60 Years of Grace in Christ
We gave thanks and celebrated 60 years of God's faithfulness and grace last Sunday. Rachel Wong recaps the blessed time of worship and praise.
What a privilege it is to be able to celebrate Grace Baptist Church’s diamond anniversary: 60 years of God’s faithfulness and sustaining grace! It was a stirring occasion as a packed combined congregation sang praise, expressed thankfulness and listened to God’s word from the pulpit, just as past generations of church members have done every Sunday for the last 60 years, albeit in many different venues and with many different pastors. The sense of continuity was strong, as we recalled how the baton has been passed from pastor to pastor and from parents to children down the years, and through all the ups and downs God’s guiding hand has been there shepherding His people: His church.
The service opened with a spirited rendering of the song ‘I will Enter his Gates with Thanksgiving’, led by the combined English and Chinese choir, which fulfilled in song the Call to Worship from Psalm 117:1-2 “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” There followed a heartfelt time of worship and adoration as we sang ‘In Christ Alone’, ‘Precious Cross’, and ‘Hallelujah to the Lamb’. For the offertory the choir ministered to us with an uplifting and heart-warming version of ‘The Majesty and Glory of Your Name’, complete with a soaring trumpet line, which combined to stir our souls to thankfulness and praise as we reflected on the majesty and glory of the God we serve.
The next item was a video of the church’s history in chapters, starting at the very beginning with Ms Lora Clement and Ms Dorcas Lau and moving through all 60 years of joys and trials in various venues, from shop houses to our own building, and different pastors and forms of church leadership. All the past pastors and founders were mentioned by name, and all significant events were covered, including the painful time of heartbreak during the late 1980s when the church split due to doctrinal issues and it seemed that the church’s very future was in doubt. But the video ended on an uplifting note, as various members spoke of what church means to them, and of their hopes and wishes for the future as we move forward together in community to love and serve Christ. You can watch the video here:
This year’s anniversary service was special due to the presence of many previous pastors and church workers who were invited to attend and graciously agreed to join us in celebration. Some had travelled a distance to be with us – Tom Chandler from the US, George Kwek from Australia and Ric Poolman from Thailand. Also in our midst were previous Chinese language pastors Leow Kee Fatt, Edward Chan, Tan Yong Huat and Ooi Boon Keow and English language pastors Chin Wei Fong and Irene, Peter Lin and Michelle, Bobby Lee and Lydia, and Yap Kim Meng and Beow Kheng. Both Dick Hugoniot and Arnold Wong could not make it due to prior commitments but each sent a heart warming and encouraging message to the church. We were especially glad to welcome previous pastor Lawrence Khong, his wife Nina and son Daniel to worship with us and are grateful for their presence with us on such a meaningful occasion.
Also present were ministry partners Rick and Susan Griffith who extended much help to the lay leaders at a time of transition, and representatives from many organisations that GBC has partnered over the years, including Wycliffe, Cru, OMF, Navigators, the Singapore Baptist Convention and Gladiolus Place.
There was also an opportunity to recognise and thank the founding members of GBC, many of whom still worship with us, including the longest attending member at 93 years old, Madam Leong Fong Chi.
It was fitting at this point to have one of our founding members, Jimmy Chan, pray for the church, to pledge our love and loyalty to the service of the gospel and to ask for God’s continuing blessings and provision for the years ahead. Jimmy also drew our attention to the fact that there is a plaque placed on one of the pillars in the car park that some of us may have overlooked, bearing the foundation verse of the church from Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.” What a wonderful reminder that these verses are embedded in the physical fabric of our church – and we trust that they are also reflected in the spiritual make-up of our church body too.
The sermon was by Pastors Vinc Poh and Oliver Chia, who demonstrated true partnership by each preaching half the sermon in their respective first languages and translating the other half for their own congregations. There was some laughter at the crossover point among those who knew enough of both languages to pick up on it! Technicalities aside, the message was pertinent for the day: we have received God’s grace and should steward this grace by serving the gospel. Preaching from Ephesians 3:1-3, Pastor Vinc started off by reminding us that we have received grace through Paul’s stewardship and through the blood of Christ, and this grace was passed on to us by somebody at great cost. Pastor Oliver then reminded us from verses 4-7 that we need to root our unity in the gospel, by having the gospel as the culture that permeates our unity. We cannot have unity without the gospel, so we should display God’s faithfulness and wisdom by showing that what unites us is not based on the things we have in common, but on the gospel. In practical terms, this means forgiving each other and telling others of the gospel. The sermon ended with an invitation for us to search our own hearts by asking ourselves whether we can say we have made God known, brought Him much glory and stewarded His grace. As we pondered these searching questions, we read Romans 12:9-10 together: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.”
The song of response was ‘Be Thou My Vision’, an old hymn and a favourite of GBC, with its stirring words of truth and inspiration.
After the benediction we were then delighted to be able to present the Director of Gladiolus Place, Ms Michelle Tan, with a gift to support the important work they are doing in their premises opposite GBC, and to recognise the presence of some of the girls and staff who joined us in the service.
We then enjoyed fellowship over a buffet lunch, where it was heartening to see friendships being made and renewed across and within congregations.
The service was over, and a milestone was marked with joy. But humbly we press on with the torch of faith, looking to the future and giving thanks for God’s amazing grace showered abundantly on Grace Baptist Church. To Him be the glory now and always!
You can watch the worship service here:
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