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Quarterly Congregational Meeting (QCM) 4 Oct 2020

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The last QCM of the year was held on 4 October 2020 via Zoom. Elder Lup Meng opened the meeting by committing the time and plans to the Lord, thanking God for how He has preserved the church and allowed us to be creative in being the church even though we could not meet physically. 

Thanksgiving

Following that, Elder Thian Chye reminded us of the many blessings God has poured upon us even as we faced this extraordinary time together as a church. Among them, we gave special thanks to God for:

1. Sustaining and protecting our senior ladies, both physically and spiritually, throughout this trying period. These Golden Girls, as we so affectionately address them, have been meeting digitally and are looking forward to meeting phyiscally. Our appreciation also to Miauw Suang and Kit Wan for their faithfulness in caring and loving these precious ones.

2. The men and women who have been faithfully building up one another through the Wednesday Men and Ladies Bible Study Groups. We prayed that God would continue to grant them wisdom and understanding in the study of His Word and that they would be men and women after God's heart, with lives that point others to Him.  

3. Continued faithfulness of our care group (CG) leaders in ministering to their members and keeping them together during this period. We also gave thanks for the two new CGs that have been formed, with one meeting in Ang Mo Kio (led by Pastor Eugene and Joshua Lowe) and the other in Pasir Ris (led by Charles Tan and Kevin Goh). [Watch this video to find out more about these two new CGs.

4. Ten new members who joined GBC recently on 27 September. Though we could not gather physically as a church, we have been blessed with new members throughout the year. We prayed that as a church, we would encourage one another to continue to trust in Jesus and to daily remember what we have been baptised into. 

5. The outreach with the guest workers and the friendships the team have built over the past few months. We thanked God for Pastor Oliver and his dedicated team of members who have been faithfully reaching out to the guest workers. We prayed that each of these workers would come to know Jesus, and that as a church, we would continue to show grace and love to those who are poor and marginalised among us.

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After sharing the items, Elder Thian Chye gave us time to give thanks to the Lord individually. Thereafter, Carol Leong and Neo Yi Ling closed the session with thanksgiving and prayers unto the Lord.

Membership Matters

Next, Pastor Eugene echoed Elder Thian Chye's thanksgiving that God has indeed been very gracious and kind to us, blessing us with ten new members in September. He expressed that it was encouraging to know that some of our members have emailed these new members to welcome them and he reiterated Elder Caleb's exhortation that morning to continue to do so and to find ways to connect with them.

He also highlighted that we have a Membership Directory that is a helpful resource for us to know the members in our church and to pray for one another. He encouraged everyone who's a member to email the church office for a copy and to pray through the directory daily. He explained that even if we do not know the specific prayer needs of members whom we do not know, we could pray that they will continue to trust in God, that they will find great joy in the gospel and rest in Christ daily. 

He then went on to introduce the ten new members who have joined us recently: Qing Ping, Prisca and Krishna via baptism; and Carol, Dikaios, Fiona, Javirea, Lison, Ruth and Valerie via transfer of membership. For each member, Pastor Eugene shared brief notes of where they stay/work, hobbies, and the CG that they are currently in; so that we could get to know them better and also connect with them if we live/work near where they are. Those who were present in the call also shared how the church could pray for them.

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Clockwise from top left: Qing Ping (with Nicholas Quek on her right), Prisca, Dikaios, Lison, Valerie, Ruth (with her husband Glen Ng and they are expecting their first child!), Fiona, Javirea, and Carol & Krishna with Amelia.

We joined our hearts to thank God for the gospel which has brought each of these precious members back to God and whom Christ has entrusted to us. We prayed that as a body united by the gospel, we would be faithful to love and build up one another. 

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Pastor Eugene added that the next Church Matters class would take place on 17 October and would be in person from 9am to 12pm. He emphasised that the membership class is not just for those who want to become members, but is open to all, including existing members, who would like to find out more about the church, what is a covenant community and what it means to be part of this community. You can sign up here.

Update on GBC's Covid-19 Plans

Moving on, Elder Caleb updated us on GBC's latest plans following the government's recent announcement on the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions for religious activities.

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1. Resumption of worship services

We would be resuming worship services in the Sanctuary beginning 11 October. The gathering would be limited to 100 people and worshippers would be seated in groups of 50, with barriers to remind us to remain separate, and there would be designated entrances and exits to keep us from mingling across groups. Within each group of 50, safe distancing measures would also be in place. All other safe management practices such as SafeEntry and wearing facemasks at all times would continue to be enforced.

Additionally, Elder Caleb highlighted that there would be no live singing during the service. Instead, the song leaders would pre-record the singing and screen it during service. He recognised that we might not be used to it but we could sing in our hearts, and he encouraged us to keep praying that the day would soon come for us to sing our praises out loud.

Elder Caleb emphasised that a 100-person limit would not be enough for our congregation, being only a fifth or sixth of our usual attendance (and our online services have drawn views of 800-900). As much as we hope to regather as many of us as possible since Scripture urge us to do so for our spiritual good (1 Jn 4:12-13Matt 18:20Heb 10:24-25), we would begin with one service first and take a cautious approach towards having multiple services. As more members get used to returning, Lord willing, we would have more services. 

He encouraged members to register their interest for the services weekly so that the elders could have an indication of the desired demand and hence gauge when we should be opening up more services. Online registration opens at noon every Sunday (http://gracebaptistchurch.sg/service-registration).

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On 11 Oct, we resumed our first worship service in the Sanctuary after more than six months!

2. Gathering for Ministry Onsite

We would also resume in-person ministry and gatherings onsite, subject to a limit of 100 persons.  

For all ministry activities, including care groups, meetings and classes taking place in the church building:

  • Members must inform the church office, register their activities at least one week in advance, and provide the names of the attendees. Non-registrants would not be allowed to enter the building.
  • Activities are only permitted for duration of 2 hours at a time, and must end by 1030pm.
  • Safe distancing measures must be observed, including having safe distancing between groups of 5, remaining masked at all times, and strictly no singing and/or consuming of food. 

Elder Caleb informed that October's monthly prayer meeting (30 October) would be the first in-person gathering we would have in church. It would be conducted in Room 310 and would be “hybrid”, so those who wish to participate online and in-person could both do so.

Elder Caleb stressed the need to keep each other and the church safe, and implored us to be conscious of the rules and obey them.

3. Not Neglecting to Meet Together

Lastly, Elder Caleb acknowledged that many of us have gotten used to worshipping from the comfort of home and might not see any value in coming back to worship since no live singing would be allowed as yet. However, he cautioned us not to develop habits that would not be helpful in our devotion to the Lord, and that we should "not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some" (Heb 10:25). 

[Read Pastor Oliver's article on Keeping Holy Habits.]

He also shared that even though we could not sing out loud, we could still participate actively by:

  • standing reverentially,
  • sitting and bowing together,
  • praying together,
  • raising holy hands in worship,
  • hearing God’s Word preached in person, and
  • uniting our hearts in the Lord’s Supper.

Responding to a question on whether the cry room and nursery would be opened, Elder Chuan Xin clarified that as the nursery is on a different floor and to prevent inter-mingling of people across the building, it would not be opened. However, the cry rooms at the back of the Sanctuary would be made available for those who need them and he advised families to only use these rooms when needed and not by default. He sought the members' understanding and patience as we slowly roll out measures and adjust to changing requirements.

Pastor Oliver also confirmed that our services would still be livestreamed on GBC's YouTube channel and that the Lord's Supper would continue to be served every week in the Sanctuary.  

Leadership Plans

New Elder Q&A

We would be affirming Tan Chong Tien as an elder on 18 October and the elders have decided to incorporate the Q&A session that we would usually have in-person into this QCM to faciliate members to ask questions. 

Prior to introducing Chong Tien, Pastor Ian felt that it was necessary to remind us that the leadership model to which we have transitioned into is not so much about leadership, as about service. Hence, the elder team is a team of servants called of God, with biblical characters and qualifications, who seek to do what the Scripture say is the primary task of elders—to shepherd the flock of God (1 Pet 5), according to the leadership of our Chief Shepherd who is Christ. He shared that every elders' meeting thus begins with an hour of prayer for the flock of God.

He added that in recent years, GBC's team of elders has more younger elders who are Godly man qualified biblically to serve in this capacity but are limited in experience. Therefore, he felt the need to seek an older brother who has more experience in life and ministry to join the team; and the elders were unaminous in their recommendation to ask Chong Tien to join the team again.

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He then asked if anyone has any question for Chong Tien. Since no one asked, Pastor Ian initiated the first question by asking Chong Tien how he coped with anxiety and strengthened his heart in times of personal or church disappointment. Chong Tien responded that like Pastor Ian, he is often anxious about things but he has learned to seek God's comfort, seeing that in all the circumstances God will not abandon us, that we can come to Him in prayer and commit these things to Him. He's also grateful for the support of his wife, Cheng See, whom he could share the burden with and pray together. He emphasised that it took him a long time to learn to cast all anxieties on the Lord and he's still learning.

Furthermore, his conviction that God is really for His church and He can work things out for us has also grown over the years; to which Pastor Ian expressed it would indeed be  a great comfort to be able to serve with those who have experienced and seen God's faithfulness, and that it would be very strengthening to have brothers such as Chong Tien serving with the elders as we approach other crises beyond Covid-19. 

Chong Tien added that another important lesson he learnt over the years is that kingdom work is not accomplished with our strength, but only by Christ. We have to come to Him in prayer, and even if it seems insurmountable, we ccould trust that God is working in us and doing it for His glory. We are just instruments in His hands.

Hewlett and Melanie Chew asked Chong Tien if he could share a Bible verse that has been an encouragement to him through the years. Chong Tien shared that Matthew 6:25-34 have encouraged him to not be anxious but to trust God and seek His Kingdom first. In addition, Revelation 5 also taught him that God's kingdom work would be done by God.

Teoh Swee Hin thanked Chong Tien for his faithful service over the years. He praised Chong Tien for his missionary heart, being always ready for missions work even though he was so busy at work. He asked Chong Tien to share a little about the desire God has put on his heart for GBC's focus on missions. Chong Tien responded that he has left the Missions Committee for quite a while, and so he might not be updated in all that GBC is doing in terms of missions. Nevertheless, he said GBC has been supporting a good number of missionaries and that not only are we growing in our financial support, we are also growing in our faithfulness and personal involvement. He quoted as an example the Pua Team who has been faithfully visiting Pua every quarter and how encouraging it has been to see the number of believers growing there. He felt that we need to encourage this kind of work.

There being no further question, Pastor Ian ended the Q&A session by urging us to pray for our elders as it is both a privilege and challenge to serve as an elder. He also exhorted us to pray for Chong Tien as he anticipates to serve again in this capacity. 

Succession

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As no question was sent to Pastor Ian about the leadership transition that he announced on 27 September, he volunteered that the decision has been in the making since May during one the elders' meetings. During that meeting, he reminded the elders of his desire to prepare the church for a future far beyond his time and to consider Pastor Eugene to lead the elders. Pastor Ian was delighted that the elders unanimously received that recommendation and they have since been working on what that transition would look like. 

Pastor Ian revealed that throughout his years of service, he has sought to hire to his weakness. Hence, prior to joining GBC, he had intentionally sought out Pastor Eugene to add him back to the staff at GBC as he saw in Pastor Eugene a gifting that he does not have. As such, he was grateful for the willingess of Pastor Eugene (and Claire) and Pastor Simon Murphy (of Redemption Hill Church) to have Pastor Eugene returned to GBC. For the next three years, Pastor Ian has seen and observed Pastor Eugene and his ministry and it was based on these observations that he recommended Pastor Eugene to serve as the Lead Pastor.

When asked if that meant he would be leaving? Pastor Ian responded that he has no plan to leave but given his age and that he is a foreigner on employment pass, it would be practical to assume that he would have to leave some time. Hence, to a certain extent, this leadership transition would also be a practical move.

He deliberated that he has always felt it important to have intentional biblical succession, to disciple leaders and prepare the way for another. Based on his experience, he has seen uneven success with this approach, and for those times that it did not work well, it was because he left too soon and was not there to encourage and strenghten. Hence, as he has shared in his article, "God’s Antidote for the Trauma of Transition", he would like to be a Jonathan to Pastor Eugene, and would thus remain on the pastoral team albeit serving in another capacity. 

He added that his life verse at this season of his life is Psalm 71:17-18, to invest in the next generation of Godly servants. 

Pastor Ian also invited anyone who might have more questions to contact him.

Similarly, Pastor Eugene offered to follow up with any question that we might have. We could drop him an email and he's open to meet up for a meal/coffee as well. He expressed that this is a heavy responsibility, and he's very grateful for the team of brothers, his fellow elders, who have been serving alongside him, sharing the burden and mutually encouraging one another.   

Upcoming Events in Q4

Finally, Elder Chuan Xin informed the meeting of the events that are coming up in the final quarter of the year.

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1. Youth Camp—Risen, 9–12 December 2020

Elder Chuan Xin thanked God for allowing the Youth Ministry to find a location for the camp and for the approval from the relevant authorities for the camp to take place. The theme for this year's camp is Risen? and it would discuss what the Bible says about resurrection and what it means for the world. You can sign up here. Elder Chuan Xin assured that the youth leaders would be working closely with the elders to put in place safety precautions and to abide with regulations. He also shared that the Youth Ministry would require help in terms of teaching and food, so contact Hannah Yeo (8322 4965 or hannahyeohuien@gmail.com) if you/your family/your CG would like to help out. The youths are also looking for more people to serve as youth leaders, contact Matthew Seah (9878 4416) if you would like to serve in this capacity. 

Lastly, do pray for the youths that the planning of the camp as well as the camp itself would go smoothly. 

2. Christmas Eve Service, 24 December 2020, 5pm 

Elder Chuan Xin asked that we marked our calendar for a Christmas Eve service. He would share more details nearer to date given that we are still unclear about the number of people we could have etc. He suggested that we might also have families hosting simple Christmas Day lunches for guests like what we did last year

[Post meeting note: instead of a Christmas Eve Service, we will be having a Christmas Day service on 25 December, 9am instead.]

3. Watchnight Service, 31 December 2020

Again Elder Chuan Xin asked that we block this date and more details would be provided nearer to date. [You can read about last year's Watchnight here.]

A question was raised on Vacation Bible School and Elder Chuan Xin responded that the Children Ministry is still working out on how it could/would be conducted given the government's regulations are still very strict on children interacting. The ministry would provide more updates when available.

Q&A

Thereafter, the meeting was opened for questions. A question was asked about the progress of finding a replacement for Kok Pui, our Church Administrator. Peter Ho Lick and Phua Cheow Loon, directors of our church, updated that the board has been actively looking for a replacement since last year and hence they were overjoyed to receive confirmation that morning that Gideon Ooi Yanheng, a homegrown church member, would be coming on board end October. Gideon Ooi is a member of the Chinese congregation and has a family of three kids. Gideon has worked at IBM for over 8 years and his personality, skills and most important of all, his heart to dedicate himself to serve God in this capacity would make him very suitable to succeed Kok Pui. We thanked God for His providence and Cheow Loon urged us to pray for Gideon as he transitioned to this role.

[Post meeting note: Gideon would officially come on board on Monday 26 Oct 2020 and Kok Pui would guide him as mentor for a period of at least 6 months. Thereafter and in support of an orderly transition, Kok Pui has kindly consented to serve in a part time capacity to assist with finance and compliance related matters while Gideon builds up competencies and experiences in these areas.]

Members' Covenant

Finally, as with our tradition, Elder Jonathan led us in reciting the Members' Covenant to remind us of who we are as God's people and our covenantal relationship with Him and with one another.

The meeting closed with Elder Jonathan lifting up all that we have shared and planned unto the Lord.