Vicar Writes


All 2018 June Vicar Writes

30 Jun 2018

A few months ago, we made an appeal at a Town Hall meeting for volunteers to serve in our English teaching class for Myanmar folks on Sunday. A few responded and as a result, the classes today have multiplied. A new befriender ministry has also started with walkabouts to chat and reach out to the foreigners on our grounds. One of our staff proposed to the Myanmar Worship Service (MWS) leaders to move the post-service refreshments to the tented area near the Nave. This brought them closer to the grounds. All in all, the response has been good and on recent weekends, the MWS is almost reaching 200 in attendance. We have also received various feedback and suggestions and we can say that on a whole, we are getting closer to a good balance of outreach and boundaries.

I met up with Revd Dickson Chiu this week, who serves as our chaplain for Cathedral Home for the Aged. This is, literally, a ministry for the “homeless.” For various reasons, they are not able to have their own roof over their heads. Such are 'need' gaps which the church needs to continue to fill. There are many volunteers who are serving and visiting. That is really appreciated. But more help can be given to reach them spiritually and socially. Perhaps some of you can consider helping?
We have an active Heritage Committee. Cathedral is blessed with many points of interest, physical and historical. It is our way of blessing our wider society by being good custodians of our heritage. Along with that, precious opportunities to share the Christian message. In fact, a mini exhibition of the Cathedral in the War Years will be held in August. Much work needs to be done: research, archiving, writing etc. Can you help?
Some of us may be unaware that Cathedral is also running a Childcare Centre in Jurong. The pre-school landscape has gone through massive changes. It is currently below capacity in spite of the low fees. In a new season, how may we strengthen this work? Can you help?
Acts Centre is our church plant, led by Revd Michael Lim. They have been facing some challenges as well. But the opportunities are there, as they are worshipping in the midst of a growing neighbourhood. Being a small congregation, their resources are limited. They need help in various areas including worship etc. In this new season, we are stepping up our efforts to help them grow into an independent congregation or parish one day. I cannot imagine how SAC can start a new church plant if our current ones are struggling. Can you help?
The list goes on, on the various ways you can make a difference. I leave the rest to another Vicar Writes. A little here, a little there, but together, the accretion swell of energy and time (=love!) will make a lasting difference. That said, one of the most significant differences we can make as Christians is to pray.
When we pray, we become alive to God’s purposes. We become more aware of His will that needs to be "done on earth as it is in heaven.” Every night from 1 July to 8 August, there is a "solemn assembly” - a worship and prayer gathering - in various churches across the city. No skill is needed. Just a lot of heart and love.
Will you make a difference?
Note: If you like to volunteer, please email or call 63376104

23 Jun 2018

Have you wondered why we try to serve some kind of drinks and/or food after every service?

“Makan” after the Myanmar Worship Service
"Makan" after the Myanmar Worship Service

About more than a year ago, the 4.30pm Service started serving refreshments after the service every week. A regular member commented that “this was the best thing that has happened to this service.”

We go back in history to recall that most of the early Christian gatherings happened in small groups. And people sat facing each other. We get glimpses into how they worship through the writings of Paul (as one example) and many of his injunctions in 1st Corinthians make sense in a small gathering where there is communication amongst Christians as they worship. Read Paul’s concerns over the use of spiritual gifts. Or the behaviour of some when the Lord’s Supper meal was served. Oh yes, the communion then was a lot more than a piece of wafer and wine dip. Or take Hebrews 10:24,25 as another example, where Christians were told to encourage one another as they gather to worship.

Worship in the Jewish synagogues was also done this way. In fact some of the early words used for church, such as "ekklesia”, means assembly.

My point is this: interpersonal interactions between Christians should always be an important part of worship. This is quite lost in our large theatre-style worship, common in modern cities. In the Cathedral, because of back-to-back services, worshippers have to "clear the pews” quickly. This means that post-service chatter (“Hi, Tony. Let me introduce a friend...”) or ministry to each other is not possible.

If there is post-service refreshments, the service continued as the congregation moves to another location to "eat, meet and greet". We are introduced to guests.
We find out that a member is going through some health difficulties. We chat about the sermon and learn further from it. Where people meet, ministry will happen. And over time, the congregation becomes a community.

This is the same thinking behind the setting up of the cafe. It extends further the blessing of community, permitting people to gather on all days of the week.

I could go on and on about the blessings of community. When it comes to worship, there is a time to be alone. Just as we are before God. But there is also a time to commune. For the other can often reveal so much about me. I need the other.

I leave you with some memorable words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community... Let him who is not in community beware of being alone... Each by itself has profound perils and pitfalls. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair.”

― in Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

16 Jun 2018

By the end of this week, both Jennifer and myself would have attended all five Service Camps in SAC!

We count it a real privilege to experience the life, ministry and ethos in each congregation and the different ministry which each speaker brings. These points are good to note:

In total, we have more than 600 campers participating in these Camps.

Each Service Camp undoubtedly enriches the life, vision and ministry of each congregation.

In each of them, there were good small group discussions based on what the speaker has taught. This reminds us again of the importance of our connecting our sermons with Connect Group discussions.

Adequate time was given to personal ministry, where people were individually prayed for. Space and time need to be created for this, which can be a challenge in our Nave Services.
There was good staff-lay partnership in the organising and leading of each Camp.

Will there be a Combined Camp in 2019? It will be unlikely as we need to focus on the Celebration of Hope Rallies in 17-19 May. It is likely that in 2020, Service Camps will be organised again.

Sometimes people ask me if having different distinction in our Services will lead to disunity. We believe that we should give priority to the pastoring of every individual and work at a rich community life. The unity between Service Pastors and their leadership teams are also strong and we do care for the wider SAC vision even as we build up each Service. Diversity in the way Anglicans worship should be embraced even as we each lean towards a particular worship culture.

It is also encouraging to see so many lay leaders serving, including traditional clergy responsibilities like preaching, teaching and visiting the sick. Our Service pastors appreciate and need every help, and as long as all our hearts are marked by Christ-like virtues like humility, mutual submission, prayerfulness and so on, each Service will thrive as everyone rises to serve.


Switching gears, we are encouraged by the good response and effectiveness of our Befrienders ministry to Myanmar visitors on our grounds. The team of volunteers headed by Lee Yew Seng have done work for 2 Sundays now. 8 visitors so far have responded to their interactions/invitations and turned up at the Myanmar Service.  The English classes have also grown. This outreach will also make it easier for SAC to administer a needed measure for security and order in a personal and friendly way. We still need more volunteers. Do read the bulletin for more info.

The Solemn Assemblies are around the corner. It is unprecedented to see the Body of Christ here praying this way. Every evening from 1st July to 8th August, there is a prayer gathering in at least 4 churches or locations. The focus is for our beloved nation and God's destiny for her. We will give more practical information on how to get to these gatherings closer to the dates of the events.

10 Jun 2018

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

Isaiah 40:11

We spent much of last Monday (28 May) sitting at the feet of Revd Dr Gordon Wong's teaching on Isaiah 40 at the 9am Service Camp. The eleventh verse of this passage caught my attention.

The shepherd gathers, guides, and carries. When the journey gets too difficult, he will carry the young ones (lambs) and hold them close to his chest. He has them in a close embrace. He cares, not from a distance, but at close proximity.

As I reflect on this verse, the fact is none of us can be truly independent. There are many moments in our lives when we need to be gathered, guided, and even ’carried’. In some seasons this need for help from another becomes more obvious. In 1 Timothy 5, St Paul laid out practical instructions on how we should care for those who are more vulnerable in the church, such as widows. But the need for shepherding extends to all. Isaiah 53:6a says, “All we are like sheep who have gone astray.” Like someone who is lost, we need help to find our way back. This may surprise some of you, but there are also many moments in my life where I feel lost and in need of being guided by someone else.

So much can be said about shepherding and how central this is to the life of the church. Spiritual and even political leaders need to grasp this concept of leadership. Even in using the term "leadership", I run the risk of undermining this deeply ancient and biblical idea.

Primarily, I am not called to “lead” the church. One can say that in modern times, leadership can be overrated. It is when a leader learns to be a shepherd that true leadership is exercised. For we serve our Lamb of God who is a Shepherd Himself who had laid down His life for His sheep. Whether you are a pastor, Connect Group leader or a cabinet minister, if one learns to shepherd the people, his leadership influence will be a lasting one. And like this image in Isaiah 40:11, this includes being able to embrace those who need it.

I am tempted to do the usual and use the word “weak” to describe those who are in need. In my previous church, there was a cleaner who loves the Lord and is always joyful. She had to work hard to take care of her handicapped son. From time to time, she will stuff a ten dollar note in my hand. My first reaction is to refuse it until I realise that she did not want to come across as someone to be pitied. I realise I am serving her by accepting her little gift. It was her joy and pride to give.

It is a lifelong lesson for me. Just look around you when you are in the Cathedral. Pause and give some time to those who are seeking a listening ear.  Just consider this, everyone, to some degree or another, needs a shepherd. To care for someone, will involve giving some of your time and energy. I know another clergy who defines love as energy and time. This is it. Love is not an emotion. It is action that involves giving of energy and time. 

If the Cathedral community can be a caring and “proximating" community, she will be moving in the right direction as far as being a church is concerned. Outreach to our wider surrounding community and overseas missions will naturally follow when we bear the marks of our Great Shepherd.

I am aware that the Vicar and the team of clergy and pastors set the pace. Pray that we will never miss the mark of what church leadership is all about.

3 Jun 2018

Those at AGM would have heard about the proposal for a Pavilion to be built at the North Lawn, which faces Peninsula Plaza and Capitol. This has been advised by the Preservation of Monuments Board (PMB) and URA. When the pavilion is built, we will have to remove the unsightly temporary tents next to the Nave. This pavilion will allow for many types of community gatherings, large or small. We have some artist impressions here which are early drawings to help give us some visuals. Details are still being worked out by the Building Development Committee co-chaired by Keith Chua and Lee Chi Kuan.

View from the North Lawn
View from the Chapel and Cafe corridor
View from Capitol