Vicar Writes


All 2018 November Vicar Writes

25 Nov 2018

The Cathedral was in the news last Sunday. Obviously, the issue of the bells is of public interest.

This may be a good opportunity for me to explain the policies and principles which guide the way Cathedral manages her heritage responsibilities.

We do feel responsible to maintain them well in honour of previous donors and to preserve our heritage. Sometimes, we have to meet expectations from the government authorities or wider society. In this respect, we share similar responsibilities with other churches with heritage interests such as our sister parish St George's Church, The Armenian Church and some Roman Catholic parishes. There are many who appreciate Church music and the arts, and being a church in the city, we have the opportunity to connect with the wider society.

These heritage responsibilities need not stand over and against our fundamental spiritual responsibilities such as missions and worship. For this reason, when it comes to heritage matters, we often seek to have more targeted fund-raising instead of tapping on our existing general funds, which is contributed from the tithes and free-will offerings. The government also has ways to help in the upkeep of our monuments facilities, and where possible, the church tries to tap on these funds. In other words, while we may fund-raise for the Bells Project, we do not allocate funds for it from our general fund. In this way, we allow those who see its cultural value to contribute. To each his own.

We respect the community in SAC with her diverse interests and gifts. We seek to find a place for everyone to serve, whether it is in flower arrangement, cooking, stole-sewing or bell pulling! Speaking personally, I have more interest in the clashing of the spatula with the wok than that of the clapper to the bells. But I have met Christians here who are deeply interested in the bells and enamoured of the unique sounds they create or the mind-blowing mathematical patterns generated.

We believe that we should create space for every member to serve and use their gifts. Our diverse gifts can be channelled to enrich the Church rather than create conflict through competing interests or voices.

As God's Word reminds us, “whatever you do, do it to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).” The attitudes and motivations of one’s heart matter more than anything else.

We do not let these concerns distract us from the ministry responsibilities of the Church and it is not difficult to see how active the Cathedral is in local and overseas missions (for further information, one may read the latest Missions handbook). Some of these ministries reach some of the poorest sectors of our societies. We are also involved in crisis relief work in Lombok and Palu.
The Cathedral also feels a sense of deep responsibility to help other Anglican parishes or missions. Recently, we contributed $600,000 to the Church of the Epiphany's new building project from our property fund. The leadership shown by SAC also helps to garner support from other parishes. I should add that our property fund is also enriched by legacy giving*. Members have donated properties and other possessions to the Cathedral over the years. The management and sales of some of these properties enable the Cathedral to be generous in responding to building needs here and in our deaneries.

The clergy, deaconesses, pastors and PCC appreciate your continual prayers as we seek to lead and manage this vineyard well. We are grateful as always for the many generous givers out there who give their time and money to serve the Lord. Without you, we would not have been able to fulfil our wide range of responsibilities.

* For legacy giving, please visit
   A full story of the Bells and the costs involved will be released in the January issue of The Courier.

18 Nov 2018

The Diocesan Synod met on the 9th and 10th of November. The Synod is made up of clergy and elected lay representatives from our parishes and deaneries. The Synod assists the Bishop and the Standing Committee in the running of the life and affairs of the Diocese.

Some building projects were approved at the Synod, including the Pavilion. The latest design has been submitted to URA by our architect. As mentioned before, a generous worshipper in one of our Services is contributing to this project. Since a few years back, this person has journeyed with us in our search for a permanent alternative to the white tents adjacent to the Nave. We are also grateful for the help and advice of the authorities (URA and PSM). If all goes well, this project will be completed by the fourth quarter of 2019.

At the Synod, in his presidential address, Bishop shared on the need to keep a dedicated focus on the Lord and the work of sowing and reaping as we inch closer to the Celebration of Hope rallies in May next year. His full address, entitled “Total Dedication for God’s moment” can be read in the latest November issue of Diocesan Digest. He also urged us not to be distracted by matters of lesser importance or matters for “another time.”

One way which I have always found helpful to keep the spiritual focus is communal prayer. Life in our busy city has its usual busyness. Through prayer, we discern the will of the Lord and His Kingdom purposes in the daily  routines and concerns of our lives. Every relationship we have, from acquaintances to family members can be infused by the presence and lordship of Christ. It can change the motives of our hearts and texture of our conversations, framing natural opportunities for the gospel to be shared.

In particular, please pray for opportunities to sow in friendships as you work with your Connect Group members to organise a home Christmas party and invite friends. Do also bear in mind the many Christmas events which you can invite your friends to.

Advent will begin very richly with the performance and ministry of Sir Peter Low’s Choir on the Sunday evening of 2nd December. The costs of the tickets ($50/centre, $10/side aisle) - in support of Sulawesi Relief Fund - are well below the costs of tickets which this same choir will charge elsewhere. If you have been to one of their concerts, you will agree that it is of the highest professional standard. And yet, the musical experience is deeply spiritual and moving.

I should not fail to mention that our choir’s Lessons and Carols on the 16th of Dec (Sunday evening) is also a very special event. There will be a short Gospel message. Do invite your friends.

As the year turns, we can look forward to the January issue of our Courier magazine. The team has decided to release two issues per year, in the first and third quarter of the year. The editorial team is spearheaded by Philip Towndrow. While we wait for the printed issues, do note that there is a Courier Online where many teaching articles and testimonies are posted.

11 Nov 2018

Most of you would have heard by now that we are designing and building a Pavilion on the north lawn. Discussion and plans have been underway since a few years back to find a suitable overflow area to replace the current temporary tents adjacent to the Nave.

Earlier ideas were mostly concentrated on the northeast (koi pond/amphitheatre) areas. After further consultations with URA and PSM, we were advised to think of the propect of building a pavilion on the north lawn, directly on top of the CNS Sanctuary. That began another round of design submissions and discussions and the latest concept reflects the guidance given by URA/PSM. The costs will be covered by a generous donor.

Apart from serving as an overflow community area, the tent has also acted as a covered passageway for the busy thoroughfare between the West Porch and North Transept Hall. This means that we will need to obtain permission to provide an alternative. We are all aware of how difficult it can be when it is raining cats and dogs during our back- to-back Services. There is also heavy ponding in the West Porch area, an issue which is being looked at.

The audio-visual facilities at the heavily used New Sanctuary (CNS) are being upgraded. Again, thanks to a generous donor, we are able to install a new visual system which is already garnering very good feedback. The current audio system has served us very well for over ten years now. But with irreparable faults, a new system is needed.

We are also embarking on expansion plans to cope with the need for more office space, ministry rooms (Sunday school, teaching, meetings, counselling) and worship spaces. Termed “Phase 2”, this project will take 3-4 years. Some of the ideas have been presented in previous AGMs but we hope to present an actual design and estimated costs at next year’s AGM. Various groups and committees are currently working on this project.

On the heritage side, you would have also noticed that we have "quietly" launched the Bells of St Andrew’s Cathedral Project. We are praying that those who have a special  interest in this project will rally around and support it. It is a heritage responsibility which we are glad to be able to finally get round to fulfil. A well written brochure can be obtained at various points in the cathedral. You can also access it here at

We are also planning to start restoration works for the Nave Monument. The last major restoration work was in 1991. Having spent a few years in research and experimenting with plastering works, we are now ready to do some significant restoration works, which are expected to take 2-3 years to complete. In addition, we expect significant maintenance work may be required from time to time, between major restorations. We will be tapping on our reserves but we plan to set up a new Heritage Fund as well. Keeping a Heritage fund on the radar constantly will allow members and friends to contribute on a regular basis.

We appreciate your continual support and prayers as we endeavour to be good stewards of all that the Lord has entrusted to us.

This writeup is submitted by Keith Chua, who chairs the Building and Development Committee (BDC).

4 Nov 2018

What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19

We were in Phnom Penh over the weekend to dedicate the the new seven storey Church of Christ Our Peace (CCOP) and also to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Deanery of Cambodia.

Two other clergy were ordained with me in 1993. Revd Don Cormack served as the first Vicar of CCOP. He was the author of the popular book, The Killing Fields. Revd William Mok was eventually sent by Bishop Moses Tay (1996) to serve for many years there as Vicar of CCOP and later, as Dean of Cambodia. It was novel then for a Singaporean clergy to take this step, as it meant crossing culture and many years of language learning. This, Revd William took in good stride and I have always admired him for his tenacity in serving in such a challenging place.

I heard a lot about the work there but never actually visited it. I heard about the villa which our Diocese bought and invested in to house this fledgling work. I heard about the ministry difficulties there. Even then, we weren’t sure that this piece of property can be secured given the political uncertainties of the land. Property ownership functions differently in an emerging third world country and I can recall difficult discussions in Synods and committees.


As it turns out, the Lord is building His Church in Cambodia. A few more churches were planted in smaller towns and villages. The first Asian clergy who was ordained from one of our deaneries was Revd Tit Hieng in 1999. He grew up under the Khmer Rouge regime and came to Christ through the ministry of our first Anglican missionary, the Revd Don Comack. Today Revd Tit Hieng is the Vicar of the Rural Mission District where the majority of our Cambodian members are located. His vision is to develop these missionary districts into self-supporting Anglican parishes.

Eventually Canon Wong Tak Meng became the dean. A few missionaries from other Provinces (such as the Anglican Church in North America, ACNA) were also sent. In 2013, Revd Gregory Whitaker began his ministry as priest in charge of the English Service. The service grew and it is almost 300 on a good Sunday morning. Revd Jesse Blaine, who is fluent in Khmer, heads the Khmer Service which has grown to about 80 today. Revd Steven Seah was based there from 2017.

At the same time, our Cathedral has been very involved in Project Khmer H.O.P.E. This work has also grown and the details are found in the Mission booklet which will be handed out this month.I

was listening to Mr Andrew Tay’s sermon online. He was speaking on Onesimus from the book of Philemon and his challenge to us is to be more involved in prisons work. This is another opportunity to be involved in sharing the love of Christ.