10 Thanksgiving Points for 2020
At the Quarterly Congregational Meeting on 3 January 2021, Elder Caleb Yap shared ten points of thanksgiving for 2020.
Before the meeting, we had heard Pastor Eugene’s preach from Luke 17 about how living by faith means humble gratitude: “Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Lk 17:15–18 ESV)
It is right for us to give God praise, even for a difficult year like 2020. Here are ten points for our thanksgiving to God:
1. We thank God for His merciful protection of our members. God has kept safe all our elderly, at-risk, children and vulnerable members while Covid-19 has taken the health and lives of many all around the world. Healthcare workers in our midst He has also preserved. While a handful of GBC members have had to travel abroad, He has kept them safe too.
2. We thank God for the love members have shown to one another. We have about 569 members at GBC and it was a joy to see many reaching out to care and support one another in trying times. The elders, pastors and ministry staff led the way with many calls, visits and check-ins on all our members. We are thankful for the ministry of our member care team led by elder Thian Chye who met specific needs in the congregation. A team of ladies have been ministering to the older ladies of GBC. Some GBC men have formed cycling groups to visit sights around Singapore, and others had zoom gatherings to catch up and chat. Members delivered food, connected with the shut-in, did visitation. The church was able to give support to self-employed persons who were badly affected last year and God provided for that. Care for the non-Singaporean members has also been sincere and many were invited at Christmas for food and celebrations in small numbers.
3. We thank God worship has been undisrupted throughout COVID-19 and 2020. In 2020 there was not a single Sunday that God's word was not proclaimed, not a Sunday God's people did not give Him glory and praise. We switched to a fully online model around Good Friday and scrambled to go fully online for worship from home. Thank God for the faithfulness of our AV team led by Eugene Low, who worked hard to learn new technology and recorded and edited our online service videos. When 100 pax were allowed to return to the Fellowship Hall, then the sanctuary, we had many members who wanted to but were not able to attend. So at Christmas we had two Christmas services. We kept up our practice of Watchnight with groups of 5 sharing and praying our way into the new year. On YouTube, our online viewership went gone up—it is now approx. 800 views per service—higher than our attendance before the pandemic.
4. We thank God that ministry was kept up in difficult times. We will not soon forget how during circuit breaker, our worship team members led songs from their home, often accompanied by family or spouses. Our sister Esther Wong worked hard to coordinate our virtual choir presentations, while brother Martin Chan worked on putting together the videos from choir members. At Christmas we were blessed by their presentation of “Were You There on That Christmas Night?” We thank God for the leadership of Elder Lup Meng and the Worship Ministry Team. Our CGs shifted their gatherings and Bible studies to Zoom, and then to hybrid groups of 5 when we were allowed. Everyone in ministry has tried to keep up holy habits. Our giving has also been healthy.
5. We thank God for new outreach and creative ministry initiatives. We started new efforts to reach the guest workers nearby, which Pastor Ollie and Steven Ngiam and others led. Thomas and Julie Hamilton and a team have also started evangelistic work in the Paya Lebar area. Towards the end of the year, we had a great youth camp on the theme of the resurrection of Jesus with 30 pax attending and our young adults held a discipleship intensive programme attended by about 40 pax. Our Young Adults ministry, led by Elder Nehemiah, also launched GBC’s first podcast to reach out to an online audience. When our worship team met for rehearsal on Saturday, they had a whole new group of faces join for the first time.
6. We thank God for growing us—including children and babies! Presently there are about 93 children under the age of 18 at GBC and Elder Chuanxin’s children’s ministry is kept very busy with online Sunday school, and plans to resume physical ministry. With Siew Ting as our ministry staff, we are developing what we need to help us meet this new increase in young parents and families, but we need more teachers and volunteers. We anticipate new life in our midst with the many Covid babies who are coming soon. If you come to service in-person, you will not only notice many visitors, but the number of sisters blessed to be pregnant. As more visitors have come too, deacons Siang Teck and Annie have been working hard to receive them, but we also need more help in the welcoming of visitors.
7. We thank God for spiritual liveliness (baptisms, transfers and conversions). We had a baptism service just before circuit breaker and two (27 Sep & 20 Dec) after we could resume physical services. In 2020 we had 40 pax join us by baptism or transfer. Pastor Ian consistently reminds us that new members are God’s best treasure which He has lent to us. There have been folks writing to share that they accepted Christ after watching our service. Members have been sharing the gospel with family and friends. We have seen new visitors come to church each week. Praise the Lord!
8. We thank God for more small groups studying Scripture. In 2020 we relaunched two CGs in Holland and Punggol, and started four new CGs in Queenstown, Ang Mo Kio, Pasir Ris, and East Coast. In total, we started 6 new CGs. Across the 27 CGs, we have 355 active members attending. Additionally there were the women’s Friday group, a women & men’s group on Wednesday evening, a Moms Connect group, the ladies’ Precepts Bible study, our Youth group, and 10 Young Adult small groups, which totals another 15 groups. Altogether, there are 42 separate groups at GBC studying the Bible every week.
9. We thank God for providing new leadership, people and resources for Grace. We thank God for our Administrator Kok Pui, who has stepped off and for Gideon Ooi who is being trained to take his place. With thanks to the congregation, the proposed budget was also approved. We praise God for the ministry of Pastor Eugene Low who will be installed Lead Teaching Pastor and taking over from Pastor Ian. Pastor Eugene also led the internship programme in 2020 which had three interns: Joshua Lowe, Hannah Yeo and Andrew Sung, who led our Watchnight service. To complement our leadership, the congregation also agreed to have Elder Tan Chong Tien rejoin the ECL, bringing the number of elders in service to 11.
10. We thank God for the new plans and faith opportunities He has for 2021. Many exciting things are happening in the year to come. We will see the installation of a new lead pastor. We will increase capacity at our worship services to 170 pax and we hope to increase them more. We will start a new service on Saturday. If the Lord wills we hope to start new care groups, appoint new deacons, and hire new staff. We expect to see more visitors and perhaps more converts. There are many new opportunities for us all to grow in faith and learn Radical Dependence on our God.