Orchard Road Presbyterian Church


The Orchard Road Presbyterian Church, also known as Greja Kechil and the Scots Church, is the earliest Presbyterian church in Singapore.1 Located at the Bras Basah end of Orchard Road, it sits next to the Young Men’s Christian Association and across the road from Cathay cinema.2 It conducts services in multiple languages.3

History
The Orchard Road Presbyterian Church (ORPC) originated as a building which became the Mission Chapel. The East India Company had contributed $250 towards its construction.4 When a sizeable number of Scots began worshipping there, the chapel was nicknamed the “Scots Church”.5


In 1822, the Scottish business community in Singapore held a meeting with the objective of forming the first local Presbyterian congregation. However, this was not realised until 1856, when Reverend Thomas McKenzie Fraser arrived in Singapore.6 A church to minister to the needs of this community was founded that year.7

On 6 May 1875, the governor of Singapore granted the land upon which the current ORPC was built.8 The location of the church’s foundation stone, laid in 1877, is however not known.9 The church building was erected in 1878 at a cost of $20,000, and worship at this new location began with only 42 members.10 It was dubbed Greja Kechil (meaning small church in Malay) for its small size.11

During the Japanese Occupation, services were halted.12 The church provided a safe haven for Scottish soldiers in the initial months of World War II and was subsequently used as a supply base for the Japanese, and most of its early records were destroyed.13 After World War II, Reverend R. M. Greer, who had been interned in Changi, reopened ORPC for regular services in 1947.14 The departure of Scottish and British expatriates from Singapore in the 1960s affected the church’s existence until the latter left the London North Presbytery and came under the Presbyterian Church in Singapore-Malaysia.15

Between the late 1970s and 80s, ORPC added an adjoining building that houses the Dunman Hall and Su Han Kuen Hall.16 The extensions emulated the old church and used pitched roofs with Marseilles-pattern terracotta tiles with white stucco walls.17

Today, ORPC’s congregation is predominantly local and holds services in various languages including English, Mandarin, Indonesian, German and Dutch.18 With the growth of its congregation, two branches were formed for its Chinese congregation. They are Bukit Batok Presbyterian Church and Providence Presbyterian Church.19



Author

Bonny Tan 



References
1. Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 134–135. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
2. Orchard Road Presbyterian Church. (n.d.). Location. Retrieved 2016, October 23 from Orchard Road Presbyterian Church website: www.orpc.sg/contact/location
3. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: University Education Press, p. 66. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
4. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: University Education Press, p. 66. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
5. Wan, M. H., & Lau, J. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 134–135. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN-[HIS])
6. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: University Education Press, p. 66. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Orchard Road Presbyterian Church. (n.d.). History. Retrieved 2016, October 23 from Orchard Road Presbyterian Church website: http://www.orpc.sg/about/history
7. T. F. Hwang takes you down Memory Lane. (1988, December 24). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 233. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
9. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: University Education Press, p. 66. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
10. Orchard Road Presbyterian Church. (n.d.). History. Retrieved 2016, October 23 from Orchard Road Presbyterian Church website: http://www.orpc.sg/about/history; Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Dhoraisingam S Samuel, p. 218. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS])
11. Chandran, K. (2006, October 26). Landmark Presbyterian institution turns 150. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Orchard Road Presbyterian Church. (n.d.). History. Retrieved 2016, October 23 from Orchard Road Presbyterian Church website: http://www.orpc.sg/about/history
13. Chandran, K. (2006, October 26). Landmark Presbyterian institution turns 150. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Dhoraisingam S Samuel, p. 219. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS])
15. Orchard Road Presbyterian Church. (n.d.). History. Retrieved 2016, October 23 from Orchard Road Presbyterian Church website: http://www.orpc.sg/about/history; Chandran, K. (2006, October 26). Landmark Presbyterian institution turns 150. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Orchard Road Presbyterian Church. (n.d.). History. Retrieved 2016, October 23 from Orchard Road Presbyterian Church website: http://www.orpc.sg/about/history
17. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 233. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
18. Chandran, K. (2006, October 26). Landmark Presbyterian institution turns 150. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: University Education Press, p. 66. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
19. Orchard Road Presbyterian Church. (n.d.). History. Retrieved 2016, October 23 from Orchard Road Presbyterian Church website: http://www.orpc.sg/about/history



Further resource
Johnson, A. (1988). The burning bush. Singapore: Dawn Publications.
(Call no.: RSING 285.25957 JOH) 



The information in this article is valid as at 1997 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history on the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Religious Buildings
Religious buildings
Singapore--History--1867-1942
Historic buildings--Singapore
Presbyterian church buildings--Singapore
Arts>>Architecture>>Religious buildings