Vicar Writes

Vicar Writes


All 2016 October Vicar Writes

30 October 2016 | Vicar Writes

In my many trips to visit churches abroad, including those in South Africa, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and even Cairo recently, one thing that has always caught my attention is the presence of a café and bookshops in these churches. During weekdays, the church is brimming with life as visitors, strangers and members mingle in community. Occasionally I even see their pastors having meals there and members saying hello and introducing their friends. 

I am always impressed at the effort, care and professionalism reflected in their public facilities. The cafés are done up beautifully. The food is good and prices are reasonable. There are clear signs to toilets and good facilities for the handicapped and elderly. These churches with people-centred facilities communicate that people are important. I naturally felt attracted to these churches. The church can be an exciting place for people to come or be invited to.  

Ministry is about people connections and friendships. Anything in church that encourages that is a very good thing. It provides avenues for evangelism, counseling, discipleship and community interaction. These interactions often spawn many new initiatives, large and small.

Can SAC be such a church? If we put our heart into it and give room for the many dreams and gifts in the community to blossom, it can be amazing what SAC can be. The Cathedral Café is just a start. We can dream of a well-resourced book corner or little shop. What about more cool garden spaces akin to the koi pond area, but with more shade? We have many historical spots on our grounds. More information and their historical significance can be featured. Our tours can step up to new levels of professionalism. Our Cathedral history and story is worthy of that. 

Regularly, there are lunchtime talks and lectures. SAC can be an intellectual centre in the heart of the city. We believe that God and His Word is at the centre of truth and knowledge. We run solid courses on Scripture and public square issues. Occasionally, we stage concerts, reminding ourselves that some of the best music had come from the Church. We invite foreign workers for free meals on our grounds. We will even hold shows for them, done in their language and culture. 

I am sure many of you can imagine a wide variety of areas which we can grow into. The little things count. In our desire to change the world, it is faithfulness to the small things that sets us on the right direction. If we care for our witness in the local, we then have a basis to care for the global. In fact, good and long-lasting missions work is about the local church overflowing. 

May the Cathedral continue to reflect the potential of our community and the richness of our Gospel message. Meanwhile, do enjoy and take full advantage of the refurbished Welcome Centre. 

23 October 2016 | Vicar Writes

Someone thanked me recently for allowing a room in SAC to be used by their prayer group. I just stared blankly at him and said, “Most welcome!” I should have added, “I am not aware of that. After all, I am just the Vicar!”

Indeed much is happening in SAC every week which few of us can keep up with. This also happens to be an unusually busy period of the year, at least for me. I had just spent a week in Cairo and as always, work at home awaits with vengeance.  

We had a wonderful group of overseas clergy on Sabbatical here. As that is coming to an end, I thought I should host them to a BBQ at my place. And so, my day-off on Monday was spent preparing for that. It was a meaningful evening.

This week I have to serve as a resident chaplain at the Ministry Preparation Retreat for ordinands (a few preparing and being examined for the ordained ministry). I have always been actively involved in  this. But sometimes I forget that my life these days as a Vicar of the Cathedral is giving me less room to manoeuvre.

A sermon at the end of the week awaits at Church of the Good Shepherd (COGS). COGS is in the midst of fund-raising for a new building and they thought that my experience in my previous parish could encourage them. I shall share with them the three keys to fund raising - prayer, prayer and prayer! Sometimes we attribute success to ourselves but really, we just happen to be blessed and by His design, happen to be at the right place at the right time.

So, back to the role of the Vicar. We imagine him to be the captain of a huge ship. He is at the bridge, majestically in command of every detail, with sounds and lights to alert him, a team of officers at his beck and call, buttons to press and levers to pull. At every instance, he knows what has happened, is happening and can anticipate what’s coming. No happenstance in the ship is without his commandeering.

Pause. Little of this is true with the supposedly “captain-in-chief” of the Cathedral ship. However, this can be said of the Chief Shepherd of the sheep (see 1 Peter 5:4 - now, how do you cross metaphors?). He is in control and through prayer and spiritual intuition, thousands in the Cathedral go about their ministry every week in obedience to Him. That includes many in the laity. Just last Sunday, we heard two wonderful sermons by Dr Joseph Thambiah and Dr Edward Menon. Was the Vicar directing them? Nay. How about the ladies who went about to ensure that flowers “magically” appear every weekend? If the Vicar is directing that, it will be a flowery mess. Also likewise, a choral cacophony from the choir stalls, and confusion in our children ministries that move like clockwork every weekend across our many Services.

If you come to my “bridge,” you will see that there are no buttons and indicators there. No charts and about the closest instrument of control is my Mac notebook from where I do some of my work. There is however something I often do. It is called prayer. Fully aware that this Church is His, I pray as do many others. That He will direct the life and affairs of the Church. That He will watch over every decision made, every work being done, with integrity and motivated by a desire to glorify Him.

Whether you are Vicar of a hundred-strong flock or a “mega-parish”, it is the same. It is about letting God be God, the Church be His Church and we simply follow and be amazed at the work of the Lord.

16 October 2016 | Vicar Writes

We are giving special emphases to community service ministries in Cathedral and Diocese this month. This weekend, as we celebrate Diocesan Healthcare Sunday at the 8 am Sun Service, I hope all Cathedral medical doctors and healthcare workers can pop in for a time of rededication. In our various services, Dr Edward Menon will be speaking on the special needs of the  elderly and Dr Joseph Thambiah will speak on medical missions. We also got to hear Mrs Pat Aw speak on ministry to  children. Revd Gilbert Wong will touch on mental health awareness on 30 Oct. As always, audio recordings are available on our website if you would like to catch up on these talks. 

We are delighted this week to receive news that URA has approved the conversion of use in a section of our Welcome Centre to run a licensed Cafe. This has a lot of implications for our community life and opportunities to connect with the public. I sense that this was very much a part of the original vision for this Welcome Centre and with this, the Centre will be truly and fully a public “third place” during the opening hours. A visitor will not need a particular reason or thinks he needs permission to walk into the Centre. And best of all, you now have an added reason to invite your friends to the Cathedral, even on weekdays!

We hope to introduce a wide range of beverages, apart from the usual coffee menu, to include local coffee, wide range of teas, chocolate drinks, juices and cold drinks as well. This will serve the needs of seniors, families and children too. They will be served at reasonable prices and whatever profits we make will be ploughed back into the ministry use of the CWC. The Cafe folks will be open to feedback and improve things along the way.  

The pews in the Chapel for all Peoples have been replaced with chairs to enable the Chapel to be used not just for Services but serve other ministry needs too, such as Sunday School, Youth, Alpha, CE  and so on. Most of the pews were given to St Andrew’s Nursing Home. We will also make accessible again a door which already exists between the chapel and CWC and this will make possible  some synergy between CWC and the Chapel if an event needs it. Even as we free up the chapel for multiple use we remind ourselves that we are already blessed with a huge Nave which is suitable for walk-in praying or just to have some silence. The Chapel has never been able to play this role as it is an air-conditioned environment and locked up when it is not booked for an event.

9 October 2016 | Vicar Writes

Greetings from Cairo! I am here for a Global South Anglican Conference. It is attended and supported by Provinces in the Southern Hemisphere like those from Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. We also have some from USA and UK. The common basis which these Provinces and leaders share is a certain conservative or orthodox approach to faith and practice. 

As some of us are aware, some Provinces in our Communion have capitulated to modern revisionist values in areas like human sexuality or biblical interpretation. Conferences like these seek to strengthen our partnership, co-mission and explore/discuss ways in which we can be faithful to our faith and order. My role is largely secretariat, and along with some colleagues, provide some support to the leadership committee. It is never easy to pull away from the usual Parish responsibilities but it is also our responsibility to contribute to the wider Communion. Indeed, we are all connected and “no church is an island.”

While not every worshipper in the Cathedral is interested in our ecclesiology and tradition, I know there are some who care. I can tell you assuredly that I do and give a lot of thought to these issues. Why am I an Anglican and not a Roman Catholic? Am I a “Protestant” and what does that term means? In fact, what is the Anglican Church? Asking these questions is not about trying to set ourselves up as superior to other parts of the Christian family. These are questions about our roots. 

In asking them, we anchor our faith and understanding of the Church in time and space. In so doing, we often find the heart of what every Christian church has in common, the essential faith, stripped of its cultural, political and historical developments. In understanding what it means to be an Anglican, we free ourselves from stereotypes or an Anglican experience that is bound to our own very limited local experience in time and space. 

There will be opportunities here in SAC to explore these questions. Stay interested!

2 October 2016 | Vicar Writes

The 7.30 pm Service met for the last time last Sunday evening. It was a fitting thanksgiving Service as Revd Timothy Chow shared from Hebrews 12:1,2, that we should be faithful, focused and fearless in our Christian race. A few regulars shared about how they have been blessed through the Service.  

For some Sundays in October, in some of our Services, we will be focusing on our community service arms. We want to raise awareness of Cathedral’s City Community Services work to some of the poorer families in our society. Many of us are also involved in Singapore Anglican Community Services (SACS) and that will receive some focus as well. And then,there is the range of medical mission initiatives which some of you can be encouraged to participate in. 

On the last weekend of October (29-30), the Services at the New Sanctuary will be hosting Friendship Sundays.
Pas Don Wong and his team from New Charis Mission will be ministering. It is a good opportunity to invite your friends. 

In November, we will focus on cross-cultural missions work. Various missionaries will be invited to speak as will our own Bishop and pastors. There will be a special Missions evening on 18 November (Friday). By end November, we will enter the season of Advent and prepare for Christmas. On St Andrew’s Day on 27 November, we will launch the eleven:30 Service. 

We can also look forward to three musical/creative arts events. The LYNC Youths are coming up with Transcendence on Saturday evening of 8 October. The Young Adults are hosting an Experiencing God Musical event with The De Lanerolle Brothers at the Nave on Friday evening of 4 November. These events are opportunities to bring unchurched friends. The Corpus Christi Choir from University of Cambridge will perform a lunchtime concert on Tuesday 6 December. This event will also raise funds for 289 Fellowship, a special mercy ministry to the poor in Batam.  

On the Christian Education front, we were richly blessed by Dr Christopher Seitz’s teaching ministry this week. Do go online for some of the talks. We can look forward to Mick Brook’s talks on discipleship on 11 and 12 October. Our very own Revd Christopher Tan and his wife, Michelle will focus on parenting issues on Saturday 19 November. 

In December we have the Christmas season. Our Lessons and Carols Service will be held on Sunday evening, 18 December.  Christmas@Cathedral evening events is from 21-23 (Wed-Friday). Christmas Day this year falls on a Sunday. There will be three Christmas Eve Services on Saturday: English Family Service at 4.30 pm, Mandarin Service at 7 pm and Midnight Eucharist (English) at 10.30 pm. All these events are opportunities to invite our friends.

Recent Vicar Writes

23 Oct |

Of The One Who Is In Control

16 Oct |

Cathedral Updates

09 Oct |

Greetings From Cairo

02 Oct |

Coming Up