To celebrate its 80th year, church gives a helping hand

Church members after a morning worship listening to a programme with Sunday School children.
Church members after a morning worship listening to a programme with Sunday School children.PHOTO: SINGAPORE PARISH ARCHIVES, MAR THOMA SYRIAN CHURCH

For its 80th birthday, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in Singapore partnered non-profit health group SATA CommHealth to run a mobile medical clinic on its premises in Upper Thomson Road.

The clinic, in operation since last August, provides residents with free health check-ups once a month.

The church, which has a congregation of about 300 families, also worked with the Methodist Mission Services in Timor Leste to pick and sponsor a missionary to teach English to students there.

Mr Lybu Kuruvilla, the church's honorary secretary, said: "We are taught in the Bible to be a witness to mankind, and we hope to be a blessing to the community, in the same way we have been blessed over the past 80 years."

The first Syrian Christians arrived in Singapore in 1912, and in 1936, the church organised its first congregation.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

It is with a sense of humility, enormous responsibility and thanksgiving that we look forward to our mission in the days ahead, carrying together our parish, our community, our mission partners and our fellow Singaporeans.

THE REVEREND JOHN G. MATHEWS, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church's vicar.

Last March, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church celebrated its 80th year as a congregation in Singapore.

Its year-long celebrations culminated in a celebratory dinner yesterday at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel's ballroom, attended by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Over the years, the church has been active in providing support to various communities, including migrant workers and lower-income Indian students.

The congregation's church building was completed in 1953 off St Michael's Road, in a then unnamed road that was later called Mar Thoma Road. In 1955, the church established St Thomas School to educate those who had missed school during World War II.

The school shuttered in 2000 due to falling enrolment, but the church has remained active on the education scene, having partnered the Singapore Indian Development Association to offer scholarships and bursaries since 2011.

In 2008, the church also started an outreach ministry for migrant workers, in collaboration with the Tamil Methodist Church.

Two years later, it worked with the Anglican Church and St Andrew's Community Hospital to provide medical care to the workers.

These milestones and the history of the church are documented in a book entitled The Journey In God's Green Pastures, launched yesterday by Mr Tharman.

The Reverend John G. Mathews, the church's vicar, said: "It is with a sense of humility, enormous responsibility and thanksgiving that we look forward to our mission in the days ahead, carrying together our parish, our community, our mission partners and our fellow Singaporeans."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 12, 2017, with the headline 'To celebrate its 80th year, church gives a helping hand'. Print Edition | Subscribe