The People Called Methodists: The Heritage, Life and Mission of The Methodist Church in Singapore
The People Called Methodists is a coffee-table book which all Methodists will want to own and read. Non-Methodists will be able to appreciate the essential similarities and some differences that both unite and divide the universal Church. The various articles in the book seek to tell the story of The Methodist Church in Singapore through its men and women, its history in text and pictures, its structures and the essence of the Wesleyan heritage. It will break new ground in church publications. Methodists young and old will find its articles absorbing and illuminating as they discover the heritage derived from the biblical vision of what the Christian and Church should be like. Produced with colour and sepia photographs, The People Called Methodists tells the story in five sections:
Who We Are
A brief account of the Methodist movement and how it was brought to these shores in 1885 by pioneer missionaries. Now with 44 churches and eight preaching points and a membership of over 36,000, this book avoids going through "dry" history and paints a broad and absorbing picture for the average reader.
How We Are Strutured
A clarification of our Church connectional system, including the General, Annual and Local Conferences. Its underlying motif is the partnership between the clergy and the laity in building and extending God's Kingdom on earth, most significantly in overseas outreach in recent years.
What We Believe
Encourages Methodist Christians to go more deeply in understanding the doctrines, the sources of our Faith, the meaning of Grace and the Responsibility that is the duty of a follower of Jesus. For ease of reference, the texts of the Creeds (The Apostles', Nicene and Social), as well as the Articles of Religion have been provided in full.
Details the methodical in Methodism. This is supported by an account of how The Methodist Church in Singapore has tried to promote discipleship not only through lay training and study courses, but also through its schools, youth organisations, its women's and senior ministries, as well as in encouraging the whole Church to participate actively in a volunteer movement. All this is encapsulated in the texts of the General Rules of the Methodist Church and the Social Principles of the MCS which accompany the article.
Conveys how Methodists witness in the world at large, through joyful multi-lingual worship services, in the observance of the sacraments (baptism and holy communion), and in observing the Christian calendar that helps to order the formation of our Faith. These acts of Faith are to be complemented by Christian social action - for and among those who face personal crises and hardship - and are characterised by the ministry of the Methodist Welfare Services and the workers who make this not only possible but add a further dimension of love and care, whether among elderly patients, orphans, or school children.
The first Methodist church in Singapore (left) and the first ACS school building (right) on Coleman Street. Source: The People Called Methodists.
James Thoburn as depicted in photograph from one of the books in the archives
A sizeable 180-page volume, The People Called Methodists cannot be read like a novel and should take quite a while to digest. It is best done in small doses by a reader who will, from time to time, browse with interest among the many and varied articles. Alternatively, it has enough content to act as a basis for study by cell or study group members - helping them to mature in their understanding not only about the Methodist heritage, but also their responsibilities as 21st century Christians who live in such challenging times. A study guide is also available.
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