Methodist community gets a new bishop

With Dr Chong (with arms outstretched) at his consecration service yesterday were (from left) Bishop Emeritus Dr Wee; Dr James Kwang, bishop of the Chinese Methodist Church in Australia; Bishop Chen Chien Chung of the Methodist Church in Taiwan; and
With Dr Chong (with arms outstretched) at his consecration service yesterday were (from left) Bishop Emeritus Dr Wee; Dr James Kwang, bishop of the Chinese Methodist Church in Australia; Bishop Chen Chien Chung of the Methodist Church in Taiwan; and Dr Ong Hwai Teik, Malaysia's bishop.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Dr Chong is new spiritual leader of the 42,000-strong Protestant denomination

Methodists yesterday witnessed the consecration of their new bishop, Dr Chong Chin Chung, 61.

Addressing the congregation in Mandarin, the new bishop, who is Chinese-educated, said that one of the Church's hallmarks is its commitment to "multilingual and multi-dialect ministries".

The role of spiritual leader of the Methodist Church includes representing the organisation, which comprises 46 local churches and more than 42,000 members, in its interactions with the Government and other religious groups.

The married father of three children and three grandchildren succeeds Dr Wee Boon Hup, 65, who has retired after four years and has been given the title of Bishop Emeritus.

The service was held at the shared grounds of Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church and Faith Methodist Church, and attended by more than 1,000 people, including 120 Methodist pastors. The new bishop was presented with a purple stole and bible by the outgoing bishop.

Dr Chong was elected from 43 candidates during the Church's 11th general conference in September. Votes were cast by 42 delegates from the Methodist churches.

Dr Chong has been a pastor for 32 years. He also served as president of the Chinese Annual Conference, a branch comprising churches with a largely Chinese-speaking congregation.

The Methodist Church here is the largest mainline Protestant denomination in Singapore with 15 schools, 13 kindergartens and five childcare centres under its umbrella. It serves the community through the Methodist Welfare Services.

Bishop Chong said: "Our welfare services reflect the social principles of Methodism and bring hope and relief to the poor and needy."

Vice-president of the National Council of Churches of Singapore, Bishop Terry Kee of the Lutheran Church, said he has known Bishop Chong for about a decade.

Bishop Kee, who attended Bishop Chong's consecration service, said: "NCCS looks forward to working with him. We're confident that he will provide good leadership for the Methodist Church."

Mr Lim Keng Lian, 62, a Methodist who was Bishop Chong's former university roommate, said: "He spent most of his time in school praying and involved with the Christian groups in school. He has always been very passionate about God."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2016, with the headline 'Methodist community gets a new bishop'. Print Edition | Subscribe