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Quarterly Congregational Meeting (QCM) 5 Jul 2020

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We held our second QCM for the year over Zoom on 5 July 2020. Around 170 members attended the meeting to give thanks for what God has been doing in our midst and to commit all our plans to Him.

Our last QCM was held in January 2020 and due to Covid-19, this second QCM was postponed from April to July. We thank God for giving us the technology to hold this meeting online and for the ~170 members who attended.

Elder Lup Meng started the meeting with an opening prayer before we gave praise to God for the many items of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving

Prior to sharing the thanksgiving items, Elder Jonathan reminded us from 1 Cor 3:6 that what would be shared was not a list of things that we have achieved but a testament to what God has done and is doing among us. 

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1. Monthly Prayer Meeting

Elder Jonathan shared that despite not being able to meet physically, we have been able to continue to gather monthly, albeit online, to pray and express our dependence on God. God not only provided the technology that allowed us to gather as a church to pray but also enabled us to break into smaller groups to pray. This gave us the opportunity to meet and pray with people whom we do not usually meet with. We were also heartened that the number of people attending had almost doubled. 

2. EQUIP

Similarly, Equip classes have been continuing via Zoom and we also saw an increase in the number of people attending. Elder Jonathan shared a feedback he received from a young Christian who visited us on how encouraging it was for him to see both young and old learning about God together, side by side. Elder Jonathan encouraged everyone to press on and continue to grow in His Word as a community. The next Equip class would take place this Saturday (Jul 11) from 330-530pm via Zoom and would answer the question, "What is the Gospel?" 

3. CLOBS (Centralised Leading of Bible Studies)

CLOBS are monthly sessions to train and equip Care Group (CG) leaders but is open to all who are keen to learn how to apply what we have learnt in Equip class in our Bible reading and leading. 

Elder Jonathan expressed his appreciation to the CG leaders for persevering in attending and adapting to the change in how the sessions were conducted, as well as how these CG leaders have been exhorting their CGs to continue to meet regularly online. He added that there has been a sharpening of the church's mindset of leadership—that leaders are not people who have "made it" but are people who are willing to serve, model and initiate the pursuit of Christlike holiness. He urged the church to pray for these CG leaders and encourage them. 

4. Care Groups

Elder Jonathan remarked that it has been very encouraging to hear of CGs meeting after Sunday worship service to discuss the reflection questions, in addition to their regular CG meetings. He expressed his amazement at God's guiding hand in bringing newcomers to our church and CGs despite the current circumstances. He then invited Andrew Sung to share how God has been working in his CG.  

2q20-qcm-2Andrew shared how someone found our church service online, watched it, reached out to our church and was connected to his CG. Although the visitor was initially skeptical, he was interested to learn about God. So Andrew and Koon Han walked through the Gospel of Mark with him in four sessions asking just three simple questions, "Who is Jesus?", "What has He come to do?" and "What is our response?". And after each session, they would share the gospel with him. After the fourth session, he expressed that he now believes in God, that Jesus is his Lord and Saviour and is now repenting of his sins everyday and trusting Jesus. Andrew and Koon Han would continue to read the Bible with him and disciple him in the hope that he would join a local church in his country, be baptised and be a healthy member of that local church. This journey has strongly encouraged Andrew and Koon Han, and they marvelled at how God used GBC to bring this brother to Him in ways that we could not have done in our usual ministry. Indeed, God is faithful!

5. Children's Ministry

Pastor Oliver updated that our ministry to the children has been ongoing, and despite the disruption, he's thankful that many teachers have stepped up to prepare new materials for online Sunday School classes in line with the sermon series. It was heartening to know that many parents have used these materials to teach and disciple their children. Furthermore, many parents took time to arrange for their children to meet virtually so that the children, while apart, would remain connected to one another. We gave praise to God for all that He has been doing in this ministry, and for all who have been serving and supporting this important ministry.

6. Member Care Ministry

By God's providence, GBC's Member Care Ministry, led by Elder Thian Chye, was set up last year before Covid-19 hit, such that the team was ready to serve the GBC family by offering practical help during Covid-19. The team was able to connect with some homebound senior members and offered practical help, as well as provided financial support to some among us who have been suffering financially due to Covid-19. Pastor Oliver asked us to continue to pray for the team as they continue to walk alongside our members during this difficult time. If you or know of anyone who need help, do reach out to this ministry via membercare@gracebaptistichurch.sg.

7. Guest Workers Outreach

In May, GBC partnered with the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO) to reach out to our guest workers and meet their needs. Pastor Oliver read from Leviticus 19:33-34 and Ephesians 2:12-13 to remind us why we should care for these guest workers.

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So far GBC has provided practical relief such as food and has reached out to them to care for them and build relationships. Recently, one of the guest workers expressed his appreciation for what we have been doing, shared about his life and asked for prayers for his financial situation. A WhatsApp group for the ministry has been set up to communicate and pray for these guest workers. Do contact Pastor Oliver if you are interested. Pastor Oliver requested for continued prayers for these guest workers' financial, emotional and relational needs, as well as for opportunities to witness the good news of Jesus to them. He stressed that God has given us this opportunity to serve at our doorstep and we should steward it well.

8. New Members

Pastor Oliver introduced the new members who joined us in March. As these new members joined us just one week before additional precautionary measures were imposed for religious services, they have not been able to connect with us in ways that we usually do for our past new members. Pastor Oliver encouraged us to warmly welcome them when we have the opportunity, and be an encourager to one another. 

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Pastor Oliver ended this thanksgiving section with a prayer, acknowledging that it was not by our feeble effort that all these good things have come to us, but by the mighty work of our gracious and faithful God. To Him be all the glory!

Following that, Pastor Eugene introduced the five new members who joined us last Sunday. We were delighted to see them saying hello and sharing something about themselves over Zoom :)

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We stood amazed at God's wondrous work in adding to His church and for giving us this privilege to steward His precious treasures. We prayed that we would together care for and encourage one another, and exhort one another towards Christlikeness. 

New Interns

Moving on, Pastor Eugene introduced the three new interns who just joined us and they shared why they chose to take up this internship and how we could pray for them. You can find out more about GBC Ministry Internship here

Financial Report

Next, Elder Beh updated us on the financial position of the church. We praised God that despite the difficult economic environment, our collection for General Fund for Jan-May 2020 has been fairly on par with 2019's. However, our giving towards Missions came in 20% lower than last year's and Elder Beh encouraged us to consider our giving towards Missions.

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In terms of expenses, we have spent substantially below our budget and it was well met by the collections such that we have a slight surplus.

Elder Beh reiterated the invitation to members who need financial support to reach out to the Member Care Ministry and allow the church the privilege to come alongside to provide practical help. 

He then went through the various items that caused our expenses to come in lower than budgeted for the General Fund, and highlighted that one main reason was that we had budgeted for an additional ministry support worker and two new pastors but only Lee-Tiang Siew Ting has joined us as a ministry support worker thus far. We had not been able to identify any suitable candidates for the pastoral role and he called on the church to continue to pray for suitable candidates. 

For Missions, he explained that although we had sufficient funds to meet current expenditure (which came in lower than budgeted expenditure), we would expect the budgeted expenditure to be realised in the second half of the year as was typically the case due to the nature of some of our missions projects. As such, he encouraged the church to consider our giving towards Missions so that our missions work would not be affected.

He ended his update with the assurance that we would continue to steward the resources God has given us well and thanked members for their faithful giving.

Pastoral Encouragement

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Pastor Ian expressed that it has been encouraging to see record attendance for our online service, meetings and classes, and thanked the members for their continued sacrificial service and giving. Nonetheless, he shared that the pastors-elders have been giving a lot of thought to what this "new normal" would mean for us. 

Referring to a painting from the Middle Ages that depicted a priest offering the Eucharist privately to a dying man—a practice that came about because of the black plague that rendered mass gathering impossible and went on to become the "new normal" for many centuries to come, Pastor Ian wondered what would be its implications for us undergoing the pandemic in the 21st century? He revealed that the plague and private worship persisted till Martin Luther's days and Luther insisted that the church should examine the Scripture for their model of ministry, which called for a gathering of some kind, a preaching of His Word and examining of our hearts. 

Pastor Ian also pointed to 2 Kings 22 on how the pandemic of bloodshed and evil began among the people of Israel and lasted for 75 years. During these years, Israel had adapted to a "new normal"—the temple of the LORD was in disarray and the Book of the Law was covered in a heap of dust. When Josiah, 18 years into his reign, heard the reading of God's Word, he tore his clothes in despair (2 Kings 22:10-11) because he realised the "new normal" has caused God's people to forget their holy habits. 

Learning from these, Pastor Ian implored that we maintain the holy habits that God has given us for His glory and for our good, such as establishing devotional time with God, re-embracing the meditation of His Word with our family, taking time to put God's Word to memory and allow His Word to strengthen us. 

Following the exhortation, Pastor Ian revealed that although more people are viewing our online services, the average view time was only 36 minutes out of a 75-minute-long service. What would be the implications for us going forward?

He presented the results of the survey conducted to help the pastors-elders plan how to resume our services once more measures were relaxed. Of the 348 who responded, 223 responded that they would prefer the existing Sunday morning timing while 15.5% and 9.8% selected the afternoon services for Saturday and Sunday respectively.  

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As the maximum allowed for religious services would probably be kept at 200 people when such gathering would be permitted, this meant that we might need to delay the launch of our services (given more than 200 people preferred this timing) or consider putting in place a reservation system. 

That aside, it saddened Pastor Ian that a good number responded that they preferred to continue to worship online. He pointed out that God has not called the church—the ekklesia (i.e. those who have been called out of)—out of our biological families to become spiritual orphans. God has called us to gather. Pastor Ian urged us to pray along with the pastors-elders that we will long to maintain these holy habits and anticipate how we might joyfully gather again. 

Q&A

1. In response to the question on whether there's any gauge on when the next step to gather as a church would be, Pastor Ian answered that no gauge has been given and we would continue to take guidance from MOH and MCCY. 

2. Another member suggested that the survey for service timing could allow for ranking of preferences rather than to select one option only. Elder Lup Meng agreed that this is a good suggestion and would consider this for future planning. 

3. In response to whether we planned to continue our outreach to the guest workers beyond Covid-19, Pastor Oliver affirmed that there are plans to find ways to extend our involvement beyond this current situation. Contact Pastor Oliver if you are interested.

4. Responding to the question if we should take Holy Communion on our own, Pastor Eugene referred us to the article written in April 2020. The decision then was to suspend the Lord's Supper till we have clarity on when we could gather. With the likelihood of gathering still some time off, the pastors-elders are now exploring if we should have communion in smaller groups going forward. They would examine the Scripture and deliberate on this.   

Members' Covenant

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As with our usual practice, to conclude the meeting, we recited the Members' Covenant to affirm our relationship with and responsibilities to one another. Elder Nehemiah led the recitation and at the end of the covenant, all of us unmuted our Zoom calls to end with "Amen!", not exactly all together but good enough!

We thank God for reminding us once again of His faithfulness, holiness, mercy and grace; and we pray that we will be faithful to Him in all that He has given us and in all that we do.