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All 2019 February Vicar Writes

17 February 2019 | Vicar Writes

In and Around

By Terry Wong

I had a wonderful time celebrating Chinese New Year back in my hometown Petaling Jaya, in the very house which I grew up in as a child. We reconnected with family members and relatives over traditional dishes. The burning of fire-crackers was permitted for a limited period of time and we relived some of our childhood experiences. Indeed, we experienced the same smells, tastes, sounds and sights of CNY that we grew up with. Connections with one's past are important and I am reminded again of the grace of God which has carried us through all these years.  

On behalf of PCC and the team working behind the Bells Project, we want to thank all who have donated to the project. PCC has made a decision to purchase another four bells, plus an additional one for training purposes. In terms of names, as St Paul is already part of the original eight, this also means that we can now add St Matthias (Acts 1:26).

The bells have arrived safely in UK since early January (pictured above) and are now being repaired and refurbished. We are hoping that they can be back this year and be a part of our contribution to the bicentennial celebrations and Diocese's Year of Proclamation.

The plans to refurbish and restore the Nave (i.e. walls, windows) are underway and at the coming AGM, we will give more details and the cost estimates. The Cathedral will be playing a role to host a special Lessons and Carols Service in December to celebrate the Bicentennial Year with the rest of the nation. We hope some parts can be repaired in time for that.

Can SAC raise 1000 ushers and 200 counsellors to serve in the English/Filipino rally on Sunday, 19 May? I believe we can but it will take many small groups or families to encourage each other to participate. In a sense, we are spending that Sunday morning to worship the Lord in a different way. On that weekend, we will be running only two Services, 8 am and 11.15 am. Please sign up today. Your early response is needed and will help us to ascertain if we need to now ask other churches to help. But we'd like to believe that the Cathedral community can rise up to this unique call!

This Friday evening, we will be joined by Christians from other Churches at the Regional Prayer Meeting to pray for our nation and the coming COH events. Let's be there and keep our hearts burning for the things of the Lord and the salvation of others. [We need to seek the Lord together as His family.]

In recent weeks, the Cafe has begun to serve some drinks in porcelain cups during the weekdays. This is one small step in seeking to be more responsible vis-a-vis our environment. Much more needs to be done in SAC in this area and at the right time, we will continue to take further steps.

And did you know that you can download a digital copy of our weekly bulletin? As more of you do this, we can reduce the copies being printed.

Visit cathedral.org.sg/bulletin to download our weekly bulletin.

10 February 2019 | Vicar Writes

The new St Andrew’s Adult Home and our friends from Mizoram

By Terry Wong

In the mid-80’s, I used to join short-term mission trips to the Riau Islands. I have this vivid memory of seeing this teenage boy locked up in a cage like an animal. It was a very disturbing sight.

Of course, in developed societies today, we are now a lot more aware of those with special needs like autism. Hence, we will not treat sufferers of this condition in that manner.

Our Diocese is deeply involved with this via the St Andrew's Autism Centre (SAAC) which operates a special school for children and youths with autism from 7 to 18 years old. It is challenging but rewarding work as we see families being helped. Along with that, SAAC also has facilities for a Day Activity Centre (DAC) for adults aged 19 and beyond.

This work now moves to another level with the completion of St Andrew’s Adult Home (SAAH) at Sengkang at the end of 2018. It is a home specially designed and built to meet the needs of adults with autism. It has the capacity to house 200 residents, and will also have a co-located Day Activity Centre (DAC) with a capacity for 50 adult clients. This is a new phase of ministry.

Each Home or Centre under Singapore Anglican Community Services or St Andrew’s Mission Hospital is supported by an anchor parish. The Cathedral is the anchor parish for this new St Andrew's Adult Home (SAAH). This means that we will be supporting the Chaplaincy work which provides pastoral care for clients and the caregivers. Wilson Sie is the chaplain there. Where possible, members can be encouraged to help and show the love of Christ to both workers and clients in this Home.

Photo

Most of the nurses and health-care assistants in homes like these come from surrounding countries. Recently 28 new staff flew in from Mizoram (Northeast India) to begin a 2-year renewable stint. They are mostly in their 20's and early 30's and all are Christians. We hosted a tea for them and introduced them to the Cathedral (see photo). Young and eager, they are a great bunch and beaming with so much potential. We are beginning to connect with them and are seeking ways to help make their stay and work here more comfortable and meaningful. By the way, weekly on our grounds, we have groups of workers from Mizoram who gather for social and worship purposes.

Our senior staff, Mrs Patricia Aw heads our community services ministries and will be the liaison person for this.

Do you think you can help in some way? Do email her at pataw@cathedral.org.sg

3 February 2019 | Vicar Writes

At the Heart of being a Church Family

By Terry Wong

We had a wonderful and inspiring regional prayer meeting on the last Friday of January. Watch out for the next one on Friday evening of 22nd February.

There are many meetings and events in the Cathedral but for me, prayer meetings are special. These meetings are not merely a presentation of a list of requests to God.
 
We don’t often say this very clearly, but the Lord Jesus is the Shepherd of this Church (Eph 4:15). The local church is a spiritual family and entity. We are a people of His presence. I co-taught the book of Revelation last year and through the letters of the seven churches, we were reminded again of the Lord Jesus’ presence and His love for each local church. This truth, more than anything, governs how I have served in every parish and how I see my role as Vicar. We live in an age where we are enamoured by the CEO and the power of leadership.
 
But the Church is different. When the human influence is exercised without reference to the Word, His Spirit and koinonia acceptability to His Body, something is tragically lost. And over time, the work can be seen to be "wood, hay and stubble" (1 Cor 2:11-13).
 
This is an insight which I found in greater clarity when I was serving in my previous parish. We were facing spiritual stagnation and the parish was struggling. I became acquainted with one of the leaders of Youth With A Mission (YWAM), who later became a very close spiritual friend. I was quite curious about the YWAM leadership approach to ministry and their deep emphasis on prayer and worship. Decisions made were collegial and often through prayer and seeking. This leader helped us to focus on the spiritual life of the parish, and our prayer and worship life took a positive turn.
We learned to be a people of His presence. We learned to "give the church back to Him."

My years of working in the Alpha Course ministry also exposed me to the spiritual culture and values in Holy Trinity Brompton. How can one local church exert so much influence globally? There I caught a vision of what it meant to be a church measured not just by attendance but influence. I saw a rich prayer and worship life and a leadership culture which aims at people becoming authentic followers of the Lord of the Church.
 
Worshipping and praying sharpens the clarity of what God is doing in our midst (Acts 13:2,3). It keeps us from an activism which is devoid of His presence. Prayer, worship and mission can never be separated. They are not separate events or activities, but a singular expression of a people who know who the Lord is and relate to each other as such.
 
Church prayer meetings also reflect home and family. It is one meeting which separates family from guests and indeed, the latter are very low in numbers, compared to our public weekend Services. We come “home" and we do what a church family should do. It has a different intensity in worship and prayer compared to your public Weekend Services. There are some who are affected or stumbled by the forms of worship or prayer in our prayer meeting. I will encourage one to get past that and get into the essence of these combined gatherings. There will be noise. There will be silence. Old and new. It does not matter if we are family and share a common vision that goes beyond forms.
 
Chinese New Year is round the corner. As families celebrate, it is the ontological and unchangeable family ties that gives meaning to a family gathering. This goes deeper than external forms and activities. It is just being family. Likewise, the church family experiences this when they assemble before the heavenly Father.
 
I don’t think I can share all this at one go. I know all this sounds a bit mystical. Understanding it will need some experience as well. This is a journey I encourage you to discover as well - together -  and I pray you will find it here.