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All 2019 October Vicar Writes

27 October 2019 | Vicar Writes

In quietness, I imagine a place where…

By Terry Wong

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…”  Ephesians 3:20

One can draw away from the world. For just a while (Mark 6:31). Being apart, he now sees clearly how incongruent and self-destructive modern life has become. Our early fathers used to see the world as shipwrecked, where one needed to swim for his life. Not towards the world but away from. For many of us, we drift compliantly, letting the tides take us deeper into spiritual wreckage.

One can be in solitude. He pulls away from the demands of self amongst others. He takes a respite from the need to be loved, thought well of and praised. He walks off the stage, out of the limelight. In the audience of One, he begins to see himself as he truly is. He gets a right perspective of issues, people etc. He comes to his senses (Luke 15:17).

One can meditate. A few sentences of Scripture at a time. While there is a place for reading long passages of Scripture, pausing and going deep can only be experienced when one is not in a hurry. It is not about analysing Scripture. Why was that said? When was that said? What was said? There is a time for inductive Bible Study, but not in this place. One asks instead, what is God saying to me today through His Word?  

One can read. Writings that matter. Those that feed the soul. Planting seeds that seem to be ever growing in our interior world. Where words and ideas are not highlighted in pages, but inside of us. Captured forever as inner wisdom which continues to guide us through life. Shaping our intuitions and instincts. Some precious words are from the dead, our "absent brethren.” Harder to read and grasp, they write in un-modern ways which we are less accustomed to. Like all things of worth, it takes effort to understand. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  

One can grow compassion for others. Solitude breeds compassionate solidarity. For when one sees himself as he truly is, he refrains from doing “life-reading” of others. This is the peril of judging, where in our minds we play god (or the devil?) and categorise people into the good and the very good, the bad and the very bad. When we allow God to deal with the log in our eyes, we have no view left for the speck in others (Matt 7:3). Instead, we accept others as Christ has accepted us. We love, we feel, we “com-passio” - we suffer along side (com: along, passio: suffer).

One realises that apart from Christ, one can do nothing (John 15:5). This is a daily discovery that comes through being more conscious of our being than doing. Being in the presence of God, praying and relying in Him. His Spirit shapes our being and in turn, our lives become life-giving. We bring the presence of God into the lives of others. We stop discouraging others, making them cower in fear. We encourage (embolden) them instead into the fulness of their destiny in God.    

I will continue to imagine aka to pray, for such a place for me, for you, for us.

20 October 2019 | Vicar Writes

“Not Conformed… but Transformed”

By Terry Wong
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Delegates at the 7th Global South Conference in Cairo, Egypt, 8th-11th October

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed
by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

As a part of a delegation led by the Archbishop of our Province, Ng Moon Hing, and our Bishop Rennis Ponniah, we were deeply involved in the Anglican Conference, the Seventh Global South Conference at Cairo, Egypt (8-11th October).  Delegates from at least 18 Provinces were represented and we reflected on the theme “Not Conformed…but transformed” based on Romans 12:1-2

When dioceses in the Provinces disagree on some fundamentals of the faith or are exploring fresh approaches, there are processes for the issues to be discussed or resolved. However, what processes are there to guide how Provinces related to each other at the Communion level?

Before 2003, the Communion thought we had sufficient processes and mutual trust to manage disagreements. The unilateral consecration of a bishop in same-sex relationship went ahead in 2003, in spite of commitments to a common discipline which were debated and voted on at Lambeth 1998. When the consecration was announced beforehand, pleas from Anglican leaders all over the world for restraint were ignored.

At the surface level, this may seem to be just about the issue of homosexuality. Far deeper than that, it is also about more fundamental issues about the place of Scripture, tradition and what holds our Church together. And Western hegemony has also shaped the attitudes of some Western Anglican leaders towards their "Third World" counterparts.

The issues are of course complex. But it is a fact that the vast majority of Anglicans - both in the West and round the world - do believe that the faith of the Anglican Church should be upheld, and our Church life together does matter. In a very good sense of the word, we love the Communion and we treasure the faith heritage that has been passed down to us. If aspects of our faith, morals and pastoral practices need to be changed, then there should be a proper process of listening, discussions, debate and so on. But if these processes are ignored, then those who do so have simply chosen to walk apart.

Much of Global South’s work is to seek to positively bring "healing to the fabric”, find ways to build trust again, and relational commitments that can ensure we can do mission together without such future severe disruptions. There is a silver-lining in this crisis as it has helped bring many Anglican Provinces closer together and our communion life is richer than ever.

For those interested, I recommend that you read the latest Covenant Structure which was adopted. You can go to the globalsouthanglican.org for a copy of this as well as the accompanying communique which also expresses the voice of this Conference.

One can say, the Anglican Communion is growing up in the midst of modernity and the fast emergence of new scientific, sociological and moral ideas. While this may appear novel, it has always been this way for the Church from the infancy of her earlier centuries till now.

The Biblical words of Romans 12:1,2 continue to guide us as we seek to work out our faith in our modern contexts. And even as we pause to think about the Communion, we remind ourselves that the Christian life is lived by each of us and as a local SAC family.

It is a communion - continually shaped by the appeal of St Paul - which we have between us and shared across the world.

13 October 2019 | Vicar Writes

A Note About Our Northwest Quadrant

By Terry Wong

We have closed our grounds for gathering and picnicking by foreigners (mostly from Myanmar) for a few months now. There were some security problems which we had to manage. And there were also events like the NDP and F1 race to manage, along with the Pavilion works.

However, a team has been planning to reopen some parts of our ground. We have strengthened the involvement of our Myanmar Worship Congregation and with Revd Moses Israeli now serving as full-time clergy, we will step up our communications concerning security issues and cleanliness of the grounds. Members from other Myanmar worship congregations are also assisting. We will now fix a closing time (i.e. 5 pm).

Our BMW ministry (Befriending Migrant Workers) is also involved and we are looking forward to our continual ministry with them through the offering of English teaching classes, cooking classes, teaching life skills and so on. The Cathedral wants to continue to be welcoming to all even as we seek to find the right balance re individual freedom and communal discipline. If you would like to help in some way, please contact Lawrence Wee at lawrence.wee@cathedral.org.sg

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More than just about space, may we continue to be kind and considerate towards all. May our light so shine that our Father is glorified (Matthew 5:16).

The Pavilion should be completed by mid-November. “Phase 1” would have completed, along with the completed lift at South Transept. One remaining question is the need for linkway covering at the area adjacent to the Nave if we are to remove the white tent. We know how chaotic it will be pre and post Services on Sundays, especially if it rains. On this, discussions will be ongoing with our architects and authorities.

We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of Phase 2. We are seeking approval at November’s Synod to start fund-raising, which is likely to begin in early 2020. Meanwhile, there are a lot of details to work regarding the design and we are seeking to involve many from our community at various levels to ensure there is good input for the design.

The New Sanctuary and her ancillary facilities (CNS) has served us very well since 2005, providing significant space for growth and ministry development. Phase 2 will address some of our pressing needs for space as well as creating new potential for growth. The completion of Phase 2 will also allow us to repurpose some of our present facilities. We will find various ways to update all our congregations regarding the design development and to allow for interaction and feedback channels.

6 October 2019 | Vicar Writes

Restoring and Renewing

By Terry Wong

"Let them deliver it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD,
and let them give it to the workmen who are in the house of the LORD to repair the damages of the house,
to the carpenters and the builders and the masons and for buying timber and hewn stone to repair the house.

2 Kings 22:5,6

The brochure to raise money for our Heritage Fund is inserted in today's bulletin. It will furnish the background for the project and you should be able to see that this planning has involved many years of careful consultations and preparations.

Being good stewards with what we already have is a fundamental responsibility even as we seek to cater for growth and consider new facilities. As has often been said, the Cathedral is dripping with history from the time when the land was allocated in 1822 (which makes 2022 another bicentennial to note).

Are we doing these works because the building has been gazetted as a monument by the authorities? Common sense of stewardship responsibility would have obligated us to keep the building in good shape because of the spiritual significance of this site. She has been the centre of worship, community and city-wide witness. As an Anglican bishop remarked concerning the role of church buildings and the care we should put in the design:

"At present the Church may be mistaken for a Town Hall, a College or an Assembly Room. The strangers resorting to this great emporium of commerce have no means of knowing for what it is destined. By the erection of a tower and spire, rising about 50 feet above the balustrade of the roof, its sacred design will be manifested, and the surrounding heathen will see the honour we put upon our religion, and the care we take to mark the reverence for the solemn worship of Almighty God by the appropriate distinctions of its outward appearance." 1

Our desire to honour God through our buildings, the priority we give to worship and preserving the architectural features which distinguishes the witness of the church should continue to guide the way we maintain and build on this site. While it may be a “monumental obligation”, it is also our privilege that we have a historical building right at the heart of our land which will always mark her age (19th century) while the surrounding land is being landscaped and developed for the growth in worship and ministry needs.

As recorded for us in 2 Kings 22, restoration of the temple in Jewish history often went hand in hand with the renewal of worship and spiritual lives of the people, and in particular, the return to the Word of God.

The Word is about our discipleship/following of Christ and our witness to the world about His saving grace. This is one reason why SAC has moved beyond her Nave facility to develop further on her land. 2005 was another significant year when the Cathedral New Sanctuary (CNS) was built.

We restore to honour what we had been given (Nave and land) and yet renew it (land) for the on-going work of Word and witness.


1 Views of Bishop Daniel Wilson, Bishop of Calcutta in Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore 1819-1867, p289-290