Titus Chung installed as 10th Anglican bishop of Singapore

100 attend scaled-down service as 2,000 others watch online

Reverend Canon Dr Titus Chung (left) receives the Diocesan Crosier, or Bishop's staff, from Right Reverend John Chew at Saint Andrew’s Cathedral on Oct 18, 2020.
Reverend Canon Dr Titus Chung (left) receives the Diocesan Crosier, or Bishop's staff, from Right Reverend John Chew at Saint Andrew’s Cathedral on Oct 18, 2020.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

In a ceremony steeped in tradition, the Reverend Canon Dr Titus Chung was installed as the new bishop of the Anglican Church in Singapore yesterday evening.

The 2½ hour-long service at St Andrew's Cathedral was a muted affair, owing to Covid-19 restrictions. Only about 100 people - the maximum allowed under current social distancing rules - attended the ceremony, compared with thousands who showed up on past occasions.

However, more than 2,000 people followed the proceedings, which were live-streamed on YouTube. Politicians and leaders of other Christian denominations were present at the ceremony.

President Halimah Yacob and her husband Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee both attended, as did former president Tony Tan Keng Yam and his wife Mary, who are both Anglicans.

Others present included Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Culture, Community and Youth Minister Edwin Tong and Catholic Archbishop William Goh.

Bishop Chung, who is married with two children, is the 10th bishop of Singapore.

The 55-year-old was previously priest-in-charge of St Andrew's Cathedral's Mandarin congregation and takes over as bishop from Right Reverend Rennis Ponniah, 65, who retired last month.

Though yesterday's ceremony was scaled down, it was no less impressive, opening with a procession of Anglican clergy members from Singapore streaming into the nave in their resplendent robes.

The Right Reverend Dr John Chew, who was the eighth Anglican bishop of Singapore, then led the consecration proceedings, praying over Bishop Chung with other bishops before passing to him his symbols of office: a Bible to guide him, a ring which signifies faith and a Mitre, the bishop's headdress.

Subsequently, the installation portion of the service began with Bishop Chung exiting the sanctuary and other church leaders closing the entrance doors.

The bishop then had to knock on the door three times with his staff and wait for permission to be granted by the Church for him to enter, signalling acceptance from the Church.

Bishop Titus Chung (with blue cross), facing the Right Reverend Dr John Chew, who led the consecration proceedings yesterday evening at St Andrew's Cathedral. Bishop Chung was flanked by the Right Reverend Low Jee King (left) and the Right Reverend K
Bishop Titus Chung (with blue cross), facing the Right Reverend Dr John Chew, who led the consecration proceedings yesterday evening at St Andrew's Cathedral. Bishop Chung was flanked by the Right Reverend Low Jee King (left) and the Right Reverend Kuan Kim Seng. Members of the Anglican clergy were standing behind Bishop Chew. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

When the doors were opened, the bishop was led to the cathedra, or bishop's throne, behind the altar, where Bishop Chew handed him the Diocesan Crosier, or bishop's staff, symbolic of the passing of leadership.

Anglican clergy from the region, including Malaysia, who were unable to travel to Singapore for the service, conveyed their congratulatory messages via videos, which were screened during the service.

The newly installed bishop, who holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Edinburgh, was ordained as a priest in 1997 after graduating from Trinity Theological College. He served as priest and subsequently vicar at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit from 1997 to 2005, before joining St Andrew's Cathedral in 2009.

He told The Straits Times after the service that he felt "the heavy weight of the responsibility" of his new role amid the Covid-19 crisis. The diocese, he said, would look into supporting the social, mental and psychological needs of both its flock and the wider community.

"The Christian faith is not just about serving Christians and serving the church, but also about serving the nation. We want to extend that love and care to one another, especially those who are in need of help" he added.

There are about 22,000 Anglicans in Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2020, with the headline 'Titus Chung installed as 10th Anglican bishop of Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe