts for objects which we have identified as historical material in our Cathedral. We will record and/or locate them within the Cathedral, Diocesan office and elsewhere (i.e. National Heritage Board collection). This includes documenting past publications which look at our Cathedral’s history. Even though we have limited physical space, we will also explore creative ways of displaying some artefacts from time to time.   

2. Telling the Stories 

We have a depository of many wonderful stories and testimonies. We can focus on various epochs or events from time to time. For early 2018, we are planning to tell the story of the Cathedral in the war years. We need to remember the faithfulness and sacrifice of believers then. This will be done through publications, information boards and guided tours. We are also exploring the possibility of using Apps for translation into other languages. Do you know of anyone who has lived through the war years or has access to personal stories or artefacts that pertain to our Cathedral’s history? Contact Joyce Ho at joyceho@cathedral.org.sg or email heritage@cathedral.org.sg. You are also welcome to speak with the committee members. 

In 2019, to coincide with the 200th year of the founding of modern Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles, we want to commemorate the early years of the Cathedral (mid 19th century, as St Andrew’s Church), which is of course wrapped up with the beginnings of our city-nation. Again, this will be creatively done to testify to what the Lord has done and the part Christianity has played in blessing our nation. 

3. New research

Building on the work done by a few, including Diffusing the Light by A/Prof Joseph Thambiah, we will continue to research our past. This will grow our depository of knowledge. As always, awareness of what has gone before us can guide us in the present and give us a deeper perspective of life and faith. It will also enrich the work of our volunteers and tour guides.  

The Heritage Committee seeks to help us to remember and tell our stories better. May the Lord be lifted up and glorified. If you would like to help in some way or have any feedback, please email heritage@cathedral.org.sg or contact any of the Heritage Committee members. We appreciate your prayers in this unique and important ministry of the Cathedral.

3 September 2017

Who Am I

By Terry Wong

From memorial, when man looked at the world around him - when he considered the heavens, moons and stars - he occasionally wondered, “Who am I..that He should be mindful of me?” (Psalm 8)

I was at a public evening event recently where a Cabinet Minister was a guest of honour. I have met him a few years ago where we had some personal conversations. He was still a new and junior politician then. That evening, I was just another face in the crowd. When he was shaking some hands on the
way out, ours met too, albeit briefly. I did wonder, “Did he remember me? Could he recall my name?” But who am I, that he should pause for a “we meet again” conversation? Who am I, that he should retain my name in his memory given the countless people he needs to relate to?

It is only human to sometimes wonder about why someone important should even given us an eye-glance, let alone, a mindful occupation. 

From memorial, many individuals have stood at the threshold of a call to do something great and pause, asking this question and laced with self-doubt. 

Young Mary, when she was told that she would conceive, wondered about the physical impossibility of that. When Gideon was told that he was chosen to lead his army, he asked how could that be, given his poor ancestry and that he was the youngest and least important in his family. He was not born with a headstart that belongs to the socially privileged. (Judges 6:15)

In fact the “Who Am I?” question can illicit laughters of disbelief and incredibility as it did for Abraham and Sarah when they were told they would give birth to a son. Abraham was already a centenarian and Sarah, four scores and ten (Genesis 17-18). In this case they knew who they were only too well. What they could not come to believe was that God should choose them to parent a new lineage. 

Not surprisingly, Moses,  dubbed the meekest man on earth (Numbers 12:3), also asked, “Who am I?” when told he was to confront Pharaoh and lead his people out of Egypt (Exodus 3:11). After spending so many years in desert life, there was not much self-confidence left in Moses. 

Self-doubt is not a good characteristic of leadership, according to modern thoughts on this subject. However, classically and biblically, the humble pause and wonderment at one’s inadequacy may well predispose a person for the Lord’s work.

As He leads us to points of self-insufficiency, may we never imagine that it is beyond us to ask this question from time to time.

ABOUT THE VICAR

Terry Wong Photo

Revd Canon Terry Wong is the Vicar of the Cathedral. He writes weekly for the weekend Service bulletins and the articles are posted on this site.

Recent Vicar Writes

24 September Building Bridges
17 September And to the angel in the church at St. Andrew’s Road, write…
10 September Remember and Tell
3 September Who Am I