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17 March 2019 | Vicar Writes

Giving and Thanksgiving

By Terry Wong

Embedded in Judea-Christian teaching is the principle of stewardship, generosity and giving. This has effected how the Church and Christians have existed and lived in the world, though “not of the world” (John 17:14-15).

It has been a discipleship journey of learning to be generous in giving to the Church in her running of ministries, orphanages, social work, medical work and educational institutions. On top of that, Singaporeans have reached out to surrounding nations and much resource has been given to spreading the Gospel and uplifting of these societies.

Many Anglican parishes have also picked up a tradition of ensuring everything that is collected within a year is given away by the year’s end. Hoarding is not encouraged and not seen as an act of faith. A prudent general reserve is kept, and in some churches, investments such as properties and legacy funds are kept. But year to year, faith is expected of congregations to rise to the needs.

The Church also learns to do things better but cheaper, funded by a "currency of love". There is a high level of lay volunteerism. Church clergy, pastors and staff are not expected to command salaries similar to their equivalent secular counterparts. In some parishes, including Cathedral, some staff members work pro bono.

The Church's contribution to a society’s social, cultural and spiritual wealth is incalculable. I once attended a conference where a political expert lamented that some gifted Christians have dropped out as economic contributors. I think we should rejoice. Singapore will be a lot poorer today if everything in life is about a citizen maximising his capacity for wealth.

The Cathedral, as Mother Church, sets the pace and is a keen observer of good principles in giving. A huge portion of our “income” is given away to outside work, whether it is our own “blood, sweat and tears” or helping others with their ministries, here and abroad. Our own ministries are also given sufficient attention, with gifted staff helming and laying a foundation for growth now and in the future.

In an increasingly connected world, we also receive a lot of requests to help. A Singapore dollar goes a long way in other parts of the world. It is not easy, but our PCC and Missions Committees struggle to balance the budget and ensure we are helping as many as possible.

And so year after year, we are dependent on the commitment of the congregation to tithing, pledging and free-will offerings. The principle of tithing reflects a wonderful principle of proportion. If every Christian is faithful to his or her lot, we believe SAC can rise up to her obligations year after year. We need to sow a seed into God's Kingdom in time (future) and space (society and world).

Previous generations have given so that today, we may be able to continue the giving. God's Church constitutes an amazing ecosystem. May each of us do our part to “seek first His Kingdom.” (Matthew 6:33)

Indeed, it is a privilege and I invite you to join in this continuous stream of giving.


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