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S.Y.N.O.D.
Separate Yet NOt Divisive

By Rt Rev Dr Steven Gan (Synod Moderator)
Oct 2015

It has been almost two years since our denomination successfully carried out the mass registration exercise for each Presbyterian church to be a separate legal entity. Each of our 36 congregations is now a separate legal body registered directly with either the ROS (Registrar of Societies) as a society or ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority) as a company.

Yet every local church is still an integral part of the denomination by virtue of their respective written allegiance and subscription to the Constitution of The Presbyterian Church in Singapore.

This is the distinctive uniqueness of our Presbyterian polity, whereby the Synod still facilitates communication among the Presbyteries and between Members, in all matters relating to the mission of the denomination. I have acrostically characterized the SYNOD as Separate Yet NOt Divisive.

Yes, we are each a separate legal entity but we need not be divisive. Yes, we may have differences of views on some ecclesial or socio-cultural issues but we can certainly learn to “agree to disagree” on the non-essentials but stay united on the non-negotiable gospel truth and common kingdom goals.

One of these is the redevelopment of the 999-year leasehold land (approx. 100,000 sqft) located at 116 Lorong J Telok Kurau. The two well-worn buildings (Blk J & Blk K) are currently being rented out as a student hostel (see pictures below).


Present view from left on Telok Kurau Lor J


Present view from right on Telok Kurau Lor J

As you probably realised, the land can be better optimised. Thus the delegates to the Synod AGM 2013, comprising your elected church representatives, had voted in favour of redeveloping our God-given land into a Presbyterian Hub.

The projected construction cost will be in the region of $45 million (see below Draft Architectural Design which is subject to changes by the authorities and architects).

The bulk of it will be provided upfront by four longterm lessees who had responded to the invitation via six separate letters sent out to all Presbyterian churches between November 2011 and October 2012 by the Presbyterian Hub Development (PHD) Committee.

While the majority of the construction cost is taken care of, we still need to raise additional funds to complete the project (including interior design, purchase of fixtures, furniture and equipment, as well as operation and maintenance costs).

Thus, we had planned three fundraising events for the Hub, one of which was already held last November (i.e. Presbyterian Run & Walk 2014). The other two would be the forthcoming Thanksgiving-cum-Fundraising Concert (TFC) on 27th November 2015 and the Presbyterian 135th Anniversary Celebration on 14th August 2016.

Since my Synod Sunday (12th July 2015) update, the Presbyterian Hub Development (PHD) Committee has been working hard on two pressing challenges:

  1. First, in response to a qualified reply from URA on 6th July 2015, we have engaged the service of another architectural firm, which is familiar with the new parameters set by the URA, to co-labour with our incumbent architect in revising our Hub proposal before resubmitting again. I must clarify here that the URA’s response to our OPP submissions thus far has been one of rectifications rather than rejection.
  2. Next, while working on the requisite resubmissions to URA, the PHD Committee has been preoccupied with organising the Thanksgiving-cum-Fundraising Concert (TFC). This will be held on 27th November 2015 (Friday, 7.30pm) at the 5000-seat Star Performing Arts Centre (located next to the Buona Vista MRT). The venue has been chosen to enable as many of our 20,000 Presbyterian members as possible from 36 churches to unite in a joyful time of thanksgiving to God for all that He given and done for us.
On this note, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to those churches:
  1. which have encouraged and sent your members to join the 250-strong Combined Adults’ Choir, the 100-strong Combined Children’s Choir, and the 30-strong Youth Drama & Dance item. (I am particularly heartened by this group of young people who have been rehearsing their dance movements twice a week for the TFC since 7th July 2015);
  2. which have invited our TFC Publicity Team to promote the event during your Sunday Worship and to sell the tickets after the Worship Service. The organizing committee deeply appreciates your prompt response and zealous participation.
Besides the Choral singing and the Drama & Dance item, the TFC program on 27th November also includes performances by
  • the RECA (Reaching Excellence through Circus Arts) Troupe (which had received the inaugural MOENCSS Special Education Innovation Award in 2007) from Grace Orchard School,
  • the Guzheng Ensemble from Presbyterian High School (which has achieved Distinction Award in the Singapore Youth Festival 2015 competition),
  • a 80-strong Men's Chorale, and
  • songs by our special Korean guest artiste, Mr Bae Jae Chul (widely known as the Tenor of God), who also has a wonderful testimony to share with us.
If you have yet to respond to our call for participation in and contribution toward the TFC, I humbly seek your consideration in doing so. You can do this as a church. Please place a block booking with our Synod office. You can also purchase extra tickets as gifts for your friends.

I am aware that every church has its own needs and projects and thus your time may be tight and your resources strained. But imagine the impact it would create if all our 36 churches were involved in the project! Think about it: Nehemiah was able to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem in 52 days, not merely through his own commitment and perseverance but especially through the collective efforts of his united people and the intervening help of God.

My beloved yokefellows in the Gospel ministry, as we press on towards seeing our iconic Presbyterian Hub come to pass, I would like to reiterate that this Hub belongs to all 36 churches. Yes, this is OUR Presbyterian Hub! The Synod Office will be housed there, signifying the Hub as the Headquarters of The Presbyterian Church in Singapore. Moreover, it will serve our denomination and 36 member churches as a BEACON of light for the Lord, acrostically explained as follows:

B for Bible School & Boarding House
E for Equipping Centre
A for Administrative Offices
C for Community Outreach
O for Overseas Missions
N for Next-generation Training Ground.

OUR Hub will also serve the Christian, as well as the wider local and overseas communities. OUR Hub is a clarion call for all 36 churches to unite our hearts in fulfilling God’s vision and purpose for our present and future generations.

Finally, it is my prayer and hope that you and your church will truly see yourself as an integral part of The Presbyterian Church in Singapore, an important member of the 20,000-strong Presbyterian Church, and above all, subscribing to the tenets of the S.Y.N.O.D. – Separate Yet NOt Divisive!




 
 




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