In the news – The Connection
The Golden Jubilee Celebrations in The Connection.
Over 20 former missionaries and their spouses came from different parts of the world to attend the Golden Jubilee of Wesley Methodist Church (WMC), Sibu, which was celebrated from 30 April to 4 May 2008. On 2 May, Methodist Theological School (MTS) has the honour to have Rev. Geoffrey Senior (second missionary pastor of WMC and lecturer of MTS from 1959-1962) to speak in their school chapel.
Standing at the same pulpit he preached years ago, Senior said, “Fifty years ago this day (2 May), we set off from England with our 3-month-old daughter to Sibu. I learned the Chinese language with 2 teachers. I used to be able to preach and teach in Chinese but I am afraid I cannot do it now.” The Seniors spent four years in Sibu. They were then posted to Medan, Indonesia and later, Hong Kong. After that, they were back to London to pastor at different churches until their retirement 14 years ago.
“Wherever we are in this world, we always feel at home in the family of God’s people. And we always have a gospel of reconciliation in Jesus Christ to preach. Back then, WMC was a multi-racial and multi-national church, members were from different parts of the world. I particularly enjoyed the time of administering the Holy Communion because we were indeed one in Christ.” Senior reminded us that our Lord can bring down the barrier between people.
At the end of the chapel, Rev. Geoffrey Senior blessed the MTS community on the pulpit in his beautifully spoken Chinese. (Winnie)
An Early History of Wesley Church
Wesley Methodist Church, Sibu, came into being out of a need for Christian worship service conducted in the English Language. It officially began on 5 May 1958 when 19 Methodists and 9 Christians from other denominations under the leadership of a Methodist missionary, Rev. David Macdonald, met in the MTS Chapel to inaugurate a regular English worship service.
Most of the worshippers were missionaries (and their families) who served in the local churches which used various local languages and dialects. They felt the need for fellowship and worship in their own language, and a Sunday school for their children.
The Church grew steadily in importance and number under the capable and dedicated leadership of Rev. David Macdonald (1958-1959); Rev. Geoffrey Senior (1959-1962); Rev. Roy Aylott (1963); Rev. Philip Williams (1962-1965); Rev. James Hipkins (1965-1967); Rev. Chris Tomlinson (1967-1969); Rev David Chiew (1969).
All those years, the serving pastors served only on a part-time basis and it was not until 1970 that Rev. Jim Brinks was appointed the first full-time missionary pastor. More and more local residents joined as full members and regular worshippers as greater outreach was made. This period also saw the further reduction of foreign missionaries to Sarawak.
In December 1976, the Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference appointed Rev. Peter Chuo to succeed Rev. Muthiah, and so the first Sunday in Jan 1977 saw the first full-time local pastor step unto Wesley’s pulpit. By that time, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Shields were the last missionary members of Wesley Church. After they left in October 1978, Wesley Church completed its transition from an English worship service catering for missionary families to providing services for local residents. (Excerpt from “Wesley Methodist Church, Sibu: A Historical Perspective” by Judy Wong)
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