Methodism in Singapore



Methodism is a Protestant Christian religion.1 The first Methodist church in Singapore was formed following the arrival of Bishop James Mills Thoburn (Dr) and Reverend William Fitzjames Oldham on 7 February 1885.2 Daily prayer services commenced the following day at the “Town Hall” (which later became the Victoria Theatre) till 22 February 1885, thus establishing Methodism in Singapore.3 Over time, Singapore’s first Methodist church has evolved to become the Wesley Methodist Church today.4

History
The Protestant Christian religion was started in England by John Wesley, which subsequently spread via India to Singapore and then Malaya.5

Methodism in Singapore began when missionaries, Thoburn and Oldham, together with Anne Thoburn (Dr) and Julia Battie, arrived in Singapore on 7 February 1885 and conducted the first service at short notice on the following day.6 Regular prayer meetings were held thereafter at the Town Hall, as well as the Christian Institute situated on Middle Road/Waterloo Street.7 Appointed pastor on 22 February 1885, Oldham remained in Singapore as the first resident Methodist missionary.8

Situated on Coleman Street, the first Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated on 15 December 1886. The original church was later redeveloped to where the National Archives of Singapore is today.9 In addition to evangelistic and educational activities, the mission also provided medical services.10 In 1907, the government granted a 3,530-square-metre site at Fort Canning to build a new church “for the English-speaking Methodist congregation”.11 Today, the building exists as the Wesley Methodist Church, and it is also known as the “mother church” of Methodism in the region.12

Growth of Methodism
Over time, other Methodist churches were established in Singapore to serve the different linguistic and ethnic communities.13 With Singapore as the stepping stone, the religion had also spread rapidly around the region.14


As part of their outreach, the mission started a printing press which marked the beginning of the Methodist Publishing House, which was later renamed MPH.15 In 1893, the Methodist Book Room, which supplied literature to churches and schools in Malaya, was established. For many years, it was situated at the building on Coleman Street which currently houses the Singapore Philatelic Museum.16

World Methodist Conference
Singapore was the chosen venue for the 16th World Methodist Conference held from 24 to 31 July 1991.17 The event was jointly hosted by the Methodist churches in Singapore, and it attracted more than 4,000 delegates from all over the world.18


Timeline
7 Feb 1885
: Methodism begins in Singapore with the arrival of Thoburn and Oldham.19

22 Feb 1885: Official appointment of Oldham as pastor.20
23 Feb 1885: First Methodist quarterly conference is held.21
1 Mar 1886: Singapore’s first Methodist school, Anglo Chinese School (ACS), is opened at 70 Amoy Street.22
15 Dec 1886: First “English Church” at Coleman Street is dedicated.23
Dec 1890: Methodist Mission Press is started by Reverend William G. Shellabear (Dr).24
Oct 1891: First monthly journal The Malaysia Message (now renamed Methodist Message) is published.25
1893: Building for ACS is erected at Canning Rise next to the church at Coleman Street.26
1904: Oldham is elected bishop.27
1935: Jubilee (50th anniversary) celebrations are held with Oldham as guest.28
1960: The 75th anniversary of Methodism in Singapore.
1968: Reverend Yap Kim Hao is elected first Asian bishop.29
23 Feb 1985: Centennial celebrations of Methodism in Singapore.30
2431 Jul 1991: World Methodist Conference is held in Singapore.31
1995: The 110th anniversary of Methodism in Singapore is celebrated at Wesley Methodist Church.32



Author
Vernon Cornelius-Takahama



References
1.
The Methodist Church in Singapore. (2014, December 22). Our church. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from The Methodist Church in Singapore website: http://www.methodist.org.sg/index.php/about-us/our-church
2. Sng, B. E. K. (2003). In His good time: The story of the church in Singapore, 1819–2002. Singapore: Bible Society of Singapore: Graduates’ Christian Fellowship, pp. 105–108. (Call no.: RSING 280.4095957 SNG); Doraisamy, T. R. (1979). Oldham called of God: Profile of a pioneer: Bishop William Fitzjames Oldham. Singapore: Methodist Book Room, p. 94. (Call no.: RSING 287.15900994 OLD)
3.
Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 8. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR)
4.
Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). History. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/history/about-us/history
5.
Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, pp. 1, 4–5. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR)
6.
Doraisamy, T. R. (1982). The march of Methodism in Singapore and Malaysia, 1885–1980. Singapore: Methodist Book Room, pp. 1, 6–7. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR); Sng, B. E. K. (2003). In His good time: The story of the church in Singapore, 1819–2002. Singapore: Bible Society of Singapore: Graduates’ Christian Fellowship, p. 84. (Call no.: RSING 280.4095957 SNG)
7.
Doraisamy, T. R. (1982). The march of Methodism in Singapore and Malaysia, 1885–1980. Singapore: Methodist Book Room, p. 8. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR)
8.
Doraisamy, T. R. (1982). The march of Methodism in Singapore and Malaysia, 1885–1980. Singapore: Methodist Book Room, p. 8. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR); Sng, B. E. K. (2003). In His good time: The story of the church in Singapore, 1819–2002. Singapore: Bible Society of Singapore: Graduates’ Christian Fellowship, p. 108. (Call no.: RSING 280.4095957 SNG)
9.
Doraisamy, T. R. (1982). The march of Methodism in Singapore and Malaysia, 1885–1980. Singapore: Methodist Book Room, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR); National Heritage Board. (2016, March 3). National Archives of Singapore – Jubilee Walk. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/landmarks/jubilee-walk/national-archives-of-singapore
10.
Doraisamy, T. R. (1982). The march of Methodism in Singapore and Malaysia, 1885–1980. Singapore: Methodist Book Room, p. 17. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR)
11.
Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of Grace: Early years. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace
12.
Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of Grace: 1960–1970s. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace#1960-1970s
13.
Samuel, D. S. (1991). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Elixir Consultancy Service, p. 153. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS])
14.
Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 53. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR)
15.
Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, pp. 53–54. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR)
16.
National Heritage Board. (2016, March 3). National Archives of Singapore – Jubilee Walk. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/Content/Places/landmarks/jubilee-walk/national-archives-of-singapore; Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, pp. 28–29. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR)
17.
Feeding the 4000: World Methodist Conference banquet. (1991). Singapore: Tradelinks for Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 8. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FEE)
18.
Leong, W. K. (1991, July 28). Mammoth Methodist gathering draws 3,100. The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19.
Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR)
20.
Samuel, D. S. (1991). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Elixir Consultancy Service, p. 153. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS])
21.
Doraisamy, T. R. (1979). Oldham called of God: Profile of a pioneer: Bishop William Fitzjames Oldham. Singapore: Methodist Book Room, p. 31. (Call no.: RSING 287.15900994 OLD)
22.
Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 9. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR)
23.
Doraisamy, T. R. (1982). The march of Methodism in Singapore and Malaysia, 1885–1980. Singapore: Methodist Book Room, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR)
24.
Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 28. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR)
25.
Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 28. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR); Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1986). Forever beginning II: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 101 (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR)
26.
Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 15. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR)
27.
Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 18. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR)
28.
A vision that was fulfilled. (1935, January 10). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29.
Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of Grace: 1960–1970s. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace#1960-1970s
30.
Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of Grace: 1980s. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace#1980s; Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1986). Forever beginning II: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 120. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FOR)
31.
Feeding the 4000: World Methodist Conference banquet. (1991). Singapore: Tradelinks for Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 8. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 FEE)
32.
Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of Grace: 1990s. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace#1990s



The information in this article is valid as at 2001 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

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Methodist Church--Singapore
Methodism
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