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St James’ Church: Giving thanks for 2013

posted 30.12.2013

Often, we do not like to be specific in our thanksgiving less we missed out on some items. We prefer the generic way and that can be almost saying nothing. 

So, I will try. And for the items I fail to mention, I hope you will make up for it through other ways.

2013 is the last year in our 5-year vision, which we started in tandem with the building project. Sustaining a church-wide vision for that long is always a challenge and it will be true that we struggle in keeping a focus on those statements. However, I am sure the values of this vision is inscribed in our hearts as the Lord build His church. Sometimes we stray or loosen our grip on the plough. We can be thankful that in spite of it all, some of the major directions of this vision had come to pass.

The church is called to the redemptive ministry and it is from that perspective that I want to focus my thanksgiving on.

The Alpha Course seem to have found a new lease of life, finding it’s place in the setting of the new building. We can be thankful to the new Alpha team for their hard work.

Worship and Creative Arts Ministry (WCAM) is also establishing itself on a bigger stage, which is so in more ways than one. We are thankful for new singers and musicians. The hurriedly organised Gen2Gen concert also reveal the abundance of talents we have here. We have seen a year of using our creative talents to honor our Creator God and use it in ways which redeem instead of abusing creation.

The Children Ministry continue to grow in various ways as we follow our Lord’s command to welcome the little children. The weekly faithfulness of SPK teachers and helpers has been wonderful, along with those who have been serving faithfully in Teleios Kids.

The Kindergarten continue to grow, limited only by space. It has been a year of intense work. The Harding land crisis seem to have sparked off a nation-wide soul-searching on the state of our pre-School services. We can be thankful that our government and society is asking all the right questions and arresting the trend of commercialization in this sector. Can good quality Pre-School education be made available to all and not just those who can afford it? SJCK hope to play her part via our Diocese’s Anglican Pre-School Services (APS) and we are praying that APS will be accepted into the new Anchor Operator Scheme.

In JYM, we continue to thank the Lord for new batches of youths joining and current ones maturing. The discipleship-focus JYM is a longterm strategy. Pas Henry and JYM leaders continue to seek the Lord and find ways to help SJC to meet the spiritual needs of each youth. We can be thankful for their patience and sincere attempt at reaching everyone. The youths from SES has integrated well in JYM this year.

Family Life Ministry ran a successful emphasis in May. The Father and Son Camp was life changing. It has been challenging without a full-time staff (Sheena left in earlier part of the year) but we are thankful that overall, it was a fruitful year under the watchful leadership of Carolin & Vincent Tan. Quietly, the counseling ministry goes on as we seek to help families to follow Christ.

We are thankful for every Cell and DG which met this year. There is a ministry and koinonia which happens in each group which is rarely found elsewhere.

We had a refreshing Leader’s Conference in June at Changi Cove, where Revd Daniel Wee and Pas Swee Geok ministered. They both reminded us of the important work of the Spirit in the life of every Christian.

We are also thankful for the start of more intentional efforts to renew our Cell ministry. We ran our Cell leaders training and there is a renewed enthusiasm to revisit some basic principles. I am thankful for Revd Chua and Pas Swee Geok’s leadership in this.

Revd Chua Siang Guan (lead photo) was posted to us in September and Fung Fung and their boys joined us. Already, we can feel the quiet impact of Revd Chua’s ministry and I have full confidence that he will lead the church well during my absence.  

Further afield, we have been very encouraged by the work at Lat Krabang. A regular Sunday Service has started and is already doing well. We praise the Lord for Revd Andrew, Diana and baby Mikayla. The Thai students visit programme has also turned out very well, exceeding our expectations.  

In our prayer ministry, we are grateful for the input by some sisters (especially the “Ywamers”) and many have been blessed by the turning of the Auditorium into a prayer hall. We can continue to look forward to more of this in 2014.

The Weekend Services continue to see steady growth across the board, especially at the SES and E3 Services. We are thankful for the birth of the Home@SJC ministry, which aims to train all of us to transcend our cultural limitations and learn to welcome others in the Christian way. 

The Food Ministry is now so established that we have come to expect great homely hospitality for our events, especially the Alpha Course. We are blessed by some dedicated and gifted cooks and servers on the team.

HEAL, Joy & Hope ministries continue to seek out those with special needs. We are constantly amazed by the dedication and sacrificial love shown as they reaches out and welcome those in need. Through the course of the year, we have heard some amazing testimonies of changed lives.

And how can we fail to remember and give thanks to those who have gone home to the Lord? To mention some, we will risk not naming some others. But we are all part of the communion of saints and there is a spiritual eternal bond we share in Christ. If I have to mention a name, I am thankful for the saintly example of Sister Toong Yin, Revd Hwa Chih’s wife and may her life continue to inspire us to follow Christ.

The list is long. Obviously many other precious events have not been mentioned. But we thank God most of all for each other. It is when we become a family and community, and stay faithful even in tough times that the full life of the church is experience. Great buildings, great sermons, professional music and so on will be long forgotten. But a deep friendship in Christ, touching the life of another, seeing God working through one to the other – these are precious timeless blessings which makes a local church a local church.

Let’s pray that 2014 will be a special year for all of us – a year where we grow deeper in our love for one another and for Him, as we learn to “come away and be with Him”, the theme we have chosen for 2014.

“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” 1 Thess 4:1