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New Normal English Forum
Sep 2020

The New Normal English forum wrapped up successfully on 5 August 2020. The forum, a first of its kind to bring church ministers together to discuss issues at hand, saw a total of 75 church leaders and staff taking part in the discussion.

The forum started with an opening address by the English Presbytery's Moderator Rev Vincent Lee (Toong Chai Presbyterian Church), followed by a short introduction of the four main topics of the day by the following pastors and preachers:

  1. Transitioning between online and onsite services - Rev Clive Chin (Orchard Road PC), Rev Steven Gan (Amazing Grace PC)
  2. How do we rethink Church? - Rev Peter Chan (All Saints PC & Bethany PC), Rev Vincent Lee (Toong Chai PC)
  3. How to fulfil the Mission of the Church? - Rev Chris Chia (Adam Road PC), Rev Keith Lai, Ps Susantha, Pr Lionel Neo (Covenant PC)
  4. What does it mean to be a Presbyterian Church? - Rev Leonard Wee (TTC), Rev Darryl Chan (Prinsep Street PC)

During the two hour and 15-minute session, there were various points that were brought up.

With regards to the transition to onsite physical services, Rev Steven Gan from Amazing Grace Presbyterian Church (also one of the churches as the piloted project of MCCY to have allowed to have congregations up to 100 persons), shared about their experience reopening services to their members. While safety measures have to be in place (including disinfecting of venues in between services), they also shared how they use an online ticketing system for church members to sign up for the sessions. Another concern brought up was the extra workload due to video production for online services.

On the topic of rethinking church, the discussion group brought up the need for the church to connect with the members and provide resources for individuals, families and small groups. However, the training of these family / small group leaders is also important, so that the resources provided will be understood in the right way and fruitful for the families and community.

The group discussion on fulfilling the mission of the church touched on the topic of evangelism – bringing up points such as preparing of self in theology and self-reflection, having a good relationship with the people they are reaching out to; not to just focus on evangelizing, but to truly empathize and understand their needs.

There were diverse opinions on the execution of sacraments (particularly on Holy Communion) for the fourth group, as the group brought up questions on the extent of holding on to the Presbyterian distinctive, to the understanding of the doctrine behind the communion itself. To sum up, Rev Dr. Leonard Wee (also part of the TRRC) encouraged the ministers to think further on the role of Presbyterian and reformed heritage in a modern ministry context.

After the discussion, General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Singapore, Rev Teo Yew Tiong, did a report on the Synod Solidarity Initiative (SSI). He invited all churches to apply for the initiatives available: to support them in the purchasing of filming equipment, providing needy families with relevant Wi-Fi and devices to attend online services, as well as homeless ministry. He also shared a snippet on the New Normal Survey's results (which is available on our website). All church leaders and members were also encouraged to sign up for Synod's Monthly News Update to find out about the latest events and updates from the Synod.

The forum ended with a revisit to the EP Roadmap presented at the previous EP AGM, encouraging church leaders to rethink church and an open invite to continue conversations after the end of the forum.


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