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25 August 2019 | Vicar Writes

Restoration Works to our Cathedral Building

By Terry Wong

The last significant work to the building was done in 1991/92 when the roof tiles had to be completely replaced. Some plaster repair and repainting works were also carried out at that time, together with other minor works within the building.

Periodic repainting has been carried out since then. Our building faces the usual effects of weathering but over time, unsightly plaster peeling and blistering has surfaced. Since 2012, we have been testing various options to find a more permanent solution. We also compared notes with recent repair works in other historic buildings in the city and West Malaysia. Solutions have been explored and tested and the team has arrived at some conclusions.

The Building and Development Committee (BDC) set up an RWC in 2018, comprising members from English and Mandarin congregation to plan the work and see to its implementation, working with staff from our Estate Management team. Advised by Prof Yeo Kang Shua, our Conservation Advisor, the Restoration Works Committee (headed by Lee Chi Kuan) have tested and arrived at a workable solution.

Replastering and repainting areas on the internal and external walls will be the costlier aspects of the next phase of works. As we look closely at some areas, we are likely to encounter new issues which will need to be resolved, adding to the costs. The team had to do works on the Bell Tower recently and encountered unforeseen issues. That was a good place for the team to build up their experience and projections for other areas in the building.

As mentioned in April's AGM, we are estimating the costs of the next phase of restoration works to be around the region of $6 million. We are grateful to be given a grant of $977,000 by the Preservations of Sites and Monuments for this project. We also received another pledge of $750,000. The rest will have to be raised and soon, we will make known to the congregations how they can contribute.     

Other works will include electrical works to remove unsightly cabling that grew along with the changing needs in the Nave. There will be the eventual replacement of internal and external façade lighting, and the air cooling system and timely to do a review of our fire prevention measures and safety issues.
 
Below is a fuller list of areas which will be covered in the next phase of restoration works:

  • Plaster and painting of the external and Internal walls of the main building and the Transepts.
  • Electrical works – below floor channeling for cables, relocation of sub-distribution board (DB) at the back of South Aisle, replacement of lighting fixtures to the interior and the external facade, replacement of air-cooling system and plumbing work at the vestry and sacristy.
  • Fenestrations – work on the clerestories, protective glazing for the stained glass at the East windows and west porch; repair of window frames
  • Carpentry / joinery – Repair or restore pews, stalls, wood furniture, windows,
  • Replacing the West Porch gate with glass door
  • Poultice marble cleaning, replacement of carpet, wood floor
  • Washing of roof tiles, and
  • Cleaning / restoring memorial plaques, artefacts
  • Cleaning of roof slates

The Cathedral is a part of the civic district and has a significant place in terms of heritage and as a tourist attraction. Our building needs to be kept in a good state of repair as a witness to our sense of stewardship and responsibility.

18 August 2019 | Vicar Writes

Loving The Thing We Tell

By Terry Wong
Photo
A bird's eye view of the Nave, filled to capacity at the Commissioning Service last Sunday, 11 August 2019.

We had an unexpected record attendance  of 766 at our Evensong cum Organ-Bells Commissioning Service last Sunday. We are grateful for the huge support and interest in our Cathedral heritage and music.

In my sermon, I reminded all present that church music and arts were inspired by our worship of God and the proclamation of the Gospel. Quoting one of our previous Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, who said this to address the rise of liberal Catholicism in the Anglican Church:

“The full recovery of the doctrine of the Church is bound up with the return of the Gospel of God. Catholicism, created by the Gospel, finds its power in terms of the Gospel alone. Neither the massive polity of the Church, nor its devotional life, nor its traditions in order and worship can in themselves serve to define Catholicism; for all these things have their meaning in the Gospel, wherein the true definition of Catholicism is found.” 1

Indeed, the musical instruments, architectural and cultural heritage of the Church find their meaning in the Gospel. Even as we restore, refurbish and enhance our music heritage, we remind ourselves what they are purposed for. May we not lose the whole purpose of why we do what we do, as C.S. Lewis had warned:  

"Every poet, musician and artist, but for grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells, to love of the telling, till down in deep hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him.” 2

This is a reminder for every artist: musicians, organists, flower arrangement teams, bell ringers and yes, even writers, pastors and preachers! May we not be drawn away from the "love of the thing we tell to a love of the telling."
St Paul will tell young Pastor Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:14 - "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” We are stewards over the church’s treasures, both temporal and spiritual. Our role is about passing on the treasures of the Church faithfully.

Now that the pipes are fully restored and the bell project is almost complete, the restoration and repair works in the Nave will continue in earnest. I should pause to add that we have also “recovered” the beautiful and regal room at the Bell Tower. Those who are involved in the Bell-ringing ministry will get to enjoy that space.

Indeed, our Cathedral is a place that is dripping with history and amazing stories from the past. With the guidance of our PCC, Heritage Committee and Staff team, may we continue to unearth, preserve, remember and tell the story better to a new generation. The wider society is also interested in our past and heritage. We have a duty to serve the society well in this regard.

As Bp Chiu Ban It said in the Courier magazine released for the 150th year festival in 1969: "If we ignore the past, we cannot understand the present or forecast the future."


1 A.M. Ramsey, The Gospel and the Catholic Church, (London: Longmans, Green, 1956), p. 179.
2 C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce.

11 August 2019 | Vicar Writes

Perpetual Reminders

By Terry Wong

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “...when you shall gather together for an assembly, you shall sound, … and the priests,
the sons of Aaron, shall sound with the trumpets; and it shall be to you a perpetual statute throughout your generations.” Numbers 10:10

From days of old, long before we had other ways to send signals to the community, big sounds created from things were used - such as loud musical instruments, bells, gongs, cymbals, etc. The sounds acted as signals to direct the community as to what was to be done, who to do it and when. These sounds were signals to guide people who were moving together.

We see some of that in the passage from Numbers 10:1-10 amongst the Israelite community. Trumpet sounds were used to call to assembly, to break camp in an orderly fashion, to rally troops during war and of course, to add to joyous feasts of worship and celebration. Sounds added an auditory sense to remembrance, that they may remember that He is the Lord their God.

These traditions were carried over to Christian communities and churches as well. Since the late 19th century, our Cathedral bells rung to signal that a worship or prayer service was about to start. It was also a time teller, announcing the coming of the night and alerting town folks of evening curfew time, and they should be careful if they were still on the streets. It was as if the sound of bells was breathing a prayer from our compline: “Lighten our darkness we beseech thee, O Lord, and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night…"

Our city and audio landscape have changed significantly over the years. Today, there is little ‘communal hearings’ beyond the occasional testing of the city’s security siren. We have sounds - lots of it - but as a cacophony from the malls and streets. And some are only heard - often very loudly - within one’s ear canal. Using earphones of noise-cancelling grade, the rest of the city is shut out.

Hearing together: how we miss that! In a modern and highly individualised society, where increasing atomisation is replacing social connection, privacy rights above community, we may be losing some communal treasures of old.

Coming back to our bells, their significance, enhanced by the latest refurbishment and restoration, will continue to carry many layers of significance. As a faithful and constant sound, it will continue to remind us that with changing times, "Jesus is still the same, yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). It will remind us to align our lives with His Kingdom purposes. It will remind us that many who had their sounds in the past had been resilient in their faith, even in moments of great suffering.

As a city sound, while it no longer has the same function in our changed landscape, it should still ring to remind the city of her need for transcendence in a very material and temporal world.

4 August 2019 | Vicar Writes

Renewing our Commitment to serve the Jurong Community

By Terry Wong

Some of you may have read media reports that SAC was considering closing down our Child Development Centre (CDC) at Jurong West St 51. This decision was not undertaken lightly and we were responding to the financial struggles our childcare centre has been facing these past few years.

SAC is not adverse to seeing this as a ministry and supporting the work financially. But we were also asking all the hard questions of due diligence as this is a sector which is known to be self-funding or even profit-making. If the demand from the community has dropped after serving her in this manner for 30 over years, we did wonder if we should shift our attention to another need in the community. After all, this childcare work was driven by the call to serve the community.

I am sharing this so that you are aware of the values and principles which drive the way the Church stewards her resources. Apart from finances, what is sometimes not seen is the high level of human leadership and pastoral resources invested in every community work we do.

Over seventy concerned parents cared enough to give us feedback and offered some support. They are telling us that this work is still valued by the community. Encouraged by that, our management team, led by Soh Kim Seng, worked on a practical plan to strengthen the work. This gave the PCC good enough reasons to make a decision to continue running this centre.

Taken on 26th July, Minister Desmond Lee (4th from right) in a photo with the Supervisor (Miss Ding, 2nd from left)), Soh Kim Seng (3rd from left), clergy, teachers and community leaders. Some of the teachers have been serving since the opening of the centre in 1986.

We were also helped by Minister Desmond Lee’s visit to the centre last Friday (26th July). Coincidentally, he is the Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) and also the Jurong GRC MP. MSF and MOE jointly oversee the pre-school sector through her agency, ECDA (Early Childhood Development Agency). We discussed practical ways which can help the centre to do better, including seeking grants for families which may be struggling with paying the fees. We are also in discussions with our Anglican pre-school arm, St James’ Pre-school Services (SJPS) to find various ways to strengthen our programmes and training of teachers.

This work started in 1986 and was officially opened by Bishop Moses Tay in 1987. It has a wonderful theme “Let the children come to Me” and paintings on the wall illustrate this. She has been a blessing to many children and their families all these years. Our Westside Anglican Church has been offering active chaplaincy support.

We can say that things are looking up for this centre. Last Saturday morning, many parents turned up to support the teachers, and the joy on their faces can be seen on our bulletin banner.
We cherish your continual support and prayers. If some of you feel led to serve in our Management Committee, do email our chairman at kimseng2@singnet.com.sg