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Two new Assistant Bishops appointed

posted 30.10.2014

The sun beamed down on the Cathedral. The hazy skies have cleared. The stage was set for this special occasion for the Diocese of Singapore. The Cathedral’s Nave, the New Sanctuary and the South Transept Hall were filled to the rafters.

A tribute to their many years of ministry and the high regard in which they are held, there were leaders, clergy, archbishops and bishops from Myanmar, Bolivia, Australia, China and our companion dioceses in the Province of Southeast Asia. There were church leaders from other parts of the Chrisian body here, including Archbishop William Goh of the Catholic Archdiocese. Many seats were also taken up by parishioners from the different parishes that the two Bishop Designates had served in.

Describing the two church stalwarts as Aaron and Hur to Moses, the Bishop of Singapore, The Right Revd Rennis Ponniah said that Jee King would focus on Chinese Speaking work and Kim Seng on the six deaneries. As Bishop Rennis has shared on a few occasions, the leadership and pastoral responsibilities of  the Bishop of Singapore are enormous. He is looking forward to the help that these two men will give to him.

In his sermon, the Bishop of the Diocese of West Malaysia, The Rt Revd Datuk Ng Moon Hing shared from his years of experience the importance of knowing oneself, overcoming the trappings of the episcopic ministry, the need to read His Word consitently and stayign close to the parish communities on the ground.

In the process of consecration, The Most Revd Datuk Bolly Anak Lapok, Archbishop of the Province of South East Asia addressed the two kneeling Bishop-Designates:

“A bishop is called to lead in serving and caring for the people of God and to work with them in the oversight of the Church. As a chief pastor he shares with his fellow bishops a special responsibility to maintain and further the unity of the Church, to uphold its discipline, and to guard its faith…….Do you believe, so far as you know your own heart, that God has called you to the office and work pf a bishop in his Church?”

Answering this question and several in the affirmative, the assistant bishops were consecrated through laying of hands and prayer by the Archbishop and other bishops who were present. Each was then presented with a copy of the Bible as their guide and a ring as a symbol of faith. After Archbishop Bolly had blessed and placed the mitre on their heads, they were then presented to the people by Bishop Rennis together with their wives.

With the formalities completed, there was a informal garden party and concert on the lawn of the Cathedral.


The Diocesan Digest interviews the Assistant Bishops:

Bishop Low, how long have you been in ministry as a clergy?
JK: I was ordained as Deacon in 1987,  that is about 27 years ago.

How has God’s grace been at work in your life and ministry?
JK: I have always had a desire to be a pastor and serve in the parish. After graduating from Trinity Theological College, I was fully engaged in the pastoral ministry.  The Lord moulded me by given an opportunity to start a new Chinese congregation in Yishun Christian Church. He increased my compassion for the peoples and gave me strength and courage to continue the journey with Him. I believe without this grace from the Lord, I would have been unable to reach this point of my life.

What about you, Bishop Kuan?
KS: It has been a short 25 years as a clergy!  But if we include service as an active church member, it is of course longer. My earlier ministry involvement included serving as a Boys' Brigade officer and teaching in Sunday School.
Serving God's will as a pastor has been a most fulfilling responsibility - my duty and my joy!  Serving His will as a bishop was not something at the back of my mind, although I am familiar with Holy Scripture that says, 'If anyone aspires to be a bishop...'.  
God has been most gracious to me. He called me out of sin and darkness when as a teenager I first heard the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Submitting to the lordship of God was the best decision that I've ever made.  Of course, God's grace by way of His Word and Spirit, working through family, friends and church responsibilities have shaped me to who I am today. For all these, I am eternally grateful.

When you were first approached by Bishop Rennis Ponniah to serve in this position, what thoughts first ran through your mind?
JK: The first thought was, “Am I willing to suffer with Christ?” Being an Archdeacon for about six years, I have been working closely with Bishop John Chew and Bishop Rennis. So I fully understand the tremendous responsibilities and challenges facing them. The road ahead is tough.  I am also afraid that I am not capable enough for this office due to the inadequacy in my command of English.  These thoughts constantly remind me that Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing. (John15:5)”

KS: My first thought was 'Wow, but iI am just over 2 and a half years before retirement!” I was quickly told that my ministry will be extended for 2 more years. As I begin to pray and ponder on the matter, I come back to the same conclusion that brought me into full time ministry 25 year ago - 'not my will but Yours be done' - my duty and my joy.  Duty (i.e. obedience) first, and the joy will accompany.

As an Assistant Bishop, what will be your ministry focus?JK: My main focus is to seek the unity within our Diocese, regardless of the language we use. We are one family. The purpose of our Church here is to glorify Him by obeying His commandments and to be His witness.  We need to build strong parishes and congregations to continue the works begun by our forefathers.  The Chinese work is also a major area of my concerns.

KS: Bishop Rennis has asked me to focus on the deaneries. They are poised for a new phase of significant growth and development. Serving with the six deans to fulfil the Great Commission beyond our little island is a great privilege that has been given to the Diocese.

Any further words for those in our Diocese or deaneries? Any request for prayer for you and your family?
JK: As we are mainstreaming our deaneries’ work, we need our parishioners to be involved more proactively.  Each parish needs to be strong and steady, so that we can focus our energy on mission and evangelism. Please pray for me and my family, that the Lord will use us as instruments to bless others and our family to be used by the Lord to bless other families.

KS: I like to recall the Great Commandment that the Lord Jesus Christ gave to us, with the promise that the Holy Spirit will empower us to do and complete the job! (Matt 28:19-10, Acts 1:8, etc)  We need to think of completing global evangelisation in our life time; a possibility in our present era, unmatched in all of Church history. I think the most significant prayer that should occupy us today are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ recorded in John 17:4 - 'I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.'  May these words be our earnest prayer to our Abba Father in heaven.