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Passing on the Legacy from Our Predecessors
By Rt Rev Leow Khee Fatt
Jun 2014

The Presbyterian Church in Singapore (PCS) is a denomination with a long heritage. As far back as 1839, Rev. Benjamin Peach Keasberry was sent by the London Missionary Society to Singapore as a missionary. In 1843, Rev. Keasberry founded Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church, the first Presbyterian Church in Singapore. In 1853, Orchard Road Presbyterian Church was born followed by Glory Presbyterian Church in 1881. In 1883, Jubilee Presbyterian Church, Singapore Life Church and Bethel Presbyterian Church were established. As we reflected on our Presbyterian heritage, the divine grace of God is evident together with the obedience of our predecessors to the call of God in their lives. They left their homelands for Singapore, and successfully established the foundations of PCS.

Over a hundred years later, the mission of PCS is now in our hands. We need to treasure the grace of God and the toil of our predecessors, keeping the mission by passing on their faith and legacy.

(1) Passing on the traditional beliefs
Thank God for the official establishment of The Asian Institute of Calvin Studies (AICS). Last year, we successfully implemented the Synod Youth Internship program. 17 youths from 7 churches attended the 2.5 month course. The Synod Training Exposure Program (STEP) also commenced on 19 May 2014 with 30 tertiary students from 12 Churches. This will definitely strengthen their understanding of Presbyterianism and learn to pass on the legacy of their predecessors.

The first Presbyterianism class conducted in Chinese began on 8 May 2014 for the elders and deacons. 62 leaders from 14 member churches gathered under one roof to discuss and encourage one another, feeling a sense of pride and joy to be called an elders and deacons. A similar class in English will commence in July 2014.

In May 2014, Trinity Theological College (TTC) officially accepted PCS's proposal to set up the Asian Institute of Calvin Studies (AICS) under her umbrella. The aim of the courses is to allow Presbyterians or those from other denominations with a keen interest in Calvinistic Theology to study Calvinism at postgraduate or doctorate levels. AICS hopes to nurture scholars who are able to inherit and spread the core essence of Presbyterian beliefs and values.

(2) Passing on the attitude of serving the community
PCS established the Presbyterian Community Services in 1974, and currently has 28 Service Centres established all over Singapore.

Besides the Presbyterian Community Services, PCS also has many member churches with excellent social impact, such as the Bethel Presbyterian Church's All Saints Memorial Chapel and All Saints Home at Poh Huat Road and Tampines. Other projects include Covenant Presbyterian Church which runs the Andrew & Grace Home, Chen Li Presbyterian Church's Friends of Third Age, and Grace Orchard School which is jointly founded by Providence Presbyterian Church and True Grace Presbyterian Church. We see that with the Lord's leading, all the Presbyterian churches work hard to spread the love of Christ to the world.

On 29 April 2014, PCS, together with Presbyterian Community Services, called various churches and the social services operated by the churches for a meeting at YMCA. They discussed the possibility of coming together to form the Presbyterian Care Singapore Network to give prominence to the social services provided by the Presbyterian denomination under one umbrella. A conference (Impacting the Community together) was also planned to be held in July at the All Saints Tampines.

Do continue to uphold the Sengkang Community Hospital plans in prayers for the Lord to open another door to serve the community and to work with the government closely in shouldering the medical challenges of Singapore together.

3) Passing on the Christian tradition of founding schools
T.R. Doraisamy (1969) pointed out in "150 years of education in Singapore" that the Protestant missionaries were the pioneers of the Western education in Singapore. (Lee-Wang Cheng Yeng (2012) page 91). Rev. Zhuang, when describing the works of Rev. Archibald Lamont, pointed out with great foresight that effective church growth must work in tandem with the establishment of educational institutions. This resulted in the rise of the Eastern Schools (Nanyang Chinese Presbyterian Church in Singapore 50th Anniversary Publication, P52) Rev. Zheng Ping-Ting wrote with a heavy heart, "We have only sixteen churches, with membership of less than a thousand members...Presbyterian established schools and charity organisations...were few in number compared with the Methodists with over 40 years of establishing education institutions and charitable organisations, the Methodist churches have spread all over Asia with church memberships in tens of thousands" . (Nanyang Chinese Presbyterian Church in Singapore 50th Anniversary Publication, P25).

The above is a small section from the history of Presbyterian schools. Today, we have Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School, Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary and Secondary Schools, Presbyterian High School and Grace Orchard School. They are precious assets acquired through our forefathers' hard work. These schools continue to shine forth their light in our generation, and helped to nurture many talents for churches and Singapore. Is there room for us to build more schools? Is the Presbyterian International School just a dream or a possible reality?

We are looking forward to the completion of the Presbyterian Hub. This requires us to stand united in our various places and positions, and to be a testimony to all by embracing, sustaining and passing on this tremendous legacy started over a hundred years ago.


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